Saturday, November 26, 2011

Video Games

"Lana Del Rey is a Gamer."

My sons play video games.
Ok, that's an understatement. Not only do my sons (Jack 21 and Bear 17) play video games, they own literally thousands of them. They also own every gaming system available, both TV adaptable and hand-held, and they collect retro systems from the '00s, 90's 80's and even an Atari "Pong" system from the 1970s. The games they purchase and play often arrive to our home in strange packages wrapped in brown butcher paper, postmarked Japan or South Korea and even China. These games will be designed and presented entirely in an Asian language that somehow my sons understand.

The games they play range from G-rated to Mature to Violent with names that have become entirely familiar in and around video gaming circles: Final Fantasy, Mario, Tekken, Street Fighter, and lots more, 

The gaming doesn't stop there.

As many gamers do, my sons are also into the tangental aspects of gaming like graphic novels, video anime, feature length straight-to-video movies, and more. They also maintain a special allure for Bruce Lee, who's early Kung Foo movies curiously follow a video-game-like plot-line of "level's" of battle or fighting, despite their predating practical video game development by a decade or more.

Lately my boys have been designing their own video games starting with humble miniature games in order to educate themselves to the complications and nuances of the art. One day they hope to make their mark on the industry with big games that will be distributed throughout the world.

I grew up with video games which back then in my early teens, were mostly located in video game parlors. Back when you could find records in record stores and books in bookstores. Nowadays it's getting harder and harder to find a video game parlor since just about every household owns some kind of video game system like a Uii or a PlayStation. Certainly just about everyone has access to the Internet. But I never really got into them since I more or less knew that once I was hooked, I would forever be dedicating half my life to sitting in front of a whole bunch of computer generated pixels.

But video games still fascinate me. Especially the ones gamers refer to as "Kill Games."
These first person kill games put you the player in the position of the chaser while you hunt down a series of victims which more often than not assume the form of Zombies (that way they can't ever really be killed). But there are other kill games in which you hunt enemy soldiers or bandits or rednecks driving fast cars. I was curious about what goes into the design of these games and designers who might become so obsessed with making them so realistic and life-like they might go to extraordinary lengths to create them. Like murder for instance. So fascinated in fact, that I decided to wrap a stand-alone thriller around the idea.

The plot I had in mind was not just a simple murder. But an elaborate hunt and chase which would culminate in a murder upon which the chaser would record the victim's screams prior to perishing. The screams would then be used in the design of a Violent First Person video game that would closely resemble the actual hunt and chase that inspired it. That in mind I created a video game designer who is a master of disguise and a serial killer. A man who never stays in the same city for very long and who operates under as many different aliases as he's had facial reconstruction and voice enhancement surgeries. He is a man who will stop at nothing to observe how another human being reacts to a hunt and chase, and he's determined to translate the experience for the video game as accurately as possible.

Even though my sons were able to provide me with almost all the research material I needed for the novel (minus the murder part!) it still took me almost three full years to write the psychological/suspense/horror thriller, SCREAM CATCHER. It's now coming at you in e-Book, trade paper and in a matter of a few weeks, audio, screams and all. It's my contribution to an entertainment genre that has not only fascinated me for a long time, but become an art form unto itself and a way of life for my sons. And even, a living.


  1. Hi there -
    Yea, I just turned fifty and I am an avid gamer. But, I am nothing compared to some of the techies I used to watch when I was in the military. They would rent a club for a weekend and network their computers together so that they could play against each other -

    My hubby would sit up on top of a tower (virtual world) and shoot down the gamers. They did not think that such an old guy could beat them that way. It could get quite wild.

    It was almost fifteen years ago now. I do Mario and puzzles... but I am more into games like Professor Layton. I find they spark some of my creativity for writing. ;-)

    I look forward to reading the book.

    Keep up the good writing,

  2. i just realized you can play NES and ATARI games online - and i am now stumbled off the wagon again