A Week in the Life of a 41-Year-Old Gamer: June 23-30, 2016


“Sharing Games with Family”

I just got back from an extended family vacation where we stayed in a literal cabin in the woods. Fortunately, this one was equipped with wi-fi and indoor plumbing. In between rounds of Scrabble, I was able to introduce my 80-year-old father-in-law, my brother-in-law, and his 11-year-old son to virtual reality gaming for the first time, thanks to the portability of Gear VR.

The experience felt like the ‘next big thing’ to all three of them. My nephew couldn’t get enough, and begged to play more throughout the break. By the time we parted ways, he was an expert on Jump, Evil Robot Traffic Jam, and Eve: Gun Jack. He said if he had a Gear VR in his home, he might never play his Xbox One again. This, coming from a kid who has beaten Fallout 4 three times. My brother-in-law went straight for the ultra-creepy Affected: The Manor. It was fun to watch him scan the whole environment with the headset on, turning around, looking up, and looking down – and freaking the hell out during the jump scares.

My father-in-law’s response was the most interesting. We started with Welcome to Virtual Reality, a ride that requires nothing from the viewer but to sit back and look around. He took in the full fifteen-minute journey, pulled the headset off… and asked to see more. We walked him through Affected: The Manor. He played through the whole thing. And then, we turned on the big winner of the night: Streetview VR. This application will put you anywhere in the world and provide you with a 360-degree view. He took time to locate the farm he grew up on, the college he went to, and the home he raised his children in. It was sweet. Nostalgic. Magic.


After that, we spent an hour talking about all of the non-gaming possibilities of the device: how architects are already using it. How it will change live sports forever. Ten years ago, when I showed my father-in-law what it was like to race a 3D rendered car in 720p in Project Gotham Racing 3 (Xbox 360), he fell asleep. But mobile VR… that captivated him. I was so happy to introduce three generations of men to VR all at once. And it’s cool to see that the medium can appeal deeply to both 11-year-olds and 80-year-olds.


As a treat to enjoy during vacation down-time, I purchased Rhythm Heaven Megamix on 3DS. I had never tried earlier entries in the series, but it seemed like the perfect thing to be able to pick and play for five minutes at a time in a little cabin crowded with family members. The mechanics are endearingly simple… there is no character movement. Everything is based upon tapping up to three buttons in rhythm. It’s like Wario Ware mixed with Tap Tap Revolution. The scenarios are ridiculous, but clever, and each sequence is more meme-worthy than the last. I had a great time, and thought my daughter might appreciate it, too. When she got her hands on it, she couldn’t stop playing… leading me to purchase the game twice, so she could have her own copy on her pink 3DS XL. She ended up finishing all the scenarios by the time our drive back from the cabin was done. We then jumped into the multiplayer mode, which was a blast. After that, she started teaching her six-year-old brother how to play. One of the best parts of being a video game hobbyist is introducing novel games to friends and family, so they can understand how incredible and rewarding interactive experiences can be.


“PSVR – Now Playing at Best Buy”


One of our local Best Buy locations began running demos for the PlayStation VR. It’s worth checking out, particularly if you haven’t tried VR before. If you’re able to go on a weekday, you’ll avoid crazy lines, and might even get a chance to try a few games, instead of just one. I put Eve: Valkyrie through its paces for the first time ever, and was really impressed. Images were crisp, and the frame rate was solid. It’s a very dramatic step up from Eve: Gunjack. The headset is light and comfortable, even when wearing glasses. Sure, the experiences feel more like tech demos than full scale games, but provided the software is priced accordingly, I’m fine with that. I have learned that experiences designed to transport you to another world for twenty minutes or so can sometimes hit the spot in a way that conventional console or mobile games cannot.

“With a Few Tweaks, a Boring Genre Suddenly Becomes Really Fun”

Do you like Farmville? If you are reading this blog, I would presume not. I’ve always seen click-to-progress resource games as a waste of time at best, and at worst, dangerous money pits. But despite that, I’ve quickly gotten hooked on Pocket Arcade Story (iOS), by Kairosoft – the makers of Game Dev Story. It’s nothing but clicking and waiting. There is a fighting mini-game, but it’s repetitive, and definitely not what has kept me playing. No, I’m playing because I like seeing the numbers go up. Having the numbers go up lets me buy more arcade machines, hold more tournaments, run an advertising campaign, and draw more people to my arcade. It’s effortless and relaxing.


There are three reasons why I really like this experience, while stuff like Hayday or Family Guy turns me off.

  1. The theme resonates strongly. I’ve actually day-dreamed of owning either an arcade or a used game store in my retirement days. I have a friend in Chicago who just opened up his own arcade. A buddy of mine in Oakland owns Star Wars Arcade – the full cabinet – which never ceases to make me jealous. I’ve always thought the coolest thing about Silver Spoons was that Ricky Schroeder owned Dragon’s Lair. And as a kid, I thought Chuck E. Cheese was the greatest place on earth. The fantasy of running an arcade is much more interesting to me than farming.
  2. It has no in-app-purchases. You spend $4.99 up front, and you never have to spend again. There are timers in the game, but they last seconds…not hours, days, or weeks. The play loop is tuned to maximize fun, not to create frustration or friction. When the profit incentive is pulled out of the gameplay, I can relax, enjoy, and trust that the developers’ interests are in line with my own. Nobody at Kairosoft is trying to bilk thousands of dollars out of anyone.
  3. It is single-player– There is no pressure to compete with others, or join guilds. I can just enjoy my own personal fantasy. This is what I also liked about Fallout Shelter.

So, if you liked Game Dev Story, check Pocket Arcade Story out. The UI is a little wonky, but the overall game is clever and fun. And it’ll make you realize that casual resource sims can be great –  once the incentive to monetize in-game is removed.


  1. Welcome to Virtual Reality (Gear VR): $2.99
  2. Archer E. Bowman (Gear VR): $2.99
  3. End Space (Gear VR): $5.99
  4. Hitman Go VR (Gear VR): $4.99
  5. Darknet (Gear VR): $6.99
  6. Drift (Gear VR): $6.69
  7. Rhythm Heaven Megamix (3DS): $59.98 (two copies)
  8. Pocket Arcade Story (iOS): $4.99

YTD Total: $1,308.59


  1. Pocket Arcade Story (iOS): 5h 12m
  2. Rhythm Heaven Megamix (3DS): 4h 54m
  3. Drift (Gear VR): 1h 26m
  4. Anshar Wars 2 (Gear VR): 42m
  5. Gunjack: EVE (Gear VR): 40m
  6. Minecraft VR (Gear VR): 38m
  7. Welcome to Virtual Reality (Gear VR): 24m
  8. Archer E. Bowman (Gear VR): 18m
  9. Evil Robot Traffic Jam (Gear VR): 12m
  10. Hitman Go VR (Gear VR): 8m



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