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I'm with you re: games.

I'm old enough to have been old enough in 1972 to have been in a bar playing Pong. Talk about boring.

Maybe if you actually won something tangible. But the "thrill of victory and agony of defeat" still doesn't cut it for me.

I would like to know more about your experience with first person shooters.
How many titles did you get your hands on?
Have you tried Half-Life 2 and Quake III?
I personally think that FPS is by far most immersive video game genre once you allow yourself a few weeks to get accustomed with mouse keyboard handling. Also check out team-based first person shooters like Team Fortress 2 or Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (which you can get free, here: http://www.splashdamage.com/node/57 + best mod for it here: http://etpro.anime.net/)

I'm surprised no one's jumped on you yet for calling Civilization a real-time strategy game. (First!) It's turn-based strategy. Real-time strategy games include Command and Conquer and Starcraft.

I would suggest that you ignore melancholic's comment, which appears to be targeted at a hardcore gaming audience, and instead try out Portal. Please don't miss the humorous trailer for the game ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TluRVBhmf8w ). On top of the ingenious puzzle mechanics, the AI voice that eggs you on is full of dark humor, and the ending is fast reaching legendary status.

Best part? The game can be beaten in less than 3h, so you can just sit with a gamer friend and enjoy the fantastic puzzles and narrative, without having to be a game guru.

If you do decide to ignore the game, at the very least enjoy the ending ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RthZgszykLs ), though it will lose some of its effect without having first gone through the game.

Thanks for the recs everyone. Actually, one of the reasons I'm not a gamer is not that I don't like them, but that I'm afraid I'll get sucked into the vortex and never come out. You should see the time I waste just with Snood. I've tried FPS games at friends' houses and they've nearly had to pry the controllers outta my cold, dead hands. I have the same problem with TV, and as a writer, I've found I don't get any writing done when I have TV or videogames around. Compared to writing, they're easy. See, that "the game can be beaten in less than 3h" is 3 hours I could get writing done in. So I'm a sucker at least for FPS games. The others, not so much.

And truthfully, I'm already running so many graphics heavy programs (PhotoShop, InDesign, Illustrator) that upgrading for gaming is just impractical. I'm secretly in love with the Alienware boxes though. Why do most PC makers not understand that half the appeal of Macs is the box design?

Lee, I'm with you on game types. I too, much prefer the puzzle-type games than the shooters or any of the other categories you mentioned. I thought I was alone in the world on this, so I'm glad you came out about it.

Sean Carroll's talk in Second Life was part of a series called "Dr. Knop Talks Astronomy", biweekly public astronomy lectures given usually by me, sometimes by guest luminaries such as Sean.

There's actually all sorts of stuff going on in Second Life that is pretty far from what you'd call a "game". I've acted in Shakespearian plays in-world as well....

Check out http://www.mica-vw.org if you're interested in public astronomy outreach talks and other activities associated with a group of professional (and other) astronomers in Second Life.

Also note that the Second Life client and a Second Life account are free....

Oh, wow! I played Tennis for Two at Brookhaven -- either late middle school or high school -- at an open house. Timing is about right, since I graduated from high school in '64...

I'd always liked Asteroids in my early Uni years. Now I'm hooked on online Billiards (which I'm playing right now and reading your blog between shots!) But there's an online Pinball?! Time to Google up a link...

Hey, I'm Logan. I really liked this post, as I have been an intense gamer in past years. One thing I'm interested in is the relationship between technology and games ... especially how technology influences traditional (board) games. Computers have made Dungeons and Dragons style games so much easier, for example (Baldur's Gate was really fun). Another good example is being able to play Chess or Go with people from around the world whenever you want! Have you ever played Go?

Hahaha I just noticed your physics cocktails on the sidebar, nice.

Nolan Bushnell beta-tested "Pong" and "Computer Space" (later retitled "Asteroids") at Caltech. We students owned the campus vending machine cartel -- soda, candy, hot food, pinball, and the like. The cartel was called "E. S. Nesnon" (read it backwards) and sold shares between students. I owned, at the peak, 11% of E. S. Nesnon. Today I tell my dubious students that I was once the world champion at both "Pong" and "Computer Space." Worst decision of my life: Nolan Bushnell was starting up Atari, and selling Friends & Family shares. He offered me 0.5% of Atari for $1,000.00 which I didn't have, but could have by merely selling my E. S. Nesnon. Two years later he sold Atari for $400,000,000 -- so I blew a chance to have a couple of megabucks while still a teenager. You might say something about "Spacewar" running at MIT, whose champs were Marvin Minsky's twins. My son carries on the grand tradition by being world championship of something or other he beta-tested at a gaming con, and he's been a "professional" badgeholder at San Diego Comic Con for years. Smart lad, started university at age 13 (yes, thirteen) and is halfway through his law degree at USC's law school, specializing in Intellectual property. That JD (when he's 21) will go well with his double B.S. in Math and Computer Science. I guess that he takes after his mom, my wife, a Physics professor. They're both smarter than me. But I'm not at the bottom, because I'm smarter than my dog. I can beat my dog at Chess 2 out of 3.

Thanks for the walk down the videogame nostalgia highway.

I guess age plays a huge role in "liking" video games. Just like you, my parents don't like video games at all, well except again like you, Tetris or the sort.

Oh a side note, thanks for sharing the oscilloscope tennis game that really opened my eyes. o.O" Who would have thought oscilloscope would play a part in game development!

I'd take the vanilla puzzle games over the strategy games any day. The oscilloscope bit is priceless.

Still playing pacman ;D and before I've played duke nukem and galaga. Since there's a lot of good games with high end graphics, I'm now hooked with wow game and I think it's the best game I've ever played in my life. Plus, some sites are offering freebies just like wowgoldpig.blogspot.com/ which giving me a chance to Win 500,000 World of Warcraft Gold! You may want to visit their site for more details.

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.