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July 9, 2012

Life in the Sandbox

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

Yes, as a nerd I enjoy playing computer games. I don’t suck the electronic teat 14 hours a day, like some people, but I do enjoy taking a few minutes break every so often and killing the bad guys. Or, more recently, the good guys.

For the longest time, I’ve enjoyed two types of computer games.

First is the puzzle game. I love puzzles! I love solving problems. I love games — especially on mobile devices — that have me figure out how to solve a puzzle or work out something complex. I find such games addicting and relaxing.

Second are the first-person shooters, or FPS games. I’ve enjoyed them ever since the original DOOM, and then Quake, and then Half-Life, and then the Call of Duty series. I like the campaigns more than the online gameplay, though I do occasionally play online.

One type of game I’ve not really had an interest in are the so-called “sandbox” games.

In a sandbox game, you’re presented with a universe in which you can interact. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want, and do pretty much anything allowable. There are some puzzles to solve, things to try, plus missions and assignments, but taking them is optional.

Well, turns out I really, really like sandbox games. I got one kind of by accident, too.

My son gave me a $20 voucher for Steam as a Father’s Day present. On a lark, I bought Grand Theft Auto IV. It was $19.95. (Yes, I have a 5-cent credit on my Steam account.)

I know that Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is one of the über bad boys of the video game genre. It’s despised. It’s ridiculed. It’s used as an example of horrible, awful video games and the negative influence they have on society, especially young men.

It’s obvious why the game is so reviled. It is nasty. I’ve killed Nazis, aliens, and terrorists in other video games. In GTA you can kill anyone, and often you’re encouraged to do so.

While you don’t do drugs (other than alcohol) in the game, you see a lot of drugs being done. You can pick up hookers, and your score reflects how many times you’ve “made it.”

The music. The language. The things you hear on the radio and which the bots say all around the sandbox — it’s all terribly offensive. And it’s enjoyable. My favorite thing to do is to “borrow” a fire truck and spray pedestrians with the hose. Do that enough and the cops want you, but running away from them is relatively easy.

I can’t believe I just wrote that.

Anyway, I’m enjoying the sandbox. The game is keeping my interest, which is what I wanted. A true bargain at $20. But I would definitely not recommend it for anyone under 18.


  1. I cant believe I finally found someone who agrees with me about open world games. Ive always found it to be a huge ripoff to buy a $40 game where you are stuck on a track/scripted story with only 8 hours of game play. GTA 4 and Fallout 3 are both super graphics quality and interesting level design and are fun for weeks on end for just exploring. Entropia is a free MMO that is totally open and where people use real money in the economy. If you want a quick fix of fast paced online shooting I recommend Sauerbraten (free on all platforms) and Counterstrike Source on Steam. If you got any Linux running you should check out Simon Tatham’s puzzle games in the repos.

    Comment by BradC — July 9, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

  2. Thanks for the suggestions, Mr. C!

    Comment by admin — July 9, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  3. A few nights ago, I bought “The Sims Medieval”. Before this game, I had only played “Virtual Villagers” and “Build-A-Lot”. I’m still in shock at what I’m seeing in this new game – But I love it.

    Comment by The Gnome Whisperer — July 10, 2012 @ 11:52 am

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