No one gets out of this (game) alive

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Shawn Sensiba
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Do you play any video games? Or do video games qualify as a massive waste of time in your view?

I have a colleague at The Gazette, copy editor Andrew Reuter, who tries to get me to enjoy video games. His motives are genuine. He loves video games. He thinks I might be able to love them as well.

I have been steadfastly reluctant to play. I do not have an electronic game console. I feel Iím a little too old for that, considering I remember envying friends who had a Pong game when I was a teenager. Besides, I figure maintaining my music, movie and book obsessions are more than enough to keep me occupied for the rest of my days.

Up till now, the one exception to this was back in the 1980s as a Macintosh computer user, when I enjoyed "Myst." It was one of the few video games that made it onto the Apple operating system. I loved the game for its mystery and its opportunity to explore other worlds. Its simplicity and beauty were beguiling at the time.

But it seems that most of the console video games focus on killing and destruction. I deal with those subjects enough working on the wire coverage of The Gazette. I long for an involving mystery or chance to explore, or so I think.

My experience with gaming changed four years ago when I acquired an iPod touch. That opened the door to inexpensive and peskily distracting video games being in my hands. I play a couple.

I have played a few games the way a cat plays with a captured bird, which is to say until the game no longer amuses me. Generally, this might be hours, days or possibly weeks.

I am resolutely awful at these games, lacking some key talent that would show some promise going forward.

But I have one game that I started playing about a year ago that I continue to play. And, wonder of wonders, I have supposedly gotten good at it. Naturally this game breaks every rule I designed for enjoying a video game. It isnít a mystery. It involves violence and it really is quite silly. There certainly is no mystery involved. Nevertheless, I enjoy it.

The game is "Zombie Highway." It is an iOS game. It is best played on an iPad. The game involves driving a vehicle down an absurdly straight highway (either in a desert, a marshy area or an icy highway) and avoiding (or fending off with weapons) the attacks of zombies as long as you can.

Eventually you will succumb. The trick is to drive more miles than your competitors. You start with feeble tools and skills and eventually work your way up to the best vehicle and the best armaments. There are a variety of different roads that offer different challenges.

Thanks to our connected world, you can also determine your skill in relation to the thousands of other "Highway" players around the world. That aspect brought out the hidden, competitive side of my nature.

As silly as it is, I enjoy a daily jaunt down this highway. It is absurdly relaxing to me to be running over (or away from) zombies that are glomming onto my car. It is a moment of escape from the true weirdness of the world. If that makes me a video game aficionado, then so be it.

Is there a video game that you enjoy? How much time do you play? Do you play on a smartphone or a console system? Please share your experiences with us.

Follow Shawn Sensiba on Twitter @shawnsensiba.

Last updated: 10:06 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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