Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

In search of the magic of maps.

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What's New? (9th Feb, 2007)

PAL game releases compiled and ridiculed.

Did I forget to do one of these last week? Silly me!

Anyway, since we last spoke - and spurred on slightly by the discovery that games are failing to assert a positive influence on our everyday lives - I have been living as a game character for nearly a morning, adhering to a game's rules wherever practical, amusing, or unlikely to end in a man butterfly-knifing me in the stomach for trying to rotate my camera so I can printscreen the inside of his wife's crotch for Flickr. You might be surprised at the results!

Obviously I began the experiment by giving myself a grisly Engrish mission briefing, full of misplaced emphases and poorly defined obstacles. I leant over a table looking forlorn, before slowly realising that it might be possible to get the old reactor working if I went to Sainsbury's and got a bacon and egg-mayo sandwich. Stop by the armoury before you go and see if Gregor has any of his experimental scarves or mittens, I add, having also changed tense, to confuse whichever creature is presently failing to honour to Ted Woolsey's memory in these horrible, awful, broken times. Sometimes, mind you, in my haste to A-button the hell out of the house, the people I live with engage me in conversation. Fortunately it's possible to skip their dialogue quite easily, or just bite them, like in Okami, which is phenomenal, which is out today, and which you should buy.

Heading outside into the snow, I discover that some footwear-based naivety has seen me depart inadequately booted within the leaky daps Tony Mott once remarked were "nice". Deciding that this is a bit where there's no restart-level option, I continue, when I happen upon a witless NPC in Sainsbury's car-park. I approach cautiously, in case he's a bandit or something. Turns out he's offering a side quest. "Could you give my car a push?" he says, as I notice his wheels are spinning in the slush because he's never seen that bit in Dog Soldiers. "Sure," I say, as a sort of nod to accidentally pressing circle when you mean X. Effing Japanese. I complete the quest. He's grateful. He doesn't drop any coins, annoyingly.

But as I approach the shops, I am applauded by children. "Mummy, that man just pushed a car," a 7 year-old in a mini-skirt remarks. I resist the temptation to combo her mother. After all, there's an invisible badge on my chest that says "Local Hero". I decide to milk this by using the cashpoint outside, in case one of the taxi-spawn-camping pensioners nearby feels like giving me an old enchanted gramophone. They don't. Perhaps it'll be like Zelda IV, I consider, and it will simply be that I don't get called "THIEF" by everyone for stealing the bow and arrow.

It's satisfying, the life of a game character, but if it's ever to catch on then we'll need to push things further; further than simply introducing ourselves in polite conversation as "SHITKIKR52". Roundabouts will have to become turn-based, giving everyone a reasonable opportunity to get where they're going. We should also incorporate a collision detection toggle, or perhaps just turn it off altogether. After all, some of the best things in games happen when 3D objects fail to interact properly, and there are practicable applications for this everywhere you look. I was on the train yesterday and saw a sign out of the window that read, "Please do not store tools or materials in this place of safety." Wouldn't be a problem. Consider also the events of 11th September. (Consider also that, if I were to have correctly interacted with an American website for the rest of my life instead of buggering off from it 7 years ago to pursue the Eurogamer path, making jokes about the above would probably get me fired.)

Then again, sex without collision detection? This sort of post-punchline discovery is why I need you, readers. I'm not the sharpest tool in the box that you're not allowed to leave next to a train, so I'm opening it up: what else in games should we emulate in real life? Post some in the comments, along with other suggestions for how I might continue to lead my life as a game character, and I'll completely ignore the best examples next week and write about biscuits or something else instead. That would certainly beat trying to write about what's new in any given week, because - as I discovered towards the end of 2005 - there's only so many different ways to describe how something is like Aliens/Evil Dead/The Matrix before you decide to give up completely. See you next week. Probably.

This week: Tom has been trying to integrate gamerpoints into real life by getting drunk and shouting "Achievement Unlocked" whenever someone drops a glass.

  • Avatar: The Legend of Aang (PS2, PC, Wii, PSP, DS, GBA)
  • Barnyard (Wii)
  • Battlestations: Midway (PC, Xbox 360)
  • Battlezone (PSP)
  • Biker Mice From Mars (DS)
  • Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light (PSP)
  • Bomberman (PSP)
  • Charlotte's Web (PC, DS, GBA)
  • Deep Labyrinth (DS)
  • Disney's Kim Possible: Global Gemini (DS)
  • Every Extend Extra (PSP)
  • Maelstrom (PC)
  • Magical Starsign (DS)
  • Metal Slug Anthology (PSP)
  • Naruto: Ultimate Ninja (PS2)
  • Okami (PS2)
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 6 (DS)
  • Space Empires V (PC)
  • The Professor's Brain Trainer: Logic (DS)
  • The Professor's Brain Trainer: Memory (DS)
  • The Sims Life Stories (PC)
  • Thrillville (PSP)
  • Totally Spies! 2: Undercover (DS)
  • UFO: Afterlight (PC)
  • Winter Sports (PC, PS2)