Category Archives: My Life in Games

Free

I’m really enjoying casually playing 40k at the moment, among other things. As regular readers know, I have a long and ambivalent relationship with this game. Any decades-spanning relationship has to have its ups and downs I suppose. And I’m in a positive place with it right now, because I feel as though I’ve worked out a way of playing and collecting that is mine and no-one else’s.

What do I mean?  The best way I can think of to succinctly put it is that I have started to think of my 40k model collection as a living three-dimensional story, inspired by, but not restricted to, events in-game. I track the fortunes of my army, and I incorporate or cut models when I want to paint something new or stop using something that I’m finding boring, or that’s not working for me. Where possible I re-paint, re-organise or modify my existing models rather than buy new ones. And then I make up a story to explain the change.  Sometimes the story comes first; sometimes the physical changing of the models. But whichever it is, they go hand in hand.

This all sounds a bit complex, I know. Maybe it’ll be clearer if I just explain what I’ve actually been doing. Continue reading

No going back

I want to tell you about this one time. I was sitting on the roof of my parents’ house and it was late summer, at the beginning of nineteen ninety-seven. I grew up in quite a beautiful town in the mountains in New South Wales. Most of my friends hated the place and couldn’t wait to escape to a big city and start their lives. I made vague noises of agreement, and I was very excited to go away to university, but I also liked our town and was sad to leave. I had many fond memories of wandering the streets; skateboarding in the chilly evenings; eating chips and gravy and holding hands in the underground carpark with grungy girls in fingerless gloves and long skirts. Planning whose house we were going to drink at that night.

Of course all of that came later. When I was a boy there were no girls but people’s sisters, and instead of skateboarding in the carparks and running from security guards we splashed in creeks and flitted through the trees in backyards, fighting with wooden swords and grimacing when the wood smashed our cold hands. We tirelessly played Sega and SNES games, jumping the same bricks and falling in the same lava for hours until we saved the blocky little princess.

And we played Warhammer. And Dungeons and Dragons. D&D games in the beginning were a bunch of shrill little boys joyfully cheating, slashing and looting through a child’s intricate and pointless dungeon, crammed with secret doors and moving statues and existing only for the characters to pillage. Our characters grew up before we did, buying land and ruling it, and that was boring so we started again. Then we grew up a bit, and our characters never did – some of the grungy girls sometimes played in our game, and we drank whisky while we played and our characters had personalities. And we tired of them quickly and started over and over again.

It was Warhammer I was thinking about on the roof though. Like I said, the town was quite beautiful and late summer in the afternoon was cold. There was smoke coming from many of the houses with old wood fires and I could see almost the whole town. I liked climbing on to the roof because the corrugated iron was pleasantly warm, and if you’ve never been to country Australia you don’t know how big the sky looks. Continue reading

My life in games: 1990-93

Part II of My Life in Games, where I unashamedly reminisce about all the games that I’ve had a special connection to over my life.

  • 1990-91: I spent a lot of time at the arcade, putting all my measly money into Final Fight and original Street Fighter.  My friend and I would go down about 9 am on a Saturday and leave when all our coins were gone.  We eventually won Final Fight (I played as Guy and my friend was Hagar), but we were no match for Sagat in Street Fighter.  Only the older teenagers could beat him.  I also played a lot of Alex Kidd and Wonderboy on my friends’ SNES, and Altered Beast, Sonic, Mega Man X and Golden Axe on my other friends’ Mega Drive.  We also continued to play D&D.  One of my friends was forbidden to play by his Catholic grandmother.  D&D was getting a bad rap in the media as some sort of devil-worshipping cult.  I gave him a set of dice for his birthday and she confiscated them and threw them away.
  • 1992-93: Ninja Turtle mania hit my school and we started to play Palladium’s TMNT & Other Strangeness as a bit of a break from D&D.  This led to briefly experimenting with some of Palladium’s other systems, like Heroes Unlimited and Ninjas and Superspies.  We then discovered that we could combine these games in an unholy feast of Kevin Sembieda-inspired lunacy.  Essentially it all imploded in a giant festival of overpowered teenage boy alter-egos, culminating in us shooting the Shredder with an AK-47 and assassinating Vanilla Ice while he was on stage.  Being able to make any sort of character we liked was too much for our power-hungry adolescent brains to handle, and we soon lost interest and switched to Shadowrun, which was disappointingly realistic by comparison.  Every week our characters died because in Shadowrun, if you get shot you tend to die.  I got really carried away with the Shadowrun background and started to write my own Australia sourcebook.  I also began collecting and painting Games Workshop armies in earnest: Dwarfs for Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Whatever the Hell I Felt Like, Mostly Squats for Warhammer 40k.  We didn’t play 40k much at all but we had a good go at Fantasy.  My own group of mates preferred RPGs but my brother and his friends really took to Warhammer so I often played with them.  We had a table tennis table in the garage which was great for epic Warhammer battles.

Next time it’s 1994, when I really started to play Street Fighter…

My Life in Games: 1983-89

I thought it might be fun to look back over my life so far and remember the games that particularly affected me as I was growing up.  We live in a gaming world these days, and games can be formative experiences for people like us just as films, books and TV shows were to previous generations.  There were a lot of little games that really spoke to me over the years, and I suppose I just don’t want them to be forgotten.  So this retrospective will be a tribute of sorts.  There are a lot to get through, so today will be Part One of I’m-not-sure-how-many… Continue reading