Zombies or Why I Love Tabletop Gaming

Over this past weekend, I volunteered at ChimaeraCon, a local convention that focused on tabletop gaming. There were some other fun things to do, like LARPing (Live Action Roleplaying), and there were some Cosplayers, but the conference really focused on tabletop gaming. I spent most of the weekend chatting up the special guests and doing my volunteer gig, but in my free time, I played some games. When I went to write down the list of games I played over the weekend, I noticed a distinct pattern in the games I chose to play and/or watch. See if you can spot it:

The Walking Dead
Zombie Dice
Zombie Fluxx
Munchkin Zombies

There were a couple of other games I popped into, like Frag and Blood Bowl, but I didn’t so much choose to play those as that’s what was available to play while I was free.

The funny part is, I don’t think I like Zombie stuff all that much! I don’t watch The Walking Dead (although that’s more of a ‘when the heck can I find the time to catch up on Season 1’ rather than a choice to not watch it). In most of my fiction reading, Zombies play a small role, if they are in the books at all. But when it comes to gaming, I adore ones where I can kill Zombies. My favorite arcade game of all time is The House of the Dead. I played Typing of the Dead and loved it (plus I’m a super fast and accurate typer so that helped.) Plants vs. Zombies–yes, please. I even like the shooter maps where someone gets to be a zombie (if I’m the one who gets to kill them.) Apparently, this love for killing  game zombies translates into tabletop gaming too.

After this weekend, my favorite Zombie tabletop game is Zombie Fluxx. If you’ve never played Fluxx–shame on you! Of course, I hadn’t played a Fluxx game until this past weekend, so it’s forgivable. I even got the game and brought it home to my kids. It’s easy enough that I can play it with a nine and six year old. The game begins with two rules. Draw one card and play one card. But the cards drawn will change the rules, like requiring that  more cards be drawn or played. Some rules are really crazy, like having to groan like a zombie every time a player draws a zombie creeper. The object is to collect the keepers (like a shotgun or lumber) and have those keepers match the goal cards (which will be ever changing). Most goals require the players to not have any zombies in front of them, so there’s ways to kill and get rid of zombies–my favorite part! There’s also some special cards that allow a player to ignore any zombies in front of them and still achieve the goal.

I wonder what the objective is in Stoner Fluxx...

For Fluxx, there’s also Pirate Fluxx (Arrr matey!), Monty Python Fluxx (which everyone would not stop talking about over the weekend, apparently if you are a Monty Python fan, this is a must have) and Eco Fluxx (which may or may not teach people about the environment…not sure.) It’s a great game and I’m looking forward to my next gaming event so I can get some adults to play more Fluxx with me.

My kids have been wanting to do Thrill the World, so perhaps I’ll get us Zombie costumes this year and dress as a Zombie. Maybe after I pretend to be a Zombie, I’ll have a better appreciation for the Zombies and won’t want to kill them quite so much. Or maybe I’ll just want to play more Zombie games, but instead want to be the Zombie.

Thrill the World is where people dress like Zombies and dance to Thriller.

Probably not.

So I’m wondering if I’m the only one who has a love for a particular theme in gaming. Does anyone else have a theme they just MUST play if the game has it?

Welcome to the New Dollhouse

The New York Times has an article on what they are terming ‘the new dollhouse’ — that of games like The Sims, where children can now play with pseudo-living dolls that can have eerily similar lives to their own, instead of the typical rag doll or barbie doll. From the article:

As the small animated characters move through their daily lives, they evoke living dolls.

As far as we know, children have always played with dolls of one sort or another to act out variations on their own lives, or lives they observe or imagine. Today, a vast and growing number of kids are doing the same thing — but with a very new tool. Instead of dolls, they are using video games. And perhaps most of all, they’re using The Sims.

Some video games let players battle aliens or quarterback a pro football team; The Sims drops the player into an even more fantastic environment: suburban family life. Each Sim, as the characters are known, is different — one might be an old man, one might be a young girl; one is motivated primarily by money, for instance, while another may want popularity — and it’s up to the player to tend to those needs. As in real life, there are no points in The Sims and you can’t “win.” You just try to find happiness as best you can.

They also note that young girl’s especially are gravitating towards the Sims and have a few choice quotes from Wil Wright (creator of The Sims and upcoming highly anticipated title Spore):

Why might The Sims take girls where no other video game has gone before? Will Wright, its creator (and long one of the luminaries of game design) has a few theories. “To start, I think women are much more discriminating in general than men in their choice of entertainment experience,” he said. “Men will do the same stupid thing over and over again and be happy. Women tend to want a more complex, creative experience. And The Sims appeals to that.”

“Also,” he said, “if you look at movies and books and television, many of the most successful properties are set in normal contemporary situations. And I don’t really understand why we don’t have more games like that. So if you look at boys and men, there are a lot of games that appeal to them, but it seems like women have fewer choices.”

While I’m always happy to see people mention how limited games for women can be, I also want to caution these folks. Women are as diverse (or more so) as men and we cannot be categorized into a specific game genre. Part of the reason of The Sim’s success can certainly be attributed to a marketing campaign that targets women. Imagine that. It works — any marketers listening?

‘The Sims 2’ Universal Patch (1.0 Rev D) Released For Mac

Aspyr Media, Inc. has released a free update for The Sims 2, which allows the game to run natively on Intel-powered Macs and improves graphics performance. The download (30 MB) is available now.

This is an official update for The Sims 2. It will fully update any previous version of The Sims 2 to version 1.0 Rev D. This patch provides Universal support for Sims 2 and provides fixes for several minor issues.

1.0 Rev D changes:

– Adds native Intel support
– Fixes a problem rotating Sims with the mouse in Create-A-Sim mode
– Prevents The Sims 2 and Body Shop from running at the same time
– Adds the “Optimized Rendering” option to non-English preferences dialogs
– Fixes a crash on quit under OS/X 10.4 with certain NVIDIA adapters
– In window mode, prevents selecting a window size equal to or larger than the screen size
– Fixes a problem running the game inside a folder having extended ASCII characters in the name
– Disables the preferences menu after the game is running since nothing can be changed anyway
– Zoom function now works with the “Mighty Mouse” scroll ball
– Corrects terrain colors in the neighborhood overview

In The Sims 2, players pick one of five aspirations that will take them through an entire lifetime, from the cradle to the grave. Players will be able to choose from Popularity, Fortune, Family, Knowledge and Romance which will determine how each Sim will lead their life. With these aspirations, players can fulfill their Sims¹ wants while avoiding their worst fears. Every choice that is made has a relevant and dramatic effect on the life of a Sim. Will players give them a long successful existence or leave their life in shambles?

More life-like Sims, all-new aspirational gameplay, and the ground breaking addition of genetics, with the DNA of Sims passed down through generations, gives players a more vivid, realistic, and in-depth Sims experience. All of this takes place in a new amazingly realistic 3-D world.

Aspyr’s Development and Technical Support teams have been working on Universal binary versions of Mac games for the past several months. In the next couple of weeks, Aspyr will also be releasing Universal patches for The Sims 2 expansions, University and Nightlife. In addition, Aspyr will continue to ship Universal versions of Mac games, like the recently released Quake 4, and with upcoming titles, like Civilization 4 and Call of Duty 2. Universal patches are not necessary for all previously released games, however. The Technical Support Department has been working on a full list of how games Aspyr has shipped over the last few years run under Rosetta, and so far many seem to be working well.

There is no charge for obtaining updates for Universal – DOOM 3, Sims 2, and any older games that can be made to run on Intel machines will have patches released as free downloads.