So the other night Jack and I had a quick conversation about what games we’re waiting on, looking forward to etc. We quickly found out, that I may just not be a gamer anymore. Or at least, the state of gaming has changed for me.
It’s been a while since I’ve finished a single player game. In fact, the last game I actually played through until the ending credits was Red Dead Redemption. Now I know that’s not that old of a game, but the last one I actually finished before that was Legend of Dragoon. So what is it about games today that I just don’t have the drive to finish?
I started playing Skyrim, it was late at night. So I got through the intro, made my character, made the first decision on who to follow, walked into the first fight, saved the game, and haven’t touched it since. That was about two or three weeks ago. Every time I look at the icon on my desktop, I ask myself, “Do I really want to play this?” often I move the mouse cursor off of the icon and move it to Angry Birds instead.
So how can I go from wanting to play an epic fantasy so vast and rich with exploration and lore, which is something I do truly love, to flinging birds at random objects? It boils down to two things. Time and Age or Age and Time. I’m getting older, and finding I have less time with which to spend my leisure on, which isn’t a bad thing. It does still pain me though, as much as I want to play Skyrim, and other “big” games, I find myself on the thought that I could spend a few hours playing that game, chasing butterflies, looking at mountains, or, I could play a quicker game a few more times, and actually accomplish something.
That sounds silly. Surely I could accomplish something in Skyrim in the same amount of time? Or maybe it’s just this modern world I’m living in which has infected me with its need for instant gratification. *Sigh* I’m not even that old! Why is it that the games I would pour countless hours into, now just don’t interest me in the slightest? Are the games trying too hard to be more than they should be? Okay, let me think about this for a moment. I guess I should think back to when I started gaming, what games I played until my hands fell numb and limp, how much time I had back then, and then compare all that to what is happening in gaming today. (I’ll try and keep this short as to not bore people too much.)
So thinking back to the early 80’s (Hehe, keep this short? Yeah right.) I remember my first experience with arcade games, it was at the local swimming pool, they had a few arcade games there, the one I remember most was Wonder Boy. That was back in about ’86. Back then, arcade machines used those coins that had the label “cents”, unlike today, if you can even find an arcade machine (In Australia most arcades have closed due to console gaming etc) they use those coins labeled “dollars”. Tom-Tom (The name of our hero in Wonder Boy) would run along in a side scrolling style throwing his mighty stone hammers at what ever creatures would come his way to rescue his girlfriend from some monster. That was it. I think with the amount of coins I put into that machine, I could have probably bought one. But why did I keep playing, even though I never finished it once? I think the answer is fairly simple, it was fun. Back then, games were still buggy, though fewer of them were, but the thing a lot of those games had for me was down right pure fun gameplay. As time has gone on, a lot of the fun has gone, and it feels more like work, more like I’m playing some epic story someone wrote when you could have simply made a movie for me to sit back and enjoy.
I think this is where gaming has changed for me. To me, games should be about fun, about time spent relaxing, winding down after a stressful days work to mindlessly play a game to prepare for the next day. Now of course this doesn’t apply to all games today, but most of them feel so much like work, the amount of hours you have to spend in certain games makes it not fun, when all I wanted to do is relax and shoot something in the face, or laugh at a few quick jokes. It’s why when beta testing Star Wars: The Old Republic, I got that feeling of “I’m working”. I used to love MMO’s, I played City of Heroes for almost 6-7 years. That’s a long time to play one game. But I remember towards the end of my time with CoH, I found myself logging in, only to find that there was nothing I wanted to do in game. It was all the same. Sure they introduced a few new mechanics and a few new stories, but by this point, I wasn’t interested in the stories, I just wanted to spend some time actually playing with friends, heck, I think it got to the point where I only cared about my friends in the game, the game was only a means for us to use so we could spend time together even though we all lived thousands of miles from each other.
Now dont’ get me wrong, SW:ToR is actually turning out to be quite a good game, the only problem is, when playing solo, every time I received a quest, I sighed. I’m tired of running around for people for little reward, I just want to run at my own pace, which these days, is as fast as I can so I can get the feeling of accomplishment, without the tireless hours put behind listening to everyone in the galaxy’s plight. Does this sound lazy? I guess it does, but that’s my point. I don’t have time for a Twi’lek who’s lost his father. I just want to build a better lightsaber and smack some Sith with it.
So these days I find myself playing games, that if need be, I can play for five minutes, then stop. I found myself playing a few First Person Shooters again. Why? Because it doesn’t take long to get something done. I find myself playing fighting games again for the same reason. While I would love to play Skyrim and witness all it has to offer, it just feels too much like work, rather than a game. Hmm, I think I’ve worked this out.
Today, gaming for me doesn’t feel like I’m playing a game. Most of these epicly beautiful story rich wonders of art are simply just that, art. It feels like they left the games out of a lot of these new epics. Of course I’m not talking about all games today, just the big epic ones that I think I would have enjoyed years ago when I had more time and could have possibly enjoyed the so called gaming part of it. (Insert Final Fantasy XIII game/movie reference here)
So have I given up on gaming? Heck no, it’s just I play different games these days, more of the Board Game variety. Why? Because they actually feel like I’m playing a game, and not working. That, and most board games, (Unless you’re going for some Monopoly world championship) can be done within an hour with friends and family and have a blast while doing it.
There was probably nothing interesting to read in this article for most people, and I probably jumped all over the place with no real sense of rhyme or reason, as I tend to do when just writing down my thoughts, so I’ll do a quick Too Long Didn’t Read version.
I’m not into big games anymore. My time is limited, and with that time, I need to have fun while playing a game. I need my games to feel less like work, less like watching a movie, and they need to have more “game” in them.
In saying all this, I can’t wait for Street Fighter X Tekken. Because it’s just mindless fun that I can have in little time.
P.S. Apologies to anyone thinking they’d find something insightful in this post. It’s just me rambling.