Think about what makes a city a "great city." (Bear with me, the connection to CRPGs comes at the end.) What are the elements you look for? You may come up with a slightly different list than mine, but I'll bet we share some of the same elements:
- A strong music scene
- A good local cuisine
- Nightlife and entertainment
- At least a few great places where you can sit and have a relaxing drink in the evening
- A variety of bars, from quiet adult ones to raucous clubs
- Interesting architecture
- Friendly, interesting people
Now, give each city you know a score of 1-10 for each of these items (yes, I'm really into indexes), add 'em up, and what comes out on top?
My theory is that if you don't answer "New Orleans," you either didn't take the exercise seriously or you've never been there.
|Maison Bourbon on an average night of the week. This isn't anywhere near the best club in town, and yet it beats just about any club in any other city.|
Let's start with the obvious: the best music the world has ever known. This is not a hyperbole. I firmly believe that New Orleans-style jazz beats any musical form ever created anywhere else, and this is coming from a man who cries to Beethoven's string quartets. The great thing about having this belief is that you can stroll down any one of several streets in New Orleans on any night of the week and wander into a club, sit down, and just absorb yourself in it without fanfare. Show me any other city where you have this many choices without having to go through the trouble of reservations and tickets and cover charges and reserved seats. I might pop into Preservation Hall for a set (yeah, all right; they have a cover charge), then wander up to Maison Bourbon for a drink with Jamil Sharif, check my iPhone to see if Banu Gibson is singing anywhere, and jump into a cab across town to spend the rest of the night with Kermit Ruffins--all for less than a single ticket to see much lesser performers in another city.
(As an aside, between "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?," "Basin Street Blues," and "Bourbon Street Parade," New Orleans also has better songs about it than any other city.)
Then, how about the food? If you've never had a muffuletta, I don't even know what to say to you. You've experienced life on a lower level than I have. Get to New Orleans, hie yourself to the Central Grocery, wait in line, and eat one. Then send me a thank-you card. When you get sick of those--and you won't get sick of those--you still have po' boys, all manner of Cajun and Creoloe cuisine, barbecue, and the best French and Italian food found anywhere outside France and Italy. Oh, God, and then there's the breakfasts--which most places happily serve until 4:00 p.m. (Enough with the beignets, though. Seriously: they're fried dough. I can get that at any county fair.)
Nightlife...didn't I already cover that? And if jazz isn't your thing (and, frankly, if it isn't, you just haven't listened to the right jazz), you have any number of other options, from dance clubs to adult entertainment to gambling, all within about a three-block radius. Bars? Everything from class to crass. Architecture? I'd pit the Vieux Carre or the Garden District against the capitals of Europe. Walkability? New Orleans is made for walking.
How about the people? Let's put it this way: to be a true "Parisian," you need to be born in Paris to parents who were born in Paris. To be a true "Bostonian," you have to live for at least 25 years in one of three neighborhoods that you would never live in if you weren't born there. To be a "from New Orleans" involves exactly one step: move to New Orleans. Or just visit for a long time. Some cities say they "value diversity"; New Orleans doesn't even have to think about it.
All of this applies to New Orleans any day of the year. During the Jazz & Heritage Festival...oh, Jesus, don't get me started.
I have been to every major city in America and most of the capitals of Europe, and there is simply none--none--that comes close to New Orleans at the top of my index. Granted, I haven't visited all of them, but what are the odds that Reykjavik or Riga are going to knock it off its pedestal?
Okay, so bringing all of this back to CRPGs...yeah, I was just messing with you there. I just don't have another blog to write this sort of thing on. But if you've been jonesin' for my updates, stay tuned because I've started dithering with Tera and I should have enough gameplay in to resume blogging about CRPGs by Friday or Saturday. Thanks to all of you for your patience during my absence, but I hope you understand--I mean, after all, look where I was: