Permission to Play


For the last month I’ve been doing some­thing rather unchar­ac­ter­is­tic.  I’ve been pow­er­ing through the Mass Effect tril­o­gy along with as much ancil­lary lit­er­a­ture about the Mass Effect Uni­verse as I can cram into my over­stuffed over­worked brain.  Why is this sig­nif­i­cant?  I’ve always played games, here and there, but noth­ing to com­ple­tion since… can any­one remem­ber Tur­ok Dinosaur Hunter on Nin­ten­do 64?  Yes, that long ago.

Beware­Obliv­ion­IsAt­Hand (mas­ter cheat)

For­get it.  I’m not pat­ting myself on the back for fin­ish­ing the ME tril­o­gy, because I played in easy mode all the way through, even though I did fair­ly well.  I’m offer­ing a vir­tu­al pat on the back to the mas­sive tal­ent over at Bioware for cre­at­ing some­thing so engag­ing that I couldn’t stop play­ing until it was com­plete.  A month.  I spent a month sub­merged in a char­ac­ter, Com­man­der Shep­ard, who looked like me, and made deci­sions much the way I would have (or believe I would) in tough sit­u­a­tions.


Does ME have its faults.  I think so.  Among those faults is the very dra­mat­ic premise that the fate of the entire uni­verse hinges on my abil­i­ty to unite frac­tured alien nations under one ban­ner to fight a com­mon threat.  The con­cept is melo­dra­mat­ic at least and utter­ly ludi­crous at worst.  And yet, the sto­ry presents a cer­tain urgency, a desire to do right, and a need to see what will hap­pen next that kept me play­ing like a fiend.  Some­times I even woke up ear­ly just to get in an hour of play before work.  I usu­al­ly get up ear­ly to write.

In came the guilt.

I should have been writ­ing instead. Right?

Oh, but I was.  I wasn’t actu­al­ly putting words down onto paper, no, but I was writ­ing in my head.  Heh.  I know that sounds lame, but allow me to explain.  Most writ­ers would prob­a­bly tell you that every­thing in their lives and the lives of oth­ers influ­ences and informs their writ­ing.  Me includ­ed.  Gam­ing, read­ing, work, exchanges in the gro­cery store, the news, day­dreams, a con­ver­sa­tion over­heard in line at Starbuck’s.  All of these snip­pets find their way into our work in some form.

ME is a role play­ing game, where­in I get to be some­one else.  I was some­one else for an entire month.  Bioware cre­at­ed the premise but in a sense allowed me to write my own fate (to a degree).  I wrote my own sto­ry, so to speak, and I gleaned some ter­rif­ic ideas for my own tales along the way.

I’m glad that I gave myself per­mis­sion to play instead.  Now I have to give myself per­mis­sion to get back to writ­ing.

What guilty plea­sures help you focus on your writ­ing?

I Was Only Joking


I’m not a gamer, but I real­ly enjoy video games.  I’m not all that good (most­ly due to lack of prac­tice) but when I have the time, which is rarely, I play.

The games that inter­est me most are those with high action, almost lim­it­less inter­ac­tiv­i­ty, an inter­est­ing back sto­ry, and mul­ti­ple char­ac­ter deci­sion choic­es which in turn make it high­ly replayable.

I fell in love with Assassin’s Creed about three years ago, and while I’ve not been able to fin­ish it (yet), I still go back to it from time to time.  Assassin’s Creed appealed to me for many rea­sons.  Besides the awe­some graph­ics, the sto­ry takes place in the mul­ti­cul­tur­al, mul­tira­cial, mul­ti-reli­gious Holy Land in 1191.  The his­tor­i­cal aspect of this game total­ly grabbed the imag­i­na­tion of my son who is a his­to­ry buff, but it was an imme­di­ate win­ner for my entire fam­i­ly because it fea­tured Mus­lim char­ac­ters who were depict­ed humane­ly.  Some were bad, some were good, they were human.  Through the main char­ac­ter Altair, you get to explore the ancient cities of Jerusalem, Dam­as­cus, and Acre, and you get to do some awe­some acro­bat­ics, fight­ing, and explor­ing.  The game is just plain fun and inter­est­ing.

Mon­day evening my son report­ed that Assassin’s Creed III is set to be released in Octo­ber of this year.  The set­ting?  The Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion in the 1700s.  The new pro­tag­o­nist is Con­ner Ken­way also known as Ratonhnhaké:ton.  He’s half Eng­lish and half Mohawk.  Cool right?

So I said, in an off hand sort of way, it’d be cool if the next assas­sin was an African slave or a Native Amer­i­can.  My son laughed.  His reply?  “Yeah right, we’ll get a black per­son when we get a woman!”

Yes­ter­day as I was nap­ping my eldest daugh­ter came to my bed­room and plopped down on the bed.  “Mom.  Guess what?”  She was hold­ing the lat­est edi­tion of Game Informer.

I rolled over, bleary eyed and con­fused.  “What?”

There’s going to be a sec­ond ACIII com­ing out in Octo­ber called Assassin’s Creed III:Liberation.  The game is designed specif­i­cal­ly for the Playsta­tion Vita con­sole.  The pro­tag­o­nist is named Ave­line de Grand­pré.  She’s African and French.

A woman.  A woman of col­or.  A woman of col­or who is an assas­sin.  Wow.

Ubisoft has done it again.