Scattered Notes III: Patience – Splinter Cell and World Series Baseball 2k3

by mudrhetoric

“If by Godot I had meant God I would have said God, and not Godot.”
Samuel Beckett

There was a story I once heard that Tom Clancy had been approached by ‘men in black’ after they had come across one of his books on submarines and were convinced that someone had leaded classified info to him to act as an aid and reference for his writing. I don’t know if that story is true. It doesn’t really matter. Does it?

Splinter Cell is a video game in which you play as a spy working for a branch of the NSA for American freedoms making full use of the fifth freedom. The game’s primary antagonist is the president of Georgia who unleashes a wave of cyberterrorism. Whilst playing through the game you discover his connections to a Chinese general and the desire to ignite a world war.

World Series Baseball 2k3 is a typical baseball game, but it’s the one that I find the most enjoyable. It possesses many of the modes similar to other games of its ilk, but the only one that I concern myself with is the manual franchise mode. Essentially this modes consists of you drafting the managerial staff and both the major and minor league teams. You then play the entirety of a baseball season. You can simulate them, but what’s the point of that?

Patience is a virtue that I think comes with age. Is that irony? When I first played Splinter Cell I stopped and started umpteen times. Now they’d classify it as rage quitting, but I just wasn’t of the mind to appreciate certain qualities of the game. I didn’t snap the disc, but rather just slotted it into a sleeve and let it sit there, and like MacArthur, vowed to return.

Splinter Cell wasn’t really a spy game. The espionage associated with it was merely the candy coating. Inside it was medicinal tapping into trial-and-error and your personal capacity to remember. The plot merely revolved around this mechanical interface and made it more palatable. Splinter Cell is a latter day Myst.

Splinter Cell though had something that World Series Baseball 2k3 didn’t: predictable artificial intelligence, and is what made Splinter Cell less punishing. If you learned the patterns, and were willing to wait, you were likely (see likely) to be successful. Not so with World Series Baseball 2k3, luck and cheese were the two roads to victory. A game that can only be appreciated and enjoy baseball, patchwork and guesswork.

I can see why Tom Clancy would be accosted by ‘men in black’ after having played the Splinter Cell. The news segments, in game, combined with his commentary on Georgia, terrorism, and the Internet Age. All quite prescient. And if I’m reading the cards right, World Series Baseball 2k3 predicts that the White Sox will take it all. I’ll leave it at that.