Thursday, January 05, 2006

Getting your toes wet

I've been a gamer for almost as long as I can remember. As a child I spent hours sprawled out on the floor in front of my neighbors t.v. playing pitfall! on the family Atari 2600. When I was 7 my brother would let me play Porky's when my parents went out and left him in charge (he also used to chase me around the house with his Ventriloquist Doll but that's a story for another time).

My love of games was firmly cemented on my 8th Christmas, the year I received my very own Vectrex from Santa. What a guy! Vectrex provided many hours of hand-eye coordinated fun until the day it overheated after a power gaming session of epic proportions and refused to turn on ever again. Santa came through again a few years later leaving a shiny new Sega Genesis under the tree. Sonic and I became the best of friends and Hang On is still one of my all time favorite games ever. The Junior High computer lab kept me edutained with Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego (I secretly hated that game and would rather be forced to do long division in my head than track down Carmen. And that's saying a lot. I'm with Barbie, math is hard).

While I didn't have my own Nintendo 64, I became a Star Fox master between "study" sessions on my boyfriend's system Sophomore year of high school. By senior year my dad brought home a new computer which ushered in solitaire, Monkey Island, Indiana Jones, and such *gems* as Willow (remember 5.25" floppy discs?). My best friend had a thing for Leisure Suit Larry and the PC version of Strip Poker. Poor Larry never got much action, but we chose to blame his poor fashion sense rather than our lack of skill (both with games and the ladies).

Around the same time I was wowed by Myst, the 7th Guest, Rollercoaster Tycoon, the ever addictive Sim City. I got my first taste of an online 'game' with Alpha World (at that time it was really just a glorified chat program which I suppose you could argue is the definition of most current MMO's - Massively Multiplayer Online Games).

In 2001 I attended my very first LAN (Local Area Network) party with a guy friend from work. It was love at first sight. You haven't gamed 'till you've pulled a 36 hour Counter-Strike tournament powered only by ungodly amounts of Mountain Dew and Jimmy John's subs. Counter-Strike led to Battlefield 1942, Jedi Knight 2, Quake III Arena, and on and on.

Shortly after that first LAN party I got sucked into a circle of gamer guys where my addiction to MMO's was born, first with Planetside, then (the love of my gamer life) Star Wars Galaxies. It took me a long time to finally cancel my Galaxies accounts - yes I had two accounts. Giving up that game felt almost losing a friend. I moved on to City of Heroes where I played Moreay, a blue, 6' tall mutant Defender (healer) for a year and a half. I became a guild leader of The Unsung Superheroes, the first and arguably most successful guild on Justice (my City of Heroes server). After City of Heroes I wavered between Guild Wars, EQ2 and World of Warcraft. I Finally settled the latter, which I am currently playing today. I've been a game tester on several Betas (Auto Assault, Sims Online, Savage, Lineage II, City of villains) as well. My character graveyard is overflowing.

I also have a special place in my heart for flash games. That brings me to the point of this post. I know the world of gaming can be quite overwhelming to the uninitiated. Particularly in the case of MMO's where the game and its community are so vast and detailed it is like visiting another world. Flash games, by contrast, offer simple rules with user friendly interfaces which make them easy to understand and play.

There are several great flash games that you can play for free online. In most cases all that is required is a java enabled browser. Below is a list of a few of my favorites that you can use to get your feet wet in the world of online games. A couple of them are even multiplayer (try Yahoo!Games for more multiplayer action).

Orisinal - a collection of simple games filled with characters that are too cute for words.

Loop - Because you've always wanted to be a butterfly hunter.

Guess the Google - Guess the search term used to generate a grid of pictures from Google Images.

Helicopter - careful, it can be quite addicting.

Belter - Like Asteroids on crack.

Online Sonic - A flash version of classic Sonic the Hedgehog. - classic flash games including Pac-Man.

99 rooms - point and click your way through this photorealistic world from the first to the last room.

Nevermore - a stick figure jumping puzzle game.

Trogdor the Burninator - it's a Homestar runner thing (home to the Strongbad Emails, popular among tech geeks).

Bejewled 2 - The sequel to the popular time waster. You have to agree to install yahoo's pop cap games software to play.

Nation States - Create your own Nation State. I just started playing this one but, my Nation State will totally kick your Nation States ass!

Facade - A one-act interactive drama. Ok, so you have to download this one to play, but it is a very interesting concept. It is a research project in artificial intelligence where your interactions with the characters in the game have a direct effect on the outcome. It has received rave reviews.

This is just a very very very small sampling of the stuff that's out there. Try a google search on your own and find something you like.

There's a gamer in all of us. Unleash yours and connect with your patrons.


aaron said...

I just wasted so much time playing Loop. It's so fun! Thanks for the tip.

Julie said...

You're very welcome! I'm glad you liked it.