Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Games For The College Convert

School is back in session for pretty much everyone in the U.S. As a gamer going off to college for the first time, I was leery about fitting in with everyone else in the women's dorm (oh wait. Residential Housing. Sorry Baylor). It is much more commonplace now, but in 2002, it was still weird to have a girl play video games.

What am I saying. It's 2014 and I still get weird looks when I enter a gaming store to buy something for myself. Glad society is keeping up with the change in times.

Anyway! Being on my own for the first time, I didn't know what games to bring, or if I should take anything at all with me without looking like an outcast. I was fortunate enough to have fellow gamer girls just a few doors down the hall from me with the same concern. They were high school friends turned roommates and brought an SNES and Sega Genesis with them to college. Many nights were spent yelling at the television screen in their room. It wasn't until my 3rd year when I became more involved in my degree (core classes were done, yea!) that I found people like me: gamers.

So as you head back to school, or start a new college/university this year, I've created a list of games to help you get through the year and maybe pick up a few friends in the process.

- Mario Kart DS - The 3DS is still one of the most popular handheld gaming devices you will find on the market, and I find that even the most hardcore Sony and Microsoft fans can not resist a bit of Mario in their life. So while you're street-passing as you walk between classes, you'll find a number of people connecting with Mario Kart online. Not only is it a product that is easy to pick up and play, but it's also a social game. I have found many new friends by meeting them via Mario Kart games on campus and running into them hours later in class. The game prompts for interaction with others with team races and challenges. We spent a number of breaks between classes having quick matches. Bonding experience and you get a little bit of your game fix. It's also a game that people won't tease you about. It's Mario. Who doesn't like Mario? While there are multiple iterations of Mario Kart out now, stick with the classic (if you can find it) or pick up the latest release that everyone will be playing.

- The Sims (any version) - If you are more of a PC/simulation gamer, The Sims would be right up your alley. One of the things I enjoy about Sims is how relaxing it can be. No really. It is. You can zone out of the real world for an hour or two and create a life for your digital creations. Let them live in ways you couldn't imagine and de-stress from the real world around you by focusing on someone else's life. It really does help. When you have 5 tests in a week, papers to write, projects to manage with other classmates, you need an hour to get away from it. And a make-believe lifestyle with your Rockstar or deadbeat Sim is a good way to go. It's also a game that you can save at any time and pick up later if you need to run, or play fun social experiments. There was one town I created where I allowed the game to run while I went to class and let The Sims fend for themselves. It's interesting to see what chaos you return to when you've given your project free will. And hey, that's a social studies paper in the making. You now have a topic for your next sociology project. You're welcome.

- Left 4 Dead (1 and 2) - For the first person shooters, Steam is probably your best friend in the digital world. Which is why I recommend Left 4 Dead. Of all of the games available, this is probably one of greatest zombie shooters you can find that anyone can play. What better way to end a hard week of school then by rounding up your dorm-mates and killing zombies? I can't think of a better way. And while the game may look archaic compared to today's graphics, it is one of the few that support the modding community. You can customize your game in so many ways, to the point that new levels have been developed to replicate other games. Raccoon City in Left 4 Dead? Sign me up for the nostalgia train. Also, stress release. Lots of stress release. Rough assignment about the Great Depression? Zombie get's an axe to the skull.

- Super Smash Bros. Melee - If you can bring a console with you, assuming you have the space for it, you can't go wrong with some Melee. If you're into fighting games, you know how rabid the fan base is for Smash Bros. It mixes the nostalgic factor of Nintendo characters with complex fighting mechanics and endless possibilities when you throw in the randomness of power-ups. For new gamers, it's a great way to be introduced into video games on a social level with how intuitive the controls can be. For the hardcore fans, you'll make the time to learn the combo moves and dorm room tourneys. Unlike Mortal Kombat, which some college students do find too violent (hard to believe, I know), or Street Fighter which can be tricky to master if you are new to gaming, Smash offers ease and complexity to the degree that the player wants it to be without alienating their audience.

- World of Warcraft - MMO player? Then you're probably into WoW or have been at one point in time. I suggest this with a caution: know your limits. If you know you are going to be addicted to playing this game, then ignore this suggestion. However, if you need some in between time from Titanfall (where I can already foresee that game causing numerous homework assignments to not be completed), WoW is a good way to go. WoW has freebe time for all of their expansion packs, which allows you to play pretty much everything in the game without sucking down more of your money. There are restrictions of course, such as limited storage and equipment options, but it's a game that anyone can play. No really. Anyone can play. It's probably one of the easiest games I have ever jumped into, before jumping right back out because the lack of a narrative to keep me interested. But you know what? When you're a college student, you need to relax or you have a bit of downtime, WoW could be right up your alley. Dress up in your armor, slay some wild boars, and call it a day.

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