The StarWars.com website has gone through many iterations, as you know. In my last review I focused on their role as the “font of official Star Wars knowledge”. And really, that’s the original form the site took, and this is how I found it in the late 90’s. But it’s grown far beyond that, so my last review shouldn’t be taken as a summation of its worth. I mean, duh, that’s why I’m doing a series…
By the way, before you go any further into this article, be forewarned. It’s dull. There are no curse words. No serious curse words, at least – nothing describing excrement or sexual acts of any kind. When I say dull, I want you to picture trying to use the bluntest end of a baby’s backside to cut a piece of pumpkin pie. Dull. Mind-numbing, apathy-inspiring monotony that rivals the height of the great Dull Ages, which you’ve never heard anyone talk about in history because, let’s face it, it was completely forgotten about 2 years after it was over. So there you go. Stop here, or be prepared to go na-na seepy time.
So whereas back in the day StarWars.com was where we went to geek out, learn new things, settle the occasional ill-advised geek wager, or maybe steal some tidbit of media for our own fan projects, it also became a wonderful place to play. I’m not sure who’s idea it was at first, perhaps the crafty and Internet savvy Bonnie Burton, perhaps long-time content contributor and admin Pablo Hidalgo, or marketing guru Steve Sansweet, but someone finally understood thatStarWars.com can’t take itself too seriously. Why? Ultimately Star Wars is for kids. And I don’t mean literally for kids, and I don’t mean only for kids. I mean Star Wars satisfies the kid in all of us, from 4 to 44, and perhaps remains that one geek-centric activity that we’re not too terribly embarrassed to be … well… goofy and immature about. Says the dood who says he’s a moose.
Starting in 2003, the site started to grow in some really interesting and endearing directions. One of those directions culminated in the Games and Activities sections, now found under the navigational cue “Play”, which expands into four subsections: “Games”, “Activities”, “Soundboards”, and “E-cards”. These are great time-wasters in the best sense of the term. I’d love to take you through each of these areas, but for brevity’s sake I’ll focus on “Games” and “Soundboards”, my two favorites. But if you have some time to spare, I recommend checking out “E-cards” on your own to find inventive ways to remind people you know how hopelessly fanatic you are about Star Wars.
Ok, I’m not being completely honest here. The reason I won’t talk about all 4 sections is that I only have enough cognitive juices to hock up two sections. I’m barely conscious now as it is. I tried to write the first 3 sentences about “E-cards” and instantly forgot my name and what a keyboard is. To top off my unfeeling sundae with a bright red cherry of triviality, I still retained enough bemusement to note that I didn’t care. So when I say “I’d love to take you through each of these areas”, I mean I’d rather be drunk first if that’s OK. It might help if you were, too.
“Games” is surprisingly well done, and full of satisfying variety. At the time this fascinating article was penned, the Star Wars version of “Angry Birds” was highlighted. This is typical charm for this section. See, the franchise has this Midas Touch ability to take anything and spin it Star Wars style. “Angry Birds” lets you play with all the classic characters in their ornithological guises. Like the regular version of the game, it’s meant to be downloaded, but it’s just as fun as the original. So instead of playing it on the main website, it redirects you to a Tumblr page for more content. There’s a GREAT accompanying YouTube video set on Hoth that may induce the odd chortle.
And when I say “great”, I don’t mean “great” in the same way that time in the backseat with Suzy was “great”. I mean “great” in that interminably dull way that insurance salesmen use to describe the latest in annuities from Great Plains of Vast Nothingness Life Insurance. But we sally forth into that dull, dull twilight.
The Star Wars wrapper is also applied to a lot of other games including the Galaga-styled “Airstrike”, an Asteroids-styled “Republic Ace” (or perhaps Netrek is a closer comparison?), and the nostalgic “Trench Run”, which harkens back to the Atari wireframe Star Wars arcade game that ate like sooo many of my quarters in 1983. There was a minor disappointment in Racer Rush, which actually has more entertaining start up and set up screens that actual game play. (I mean, if you’re going to make the arrow keys be the game pad, try making up go up, and left go left.) All in all, this part of the website has the ability to seriously distract you from your work. So pony up for a privacy screen for your monitor and a mirror your cubicle. Otherwise you’ll have to explain why you don’t have those TPS reports done yet!
See what I did there? I dropped a little Office Space chestnut right in the middle of that shozbot. It shines brightly in the dim wearisome wastelands of the banality of it all, don’t you think? It’s glorious. Or something.
But the real show-stealer, and my personal all-time favorite, are the “Soundboards”. This is pureStar Wars geek candy. You can sit there for hours and hours and hours just literally draining the moments of your life putting funny sounds together. There it is – Ben Burtt’s entire life’s work twanging on wires and coaxing feedback squeals from 15-inch woofers. And you can make Watto and Asoka say funny things to each other… suggestive things… incredibly inappropriate things, even. Once I spent 2 hours making Mace Windu say “No.” It was somehow cathartic. But nothing was more exciting than making multiple characters have entire conversations to fill the voids of silence, all punctuated by Admiral Ackbar saying “It’s a Trap!”
All together the Play section of StarWars.com is fun for you and the entire family! Its imaginative, its dynamic, its interactive, and serves as a suitable prelude to madness born of extreme tedium. So strap a laptop screen to your head, take a Xanax and go nuts on the Play section of StarWars.com!