Circumstantial flummery from a would-be spoonbean hustler.

Game time on.

So I need some more RAM for my computer. I’ve never been really gung-ho on must-have the top of the line PC components, but I like to have a system that can handle what I’m deciding I’m obsessed with at any given moment. Late in the year it seems I start to get interesting in playing PC games more than anything else, which may have something to do with the way marketing and game companies gear up for the Hols. I can think of a few X-mas/Birthdays (it’s generally the same event at my house) where I’ve burnt days killing Nazis or demons or Nazi-demon-vampire-piggies.

This year things are spinning up a little earlier than December. I was way into Elder Scrolls: Oblivion in March and that’s been it for most of the year, but with Bioshock now released and the upcoming Hellgate: London on Oct 31st, I feel the pull to play and the measly 512 MB ain’t gonna cut it.

Bioshock particularly looks interesting since it’s got an underwater, Jazz Age, steampunk thing going on. I really wish people would stop exploiting the Steampunk genre because, well, I love the genre and the Braxton Frame script I’m prepping for work after finishing M/O of Gallows Gulch is going to take a stab at it. So slowing down the whole steampunk fad would help save the territory for me. Doesn’t help that BoingBoing is linking all things steampunk like the shit is going out of style or something.

Anyway, Bioshock is also unique because it’s catching press for something I’ve long thought was a logical progression- screenwriters associated with full-fledged game design & production. (God help me, I’m about to link to FoxNews) There’s a story about how Bioshock is becoming a bit of a surprise hit– which honestly makes no sense and would only be a surprise to anyone who doesn’t play games. It’s a conglomeration of a lot of geek-friendly mythos & action while invoking the supremely popular System Shock 2, how could it not be a hit? Back to the article- it features a note about so-called failed Screenwriter Ken Levine who conceived the story for the game. Or it infers that Ken calls himself a failed screenwriter- but jeez, Ken with games like System Shock 2, Thief, and Freedom Force (all of which I own) under your belt, failure is hardly the proper adjective.

I’ve always thought that the plot and story development in gaming has an amazing built-in parallel to screenwriting & filmmaking. My favorite games have big, meaty narratives, strong characterization and stories that call forth the best elements in genre fiction/films and it’s the immersion in these that keeps pulling me back to the computer or the console. But go back, way back and look at the SciFi and Fantasy roots in tabletops and examine the evolution of those. Role-playing is an extension of theater. Hell, the evolution of chess and checkers to Monopoly to D&D and then the evolution of pc/console gaming- the explosion of budgets and increase in production values, turn-around times- all very distinctly invokes the evolution of the film industry to me. It’s all immersive entertainment and it makes sense that things would draw together.

Which results in things like Samuel L. Jackson and Ray Liotta doing voice-work for Rockstar’s newest title instead of twenty lines of dialogue for the paper-doll happy-meal game to go along with the huge movie & toy-line release. Bioshock features more than a few Law & Order and Star Trek alums in the voice cast as well as some VAs from JLU, The Venture Bros, Grim & Evil  and many other games. And it’s all really cool because it can only mean better games as the media continues to evolve  and the storytelling improves. Ideally might turn around and have an effect on the quality of the  movies, though I suspect the blending has a long way to go before that’s immediately apparent. But it’s a nice thought.