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Thu, Nov. 15th, 2007, 01:24 pm
Games and the Holidays (Advice Needed)

Last week, the Boy’s mother got in touch with us, asking us both to update our Amazon wish lists for the holidays. So I started working on it - which is a fair project for me, since I use my wishlist to track books I need to read for school as well as things I want for myself! (For the record, I’ve moved my Current Lusts onto a single list, which you can check out here if you want to know what’s making me go all googly-moogly.)

As the two of us were poking around, we got into a conversation about what was on our wish lists - which, for us, was almost all books. “But I like to play games,” I said to the Boy. “Why don’t I have games on my wish list?” So we talked about it, and figured out why, and as a consequence I could use some advice from all of you.

See, I work in a game research lab. This means I’ve got access to a PS3 and two Wiis and a 360 and a whole lot of older consoles, and two gaming computers and about six hand-helds and the rest of all that lot. The lab owns a whole bunch of games, and I also brought my own games to school to supplement the lab’s collection. Sounds awesome, right? But when I play games at school, I play them as if I were at school, and really what I want is to play more at home, on my own time. So I can’t really use the lab in the way I originally imagined I would.

What this means is that the Boy and I are thinking about how to bring more games into our private lives. (I mean digital games: we already have a significant non-digital game collection at home, and we have regular game nights to play them.)

Here are the options we’ve been thinking about. The choices are, perhaps, obvious - but our feelings about them might not be. Any advice you have to offer would be appreciated!

Wii: We own a Wii, which is in the living room of the apartment we share with two of our best friends. It means that we do play it, but not as much as we might if it were in a non-shared space. Given how social an experience Wii play is, I don’t think I’d want to bring it into our room! But this means that buying Wii games is not a high priority. I still haven’t played through all the ones that we already have.

PS3: We have a PS2, and there just aren’t enough interesting games out yet for the PS3 to make me want to buy it now. If I need to play, I can always play at the lab, but I don’t feel the need to pay inflated prices to get my PS3 right now. I imagine myself buying one over the summer, maybe, if more games are out by then.

XBox 360: I’ve always been pissed off by the shabby selection of games available for the XBox, but they seem to have addressed this issue with the 360. There’s a surprising amount of stuff I want to play that’s available! The main reason I’m concerned is that I don’t trust that this will continue. I’m worried about buying one for my private space, and then finding out in six months that they’re not releasing any more games that I’d ever care about.

PC: Both the Boy and I play a lot of PC games. I would absolutely love to get a gaming PC that we could hook up to our big-screen TV and just bang around on. In terms of games I want, there’s no shortage of stuff I’d play on PC - but it’s much more expensive than any of the consoles. There’s also the fact that I already have a laptop that I could install games on - but I think of it as my work machine, and I have a hard time relaxing when I play games on it because I go into work mode when I use it. And for that matter, it’s not particularly powerful! So the question is really whether the advantage of getting a gaming-specific box is worth the cost, compared to a console, considering that I already have a laptop and so does the boy.

Handhelds: The temporary solution I came up with was to put a bunch of handheld games on my list. I have a DS and a PSP, and I’ve been playing them a lot during my commute and even at home! But it doesn’t satisfy my play-with-the-Boy urge. He also really likes to watch me play games, and that just doesn’t work on either of those platforms.

Other consoles: There isn’t anything else I can think of that I would want, but if you can think of some good reason to go for another option, I’d love to hear it!

So: we’d like to focus our play (and probably our gifts from the Boy’s family!) on one of these options. It’s not about what’s the best console, it’s about what would fit best into our lives, because we want to play more together. Given the constraints I’ve outlined above, what do you guys think?

Thanks in advance for your advice!