Friday, May 11, 2007

The Gamer's Guide to Vacation

Summer is upon us, and with it, we emerge from our dark basements and gaming dens to sample the great and wondrous treasures this world has to offer. Yes, I'm talking about vacation, those glorious trips to various, far flung parts of the world where we experience the best that leisure has to offer, while at the same time, remind us why we choose to spend so much of our time not interacting with other human beings.

Seeing how gamers can be, how do I put this nicely, an obsessive lot, I've come up with some tips to help you get the most out of your vacation, while at the same time not end up so distraught over being disconnected from your hobby that you end up trying to play Barbie Horse Adventures on an Xbox made out of driftwood and dead jellyfish.

I should note that I'm going on vacation next week and will do my best to post, however I can't guarantee anything. This will differ wildly from normal weeks in that at least this time, you know ahead of time that I'm ignoring you.

Check the Calendar
The easiest way to ensure you don't miss a moment of pure, gaming goodness is to check the calendar and avoid content heavy months. Going on a trip to beautiful Prague in October or November is, in a word, stupid. Vacationing anywhere during the heady holiday buying season is a no-no, unless your traveling to your basement and have just told family and co-workers that you're in Europe so that they won't bother you while you play GTA IV.

The summer months are usually fine as game releases slow to a trickle, except for the various movie tie in games that undoubtedly suck as much, if not more, than the explosive, blockbuster bullshit they're based on. Now that E3 is dead and gone, travel restrictions in May have also been lifted. Take me, for example. I looked at the calendar for this coming week and saw that nothing was going on of any gaming importance, so I was free to be away from my 360. What? The Halo 3 Beta? Ha-ha-ha. Very funny. Wait, what? You're serious? Dammit!

Location, Location, Location
Where you go on vacation can be just as important as when you go on vacation as certain destinations will allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of gaming while others will allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of a badger or a wild boar. Here's a breakdown of common vacationing spots:

The Woods
Pros: No one fights over the Wiimotes because there's no power. Allows you to fulfill MMORPG fantasies of beating on small rodents with big sticks. Mosquitos eat free.
Cons: You're forced to live like savages, hanging your food from trees and pooping in a hole you dug yourself. No Wi-Fi. Bears not as friendly in real life as they were on "Gentle Ben".

The Beach
Pros: Usually near cities for evening portable recharging. Hot chicks in bathing suits. Allows you to fulfill MMORPG fantasies of unleashing your "healing potion" on jellyfish stings.
Cons: Grandmas in bathing suits. Impossible to get sand out of a Sixaxis. Pale gamer skin prone to bursting into flame when exposed to more than 20 minutes of continuous sunlight.

The City
Pros: Ample power and internet connections for marathon gaming sessions. Game stores abound. Opportunity to meet online only gaming friends in person.
Cons: You're not fooling anyone by claiming you're "vacationing" in Cleveland. Meeting online only gaming friends in person reminds you why you choose to only meet people online.

The Mountains
Pros: Clear line of sight for exceptional cell phone service.
Cons: Amorous mountain goats.

Equipment Check
Obviously you're going to take some kind of video game system with you. I mean, let's be serious here. If you're like me, you could no sooner be away from your liver for a week than you could your DS and it's good buddy Mr. Puzzle Quest. Which system you bring will depend on a number of factors, including length of stay, who's going with you and the other planned activities. Once again, I break it down for you.

Here we consider the DS, the PSP and most cell phone games. Portables offer the easiest opportunity to game on the go, however your game type selection is limited and unless you're planning on trading for Grandma's Squirtle, the games don't necessarily let the rest of the family in on the action. By the way, "Grandma's Squirtle" would be an excellent name for a rock band.

The Wii would be an excellent choice if traveling to visit family, however prying the Wiimote out of Uncle Charlie's hands after he relives his glory days as a high school tennis player may not be your idea of a fun time. Be prepared to explain what a "mini-game" is as you won't find much more than that on this system. The 360 is an excellent choice, except for the fact that even the slightest of jostling may cause the dreaded Red Ring of Death, or quite possibly, a thermonuclear explosion. The 360 also opens up the possibility of your 7 year old cousin scoring multiple headshots on you, and I don't think your ego can handle that. The PS3 is a sturdy machine, capable of traveling well, however after purchasing one you probably don't have any money left for vacationing. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

A souped up gaming laptop offers the best mix of games and also allows you to turn that Shriner's Convention into a LAN party, provided the hotel doesn't mind you taking over the business center. The laptop can also double as a DVD player on the plane which will come in handy when the airlines start dropping movies to cut costs. Just leave the hentai at home. The downside of the laptop is that you may, upon arriving at your hotel, want to log in for "just a quick second" to see what your WOW guild is doing and then, 5 days later, realize you never left your hotel room and instead spent several thousand dollars to engage in an activity you could have done at home, free of charge.

As you can see, making the correct gaming choices can be the difference between an exciting and meaningful vacation that allows you to reconnect with family and friends, and a trip where you stay abreast of gaming news and manage to finally capture your last Pokemon to the delight of no one but yourself. Choose wisely!


Greg said...

You think mountains allow for exceptional cell service? Ha! When you go up the mountains, there are no towers anywhere nearby. Down below, you'll find that large bodies of rock block cell signals very effectively.

k o w said...

The way I have my DS currently configured ;) I could be dropped in the Amazon with nothing but a canteen, knife, my DS, a solar panel recharger, and slim jims and be gaming for weeks.