Sunday, January 18, 2009

Playing Games

I've never thought of myself as a "gamer", but there are several games that I have come to love playing on my PC! When I got my new PC in November, there were a number of games that I was unable to transfer and boy oh boy did I miss them! Playing the games that came with the PC just didn't satisfy me. I wanted my favourites back! I was in game withdrawal! Until I found them or suitable replacements, I just wasn't going to be a happy camper!

As I mentioned the other day, it started out innocently enough with playing Free Cell and Hearts. They are both fun and don't require a lot of skill - mostly luck and a good memory. The problem is that they aren't very interesting over the long haul. Playing Free Cell for more than a few rounds gets tired fast! Playing Hearts for more than a few games is fun with real people and conversation, but can get rather annoying when you are playing against three PC characters that insist on sticking you with the Queen of Spades and all the Hearts they can! Although I have won a few games and have often gotten scores in the 20's and 30's - I think it is a conspiracy!

I started looking for other games as I wanted a bit more of a challenge. I wanted to know what my vision and eye hand coordination was actually capable of doing. I had been doing Sudoku puzzles for a few years, but finding a suitable version on line wasn't easy. There just wasn't the same ability to make your own hints in the corners, without which, can make some of the more difficult puzzles next to impossible to solve. Some versions had the hints built in but that took the fun and challenge out of figuring it out for yourself. One version, Buku SuDoKu, (a Game Giveaway Of The Day feature that is trapped on my old PC!) came close. Sudoku is one of those games that is probably better left to paper and pen/pencil.

I've tried a number of jigsaw puzzles, but the only one that I play on a daily basis is Playtonium Daily Jigsaw. It is offered on a number of sites, and gives you several customizable features such as changing the background colour (a must with some puzzles that seem to wash out on the basic grey background), number of pieces (I take the 50) and piece rotation (a little too hard for these eyes).

I found a couple of mini golf games that are pretty simple visually, but at least a couple of the holes can be a real pain! I've gotten par or a bit better several times on both but can also do miserably if my aim is even slightly off! I took a screen shot of my best scorecard just to prove that I had actually done so well! "Mini Putt" "Island Mini Golf"

I've tried a number of versions of Mah Jong. (Many of the games have their own way of spelling the name) The ones that have variations of the basic Chinese tiles are far to detailed for me to see the subtle differences. Unless the game has alternate sets of tiles that are easily distinguishable, I won't even bother trying to play even the simplest boards. The one that I have found the easiest visually, is "Mahjong Towers Eternity" - I got this version, with an e-card a year ago. There are a few tile sets included and I really like the musical instrument one! You can also download a lot of layouts of varying difficulty. The game opens a browser on closing, but that is minor. Two others that I enjoy are "GameHouse Mah Jong Medley" and "Cafe Mahjongg". Some Mah Jong games will even allow you to create your own tile sets and layouts.

There is a game called "Ingenious" that is sort of a cross between Chinese Checkers, Domino's and Othello. It is a challenge to win this one, but it can be done! I had this on my old PC and was lucky enough to find another full version copy of it on line.

I have a lot of match 3 games and a few word games that I really enjoy, but I'll save my comments about those for a post down the road. For now I'd like to share a little advice and words of wisdom when it comes to finding games to play on line or to download.

There are tons of games out there in almost any theme or genre you can imagine. Some you can play on line for varying amounts of time with or without memberships and some can only be played if you download a version from the web site that includes commercials or opening a browser on closing the game. You have to BUY the full version games to get the unlimited commercial free versions.

If you DO sign up for a membership on any site:
- READ the agreement before you sign up. Some sites require you to have them as your default browser or that a toolbar be installed.
- Never use your real name! Create an online identity to protect yourself and your personal information.
- Create a strong alpha/numeric/symbol password to protect your email and games accounts.
- Create a specific email account using an online service such as Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail that is strictly for gaming sites that require an address. That way if there is a problem, only that email account will be affected not your personal or professional accounts.
- Before disclosing any personal or financial information be sure that the URL includes "https" and there should also be a locked padlock visible with the URL or at the bottom of the page.

There are file sharing sites and software programs such as Bit Torrent and Limewire that you can use to find full versions of games, music and other programs BUT you have to be EXTREMELY careful if you venture into this area. I have had both good and bad luck with downloads from these programs. Here are a few things you should be aware of:
- Not all files/matches that fit your search criteria are safe or legitimate!
- Know the size of file/program you are looking for (you can find that info by going to a games website and doing a little reading on system requirements.
- if there are comments attached to the download READ THEM!
- ALWAYS scan files for viruses BEFORE you extract or open them!
- some games will only work if you install and run as Administrator, especially if you are using Vista.
- While installing, watch out for unwanted additions like agreeing to toolbars or changing your browser. UNCHECK those boxes whenever possible!

For the PC game novices and the wary among us, I strongly feel that the Games Forum at Giveway Of The Day is still the most informative, open and friendly place to learn about the ins and outs of almost any type of game.

Gaming is a great way to improve your mousing skills, give your brain a bit of a challenge or a way to relax! Whatever your needs, there is at least one game out there for you! So be safe and have some fun!


No comments: