Time To Go Gaming?

Most of the time I am reasonably happy that just reading books is keeping me up with cutting edge developments in science fiction. Certainly film and TV seem mostly to be following the curve. But I always worry that I might be missing out on something, and this article suggests that I really ought to get back into video games.

I have heard a lot of good things about Mass Effect before, specifically the fact that Commander Shepard can be played as either male or female with ease. However, the article suggests that Bioware’s game designers are a lot more sophisticated than just worrying about gender.

Sadly I have two problems. Firstly I own neither a PS3 nor an XBox, and I suspect that my PCs are all inadequate for game playing. Also, my hand-eye coordination is so poor that any sort of action game is pretty much closed to me. So I suspect I would be wasting my money on the game. Can anyone comment?

12 thoughts on “Time To Go Gaming?

  1. Hi Cheryl.

    I do play some video games. I don’t think from what you know about me that this is a terrible surprise. 🙂

    I am not especially good at hand eye coordination, and I manage. Its not ideal but I do manage. You just crank down the difficulty and play for story and decisions. There is a learning curve, but you can play these sorts of games. I even get the sense that Bioware has made the lowest difficulties particularly for those people who are NOT hardcore gamers.

    Bioware is remarkably sophisticated for a video game designer as far as female characters and allowing the PC to play as such as well. Not only the Mass Effect series, but their Dragon Age series illustrates this as well.

  2. It’s absolutely worth playing if you can find a way to do so – check your PC stats against the listed needed stats for the game? You might be able to play it even on an older PC. The difficulty levels can be turned down, too, as above commenter notes. So, while there’s still a learning curve, the hand-eye coordination bit shouldn’t be a huge problem. (I was bad at the game at first, but after playing for a while on an easier difficulty I was fine.)

    I love the ME games; I’m dying for the third and final installment to come out. The depth of thought that has obviously gone into the construction of each character and the universe as a whole is really satisfying.

    (Bioware are my favorite company: they almost always offer queer relationship options and gender/ethnic customization. And they’ve publicly talked about how important it is to them to do so.)

  3. I was interested too, until I discovered that it’s PC-only (we have an all-Mac household). It’s available on Steam but still requires a PC, I think. I have
    a Windows emulator, CrossOver Games, but it says Mass Effect doesn’t work with it. I don’t want to install Windows in a virtual machine. So I guess I’m S.O.L.

  4. Paul – Thanks, it is good to know I’m not the only klutz out there.

    Brit – It needs a video card. I only have non-gaming laptops.

    David – Ironically it probably would be OK on my Mac if there was a Mac version, it being the only machine I have with a quality graphics card.

    So, given that I’ll have to save up for hardware, anyone have views on Xbox v PS3?

  5. Well, the first game is only available on PC & XBox, from what I remember, so – XBox.

    Though the XBox also has a larger library of games than the PS3, so not a bad purchase overall if you like the experience & want to play some other Bioware games like Dragon Age. 🙂

  6. PS3 has a larger library if you allow for all the PS2 games that are forward compatible (strictly speaking, PS3 is backward compatible, but hey…) – and I find I like the style of games they produce better as well. OTOH, Xbox is perfectly fun and if the 1st game is only there…

  7. If you can’t play the ME or Dragon Age games on any of the PCs you own, then I think Xbox is the way of the future with them. As others have said, you can dial the difficulty all the way down. I am of the opinion that the Mass Effect games are possibly the best series of single player games ever, to the point where I’ve played 1 through twice (once male, once female) and 2 three times (2 females, one male). The story makes no compromise for the sex of the character you’re playing. You are precisely as badass/heroic/charismatic/whatever regardless of what set of genitals you bring into it and regardless of whether you’re playing a 2m tall man or a woman who physically has to look up to a lot of the people she’s in charge of. More of that sort of thing, games industry, please.

  8. If the hand-eye thing always is a problem (like it is for me), I vote for getting someone you’re close to who doesn’t have the problem to play the game in your presence, and you watch it like an interesting version of a movie. I do this all the time with my room mate, and for me, the games are much more enjoyable because it’s so frustrating for me to play myself. Plus, you can focus fully on the story.


    1. It’s an interesting idea, and if I was still able to visit Kevin I’d happily sit and watch him play. However, I’m not in college, I don’t have housemates, most of my friends live over an hour away by best available transport.

      Still, I’m happy to know that you have a solution, and I sympathize mightily with your frustration. The reason I gave up on video games in the first place was that I could never finish any of them.

  9. It’s possible it will play on your laptop depending on the type of integrated graphics – the first game doesn’t have that high a spec, and played nicely on my previous, fairly antiquated computer. But the second and third probably won’t. The advantage of getting it on the PC is that it is fairly regularly in the sales, so you could give it a go without a huge investment – I think my copy was £2 last time Steam had a sale.

    The combat system is an action-RPG style, so it’s less requiring of coordination and twitch reflexes than a standard first-person shooter, and the easy difficulty level is pretty easy – I am of low skill at video games and I can manage on normal. There’s actually recognition of this in the third game, whcih has three play options – action mode, which will just make all your dialogue choices for you and let you do the fighting, story mode which has easier combat so you can just play for the storyline, and a middle mode which is a hybrid of the two. It’s interesting to see a games company acknowledging that they have a whole audience who isn’t as invested in the bits with shooting as the bits where you get to talk about moral decisions and decide which character to sleep with.

    1. Unless they are fibbing about the graphics requirements in the spec, I’m afraid none of my PCs can handle it.

      I too am very pleased to see a games company prepared to cater for people who are utter klutzes when it comes to action sequences (though I suspect you have woefully underestimated just how much of a klutz I am). Back in the days when I used to write games, all too often a complex action sequence would be inserted as a means of putting the brakes on anyone smart enough to solve the fairly simplistic puzzles, or patient enough to try every possible action. I want to buy these games because of all the good things I have heard about them.

  10. I question how many video games the writer of the linked post has actually played. Being able to play the viewpoint character as either male or female is pretty standard. Appearance customization is not quite as standard, but pretty common. And I’ve seen plenty of game universes where humans are an upstart minority.

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