Tuesday, 31 July 2012

What's Your Story? - Charles

I'm afraid this week has been a very busy one for me professionally. As much as I'd love to have the time today to write about the awesomeness that is Psycho, I'll have to try to get to it tomorrow. In the meantime, I'm happy to be able to bring someone that I genuinely feel is a companion here at The Adventure Gamer into the spotlight. Please welcome to the stage...(drumroll)...Charles!


This is not Charles. It's just a representation of how I imagine him to be.

My home country is… Argentina. I've always lived here in Buenos Aires.

My age is… I hit the big 4-0 recently. A nice age actually -- I'm quite happy to have lived through the rise of the adventure genre. :-)

The first adventure game I played was… Has to be "The Hobbit" on a friend's ZX Spectrum. It blew me away. Graphics. Companions that followed you around! Later I discovered a graphical version of "Colossal Cave" on my own MSX computer and spent endless hours with it (there weren't many text adventures in Spanish back then, and my English was still quite primitive). If we consider point´n click graphical adventures, my first one was Maniac Mansion, and it duly floored me again. It was just so funny, clever and bold. Like absolutely nothing that had come before. To this day we quote parts of it with my friends. It was then that I became aware of the enormous potential of this new narrative medium that just asked for brainpower and ingenuity to unlock new parts of the story.


It's amazing that once upon a time we may have looked at this screen in pure wonder at how far graphics had come!

My favourite adventure game is… No contest -- The Secret of Monkey Island. It was simply exhilarating. As far as puzzle design, humor and lasting charm, it was Maniac Mansion x 100. Probably the closest to a perfect adventure game experience.

When I’m not playing games I like to… Read, take long walks while listening to science podcasts, and play boardgames with the family!

The one TV show I never miss is… Thanks to Netflix I became acquainted with Mad Men and The Office. Those are my current faves. Mad Men is possibly the best TV I've seen.


I have to agree on this one Charles. The best TV drama along with Six Feet Under.

I like my games in (a box, digital format)… Like The Trickster, I've come to appreciate the conveniences of the digital format. However, if I could choose (and could spare the trees sacrificed in the process) I would always go with a heavy box, detailed art and bulky manual. There was this sense of huge love and effort put into those early games that showed in the physical components - much like the care that often went into those elaborate LP covers (and CDs weren't just the same!). The Ultimas are a prime example of this. As for adventures, I just love the Freddy Pharkas box... :-)

The thing I miss about old games is… The freshness, inventiveness and -why not- innocence evident in many of those games as they broke new ground. You got this sense that making them was an adventure for the developers too, and they enjoyed it just like you.

The best thing about modern games is… Atmosphere. Most of my favorite modern games deliver it in spades. I generally favor a cinematic experience  -- the original Thief is an unsurpassed masterpiece in this sense IMO, and today I find myself particularly enjoying the Mass Effect series.


If there's one regret I have with starting this blog, it's that I haven't got to finish the Mass Effect series.

If I could see any band live it would be… I'm not much of a concert-goer, I´m afraid...

My favourite movie is… This is an impossible question to answer  :-) Rather than a favorite movie, I have an elite "segment" of movies that I consider masterpieces of their genres and no one stands out above the others. But I´ll throw in Alien (the original) and Let the Right One In just off the top of my head.


What do you mean you've only seen the remake! Go see the original!

One interesting thing about me is… A series of recent events in my personal life have led me to discover the practice of meditation, and my only regret is not having tried it sooner.

Interested in sending your answers and getting 20 CAPs for you trouble? Email theadventuregamer@gmail.com.

21 comments:

  1. I have to say I have a lot in common with you Charles. I love Let the Right One In and Alien. Thief, Monkey Island and Mass Effect are all top ten games for me. Mad Men is a favourite TV show too.

    This could easily have been my own story, apart from the meditation bit. I'd love to...I just can't turn my brain off for a single second of the day. :)

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    1. Try it. I've found it comes with practice.

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  2. Oh, and I listen to several science podcasts every week. I never miss the BBC science podcasts and in particular love The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.

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  3. I'll have to check out some science podcasts. I listen to a cult movie and wrestling podcast each week, but i love shows like NOVA, and reading about new advances.

    Charles, i recently took up mediation myself about 2-3 weeks ago. I do it for 10-15 mins after my breakfast/coffee/internet routine in the morning, and it really helps me with the rest of the day. I'm with you on your sentiment... i wish i had tried it sooner.

    What's Argentina like? One of these days i'll visit South America!

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  4. Actually, Mass Effect is much better now that the DLC is out, at least in my opinion.

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  5. I have to say Charles that nowadays your English is so good that I actually have took you as a native speaker all along. And I have to say that I really envy you of having lived through the beginning of adventure genre back when it was just text adventures they made - it's not quite the same when you discover these classics after spoiling yourself with the eye and ear candy of Sierra and Lucasarts.

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    1. Hell, your English is better then a lot of native speakers I know. Definitely better then most of the people I work with (I'm in a lab with a lot of people who moved to Canada from China or Korea right now. Brilliant people, and I do mean brilliant, but I wince when I read their publications)

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    2. Thanks Canageek! It goes without saying that all those early text and graphic adventure games played a big part in helping me warming up to the English language.

