Adventures Abroad: The Lengths We Go to Game

Posted by on September 29, 2010 - 11 Comments »

Playing Rock Band in Azeroth - I wonder what region code that is.

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t been completely forthcoming with my beloved audience lately. Perhaps because it hasn’t been entirely relevant to my purposes on this blog — but that’s now changed.

You see, I am currently about a week away from moving halfway across the world, from my current home in North Carolina to a new and exciting adventure in southern Germany. As I write this, in fact, my room is barren and empty. Earlier today, the moving company finished their job of packing us up and taking everything away — some to be stored for a while, some for an air shipment and some for a sea shipment.

This all still sounds a little weird, and looks even stranger written out for the world to see. But I’ve grown used to the idea. And I’d like to think that my husband and I will use our time wisely while in Germany and travel around Europe as much as humanly possible. But I also am aware that the winter is coming, and travel certainly won’t be an option for every weekend. Like always, I suspect that gaming will continue to be an integral aspect of our lives abroad.

But not without a hefty effort against a number of factors that make gaming a lot more complicated than usual.

First, there’s the different electricity standards. After all, what good is it to have a gaming computer if it won’t even run properly in Germany? That one was easy – dual voltage power supplies only require a simple switch of a button to run properly. There’s still the issue of the plug – either find a new one that conforms to plug standards in Deutschland, or plug it into an adapter.

But what of our gaming consoles? Do we want to go through the hassle of buying special adapters for each the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii? What about for charging our portable systems? Well, we certainly could get special cords for each. But thankfully, we probably won’t need to with the help of a couple of giant-ass (and quite heavy) 1000W and 2000W transformers purchased for the move.

As for the issue of whether our North American consoles will even hook up properly to a European tv? I’ve heard success stories from friends who already are abroad, but I’ve also read online confessions of others who have had a difficult time with that issue. We’re bringing our own tv, also to plug into the transformer, on which we plan to run our gaming systems. Disaster averted.

If we’re lucky, we can even use the tv as… /gasp… an actual tv, too. Thanks to a nifty PAL to NTSC video converter that I’m dying to try out. Oh, the lengths we go for our entertainment.

The larger issue that I foresee, at least from this side of the ocean, will be getting around region codes without modding our systems. The Wii, especially, is supposedly disastrously region-specific. The Xbox leaves region coding up to the game publisher, while the PS3 is supposed to be region free for PS3 games, but not necessarily for PS1 and PS2 games, nor for DVDs or Blu-rays.

The point here is that when we’re tempted by that hot next upcoming title, obtaining it won’t always be as simple as running to the friendly neighborhood Game Stop. More planning and care will need to be taken, and browsing through the store won’t necessarily be a good idea if I’m in a spontaneous kind of mood.

I’m also a bit worried about playing my US-realm-based WoW toons from abroad, and what kind of lag I’ll experience. Only time will tell, I suppose. Will I be forced to roll my Troll druid and Goblin characters on European realms? Perhaps. Not the end of the world, but I am incredibly weary of the idea of leaving my loving guild.

Anyhow, much still remains to be discovered in this life adventure, but all will be revealed soon enough. I’m optimistic that it’ll work out fine, with a little bit of effort thrown into the mix. In the meantime, WoW is patching on my laptop, and I have more questing to complete.

Now, if only I could get Hulu to work while in Germany…