On a boat, everything is skewed. One's sense of space, the rocking of the ocean, the melancholy tone screamed by the pelicans of San Francisco Bay, the lapping of gentle waves against the bow of an aircraft carrier, the alcoholic bliss that comes with overcoming sea sickness, and probably video games… but they were incidental, like a color arrangement to the eyes of Robocop.
The buzzing of the USS Hornet during 1C Company's recent press event was a far cry from the hundred feet we spent offshore. Thankfully, the piña colada that had seemingly been strained through a dirty ashtray kept me grounded on the rough seas of video game journalistic integrity. Also, my hat was really warm. And fuzzy.
But enough of staying grounded, you're reading about a press event I experienced filled with the hopes and dreams and technological marvels of human flight (IL-2 Sturmovik) and the end-days (Nuclear Union) and whatever the hell goes on in Men At War: Assault Squad 2.
The evening started out with fruity cocktails and raucous applause for new PC games, but after the short presentation of screenshots and gameplay trailers, we professionals were left not only to experience such interactive trailers for ourselves, but to tour the supposedly "most haunted ship in America." Into the bowels of the vessel that had seen action in the second World War we went, which in my case consisted of roughly 38% history of the war and the remaining 68% (because my math was wobbly) being stories from our tour guide of ladies he'd snogged—or attempted to snog—during his years in the armed services. I'd heard legends of slick soldiers flirting with foreign models and lady dignitaries, but our gentlemen was, shall we say, "not very good with pick-up lines." Nice fella, though. He let me fiddle with the knobs on the ship and poke at radar screens. The fun bits of history-learning.
After I returned from going "below deck" (which is dirty talk for "touring the lower decks"), I was left to two of my favorite things in all the world: video games and strong whiskey. I mingled with digital survivors that drank along (everybody ended up with an 8-bit tint around them after that extra glass of Bulleit bourbon), and had a swinging time aboard a vessel where the soldiers who served on it weren't allowed to drink. I felt extra rebellious. It was most empowering.
And by the evening's end, I knew everything there was to know about the planet-wide conflict. For example, did you know that the environments of Nuclear Union are actually developed from screenshots of Michael Bay's childhood backyard? Just tiny little houses burnt to crisps. And mutated rats. At least, that's what I was told by the pink elephant that played the multiplayer with me*
The end of the night came, and complete with a green-"fur" ushanka (the warm Russian hat that looks suspiciously like a fuzzy mullet), I escaped back to the real world, far away from ghost-laden metal and virtual communism. It was a fun night, a night I will never forget as long as I live… no matter the amount of alcohol I imbibed, as I have photographs of the ship to prove I was there. That the police haven't' confiscated. (Yet.)
*There was no elephant, I found out. And no multiplayer element… at least, not yet known by this printing.