Thanksgiving has snuck up, but its not too late to take a moment to whisper thanks

Thanksgiving has snuck up, but it’s not too
late to take a moment to whisper ‘thanks’

By

Michael Lafferty

 

Reflections on some of the things to be thankful for on a day
built just for that occasion

 

For shame, for shame, for shame … To
actually have to be told that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, because the date had
slipped up so quickly that it was a surprise. But perhaps even more of a
surprise is that November is almost over and all too soon the winter winds will
bring a swirl of snow and Christmas will come knocking on the doors and chimneys
of us all.

 

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time of some
reflection, as we look around at what we have and give thanks for the blessings
in our lives.

 

When it comes to the videogame industry, there
is much to be thankful for. This past year has been one of expectation, delight,
disappointment, but more importantly, it has provided a building ground for what
is to come, while fascinating gamers with what it has delivered.

 

During the past year I was able to take more
trips to studios, to delve into the inner sanctums of the people who actually
sit day-after-day and conceptualize and code the games so many of us take for
granted. The development teams are comprised of hard-working individuals pushed
to the brink many times, but yet they remain steadfast in their determination to
deliver amazing worlds that they hope will occupy our hours.

 

Sometimes they succeed; sometimes they fall
short. Regardless of whether a game is THE Bomb, a bomb or just one typical of
the genre it was developed for, the intent was to create something wonderful.

 

In 2004, we saw companies developing titles
that will educate gamers. They have opened up aspects of games we never knew was
possible before. As they educate us to what we can have, you can be certain that
we will want more. The feast has just begun, for gamers, no need to push back
from the table yet. We are only feeding on the appetizers, there is still the
entrée to go, and we are a long way away from dessert.

 

And not only does the occasional game falter,
but as writers, we can stumble as well. The key to the latter is in admitting
it. Recently I made a comment on the combat model and cited a particular game. I
used an illustration that was way off target and could not actually occur. The
idea was essentially correct, but the illustration was impossible to realize.
This fact was pointed out on a forum for those who truly enjoy the game. Sure,
some of the comments moved beyond taking issue with the idea and were of a more
personal nature, but we were able to discuss it and hopefully move forward. And
good shall come of that – perhaps in the form of a column, but at the least in
the exchange of ideas. 

 

But consider the fact that we live in
societies that enable us to play games, to talk about them, to write about them
and share our opinions. That is something that should be celebrated on occasion,
or at least something to pause and give thanks for.

 

Perhaps one thing that should be realized is
that writers are not “experts” on games – for the most part we are gamers with a
wide range of gaming backgrounds and the ability to write coherent thoughts about
those games. Our knowledge base is built on the hundreds of titles we see each
year. The typical gamer may see or play 1-2 (perhaps 3) titles a month. I get
twice that many in during the course of a week. Expert? I hardly think so. I
have been schooled by 12-year olds in twitch games, I have performed well less
than sterling in skateboarding games at media demos, but I don’t take either
personally. Sure, I worked on my skills so that next go-round with the 12-year
old would be different (it wasn’t, by the way), and worked to improve my
skateboarding skills, but that was all a matter of personal ambition, not
something I had to do. And it certainly didn’t affect my standing as a writer.
If anything, it humanized me.

 

Every word written on a page, or on a screen,
is ‘penned’ by someone who, presumably, has a passion for the topic (like
gaming), and is expressing opinion about a particular element of that, be it in
a free-form editorial (like this), on a game, or on a game element. We have a
vocation that brings us joy, a forum to express our thoughts and to serve as an
outlet for the skills we have.

 

And yes, that is something I am very thankful
for. And while on the topic, here are some of the other things I’m thankful for:

 

  • I’m thankful for the opportunity to know the people it has
    been my pleasure to work with in the industry, from the PR folks to developers
    and publishers and technical people – all who work very hard to make gaming
    such a treat.

 

  • I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can sit down and
    play a game, and derive great entertainment value from it.

 

  • I’m thankful I’m not under the same roof with other GZ writers
    trying to work on reviews with Nick caterwauling (caterwauling: to make a
    shrill, howling sound like that of a cat; screech; wail; scream) in the background as he plays
    Karaoke Revolution Volume 3?

 

  • I’m thankful I’m not under the same roof when other GZ writers
    who should be working on other reviews decide to join Nick, who is
    caterwauling in the background as he plays Karaoke Revolution Volume 3?

 

  • I’m thankful that no one else was around with I first started
    beating on my Taiko Drum Master. Until I got into the rhythm, it scared the
    cat.

 

  • And I’m really, really thankful that no one was around (the
    cat ran and hid for almost a full day) when I tried to rap my way through Get
    On Da Mic.

 

My passion in gaming is for online massively
multiplayer games, with RPG elements thrown in. I am most thankful for all those
that it has been my privilege and honor to play with, no matter where they are
in the world.

 

This Thanksgiving, as you stuff yourself full
and then kick back in front of the console, or settle down behind the keyboard
of your PC, take just a moment and reflect on those who worked so hard to create
that game you are playing. Say a little “thanks.” No one has to hear it but you;
still that is what the day is supposed to be about.