Confessions of a Non-Gamer Who Games

Editor’s note: A hearty welcome to asiangrrlMN, a dear friend who can usually be found at Angry Black Lady Chronicles. She’s also a prolific fiction writer, and you can find some of her excellent zombie-oriented work at Dead Shuffle.

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One of asiangrrlMN’s dark elves celebrates a Blood Bowl touchdown.

Hi, I’m asiangrrlMN, culturegamer’s partner in crime for his Let’s Play Magicka! series.  I am not a gamer, nor do I play one on TV.  I didn’t game much in my youth, save for the occasional game of Pitfall or Ms. Pac-Man, and who among us of a certain age can say differently?

In the past five years or so, I played casual games, but I shied away from hardcore games.  Let me be brutally honest – I saw the racism, sexism, and homophobia that runs through the online gaming community, and I wanted no part of it.  I’m not a joiner by nature, and I definitely didn’t want to be part of a community that was hostile to me.  Plus, I had an outmoded idea of what hardcore games were – mostly first-person shooters in the vein of Call of Duty—and I had little-to-no interest in that kind of thing.  It is with this blithe ignorance that I dismissed hardcore video games – until I met Ian, a.k.a. “culturegamer.”

Ian is passionate about games, and through our many discussions about them, he’s helped me see that they are more than ‘just games’ – they have cultural value and can be more engrossing than movies or television.  I was intrigued and requested that he find me a game.  After much consideration, he suggested Torchlight to me, and I was hooked.  I played the hell out of that game, and I loved being involved in a miniature world of dungeon-crawling, monster-smiting, and fishing!  I had a pet cat, Enigma, and if I fed her fish, she’d transmogrify into other creatures with varying powers .  I played as the Vanquisher in a large part because she’s female and looks vaguely Asian, and I quickly learned to love Mulan and her trusty Toxic Ribauldequin.  I also realized that I vastly preferred ranged characters to melee characters, and I’ve stuck with the former mostly in my subsequent forays into RPGs.

(click for more confessions)

Video games and fear – Dark Souls diary

I woke up at an ungodly hour this morning and decided that there was no choice but to either watch paid programming on cable or finally knuckle down and make some headway in Dark Souls, which has been languishing in my Xbox 360, unplayed, for the past two weeks.

I should note here that I’ll be including a couple spoilers, so if you’re new to (or intending to play) the game, you may want to look elsewhere.

What had happened was I’d gone on a bit of a Dark Souls jag recently, after previously hitting a similar wall. Killing the Bell Gargoyles at the top of the Undead Burg, I’d been filled with renewed vigor for the game, and had plunged headlong through several new areas — the Darkroot Garden, Lower Undead Burg, and the Depths. Each presented its own challenges, but I was eventually able to overcome them using the skills and equipment I’d accumulated so far. A longsword I’d picked up earlier had been re-forged by a helpful blacksmith into a weapon with added divine power, I had several new armor sets (including a lightweight set of thief’s leathers), and I’d bumped up my stats to the point that I was able to carry more and still remain nimble.

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Dark Souls’ appeal

I posted yesterday about some much-needed progress I made in From Software’s Dark Souls, which I’ve recently fired up again.

A lot has been written about this game, which is seen as a “spiritual successor” to Demon’s Souls — another brutally difficult game that features a dark, gothic setting in which to die over and over again.

It’s odd that a game that bucks today’s console-driven trends of heavy tutorialization, gradual learning curves, and checkpoint-style autosaving should attract such a devoted following — at least on paper. But the fact is, Dark Souls is a lot of fun. It’s also the most frightening game I’ve ever played, and one of the most rewarding.

If you’re unfamiliar with the unique mechanics, here’s Dark Souls in a nutshell: You’re undead, and your job is to (I think) bring “light” back to a blighted world. You can rest at the bonfires scattered around the vast world, which restore your supply of healing flasks and provide a revive point for when you die. And in case I haven’t quite gotten this point across yet, you will die. A lot. Every corner of the gloomy world holds new perils: Even the lowliest of enemies must be taken seriously, traps spring, and gigantic bosses lurk beyond eerie fog-clouded doors. Each time you die, you’ll wake up at the bonfire you rested at last, and all the enemies you had littered your path with are back.

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Dark Souls’ Bell Gargoyles are dicks

I’ve been playing the brutally-difficult Dark Souls, and I cannot for the life of me beat these damned Bell Gargoyles.

Update: Just after posting this, I decided to give the gargoyles another go. Using the game’s “humanity” system, I was able to “summon” a spirit to help out, and we managed to take out the bastards.

It’s a butterfly with frikkin’ lasers on its head.

Update 2: Following my success in finally killing the gargoyles, I ventured into the Darkroot Garden, which is populated with thorny tree dryads and humongous stone knights. There’s also a thing called the Moonlight Butterfly, which took me several attempts to kill.