Monday, January 3, 2011

Welcome to 2011

The height of satire, circa 1974
When you're a kid growing up in a certain time (in my case, the 1970s), 2011 is one of those impossible dates. I had all sorts of ideas about it: I'd have bionic eyes and limbs, just like Steve Austin; I'd have a flying car; I'd travel to work by pneumatic tubes; and perhaps the world would be ruled by super-intelligent apes. I used to practice saying, "Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape," just in case. (You think I'm kidding.)

Also: we are all going to die an instant, flaming, and hideous death due to a Soviet-US nuclear exchange. This last one was simply inevitable, which is why Mad Max and Road Warrior struck such a nerve. They were like training films for the future. I was actually kind of looking forward to wandering the post-apocalyptic wasteland in my tricked out car.

The Good, The Bad, and The Snooki
What we actually got was an amazing technological revolution and an appalling intellectual, moral, and financial collapse. It certainly wasn't apocalyptic, but as someone whose household income has dropped by 2/3rds in the past two years, and who's raising two kids in a world where Snooki is a household name, it sometimes feels that way.

Video and computer games really weren't even an issue when I was very young. As I got a little older, we had arcades, the Atari 2600 and the Commodore 64. I never even owned any kind of Nintendo, Sega, or Intellivision system. Yeah, I'm that old. Our real revolution was in role-playing games, which rapidly replaced tabletop wargames. I don't remember sitting around playing video games with my friends, although I'm sure we did it. I do remember epic sessions of D&D and Traveller. That should tell you which experience left more of an impression.

Jumping forward 30-odd years, we have a gaming scene of unsurpassed richness. The past couple of decades have been the most prolific and fascinating period in the history of games. Not only have we come to appreciate older games more, but new or improved genres such as PC, video, and handheld games; Eurogames; collectible card games; role-playing games and all manner of board and card games have exploded.

There are plenty of sites covering this rich tapestry in all its many details, with news, reviews, and commentary. My purpose here is something different: to chronicle games from one man's perspective, writing about things that interest me, no matter how new or old, mainstream or obscure. Since I happen to be one of a relatively small number of writers who cover both conventional and electronic games as my full-time job, and have done so for about 20 years, I hope that approach has some merit.

2010: Good Riddance
I'll be frank: 2010 was a miserable year here at Casa McD. Everyone in my immediate and extended family had a serious health issue and the economy has ruined us. I'm too much of a pessimist to say that 2011 can't be any worse. I'm sure it can (4 years ago we had 7 funerals in about 14 months), but I hope it won't. Dave Barry's end of the year piece captures the unique awfulness that was 2010. 

Oddly enough, even in the midst of all this, I've been of fairly good cheer. I credit my faith and my family with that, and I continue to draw immense enjoyment from gaming, reading, and old movies. I began this blog over the summer as a way to jump-start my writing and finally put up my shingle on this here World Wide Web hoosits, which I understand is a coming thing. I've enjoyed it over the past 6 months or so, and I intend to continue. 2010 was my chance to figure out just what I'm doing here. 2011 is when I'd like to grow the readership, so if you'd please forward the occasional link, or post things to Twitter and Facebook, I'd be much obliged.

Now that the Thanksgiving-to-New-Year's craziness has passed, I plan to get back on a more regular schedule. I'm still searching for a design I like, so expect to see some adjustments to the look and layout. (If anyone wants to donate page and/or logo design in exchange for a permanent ad at the bottom of the page, please contact me at, replacing =at= with @, of course.)

The puzzles have trailed off a bit because they were getting diminishing traffic and responses, but if I find one of interest I'll post it. I've logged a lot of playtime on new games over the past few weeks, and I'll be writing about those in the upcoming weeks. If anyone has questions or comments, please feel free to post or email me. I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for the time you spend here, and may the new year be better than the old one.

UPDATE: The picture of "Monotony" at the top is from "Wacky Packs," a series of collectible stickers produced by Topps in the 1970s. They were insanely popular among the 3rd grade set in 1974, and are periodically revived by Topps. They featured Mad Magazine-style parodies of famous product packaging, with excellent art by some of the top illustrators of the time. 


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