Tale of a “Play-Well” videogame addict
Okay, okay….I’m hooked. I’m a middle-aged person who has become addicted to videogames. And not just any videogames — I do have some sensibilities about myself. I play on the computer, my PS3 and my PSP. I even enjoy watching Youngest Son playing and trying to find the things going on in the background that are designed for those who are just observing and not the actual players. But I’m not addicted to MMORPGs (I do have a life). First-person shooters are fun and can be great stress relievers when needed. Platform games about Italian plumbers, lombaxes, bandicoots, and hedgehogs just aren’t my style. And while I love a great puzzle game, sometimes I don’t want to think when I’m playing — I just want to play.
And don’t get me started on the new motion-capture devices that have been added to new gaming systems to make you feel as if you’re really “in” the game. True, some can be used as an exercise program for those, like me, who don’t feel comfortable sweating it out in front of others, but I also enjoy having nice items hanging on the walls and sitting on the shelves in my house. I moved away from an earthquake zone a few years ago and don’t really want to feel that kind of shaking in my house again, especially when it’s my fault.
No, the games I’ve become hooked on have a story. They have many characters. They’re based on movies I’ve loved for years. And they’re even cute when you blow-up part of the scenery or another character.
I’ve become enraptured with Legos.
I must explain that I’ve always loved Legos and those little blocks were lots of fun when I was a kid. I enjoyed them much more than my Lincoln Logs because I could never build anything other than the basic cabin shown on the canister. And don’t get me started with Tinkertoys — those things would splinter and crack as if they’d been shipped with their own termite infestation in every box. I could never build anything sturdy with them and if you got a rod stuck in one of the holes, you were doomed to have a wheel forever.
Legos when I was a kid was just a bunch of colored blocks and you had to use your imagination to decide what to build. Somewhere along the way, the creators decided to include instructions with certain kits and you could recreate objects and places from famous movies. I loved that my kids loved Legos — it meant that I got to put them together for them which was always a thrill for me.
Years ago, Lego had tried to entice kids into becoming movie producers when they sold a special set that had a stop-motion camera and software kit. If you were lucky, you even got a minifigure that looked like Steven Spielberg. Suddenly, adults were creating stop-motion movies based on popular movies. Star Wars, Star Trek — not much was off-limits. You can even find remakes of scenes from movies on YouTube done in Lego that are better than the originals.
But the geniuses behind Legos, video game corporations, and the movie industry got together and started a marketing frenzy. Not only could you build little sets and scenes from the movies you loved with actual bricks, you could now immerse yourself in a movie brought to life through animated bricks! Plus, the minifigures in the games don’t speak, so you get to imagine what they’re saying (or quote it verbatim in your head if you’ve memorized the movies as I have). And when you destroy something, it breaks apart into separate Lego pieces — no blood, no gore; it’s good, wholesome fun!
I’ve played them all. I relived my childhood while playing Lego Star Wars II because we all know that Episodes 4-6 are the only TRUE Star Wars stories worth watching, no matter how much George Lucas thinks the prequels sated our appetites for more adventures in a galaxy far, far away. And, yes, I did play Lego Star Wars and bought Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga and Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. I bought Lego Indiana Jones and thoroughly loved getting to recreate the first three movies. Even after Lego Indiana Jones II was released only so you could implausibly survive a nuclear blast in a refrigerator as seen in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I bought and played the heck out of that game. Lego Batman gave me the chance to prance around as a superhero with my underwear on the outside and create a lot of havoc one can only wish to accomplish in real life. And Lego Pirates of the Caribbean — let’s just say that my habit of watching every rerun of the movies on cable made it easy to finish.
However, there’s another Lego videogame genre that has a tighter hold. Youngest Son had all of the Lego sets that went with the first two movies in the franchise and when he outgrew them we sold them on eBay for a hefty sum (all went to one buyer). He and I each have our own copies of all of the books and he has the Lego Nintendo DS version while I’ve got PS3, PSP, and Windows — just so I can see the differences in them all. I can play it for hours and not notice the time passing.
My name is Jackie, and I’m a Lego Harry Potter addict.
Years 1-4 weren’t enough. I dashed-out and made sure to get Years 5-7 as well and have worked hard to get 100% completion without having to go online. I’ve collected every minifig and extra power and additional spells. Yes….because of me I know what’s in J.K. Rowling’s appointment diary at every available space — “Count my money.”
And it’s a kids game! I should be playing Portal or something that makes you think, not just button-mashing. But, no, I sit and giggle every time I get Lego pieces to explode. People don’t like to do the cooperative play with me because I’m determined to explore EVERY inch of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, and every other place they create because I want to find all of the secret pieces. Youngest Son has gotten frustrated when we’ve played together and he can’t move forward through a maze because I’m still poking around in every corner for Lego studs so I can attain True Wizard status.
If only I could bring Jar-Jar Binks over from Lego Star Wars and watch the Harry Potter spells and traps blow him up, I’d be rolling on the floor with laughter.
Sadly, however, I must now wait to see what new Lego videogame franchise will be introduced. I’ve finished all the ones I have and even though they have hours and hours of “freeplay” levels to complete, once those are done you just don’t know what to do. The newer games have Lego Creator additions where you can build your own levels. But that requires the aforementioned thinking that I don’t always want to do when I sit to play a game for pure entertainment.
I will add, though, that Youngest Son has enjoyed his newest games immensely and I’ve begun to wonder just how well I could challenge GLaDOS. Perhaps adding some extra thinking to my playtime will be good for me.