Tag Archives: Life

So Bad They Named It Twice

It had been ages since I’ve been abroad, and despite the number of times I’ve visited the States I’d never been to New York, so it’s on that basis that I find myself in my current location: halfway around the world, in a midtown hotel room… on the Internet with my laptop. My excuse is that I’ve walked like 30 miles over the last few days, so get off my back.

New York - Central Park

The first day was spent understanding just how big Manhattan is, as I walked around the Central Park lake, over to Strawberry Fields, down to Times Square, over to the Empire State Building, all the way west and down Hudson River Park to Battery Park, then past the World Trade Center site and back up to my hotel on 57th Street. Anyone who knows the lay of the land will back me up when I say that it’s not an inconsiderable distance, and my poor legs will serve as evidence.

Since then I’ve been on the requisite games and DVDs Blu-ray shopping trip to the local Best Buys, taken in the American Museum of Natural History, and in a minute I’m going to weather the day’s bad… weather to visit the United Nations and the Guggenheim.

My big project, however, is my Ghostbusters geek quest, which has so far taken in 55 Central Park West – also known as the conduit for spiritual activity in New York – and the adjacent Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, which looks remarkably good for having been stepped on by Gozer the Destroyer.

New York - 55 Central Park West

Nobody steps on a church in my town, indeed. Coming next: the Ghostbusters headquarters and anything else I happen to stumble across. And the chances of some real-life Fallout 3 touring when I visit Washington DC on Wednesday are pretty good as well. I’m packing some Rad Away as we speak…

Keep an eye on my New York 2009 Flickr set for more photos as I upload them.

Building My Games Room

When I moved house back in March, the opportunity came up to forgo one large bedroom in exchange for two smaller ones, and given that most gamers would love a dedicated room for their televisual pursuits, I went for it. I didn’t actually own any furniture of my own, though, least of all storage for my large collection of games and DVDs, so there was some necessary investment there.

First order of business was a TV stand, and I went for this glass model from Levv. I actually paid a little less than what it’s going for now – just under £60, if I remember correctly – but it’s still excellent value and is a nice stand. Just don’t expect any help when it comes to assembly, because the instructions aren’t great.

Games Room TV

I’ve recently added a dedicated Blu-ray player, a Samsung BD-P3600, to the mix, mainly to reduce wear on the PS3’s drive but also to give me access to region B stuff in these times when it’s suddenly more expensive to import films for my US PS3. It’s also faster and quieter than a PS3 and shares many of its media features, which is nice. I took the opportunity to jettison my faithful old Logitech sound system for an Onkyo TX-SR507, which has four HDMIs and handles all the new HD audio formats, and a set of Tannoy SFX 5.1 speakers. I’d been wanting to upgrade that for a while now and this seemed like a good time. With the Blu-ray player I was fast running out of HDMI inputs on the TV anyway, so it saves me finding a bigger HDMI switch as well.

I’m seated on a two-seater cream leather sofa, which I paid a whole £20 for from a friend. Certainly not the most comfortable I’ve ever sat on, but more than workable and fits nicely into the room. And just to tie it all together I’ve got a framed BioShock lithograph on the wall.

Games Room Overview

Probably the biggest problem that needed fixing was disc storage. Previously my games and films had been either three deep in a repurposed bookcase, three high on a shelf above my TV, or in a modified cupboard with shelves that had literally collapsed under the weight of the old games and systems. I’m only keeping games that are playable on current systems immediately accessible in addition to my DVDs and Blu-rays, and if I’m allowing room to grow it meant that I needed space for around 1,000 discs. It’s pretty hard to find anything of that size, and buying a few of Ikea’s finest would quickly get expensive. Continue reading Building My Games Room

Feeling Disconnected

So as some might know already, I’ve moved into a new house where, amongst other things, I’ve got my own TV/games room.

Very cool, but what’s doing my head in at the moment is being without Internet access – this is being typed on my phone. It’s coming on Friday when we’ll have a 20Mb connection – a fair step up from my old 1.5Mb/sec that I’ve suffered… well, since we got upgraded from 512k – but you don’t realise how much you rely on it until it’s not available.

I have an iPhone so I’m not completely cut off, which would be driving me nuts, but it hurts to have no Xbox Live or PSN, no new podcasts, no new TV shows, limited IMing capability… The list goes on.

I’m sure I’ll be congratulating myself over this little purgatory in a few days when my connection is faster than yours (probably), but for now I’m going to watch Blu-rays and moan that I’m collecting achievements without my score updating.

The hardships that we must endure…

RIP Video Game Centre

Today was a pretty meaningless day in the grand scheme of things. For most gamers it simply represented the return to the grind after an extended weekend of GTA IV, but it was a sad day for the hardcore gaming community of Bournemouth, and for those regulars from all around the country: today was the last day of trading for the Video Game Centre.

Video Game Centre

Since it opened in 1993, it was one of the biggest sellers in the country of import games and game-related oddities. No one misses the days of £90 SNES imports, but back in the day this place had a huge pool of regulars who were willing to spend that sort of money on the latest and greatest but also who would spend all their Saturday afternoons in there, just talking games. As someone growing up as a gaming obsessive at the time, it was heaven.

Alas, the Internet happened, as did supermarkets and their loss-leading games, and the pool of regulars started to dry up. Internet forums have become the hangout of the hardcore gamer, and the number of people who are willing to spend only a couple of quid under the RRP for a place to break street date has dwindled.

Looking at that photo, taken circa 2002, just makes me come over all nostalgic. The new games on the TVs, the Shenmue poster on the door there, whole import sections for every console. Next to the TVs you can see the accessories, with everything from the expected official controllers and AV cables to the handy weird stuff from Japan and Hong Kong that’s been impossible to find since Lik-Sang disappeared. And above and to the left of the PAL N64 games on the back wall you can see AES and Neo-Geo CD games – where can you get those without braving the bootleg minefield of eBay?

I miss the independent retailers in general. Where is there for people to get knowledgeable advice from people who’ve actually played the game, to try it before they buy and to get help with importing and modding hardware? And when I do shop in a physical retailer, I like to do it without being given the hard sell on extended warranties, official guides, and shitty, own-brand controllers. This was one of the last ones, and it had been one of the best.

So it looks like I’m going completely online now, and I can be happy with my favoured sites for both imports and PAL games. It’s just a shame that I can no longer pop in for a chat about the latest Edge scores…