To: Luke
From: Owen
Re: LA EX

As I surmised, Granddad's interest in "visual games" (he's started calling them that, I guess it sounds more legitimate to him) has only increased during my visit. It still feels weird playing games in his house though, so I pretended this week that I had to review Fallout 3, just to justify all the time I've spent on it of late.

Granddad remembered how much I complained about my actual review of The Godfather II, so he was glad to hear I enjoyed this one. Over dinner I tried explaining it, leaving aside the esoteric details and focusing on the bigger picture - the game's long back story, its visual design and inspiration, and the role-playing. He seemed to get it, and I was really pleased that I'd communicated the point of this very deep game so well to a guy who never even played Pong.

So I went further, bringing up the moral choices aspect of Fallout 3, mentioning that, early on in the game, you are presented with the option of defusing an atomic bomb or detonating it to clear off a town for money. Granddad paused and asked me, "How do you know how to defuse the bomb?"

I explained that it was not a physical task, but more a matter of scores and attributes measured against an objective's estimated difficulty. Still, he interrupted me. "Have you ever seen an atomic weapon?"

It turns out, during the Cold War, my grandfather as a Marine major, participated in the inspection of atomic arms aboard an aircraft carrier out in the Pacific. I asked what they looked like, and he described the virtual nuke I was screwing around with. Squat body, squared tail fin, you got it. There were even some atomic artillery pieces thrown in for good measure.

Not that I consider my virtual experiences as anything other than what they are, me sitting in front of a screen trying to advance a story interactively. But again, it shows there's little you can do as a video game warrior that isn't trumped by this man's actual experience. Which is as it should be.

Footnote: the senior navy officer who arranged for my grandfather's presence at this inspection? Admiral Roscoe F. Good, who is also known as my great-grandfather, Pop.

Here are some highlights from the weekend:

Just What You've Always Wanted: a Playboy MMO
Duke Nukem Forever Gameplay Footage
SF Flowchart: All Roads Lead to Shoryuken
Scout-Chop: You're Gonna Love His Ball
Eidos: Sequels, and Sequels to Sequels
Sackboy is the Law

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