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After the unexpected popularity of my last post, Are You Popular Enough to be an Author?, I’ve decided to possibly alienate most of you today by going into something I haven’t really talked about on my blog. I’m a gamer geek. There, I admitted it. But I am very selective about my games. I like to play RPGs and, as an author, I really want a good story and good characters in my games. When the story and characters are well done, it’s like playing a book. I love it. Probably my favorite games of all time in that respect are The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

Why am I so enamored with these games?

1. To start with, I get to step way out of my reality when I step into the role of Geralt of Rivia. Let’s face it, in my normal life I’m not a monster slaying mutant badass who goes around brawling in taverns, saving elves (who will probably return the favor by trying to have me killed), and bedding buxom bruxa.

(Actually, he doesn’t bed a bruxa and they were more buxom in the first game, but it had a nice ring to it.)

Geralt isn’t really human anymore, nor is he one of the standard nonhuman races (elves/dwarves) so he often gets shunned by all sides, but they still need him because he’s a monster slayer (and many women, it seems, are secretly drawn to his soft-spoken dark and mysterious demeanor – not to mention some other things).

2. The game world is gritty and complex with a life all its own. I never feel like areas stop existing just because I’m not there. You are forced to deal with political schemes and racial conflicts that have spiraled out of control to the point that Geralt can no longer extricate himself from the chaos. You have to pick sides in conflicts where neither side is clearly wrong or right and the results of your choices have significant effect on later events and the outcome of the game.

3. Combat requires some thought and preparation. You are a monster slayer. Battling beasties is what you’re designed for, but you can’t just run into any battle with your swords blazing and expect to survive. Potions can only be taken before combat and then you can only take so many without suffering toxicity, so you have to choose wisely. There are a variety of approaches you can take to battle aside from just swords, including use of bombs, throwing daggers, traps, signs (magic), and weapon enhancements.

There are so many more things I love about this game, not the least of which is that the game studio, CD Projekt Red, actually seems to give a damn about what their customers want and they do a great job trying to meet demands. They recently released The Witcher 2 on Xbox 360 with several hours of new content not included in the original PC version. Being the great company they are, they gave that new content free to anyone who already owned the PC game.

That brings me to why I decided to write this now. With all that new content to discover, I’m playing the game again, only on the new Dark difficulty this time (Easy, Normal, Hard, Dark, Insane). Why Dark? Because there are special weapons and armor you can craft in Dark mode that aren’t available in other modes and that’s just irresistible. Given my propensity for dying in this mode, however, I don’t see an Insane play through in my Geralt’s future.

Any other game geeks out there? What is it you love about your favorite games?