Friday, November 18, 2011

The Wonders of the Internet

Several years ago, I decided it would be fun to play a video game in French. Unfortunately, there aren't too
many French video games for sale in the DC metro area, so I turned to the internet for help. I went to ebay and, after quite a bit of searching, I found a lot of several French games going for fairly cheap. There was one expansion that was useless without the original game. Another was a defunct MMO that was also pretty useless. It also contained The Sims along with all its expansions, which was neat. But what really made be buy the lot was the copy of Diablo II and the expansion, Lord of Destruction. Though already quite aged, that was (and still is) among my favorite games ever. If I enjoyed the game in English, how much more awesome would it be to play it in French?!?

Fast forward to about a month ago. While going through my collection of video games, I came across that French copy of Diablo. I've recently been putting some renewed effort into improving my French, so I was excited at the prospect of again being able to practice while slaying demons and hoards (herds?) of possessed cows. But, when I went to install the game, I was dismayed to find that I couldn't find the CD key. It had been printed on an insert that had come in the case, but was now missing. I tried using the key for my English copy, but to no avail. My disappointment was epic.

Once again, the Internet was able to save the day. This time, in my opinion, in a much more awesome way than before. It occurred to me that Blizzard (the makers of Diablo) have a service set up whereby you can register your games on their site. Once registered, that game can be downloaded anytime you want. I had already registered my English copy, so I knew I could at least download it in English. Hoping to trick them into letting me download the French translation, I logged into the French version of Blizzard's site. Unfortunately, it still recognized that I had registered an English version, so that's what it offered. But then I noticed a tiny link next to where it listed my region which read "Change". Clicking on that tiny link opened a previously hidden menu which allowed me to choose from a whole list of languages, including French. Yay!!!

Even more recently, the long awaited Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released. Due to my general being-too-busy-this-time-of-year-because-of-work-ness, I've opted not to buy the game immediately and risk getting sucked into it and accidentally staying up to play it until ten minutes before I have to leave for work in the morning. That's what this blog is for. But I couldn't resist the temptation when I saw that Steam was offering Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on sale for only five dollars.
Those of you who have seen my video game collection might wonder why this would be tempting when I already own the game for XBox 360. The answer is simple*. I have my Steam installation set to French. Not only does that mean the Steam interface is in French but, when possible, it also downloads games in French. So, in the little time I've had after work, I've added Oblivion to my French video game agenda. More yay!!!

So, anyway... what's my point? Other than the obvious point that videos games in French are wonderful, of course. The point is that it's quite awesome that the Internet can so easily enable me to play them that way. Before the Internet, I may have had to go to France, or at least Canada, to get a French copy. At the easiest, I would have to find a specialty store that had one, probably with a huge markup since it would be imported. Now all I have to do change a setting in my software and the French version is readily available. The most awesome part of that is that something that was once extremely difficult to get because of issues involving international trade is now available without leaving my chair. And even without paying anything extra. So yeah... that's all I have to say.

* - That's the French word "simple", not English. Meaning and spelling are the same, but pronunciation is different. It's a clever hint that is completely lost in written format. Too bad this isn't a vlog.