but it's so much fun!

Dan Americh, formerly of Official Xbox Magazine and now Community Manager for Activision, is known as "One of Swords" online now. He can be found under that moniker pretty much everywhere (Facebook, Twitter, web site, etc).

But he's a gamer at heart, and you can often find him online, both on Xbox and PS3 (or in WoW, even) playing the games he loves.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I'm a big fan of Dan's, and in fact I consider him an inspiration for a lot of my gaming activities. He also graciously answered all of my questions about podcasting when I was setting up a podcast for my office (first episode went out yesterday!) and he's always willing to answer questions that gamers have.  He's basically the liaison (and lately, the pincushion) between Activision and the gaming community, taking a lot of the anti-Activision barbs and trying to figure out what's generic fan-boy hate and what's a legitimate gaming concern.

Since he loves playing games so much, he'll often host what he calls "Playing With Swords" sessions, where anybody who wants to can meet up with him online and just play a multiplayer game.  He's a big fan of Blur, so you'll often see him playing that, but he's also been playing Transformers: War for Cybertron and other Activision games as well.

Last night, I had the opportunity to play Singularity with him and a few of the Raven developers of the game as well. It was a total blast. In fact, it was the most fun I've had playing multiplayer in a game, ever.  That's probably because, since these are semi-organized events (you have to send him a message saying you want to play and he'll then invite you in), which means that everybody has mics (or most people, anyway) and people are actually talking.  Yes, that's right.  Did you know you can talk online????

While there isn't a lot of strategizing going on, at least you feel like you're actually playing with somebody.  Dan's a very cool guy and the developers who were playing sounded cool too. They seemed to be having lots of fun.  While Dan discourages people from getting in-depth into gaming/Activision controversies (when he games, he just wants to game), he's willing to just shoot the breeze with people on there and he will answer questions. The developers did too, and I was able to get my subtitles question answered! Evidently, they're quite expensive and it wasn't in the budget. I'm not totally satisfied with the answer (every other game does it, despite the expense), but at least he was willing to answer it.

There was one 13-year-old kid on there (somebody actually said "Isn't Singularity an M-rated game?") who was hilarious, but he was also being jerky (or maybe he was just being 13...I kid, I kid).  He actually said to one of the developers "so I hear that Singularity didn't sell very well" and then was pumping the developers for inside info on the next game they're working on.

We played for over an hour.  The event's usually last 2 hours, but I wanted to let somebody else have a spot and I had to go eat.  It was an awesome time, though.  Dan usually does these sessions by himself, but it's really great when developers show up too.

You can follow Dan on Facebook or just keep an eye on his web site to see when the next session is (I think he's playing Blur again next week). He's usually not playing games that I play, so this is the first chance I've had to do it. I would definitely do it again.

You'll have a lot of fun and you'll actually be able to hear people talk online!  I know, I know.  A novel concept.