The Ironic Universe

gunblade2

The universe is heavily into irony. At least that is what I am left to conclude after today’s shopping find.

Let’s step back a bit and get some historical perspective. I like video games, but I am not a huge gamer. I like simpler games. I like games I can complete. I am always looking for games from my childhood, or at least late teens. Things like Galaga, Scramble, Amidar, berzerk….stuff like that. Yes, I know, I can play them on am emulator (though I haven’t found Scramble or Moon Unit–if you know a site, please send me a link).

One game that I loved playing at the arcade (more often than not this tended to be the airport or other equally inconvenient and expensive places to play) was Gunblade. I enjoyed this game probably because I loved how the bullets hit everything when I missed the actual targets. The road got chewed up. The window shattered. Trucks blew up. It was all cool.

gunblade 3The only platform I could find the game for was the Wii. I didn’t have a Wii, but I actually thought about buying one, just for this game (which only lasts about 15 minutes–so I have been told). I finally was given a the system by someone who didn’t need it, and I went to Amazon and purchased the game. I think it cost me around 20 bucks to get this game. I was okay with the price because I never found it in the stores, and I never saw it in a discount bin.

Today, while at the grocery store, I came across a bin of games. Wouldn’t you know it, there it was in a two pack for 20 bucks. Since, I wasn’t really into the other game, it didn’t frustrate me all that much. Of course that was until I saw that the games were 75% off the sticker price. Yes, that’s right. Five bucks!

gunblade4Thank you universe for your irony. I hope you enjoy your laugh.

For my part, I did pick up some other games for a that 5 dollar price, and one for even less. I should be happy for my bargain, but part of me doesn’t enjoy the universe laughing at me.

What is and What is not a Hobby

Before the year is out, I have several lists to make.  Some of them are private, but some I am willing to share.  Some you’ll like, and some… you’ll wonder why I’m sharing them…such is the nature of blogging.

The first is the list of things that are not hobbies, and outside of this list, should not appear in this blog.

Shovelling snow.  Despite the fact that I will have to do this for the next few months, and despite the fact that the news people/weather forecasters, having survived the end of the Mayan calendar, are now calling for the snowiest winter in living memory, this is not a hobby.  It requires specialist equipment, and at times inhuman persistence, but it is not a hobby.

Drinking egg nog or hot chocolate.  Making the perfect cup of either of these two delicious things should be considered a hobby, but drinking them does not satisfy the definition.

Commuting.  Though it requires a certain tenacity, not to mention resistance to cold Canadian mornings, it does not qualify as a hobby.  The things that make it go faster (reading, playing video games, shaking my head at what some people are wearing, and trying to stare at some of my beautiful fellow commuters) are hobbies, but you knew that already.

Guessing the contents of presents before opening them.  This is definitely fun, and requires some innate talent, but is not a hobby.  I would wager to say it would make a great career if we could turn it into a carnival act, but it’s not a hobby.

Eating ramen.  In Japan, this is a hobby, or a career, or a lifestyle…maybe even a religion, but not in my current world.  Sometimes I wish it were, but that’s another story.

Cleaning.  Fantastic if you like it.  Creepy if you like it too much.  A necessity for sure.  Not a hobby.

Sleeping.  I covered this in an earlier blog (if you haven’t read it go check it out) and things still haven’t changed.  It isn’t a hobby…despite my students’ insistence.

Shopping.  I know, I know, for some of you out there this is a hobby……..but I just can’t wrap my head around it, so I am going to have to say no.  Feel free to convince me.  I’m not saying it can’t be done.  I don’t believe it can, but you might have a good argument.  Maybe.

Feel free to add to my list.  And expect more lists as the year draws to a close.  Some will look back at the past (as in what I accomplished this past year) and some will look to the future (what I hope to accomplish in the upcoming year). 

Practice…is always needed

Coming to grips with your limitations is tough on a hobbyist.  I would like to think that I could enter any hobby and pretty quickly pick up the skills needed to be at least competent. Of course, I would love to be fabulous right out of the gate, but I know that everything has a learning curve.  Some curves are gentle and others are wickedly steep.

When it comes to building models, the easy curves are the assembling, gap filling and learning how to use glue sparingly.  The hard curves are painting and decal application. 

When it comes to train layouts, wiring and maintenance are the hard curves, while collecting trains is so easy that everyone usually overdoes it–okay, not everyone, just me.

When it comes to remote control cars, building the cars is relatively easy.  The instructions are usually clear, and the body paints up quite easily–though some people need to give their heads a shake when they think of colour combinations.  Driving the car well enough to avoid collisions and maybe win a heat or two is the difficult part.

All hobbies have learning curves.  Everything requires a lot of practice.  As I type this I can hear the voices of all my teachers and mentors echoing the same words.  The worse part is, as I am sure you will agree, that it is easy to ignore them, hope for the best, and hopefully not destroy something you’ve been working on out of frustration.  No matter what someone says, the most important lessons are the hardest to learn.

Pong
 
This blog came about because I was playing a first person shooter video game on Friday.  In a nutshell, I sucked.  I sucked bad.  I come from an era of top down, two dimensional video games with minimal stories, minimal controls.  Today’s controllers have as many buttons as my keyboard and require a lot of precise control.  There is way more to keep track of and so much happens in the blink of an eye.  We’ve come a long way from pong.

I could beat myself up about this, but I won’t.  I know that everything takes time.  I am sure that with more practice I could become better at this.  I won’t be great, but I won’t embarrass myself….again

 

Video Games

Maybe it’s a guy thing–though things are changing–but guys love video games.  Some of my readers might say that boys love video games, and these men are just boys inside.  I can’t really argue with that too much.  Of course, as a hobbyist, I have been channelling the little boy inside me for a long time.  And that little boy likes his video games.

What does this really mean?  It means that I thumb through the weekly flyers for Best Buy and Future shop to see what games are out.  It means that I burrow deep into the “on sale” bin at department stores looking for gems in the rough.  It means that the sound of the arcade (mostly in movie theatre lobbies these days) calls whenever I pass.

Despite my affection for the games, I am not really a good player.  My hand eye co-ordination isn’t bad, my reaction time isn’t bad, but I just don’t have the intangible quality that separates the dabblers from the standout players.  I can complete games, but I probably don’t play them on the highest difficulty levels.  I win, but I don’t win convincingly.

As a hobby, video games don’t really get a lot of my time and attention.  I have a couple of portable ones when I need some distractions for the bus.  I have a less than modern system for the TV, and a couple of games.  I mostly play computer games, like Age of Empires, Sim City, and other games.  I like games that can be played in a couple of hours or less–having to spend a lot hours in front of the screen doesn’t appeal to me–my eyes get buggy and the headaches begin.

The new crop of video games that require full body movement are quite interesting.  I wonder how far this technology will go in the near and slightly distant future.