what charley talks about when he talks about life

Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

Awaiting the Madness that is March

In Basketball on February 24, 2009 at 10:50 pm

March. Winter’s last moan. The tease of Spring. Thawing. Rebirth. And the sound of birds.

March gives us many things, but to me… it’s the month that gives me college basketball at its best. The culmination of another season boils down to the greatest climax any American sport has to offer: the field of 64 (cough, 65). Having lived in places like Boston and even New York, I’ve been surrounded by people who don’t care, who don’t hang on every shot on a typical March Thursday around 12noon when the first tournament game tips off. Having also lived in Kentucky, and knowing how life stops when the Wildcats, Cardinals, Hilltoppers, Racers, or Colonels play… I carry that with me, and this year when I nestle up to a near empty Brooklyn bar to catch those early games on that Thursday afternoon, bracket in hand, I’ll be a kid in a car headed to the toy store. The anticipation is the best part: every team and every fan holding the belief that this might be the year to win six games in a row. And the moment Kentucky’s hopes are dashed, that car to the toy store will swerve violently off a bridge leaving me — and my mom — remorseful, a bit angry, envious of team’s still alive, but like the Spring — as our 08-09 team passes, the anticipation for next year blooms nearly after the last shot falls. I’ll continue to watch the tournament and enjoy watching my bracket of predictions fall apart. But all the while, I’ll be thinking about UK recruits and returning players and wondering if this will be us marching to the holy land known as the Final Four…

Finally, a quick tip for those prognosticators filling out the bracket for the office pool: never underestimate the importance of a good point guard and how far this player can carry a team in March. You’ll do well if you pinpoint these players and their teams and pencil them deep into the tourney. Soon I’ll repost a piece I wrote about game design and the office pool.

Repost: Tennis Anyone?

In Tennis on February 14, 2009 at 4:49 pm

[this post originally appeared on GameDesignAdvance.com on June 8, 2007]

bjornborg_thumb1

You’ll never play the same game twice: that was how my mom sold me on trying Bridge. It might have been the same line when my dad talked me into Chess. And come to think of it, pretty much any great game of deep strategy shares this quality, digital or not. Yet Chess only maintains this quality through the game play of your opponent. Same with Bridge, but there it also depends on the cards you’re dealt. Now consider games and sports where you will never play the same game twice and the reason behind this is the altering of the context of the game. I’m talking playing surfaces, environments, and general pregame shenanigans.

I’m watching a Swiss by the name of Federer, first name Roger, come from behind to win the first set of a tennis matches in the semifinals of the French Open. I love European championship tennis for two reasons: it’s really good, and it’s on live television in the morning. I’m talking Wimbledon along with this tourney, and watching Federer — perhaps the most dominating tennis player ever — can be a religious experience. Don’t take it from me, take it from David Foster Wallace. But since an article about Federer has already been done, I’ll write one about the second coolest thing in tennis: the surfaces. Read the rest of this entry »

Repost: 2007 Kentucky Derby

In Horse Racing on February 14, 2009 at 4:45 pm

[this post originally appeared on GameDesignAdvance.com on May 7, 2007]

This past Saturday was Cinco de Mayo. For those of you who are not fluent in Spanish, I think that means “you sunk my mayonnaise” which probably can be further interpreted to correspond with a Mexican version of the game Battleship. I’m still checking my sources on that.

kentucky-derby

Saturday was also relevant to another non-digital game: the Kentucky Derby. The first Saturday in May always serves as the day when 3 year old horses run for the roses and millions upon millions are wagered on their brittle legs and empty bladders. Customary for any ex-commonwealthian (not a real word), I embedded (not only a real word, but the OED’s 2006 word of the year) myself into a frenzied atmosphere of others celebrating the race complete with hat and mint julep. Charles Pratt and Thomas Duc joined me for said festivities and it was suggested I write up a report on this sport of Kings for the blog in reference to the gaming aspects of horse racing. Consider it done. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s the Point?

In General on February 14, 2009 at 4:24 pm

“You play to win the game.” – Herman Edwards, mediocre professional football coach, currently seeking employment.

Secretariat winning the Belmont in record fashion.

What’s the point of starting a blog dedicated to all and everything related to non-digital games, all things strategy, and — in the spring time, the king of sporting events — the Kentucky Derby? Well, I’m just a guy who loves the art of game design and watching those that surround their choosen game exploiting the design to maximize their chances of winning (without cheating, of course). Everyone plays to win their game, it’s the golden rule of being a player. What seperates just any player and a great player, is the ability to recognize the ultimate paths that achieve the best odds that most often deliver victory. It’s the sort of thing Michael Lewis is making a career of writing about. Here, I just hope to make a nice little pastime for myself doing much of the same. And we’re off!