Tag Archives: video games


I’m starting to wonder why video game designers felt the need to add moral ambiguity. I’m pretty sure I was a happier gamer back in the old days, when I could be a one hundred per cent good hero and save the world without wondering whether or not I had made the right decision about that dragon or those werewolves. I suppose they’re trying to make it more like real life, but, honestly, if I wanted real life, would I be playing video games?

Real life is that place where nothing is ever black and white and most of the time I have no idea what to do next. Video game worlds used to be clear-cut and obvious. Everything happened in a certain order and everything I was asked to do made the world a better place. Sure, I had to kill things in order to save the world, but the things I had to kill were all bad. Or I didn’t even have to kill them; I just “defeated” them. They disappeared when they were defeated and I was rewarded with a certain amount of game currency and experience and absolutely no guilt.

Those of my readers who are gamers may have realized by now that I recently started playing a Dragon Age game. Those who know games a little better than they know me might have been thinking Fallout, but no, those are all too bleak to even watch someone else play. At least Dragon Age lets me play in a pretty world. I’ve started with Dragon Age Origins, which seemed a very good place to start, especially since it’s old enough to be found in the Used bin at Game Stop for less than $7.00.

The decision-making started before I even got to play the game. I had to create a character. Older games might have asked me to choose gender, race (elf, dwarf, human, etc.) and class (warrior, mage, rogue, etc.) but this one asked me to choose the character’s appearance, right down to how long the nose was and how far apart the eyes were. I hear that folks familiar with these types of games can knock out characters that look just like themselves in ten minutes flat, but it took me closer to an hour. I started out trying to make my mage look just like me, but then I decided I wanted her to be young and pretty, so I made some changes.

When I finally got to start playing the game, I had to make decision after decision, with every single one of them having consequences. Some were good, some were evil and some were neutral. It could be hard to tell which was which, but what happened next in the game depended on the choice I made in each situation. I met other characters who joined my party and sometimes one would like my choice and another would not.

I love role-playing games, but I think these guilt-inducing games have gone a bit too far. I know these are just games and these people I’m so attached to are just ones and zeroes but it feels real when I’m playing. I find that even when my daughter watches me play and looks things up on the internet so I will know the consequences of my choices, I will end up going with my gut anyway. My current choice may make it a lot harder for me to win the final battle, but it’s the choice I have to make because that’s who I am.

Speaking of who I am, Xbox Live offered me a new gamer name when I registered there so I could get downloadable content, but I chose to go with the one I’ve been using as my gamer handle for years. I’d rather be Releaf1954 than InfernalPrune50.

Color Magic

Another week has passed and it’s time to come up with a blog post. It sure would be nice if I had a new painting to talk about, but I don’t. Sad but true. I wanted it to happen. I thought it would happen. It just didn’t happen. There was a tie-dye inventory taking up a lot of my time. There was Easter. I spent that at a family gathering seventy miles from home, so I didn’t have any painting time that day. There was visiting time and eating time and walking time, but no painting time. No regrets there. I love our family gatherings.

Okay, but there were seven whole days in that week. Surely I could have squeezed in some painting time somewhere, right? One would think so. One would definitely think so, unless one happened to be a fan of an app game called “Magic Piano.” Is anyone out there such a fan? If you are, you know what Magic Piano did this week. For my readers who are not fans, I will explain.

Magic Piano is a game that lets you play real pieces of music by tapping dots on the screen. You earn game currency, called “smoola,” by watching ads. When you have enough smoola, you use it to buy a song. The song rolls down the screen as a series of dots. When the dots reach a certain line on the screen, you tap them. If you see one dot, you tap that with one finger. It it’s two dots, you need to use two fingers. Three dots, three fingers and four dots, four fingers. Easy peasy, right?

Actually, it’s pretty challenging. Not real piano challenging, but still challenging. When I first started playing, the single notes were all green and all the notes in chords were yellow. It was pretty easy to get mixed up and tap the wrong number, but the game was so addictive, I kept trying for perfection on every song. Some songs are easy, like “A Tisket, a Tasket.” Then there are the difficult songs, like Bach’s “Fugue in D Minor.” Yes, they do have the Toccata as well, but the Fugue is so long, the Toccata is a whole separate song, costing a whole separate amount of smoola.

I love most of the songs, but the ones I find particularly irresistible are the themes from video games. They have Dragon Warrior and Zelda and Mario. I play those a lot, but the ones that I can’t resist are the Battle Music Medley and Boss Music Medley from the Final Fantasy games. I love those medleys, and I became a little obsessed with them. I had been trying for weeks (maybe months; I tend to lose all track of time when I’m playing Magic Piano) to break 20,000 points on the Battle Music Medley.

Until recently, my best score was 19,991. I tried and tried and tried to break 20,000, but I just couldn’t do it. This week, Magic Piano did an update and a wonderful miracle occurred. They changed the dot colors from just two to four. There is now a different color for each possible number of dots. This makes a huge difference.

Screen Shot

Screen Shot

See, I did accomplish something this week.