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Games People Play
I'm not a gamer.
I could take the easy out and blame my age, but I wasn't very good back in the days of Defender, Tempest, or Dragon's Lair, either.
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Not that I haven't dabbled in a few games over the decades. I bought a Commodore 64 to play chess when the Army transferred my favorite human opponent back to the States, and left chess behind for The Bard's Tale II, an early turn-based RPG. A few years later, I was sucked in by Myst, a Mac-based puzzle/adventure game that took the world by storm for a few months.
But, I'm no gamer. I'm not willing to tie up our only TV with a console, let alone buy a second, and I find the idea of spending a couple of grand on a computer so I can install Windows on it almost as funny as I do sad.
Things change, though.
After years of receiving with my hand-me-down computers, bicycles, and wooden swords, my son decided turnabout was fair play and gave me his old Nintendo Switch when his special edition OLED upgrade arrived. Suddenly I have a gaming platform that doesn't need a dedicated TV or a PC that's worthless for actual work.
So, after playing around with various arcade ports, I gave installed Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.
And, five years after the game was released, I am just a little bit obsessed.
Even if you're not familiar with the Witcher the game, you may know Witcher the streaming series, and its related features, on Netflix. While the details differ, the game, show, and series of books, they owe their existence to, have much in common.
A witcher is a magically enhanced monster hunter that's feared and hated by nearly everyone, even the people they're sworn to protect. The witchers wander, plying their monster-killing trade, in a medieval world filled with all manner of dark magic. Sometimes they find monsters that need to be slain. Other times, they find monsters that might not need to die.
From 30,000 feet Witcher looks like a many of the fantasy franchises we've seen lately: magic, monsters, antiheroes, British accents, sharp swords, and lots of black leather.
But drill down, and there's a lot more to it than most. The game, like the book and the series, has a delightfully subtle and often dark sense of humor. It's also filled with stories that are surprisingly deep and often very touching.
You spend most of the game as Geralt of Rivia, a experienced witcher who seems cynical and sarcastic at time, but you may find yourself replaying scenes to test his different reactions. Geralt's character doesn't change much as the game progresses, but as you travel with him you bear witness to the drama around him. He wanders into family dramas, lost princesses, political intrigues, unjust tyrannies, struggling pioneers, and bloody wars. The game is, in a very real way, a great novel.
An old friend of mine has been a dedicated gamer for many years, and he's often pointed out that while a new movie might provide you with 3 hours of entertainment for $20, you'll often complain that it was too long. At the same time your average $60 game provides upwards from 50 hours, let's you control the schedule, and leaves your wanting more. Witcher is roughly 100 hours long.
I still play Wordle every day. I don't know how long my streak is, because the NY Times keeps resetting the counter. (I guess there's two sides to the question of what the correct number is.) But it must be going on two years. I still share my scores with a few friends, but I don’t see anyone doing that on Notes.
I also started playing Wrodeo a couple of weeks ago. Each day, you guess the words that may up a different quote from a famous or popular book. It's a bit more time-consuming, but a lot of fun.
Here's a screen shot:
Give it a try!