The World Born Anew

How would you like to be privy to a little-known fact about myself? This would be in stark contrast to the web of lies of which I am usually constituted, so no doubt you are shocked. Please take a minute to compose yourself, then read on. It may help to fantasize (as I do) that…

How would you like to be privy to a little-known fact about myself?

This would be in stark contrast to the web of lies of which I am usually constituted, so no doubt you are shocked. Please take a minute to compose yourself, then read on. It may help to fantasize (as I do) that many people are reading this article, making it far less special and far more palatable.

All set?

I am a Brainlord.

Stunned? Taken aback? Confused?

Way back when ENIX decided to branch out into roleplaying Games for the Super Nintendo, they released two games, both of which are near-universally reviled. One was 7th Saga, an awful game of which we shan’t speak. The other was Brainlord.

Brainlord was also an awful game, one of those video game mistakes that can keep you up nights wondering (that is, if your life is narrow enough to make such things possible). It was everything a game shouldn’t be. It was the gaming equivalent of earwigs.

Thing was, the back of the box plainly stated that if you beat the game, you would "become the Brainlord". That’s not an offer I could refuse lightly.

I may have been a lot of things. A near-psychic Euchre player, a master of Clock Solitaire, a saviour of humanity, a builder of empires, a smasher of things that need smashing, all kinds of good titles had I. Still, I was no Brainlord.

So I threw myself into what should have been, by rights, something awful. After countless agonizing hours, including the most ridiculous puzzle I’ve ever encountered, I sliced open the last baddie to become the Brainlord that you see before you. Sure, the game was awful, but those ending credits were some of the sweetest I’d ever seen.

Thinking back on that fire is forcing a re-evaluation of the way I game now.

I’ve been hip-deep in maximization for as long as I can remember. It’s not just the preparation for this round of PTQs, although that’s part of it. It’s also Diablo II, and Maniac Mansion, and Spite & Malice, and Euchre, of all things! I’ve been playing them all with a practised hand, analysing my play to ensure its rightness, trying to maximize my expected output. While that attitude is a good way to sharpen your senses for a tournament, it makes for lousy fun. No wonder my free-time activities have been so unrewarding: I’ve been approaching them as if they were work.

I want to have fun again. I want to be dealt a bad hand and play fast so that the game moves along, only to make a desperate eleventh-hour bid to spite "Bad Attitude" Adam Buist out of a rightful win, and end up being dumped unceremoniously into the pool by said B.A.

And then laugh like Frank Gorshin.

Thus I turned my maximizing eye to my own happiness, and realised that if I don’t shape up soon and start playing games for fun instead of "profit" (which in this case is equivalent to "doing well" instead of "cash money"), I’m going to end up a very sad man indeed.

Nobody likes The Sad. Eeyore was an outcast. Even Mr. Freeze was a marginal villain. It’s because he was so moody.

In order to reclaim this lost youth of mine, I’ve prepared myself a pilgrimage. I’ll be spending the remainder of this week at GenCon. For the uninitiated (myself included) GenCon is a huge gaming convention, where all the shut-ins (myself included) converge on some hapless metropolis to play all kinds of games for four days straight.

Isn’t this a happy state of affairs? Not only do I exit the locales and relationships associated with my ignorance of the reasons I play games, but I’m also in an environment *saturated* with gamers. It means that the threat of doing poorly at a game will have no weight, because there will always be more to do, more fun to be had.

It also means that I’ll be in a place where Magic is but one of many featured activities. I for one don’t dig on the need for novelty, but there’s nothing like learning a new game to rekindle feelings of wonder and enjoyment. One of my fondest Magic memories is of looking at the green mana symbol in the casting cost of Wall of Wood. It was new and bizarre and stood for all the things I thought about the powers of nature.

This isn’t something I’ve lost. I still have that same passion about playing games that I’ve always had. I can still feel all the things that make playing games fun. What I’m missing is the full involvement, the total immersion that comes so easily in childhood. I’m going to rediscover that feeling.

I will remember the word "play". It’s what children do to have fun.

Josh Bennett


[email protected]

Make of this what you will.

Awake – Dream Theater

Bone Machine – Tom Waits

Cosmic Thing – The B-52’s

Dead Air For Radios – Chroma Key

Electr-o-pura – Yo La Tengo

F# A# Lemniscate – godspeed you black emperor!

Grace – Jeff Buckley

He Has Left Us Alone, But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms… – A Silver Mt. Zion

In Sound From Way Out, The – Beastie Boys

Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers – s/t

Kapital – Laibach

Lioness, The – Songs: Ohia

Millions Now Living Will Never Die – Tortoise

Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols

OK Computer – Radiohead

Pure Phase – Spiritualized

Queen Is Dead, The – The Smiths

Red – King Crimson

Souvlaki – Slowdive

Transformer – Lou Reed

Under Wheels Of Confusion – Black Sabbath

Voulez-Vous – ABBA

Wayward Bus, The – The Magnetic Fields


Young Team – Mogwai

Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars "LIVE" – David Bowie