Lazy Sunday LXVI: Video Games

Happy Father’s Day!  A big thanks to my dad for all of his support (he occasionally posts comments on the blog, and generously and paternally subscribes to my SubscribeStar page).  I thought about doing some kind of Father’s Day theme for this edition of Lazy Sunday, but I opted to go the easier route.

Thanks to my dad’s hard work, his three sons grew up in middle class luxury playing video games.  Granted, back in the old days you pretty much had to pick one console—Nintendo or Sega (we were a Nintendo Family, as all good and decent people were in 1990—although we did love playing our cousins’ Sega Genesis) and you got maybe one or two games a year, so that meant lots of swapping and borrowing games.  It was always a treat to borrow Super Mario Brothers 3 from our other cousins.

So with that clumsy tie-in to Father’s Day, here are some posts about video games:

  • Fallout 76 Announcement Increases Tourism to West Virginia” – Fallout 76, a massively-multiplayer iteration of the traditionally single-player RPG series, ended up being a massive flop.  But it was pretty cool that the game takes place in West Virginia.  Recent Fallout installments took place in Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and (I think) Boston—all interesting settings, but exploring a post-apocalyptic rural area always seemed intriguing.  How would South Carolina hold up compared to San Francisco (better, I imagine).  Fallout 76 at least promised players the opportunity to explore that question, albeit in an extremely botched way.
  • Hustlin’: Minecraft Camp 2019” (and “TBT: Hustlin’: Minecraft Camp 2019“) – Due to my prolonged illness, I had to miss out on my beloved Minecraft Camp this year (and an estimated $1475 in gross earnings—a hard blow to yours portly, so feel free to ease the pain by subscribing to my SubscribeStar page).  Minecraft is a fun game—I liken it to LEGOs on a computer—that encourages open-ended exploration and creativity.  It has some boss battles, but there are no real objectives; you make your own.  Minecraft Camp is always fun for creating little projects and goals for the campers, and my counselors always hide little treasure chests and create “side quests” for the students.  It’s a game for young and old alike, and I highly recommend it.
  • SimEarth” – I started playing this a few weeks ago (around the time I got sick) using the DOS emulator DOS Box.  Like Minecraft, the objectives are pretty open-ended:  develop life, guide it to intelligence, then get that intelligence smart enough to vacate so another life-form has a chance to dominate.  I found I struggled to develop my planets (although I knew what I was doing as a thirteen-year old, I’ve apparently lost my world-building mojo in the intervening twenty-two years), and that just leaving the simulation to run on its own tended to lead to better results than any fiddling around I did.

That’s it for today.  Enjoy a good meal with your dad—and maybe play some games with him.

Happy Father’s Day!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Fallout 76 Announcement Increases Tourism to West Virginia

My morning ritual involves drinking coffee from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mug (you may want to reconsider how much you take my analysis to heart, dear reader) and watching various podcasts/vlogs on YouTube, usually Ben Shapiro (or one of his colleagues), Steven Crowder, or Scott Adams.

So, one morning this week I saw an ad featuring the tantalizing E3 trailer for Fallout 76.  For the uninitiated, the Fallout series of games posits an alternate future in which the United States and China slugged it out in a thermonuclear war during the mid-twentieth century, and decades (or centuries) later humanity emerges from various “vaults” (elaborate, underground bomb shelters) to reclaim the radioactive wastelands around them.

The E3 Trailer for Fallout 76.  You should watch it at the very least for the great cover of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads

Yes, it’s all quite nerdy, but when you’re a ten-year old boy trapped in a hairy man’s body—and have read a lot of Cold War history—it’s the kind of thing that gets you excited in the morning.

What really excited me about this announcement is that Fallout 76 takes place in Appalachia—specifically, a big ol’ chunk of West Virginia.  Most Fallout games take place in the ash-strewn ruins of metropolitan areas, including Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, and Boston.  Other than the rural deserts of Nevada, the game has not delved much into an almost-exclusively rural region (more die-hard fans will surely object; I’m not as familiar with the first two Fallout games and their settings, other than they seem to be focused on California; respectful corrections are welcome).

I’d always wondered what it would be like to experience a post-apocalyptic South Carolina (digitally, to be clear; fortunately, it looks like President Trump is ensuring we won’t have to do so for real), and have been hoping for a Fallout game set in the rural South.  West Virginia isn’t really the South—I’m sure that will rile up further controversy—but it’s close enough.  I assume that, if nuclear Armageddon were to occur, the best place to be would be somewhere rural enough the ChiComs wouldn’t try to blow it up.

So, what does this have to do with politics, the purported purpose of this portly page?  Vanishingly little, other than it is cool to see a major video game set in the heart of Trump Country.

But the game’s setting has had an interesting economic impact.  Apparently, online searches pertaining to tourism to West Virginia have shot up; the site West Virginia Explorer has seen fifteen times the traffic since the game was announced.  The theme park Camden Park has seen an increase in calls for merchandise and inquiries about ticket sales.

West Virginia has struggled economically, especially during the Obama administration’s war on coal, and while it has enjoyed a mild comeback under President Trump, it’s still a very poor State.

Further, one usually one only sees video games in the news when some specious talking head claims they cause violence (they don’t), so it’s refreshing to see one having a positive effect on a beautiful State that could surely benefit from the tourism dollars.

My recommendation for the next Fallout game?  Set that sucker in the ruins of Charleston, South Carolina… or maybe Cheraw.