Free Games

I have a minor bone to pick with the computer gaming industry. I understand what they’re doing and, more importantly, why. However, and I reiterate, I have a bone to pick.

Before I launch into my harangue I feel it incumbent upon me to qualify my fascination or the lack thereof pertaining to the gaming industry.

I am not a gamer.

What is a gamer? A gamer is an individual who is steadfastly hooked on one or more computer games where one plays, or interacts with, a computer software interface that offers a variety of I/O or input output combinations. A gamer can, and does, spend hours in front of their respective computer screens questing for the next level of difficulty and, ultimately, defeating the enemy, or escaping, or grabbing the virtual prize, or saving the damsel in distress, or rescuing the family, home, block, neighborhood, town, city, country, planet, galaxy, universe or any combination of the above.

I think it fair to state that the majority of gamers spend at least several hours of the week in front of their screens in games requiring them to dispatch their foes with a variety of creative weaponry ranging from simple broadswords to Martian looking Men In Black automatic rifles that emit combinations of nuclear reactive waste, 50mm bullets and napalm. One aspect of this activity, with respect to these forms of games, which I believe are called ‘first person shooters’ is that one must always bear in mind that the bad guys (I am assuming that the player assumes the role of a good guy) have the capability of either beating the living tar out of you in a face to face situation or can outflank you and, thereby casting your worthless carcass into the ether.

There was a point in time, when my son was much younger, where he vicariously took great pleasure in assuming the role of an overly skilled martial artist and vied for a winning position against a seemingly equally possessed foe. There’s an acronym for this, I believe. I always referred to these types of games as a two-guys-beating-the-crap-out-of-each-other game.

Again. I am not a gamer. However, there was a period of time, about a year if I recall correctly, where my son and I, when he was not even ten years old, solved puzzles together in the process of playing a computer game called Myst. I enjoyed spending this time with my son during. But I admit I also enjoyed the game. This was not your basic shoot em up. Nobody got killed. There were no time constraints. You just had to figure out your goals and solve clues. There was an ambience about the game and you had to use your noodle.

So deep back in the far reaches of my consciousness I still harbor a minor fascination for these games. These things are called, oddly enough, adventure games. Don’t know how that one stuck.

And, for the past several years, I have been the happy owner of a piece of silicone that I refer to as the most useless thing I cannot live without. I have an iPad. I use it every single day. And a thought had occurred to me, as they occasionally do, that perhaps this thing can play cool graphics based games.

Well. Lo and Behold! It most certainly does.

There are scads of games. Tons of games. Games of every description. However, my type of game, the type referred to as adventure games are not particularly prevalent. In fact I have to search for games that are just the wander and solve type of game. Like Myst. The developers of many of these adventure games have succumbed to the market by incorporating elements into their games such as time constraints or the threat of annihilation. This is not for me.

And so, on occasion, I search. And, on occasion, I run across a game that sparks a certain level of intrigue. The description of the game includes references to a rich ambience and puzzles and no physical injury or time limits. And … drum roll please … why yes folks! They’re free! Free, I tell you!

You just load em up (actually it’s download ‘em, but why quibble?) and just crank em up!

And the other day, I saw such an iPad game. There was no death or dismemberment involved and time was no restriction. And so the game directs you to pick up clues and solve puzzles. And so I did. And there I occupied my time. Bothering no one. Quietly. Harmlessly. No agenda.

Until about a third of the way into it, where the rhythm and purpose of the game were slowly disclosed the game callously navigated to its origins and advised that if you held any designs toward continuing with this saga, you would be called upon to fork over some coin.

The bastards! They had the profound gall to hold the bulk of my game hostage. The sheer audacity!! The cheek!! And I am the dumb one here.

I did this with another so called free adventure game for the iPad a while ago. The same thing happened where the game took a step back and affectively said, “Nyah. Nyah!”

Upon reflection, and my friend Runcheng and I discussed this, I am certain I would have been less piqued had the initial literature surrounding this bit of fluff would have foretold of ‘free up to a point’ or the full game costs some dough.

But no. I say to you! I am a victim here! That’s right! I am the victim here of a blatant bait and switch!
So this tome is an appeal to these types of schlocksters. Man up. Tell the truth. Tell the whole story. If it’s free because it’s a demo, then damn it, tell us that it’s free because it’s a demo.
I feel so … so … used.