Janet (j4) wrote,

It's only valentine

It's amazing the difference a day makes: on Tuesday night addedentry and I went out for a lovely meal at the Brasserie Blanc, during which we didn't have roses or red candles cluttering up the table, and didn't have to stick to a substandard menu or be pressured into choosing heart-shaped chocolates for the dessert (though I did in fact go for the chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream, and very nice it was too). On Wednesday night, by comparison, every restaurant we passed was full (admittedly, this was in London, which is always full), so we went back to Paddington and bought pasties from the West Cornwall Pasty Company, two miniature bottles of wine from Marks & Spencer, chocolate muffins and a bag of grapes from Sainsburys, and had our own little picnic over a game of Travel Scrabble on the train home.

The reason we were in London was to see the Science Museum's Game On exhibition, an exhibition notable (or perhaps, sadly, no longer notable in the Science Museum) for its complete lack of science. It was Grate Fun, though, giving us a chance to play everything from Pong to PaRappa the Rapper. It was hard to see a linear narrative -- the exhibition didn't try very hard to enforce one, though frankly I was more interested in running from side to side going "Oooh! Shiny!" anyway -- but interesting to see such a variety of games in one place, to think about what makes a game fun, and to see just how bad (or, in some cases, how good) the graphics really were in the olden days. Or indeed lack of graphics: it was a shame that the only text adventure represented there was the notoriously impossible Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy adventure game (which I mention partly in order to plug the shiny new version with gorgeous graphics by andrewwyld) rather than the classic ADVENT, but a useful point of comparison for the audio-only challenge of Chillingham -- an experience which addedentry accurately summed up as "Telephone Menu Systems: The Adventure", though I suspect he was still miffed that I'd chosen to inspect the librarian.

The commentary on the exhibition was minimal (and read as if it had been hastily cribbed from Wikipedia) but it still at one point managed to trigger my usual ten-second rant about the idea that the way to get women playing computer games is to make them more social, more emotional. For heaven's sake! If I want social and emotional stimuli, I'll talk to people (LiveJournal: it's like The Sims, with fewer pictures); from computer games, on the other hand, I want addictive gameplay, decent music, bright lights, and the ability to blast things into smithereens.

Another minor rant is that is far as I could see, no Apple ][, BBC or Mac games were represented, which I found quite astounding: it would have made sense if the remit had been solely video/console games, but there were a couple of PC games in there, most notably the beautiful freeware game Warning Forever (which I'd never seen before, but will be downloading to addedentry's laptop tonight while he's out at his driving lesson, ha ha), and the Atari, Commodore, Spectrum et al weren't solely games consoles, even if the gaming side was a large part of their appeal. Perhaps I should actually use all the ancient hardware and software which is cluttering up my life, and put on my own exhibition of the greatest games from the squarer side of the home gaming revolution...

Computer games were possibly not the obvious choice of entertainment for Valentine's Day, though thinking about it, being a bespectacled nerd has never done my romantic prospects any harm. When the cutest boy in the whole of my small primary school came round to MY HOUSE it was because we had a copy of Chuckie Egg (and in fact all we ever did was play computer games, but still, CUTE BOY, MY HOUSE, SO THERE); and virtually none of my serious relationships would have happened if I hadn't been able to speak Unix or use netnews and irc. (I suppose I met addedentry through Scrabble, first, but really, that's just a different subspecies of nerdiness.) I guess what I'm saying is that people do make passes at girls who wear glasses -- and not just when they're only wearing glasses, as in my entry (sir!) for LibraryThing's photo competition (not very unsafe for work, really).

All in all, a productive day's Bunking Off. And now it's nearly the weekend!
Tags: books, geek
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