Sep 1, 2010
It dawned on me last night that I’m not as passionate about gaming as I used to be. And it kills me. When I was a lad I’d play anything, and pretty much enjoy the majority. I recall Pitfighter as the only game I played and turned off – amidst hysterical laughter aimed at my stepbrother because he spent his week’s pocket money on renting it (so even that was a positive experience). The majority of my time, regardless of the healthy alternatives, was spent playing games, it WAS my favourite pastime.
Things are different now. I seem to approach each game with pessimism and reluctance. And now, while playing these games, it’s frustration and annoyance that dictate my moods rather than happiness and fulfillment – I’ve smashed three controllers in the past year, where before I’d damaged none. I find that the majority of the games I play are bad, or at best, mundane.
Take The Warriors for example: Rockstar have done a fantastic job in developing this. They’ve managed to capture the essence of the film perfectly and along with it create a fantastic nostalgia for those who saw the movie back in 1979 when it was released. There are moments of genius, especially the riots – one particularly pleasing moment occurred when my gang steamed into an opposing gang with bats and knives (and I fear that was because it appealed to the more displeasing aspects of my psyche). But that was temporary. I swiftly became perplexed; rather than enjoying The Warriors for what it is – many reviews were mighty favorable – I instead drew on negatives despite trying to resist. I saw a game that was nothing more than a hybrid of GTA and State of Emergency. I considered that it might be my personal opinion, and this may be true, but I would have loved this as a kid, absolutely. And rather than this be a matter of taste, it’s a result of my experience with games. I’ve become aware of shortcuts that developers make and how they affect my gaming experience, I never considered such things as a willing child – I’ve become a grumpy old fart at the age of 24. And it’s not an intentional thing, I don’t notice such things in the first instance, it’s more of a feeling acquired through time.
Added to my frustration is that I only regularly play two games for enjoyment. Pro Evolution Soccer 5 and Battlefield 2. And this is in the face of some universally recognised quality titles. Oblivion was fantastic for the first hour or so, and then I lost interest. Why, when the entire gaming fraternity creams themselves, are my pants left dry?
Perhaps it’s that I review games and force myself to play objectively and thus my own personal opinion has been stifled so much that I can no longer enjoy a game for myself. Or perhaps I’ve been hit by some existential crisis and realise that I shouldn’t enjoy gaming as it is ultimately pointless unless there is some alternative goal – Battlefield and Pro Evo have become as much a social exercise as a gaming one. Although I doubt existentialism is to blame as it isn’t guilt at wasting my life that plagues me. Perhaps it’s the responsibility of work and girlfriends that whittle down “gaming time”.
Or just perhaps this is the way things go for gamers, and like all other aspects of maturing the huge detraction in the enjoyment to be had from games just hits different people at different times.
My time seems to have come in any case. I still love games; it’s just that I require a bit more from each one for it to deserve my attention for any longer than a modicum of my time.
Answers on a electronical postcard, or the comments box below for suggestions on how I might overcome this.