Halo 2 - the cultural phenomenon?
I don't know if I'd call it a phenomenon, but 5 million units sold and 28 million units logged on Live! are significant. The 150 or so games I've played online account for a measly 25 hours (say 10 minutes per game on average), but that's with being gone the last 3 weekends and out of town for a whole week. It could get much worse. The online stat tracking, mostly balanced gameplay, and ease of matchmaking make it really easy to play “just one more” and find out it's an hour and a half past time for sleep.
Update. I'm shelving my plans to get an X-Box because I'm now TOTALLY consumed with SSX3 on PS2. It may not be the best game ever, but for me it's the most addictive. Even more addictive than Tony Hawk 4. I'm currently trying to get down the mountain in under 19 minutes. 19 minutes. I've never played a game with such a long challenge. It's really hard.
I'm afraid that if I get Halo 2 and/or start playing on line, I'll go right off the deep end.
I will never understand the appeal of the snowboard/skating games. I've tried them and they just don't do it for me. Probably because I'm not very good at them and I don't skate or snowboard.
You're right about playing online, though. You just might go off the deep end, and I don't want any responsibility for that.
The major appeal of these games is/are:
1) Open ended. You can explore and try new things and come up with new strategies.
2) The feeling of speed and motion. Seriously. Even now when I close my eyes, I feel like I'm sliding downhill because I've been playing so much SSX3.
I have the same experience with Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer. I get that wavy just-out-of-the-ocean feeling after playing that for a while (I haven't played that in a while. I conquered all the breaks).
After playing THPS, I find myself seeing every handrailing, curb and park bench in real life as a potential grinding/handplant possibility, even though I will never grind or plant anything in real life.
In real life I'm a total clutz on any sort of athletic equipment in which both feet are planted on the same board (I can ski ok, and ice skate/rollerblade).
Yeah, that looks like a good one.
BTW, did you see the piece in today's Salon about a growing movement among EA employees to fight against its policy of making its employees work 80 hours a week with no OT pay? As somebody who does computer stuff (sorry I don't know what it is exactly) I was wondering what you thought of that.
No, I didn't see it. I don't think I have any special insight because I'm in the IT field. If you sign up to work 80 hrs/week on salary, then you know what you're getting into. Same as any other field. I wish I had the skill set to do game programming, but I don't envy the sort of hours those people work. They work alot, b/c the company has em by the balls. If they don't want to work the hours, there's TONS of talented kids willing to do it. Nature of the business for anyone who is doing design type work, I think.
That's one of the conclusions of the article, which is that there will always be kids willing to take your place if you don't like it. The piece also speculates that its a holdover from the culture of Silicon Valley of the late 1990s where a lot of people thought they were going to be rich as they stepped boldly into a cultural and technological revolution, so working like that was a small price to pay. Now they realize they're just worker bees like the rest of us.
However, I don't think a group of workers should have to accept "well, if you don't like it, you can work somewhere else," even if they are relatively well paid. For one thing, it would probably help if more of the kids in the business realized that they're actual hourly wage isn't that high, and that, by law, they should not be considered overtime exempt. I've noticed in my own company that a lot of young kids coming out of nice liberal arts colleges are very naive about the potential to get screwed by their employer.
Hollywood jobs are similar to gaming jobs in that there are a lot of people who'd love to do it, and would be willing to do anything for the chance. However, Hollywood has unions that have set up protections such that people in the business won't have "to do anything" to stay in the business. Movies are more expensive to make as a result, but it's probably helped keep a lot of veterans in the business, which is good for the overall quality of the product, and has made the sets a lot safer.