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  6. Ohh the spotlight... getting stage fright! :-)

    @Trickster: The main reason I follow this blog is the affinity with most of what you write, not only about our favorite genre, but also in more general commentary. So I'm actually not surprised we share so many tastes. Well, of course leaving out that whole metal thing :-D Oh, and thanks for the shout out to LTROI. That little Swedish movie packs more punch that dozens of blockbusters tied together IMO.

    @Dave: Nice to find a fellow meditator! I'm currently following the MBSR program created by Jon Kabat-Zinn at MIT. Just starting the journey but I can already see how this may have a profoundly beneficial impact in the short/middle term. As for Argentina, my impressions are colored by my proximity and my strong disagreement with the way the country is being run (or run into the ground, to be precise) by what's essentially a criminal posse, but don't let that stop you and come visit! It is still a beautiful land with lots of great people ;-)

    @Canageek: I agree that the final act of the vanilla game is indeed a disappointment, but I also feel the reaction from the fan community was disproportionate. After all, the game had already delivered in spades by the time it gets to its bizarre denouement. Trickster, I don't know where you got off the series, but it's worth experiencing it through the end. A true achievement in gaming IMO.

    @Ilmari: Thanks so much! It was a magical time for us computer users, no doubt. I still remember the moment I realized I had got infected by my first computer virus -Jerusalem.B or something- when an ASCII ball started bouncing around the DOS screen. I was scared and amazed in equal parts. It didn't take much to inspire those feelings back then :-)

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    1. Ok, I only beat the first one, but never played or saw the second, which my brother maintains is the best one. I did watch him play through a lot of the 3rd one though. I didn't think the ending was worth the massive firestorm it created, though it was kinda lousy. The new one is much better, while being basically the same in terms of content.

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    2. I played ME1+2, and while I enjoyed the universe and (to a certain extent) the plot, it's the combat that I find a bit of a chore. I expect I might play through ME3 once it's got a bit cheap though.

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    3. On Mass Effect 3 ending (spoiler free) I think the biggest problem for me was that a big epic story trilogy needs an epilogue, which it didn't have originally.

      A sign that the original ending failed was that after playing the extended ending, I realised that a lot of what I'd thought happened to characters and places at the end seemed to be exactly the opposite of what the writers intended.

      Note to The Return of the King movie: A big epic story trilogy does NOT need 47 epilogues.

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    4. Wow, doing a search on MBSR Meditation is making me very interested in it. I just sit on a cushion cross legged, interlace my fingers, and focus on the deep breaths going in and out of my nose. If thoughts appear, i see where they go but try my best to keep a clear head. I set my phone timer for 10 mins and that does me well.

      And isn't every country run by crooks? We call them politicians :)

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    5. I played through Mass Effect 1 and was about three quarters of the way through part 2 when my daughter was born. From that moment onward I lost the second bedroom and therefore my computer setup, and have been using my laptop to play old adventure games ever since.

      So in a way, not being able to finish Mass Effect 2 was the start of this blog. One day...(I seem to say that a lot lately!)

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  7. I actually got the opportunity to visit Buenos Aires a few years ago. Absolutely loved it. Steak in Argentina is unparalleled to the rest of the world in both price and taste. Truly amazing. There's so much to see there too...the Camanitos, the Rodan Museum, the "Hippie Flea Market", the Silver Flower, etc. I saw all that I could see and still feel like I didn't scratch the surface. I'd definitely go back in a heartbeat.

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    1. Yes, it is very unlikely you'll leave Buenos Aires feeling disappointed. There's just so much to see and do, well beyond the more obvious tourist traps. I see you mention Caminito, but what about the Rodan Museum - could it be you're referring to the Museum of Fine Arts? It holds a sizeable Rodin collection. And of course I agree about the steaks. ;-)

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    2. Yeah, probably the Museum of Fine Arts then. I think someone wanted to go for the Rodin collection and somewhere along the way we decided it was the Rodin Museum. Had a great margherita pizza in the little cafe outside the place. I'm not a huge art buff, but I certainly enjoyed what that place had to offer.

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  8. I look forward to someday seeing Buenos Aires! Being a huge Borges fan, I feel like I have encountered parts of the cities... at least, as they existed once. Interesting post! I'm intrigued that so many people listen to science podcasts here.

    I also think the original Swedish Let the Right One In was excellent filmmaking. I did not see, nor plan to, the American remake.

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    1. I've seen the remake and it's certainly not terrible. It's just one of those cases where I have to wonder why they remade it. Surely subtitles are not that difficult to deal with!

      [Rec] is another horror movie that didn't need a remake, let alone one the very next year (Quarantine).

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    2. Oddly enough I watched Quarantine earlier this evening (I watched [Rec] last year). As someone who watches a lot of films, I quite like watching remakes to see what the differences/similarities are. Sometimes you get a completely different take on an idea, other times it's exactly the same.

      Quarantine was one of those that's exactly the same (almost a shot-for-shot remake, and even the building looked the same, even the details. For example, I'm pretty sure the floor tiles/stairwell is identical). They did manage to get a good cast though, Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter's sister) was very good in particular.

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  9. Ah, a fellow Monkey Island and Ultima and LP lover from the other side of the world!

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