16.19, Thursday 6 Jan 2011

Back in, shit, 1997, three bubbles ago, sixteen years ago, when "liberal" had just stopped being a dirty word on its way to being a good word before it was dirty again, I got into computer games for the second time. I'm now on my fifth: the first was the BBC Microcomputer Model B, which I liked at school, and the third through fifth were and are: Animal Crossing on Nintendo; iPhone casual games; Xbox after I got really hung-over last year, after my sister's wedding. I was into a game called Riven which was like walking around a beautiful place of trees and water and cliffs and cable-cars, with atmospheric music and puzzles. You would click around lush, rendered images, with occasional movies. Playing Riven is like PowerPoint meets Alice in Wonderland. It was as great a piece of world-building as I've ever seen in a video game. The sprawling world of Riven has an alternate history and an alternate physics (I'm not kidding: water has bizarre physical properties). You don't so much solve puzzles as wander around looking at the scenery and poking things until you intuitively understand the new world, and then you're not solving puzzles, you're just doing what comes naturally. I would spend time in Riven in the dark with headphones and scotch. In retrospective I could have spent more time with my friends in the college bar that term.

And now Riven is on iPhone! It's very pretty.

Oh happy day!

I feel old.