Chas in Real Life

29 Sep

bold layton teaHello. My name is Chas, and I’m a video game addict.

It’s been over a month since my last post, but I’ve been playing more games than usual lately: Scribblenauts, Okami, Final Fantasy VI, Modern Warfare, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, and I’m about to play through Lost Winds again. I also have a new addiction thanks to Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. It’s not the game, however, that has me obsessed, but the tea brewing mini-game.

An in-game hobby of the professor’s has become a real-world hobby of my own.

I’ve been drinking tea for the last three weeks or so, finally realizing what I had been missing all these years.

layton teaWhen Layton and his apprentice Luke arrive in the gloomy city of Folsense, the professor decides the stressed citizens could use a nice cup of tea, each specified to their liking. This forms the basis for the most interesting, and frustrating, of Diabolical Box‘s mini-games.

You begin with three basic ingredients, which you can combine in a teapot to brew a potential winner. Not every combination works, and Layton and Luke will tell you just how awful your concoction tastes when you screw up. Of course, they’ll also rave about how great and unique the flavor is when you get it right.

Each citizen will present you with a different situation, which can only be remedied by a specific brew: one lady is concerned about her skin, a rugged man in an alley way is longing for the specialty of a long gone bar, and a diligent lookout needs something that will put some pep in his step. As you help each person with their favorite cup of tea, they may offer you a new ingredient. Each has a brief description of its taste and effect on the final drink; your clues to what constitutes a desired brew.

I suppose it was the detailed descriptions of the great flavors and uplifting effects that piqued my interest, but I found myself grabbing a a sampler box of various teas while making my grocery bill. A bit of research revealed that a little milk and honey go a long way with herbal teas like my new favorite chamomile. I also tried a sampler of the more popular English teas, which taste great plain with just a little sugar. Earl Gray is my current drink of choice.

This sudden obsession with drinking and learning more about tea had me wondering how video games could be effective tools for motivating this type of behavior in all sorts of ways. The only other game I could recall that affected my real world interests in this way was Okami, which resulted in my purchase of a cheap bottle of sake. I was interested in seeing if I could truly tolerate sipping such a drink, but the incredibly dry white wine flavor didn’t appeal to me at all. Surely, there are more enjoyable, and responsible, behaviors games can inspire.

I can see games easily proving interest in hobbies like cooking, bird-watching, Taekwondo, etc. just by adding layers of detail and portraying the activities in a positive light, but most games revolve around intangible concepts like magic or unreal martial arts. Drawing magic from materia or flying through the air with massive swords as in Final Fantasy VII and Advent Children could inspire the study of mythology (Shiva, Odin, Hades) or lead to an interest in over the top martial arts movies, but they don’t lead to a practical, tangible hobby.

I’ll be on the lookout for more games like Diabolical Box or Okami. Though these effects may be minor, I think they offer a great deal to the argument that video games are a legitimate medium.


One Response to “Chas in Real Life”

  1. Juliet May 4, 2010 at 2:32 PM #

    Hello. While searching the Net I found your web site. Very useful article. What a fine info. Thanks a ton ! Juliet

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