essay, video games

Companions

I’ve written before about how lonely that exploring the world of Oblivion was to me. I was constantly feeling as if it was me versus the plot, the darkness and the ever growing sense that people of the world were out to hurt me. Every new underground area was a fearsome experience of wondering if there was a monster around the next corner, if there was a trap somewhere out to get me.

I would lurk in the shadows, glance around corners. I would avoid going into ruins whenever possible. I shunned caves. All because I disliked not knowing what was around me. That feeling that there could a creature that is about to attack me from around the corner plagued me constantly. In short, I felt scared most of the time.

Even with Life Detect spells, I still had no way of knowing where people were around me. Walls and ledges could hide waiting enemies. Even with a very high Sneak skill and some invisibility spells rendering me nearly unseen by most things, the game still gave me a constant sense of paranoia whenever I was exploring outside of a city. I felt as if I was lacking in some sense — sight perhaps? — to who and what could be around me.

Going back to New Vegas, it was a relief to have someone else around me. Someone there who would occasionally talk and would attack the various monsters, creatures and even people who were a threat to me. Sometimes even before I could see them myself. Having Veronica and Rex back with me was great. Adding to their constant defense of me was the use of a compass that showed where people and threats were, I felt that I could take on just about anything in the game now — except maybe Deathclaws. Even though I went from a level 25 character in one game to another, the sense of relief in just having other people as part of the journey was tremendous. I no longer needed to be as vigilant. My companions will take care of that for me replaced the What was that noise? Active invisibility spell!

My sister was in town this weekend. I don’t see my sister very much anymore. So, it is fairly rare for me to even speak with let alone see her in person. She lives a city away and stays pretty busy with her job and classes. She rarely comes into town because of scheduling conflicts and, even when she does, it’s only for a few days before she has to go back to work or attend a class. This was the case once again as she came home for a weekend before her Fall semester started.

My sister and I are both in college. Because of some complications, she and I are pretty much at the same point in our education paths. She expects to graduate within the next year and so do I, despite me being several years older. So, we have that in common, the college experience.

While she was in town, we had several meals together. It was weird having someone else who speaks “college”, who has taken classes in the recent past and who knows, at least in passing, of writing and reading books. She and I can talk of the same general pop culture icons and ideas. We share similar tastes in many things. We talked of movies seen and shows watched. We share the same general sphere of the zeitgeist.

For all the time I was playing Oblivion, I couldn’t really talk about the experience with people. Sure, yes, a couple of my friends had played it, but only one had actually beaten it. And it became tiresome to talk to him since he was convinced that I was “playing it wrong” every time we spoke about — major PC bias there. Another friend is getting back into the game after reading and speaking to me about it. We might be able to talk about some of the Guild quests… someday. Should he ever try them out. But, for the most part, I had to keep the ideas and theories about the world to myself and this blog.

That isn’t the same for New Vegas. With the new downloadable content of “Old World Blues” recently out, people on forums and blogs are talking about the game again. They are writing about their experiences and I am, upon purchasing the content too, right there with them for the journey. We are all speaking, if not to each other, to the general world about how we are fighting robo-scopions and trying to figure out what Dr. Mobius is doing in The Forbidden Zone. We all share the journey, if not the same exact path.

It was nice — I’m tempted to say “for once!” — to spend some time with my sister. It was good to be part of a conversation again about the same things, same problems and the same general life experiences. The same though was also true in some Fun House mirrored way of playing the new New Vegas content. In both situations, it was better to be part of the current conversation. In both, it was a feeling of getting out of the dark caves and spending some time with people who are on the same road.