A gamer’s life is a hard one

November 25th, 2009
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There are generally two types of games in our house: ones that we play, and ones that we watch my brother play. My brother is hands-down the most hilarious video-game player I’ve ever watched. Not only because of the inadvertently stupid things he does, but the comments he makes while doing them. Whereas we mere mortals usually resort to various four-letter words when screaming obscenities at crappy in-game events, my brother will pull some phrase out of somewhere off the top of his head that sounds like he strung together totally innocent words into something that somehow resembles profanity.

Anyway. I came upon one such example in that latter game category late one night, when I came home to find my brother staring blankly at the computer screen. Turned out he was playing some strategy-type game (whose name I will not mention but I’m sure players will recognize it) that he’d found through a Facebook ad. He normally plays only console games, but this one somehow piqued his interest.

I looked at the computer monitor and saw the usual large tract of land divided into plots with various buildings on them, as chats from other players scrolled below and notices of other people’s achievements flashed at the top.

“Kinda like ‘Civilization,’” I said, mentioning the only similar-looking strategy game I’ve ever played. (And which, incidentally, is one of two games that made me realize I stink at strategy games.)

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Waiting for this sawmill to finish building,” he said. He apparently had 16 minutes more to wait.

I looked at the screen again. “Lord Dingleberry? Your name is Lord Dingleberry? Did you choose that name?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“WHY?” I asked.

“Because Lord Farquaad was already taken,” he said.

I cannot describe how much I cracked up at that.

So his little kingdom here is called Xanth. (I am a severe disappointment to Piers Anthony fans: I totally didn’t recognize the word when I saw it. It must be even longer than I thought since I’ve read a Xanth novel.) When I got home, he had been in the middle of renaming his flag to — wait for it — Bill.

“WHY?” I asked.

“Because you can’t fit more than 4 letters in the name,” he said, completely missing the meaning of my question.

He went to the world map. “Dude,” I said, “NO ONE in your immediate vicinity, or even anywhere BEYOND it, has renamed their flag.”

He said, “Well, it was one of those things I could do, so I did!”

Also at the time I came in, he’d been in the middle of waiting for 53 of his people to be trained as workers.

“What, you can’t put ‘em to work immediately?” I asked.

“Nope, you have to train them,” he said. “It uses up lumber to train.”

I stifled an incredulous response and instead said, “Nevermind, I’ll accept that.”

I went on: “53? That’s a weird number.”

He said: “I dunno, when I tried to change it, the number went straight from 1 to 53, so I went with 53.”

He went on to describe how the game worked, bemoaning the fact that out of a population of around 1,100, something like 916 were idle. Apparently he lacked sufficient resources to train any more workers, much less soldiers, hence why he’d been staring at the screen waiting for his sawmill to finish and why he was idling around going to various menus and seeing what he could build — once he had enough resources, at least.

He then went back to a previous point of contention — names. “You can’t even fit that much in the town name either. It was SUPPOSED to be called ‘Dingleberryville.’ Or even ‘Dinglemeister.’”

“……. I am NOT talking to you anymore.”

He managed to quit his fascinatingly boring game not long after that, after about 2.5 hours of playing. As he described it: “It takes forever waiting for your stuff to build, but you keep going and going and making stuff and next thing you know you’re being attacked and you think, ‘Oh crap! I have to send out soldiers!’ and then before you know it, it’s the next day.”

But who knows. He may have stopped using the desktop computer to play, but as he was getting ready to go to sleep, he mused over the possibility of playing the game on his phone while lying in bed. “How will you do that?” I said. “The screen’s way too small.”

“Well, I’ll have to see only a quarter of the game and constantly scroll around.”

I think Lord Dingleberry has already lived up to his name.

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