As a gamer do you find yourself…. falling behind the times? Not being able to talk to your friends about the trending titles while that’s the only thing they can talk about? Even being indifferent? Well, join the club.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been slightly out of touch with the “modern scape” of gaming. It’s sort of weird to say out loud. Even when my sister and I first got a PS2, our first games (and only games I had for some time) were Spyro: Year of the Dragon and Tekken 3, and by that time they were both Greatest Hits titles with the green spine and everything. Back when I subscribed to Electronic Gaming Monthly Magazine (may it rest in peace), I would read through scores of articles and reviews of games that I would never play, own, or never intended to just because they were out of my realm of interest, which was basically adventure, JRPGS, and fighting games. And that pretty much stayed with me.
I went the route of playing MMOs and games with huge online communities that my closest friends were a part of, or other highly recommended titles. I felt that there was no way that I couldn’t become ensconced just as they were, and that their zeal would bleed onto me. Which was true, for a time. Oftentimes, I’d find myself getting into a “scene” just as soon as the flames of passion for it died down. For example, with Modern Warfare 2, I got deep into it as all my friends had sort of lost interest and moved on to Battlefield or Rock Band. I started having an identity crisis. How could I call myself a ‘gamer’ if I didn’t play current titles? What if I stopped caring about gaming? Is this what “growing-up” means? Fighting to keep up became a pyrrhic and expensive endeavor.
Since becoming an adult with a somewhat disposable income, I decided to branch out in an effort to keep current. I bought well-received titles in my least favorite genres and super-popular titles that were trending. As you could imagine, this slowly became a daunting backlog of games. To make things worse, most of these titles, like some modern Final Fantasy titles and The Last of Us, were games that required 40+ hours of gameplay in order to really appreciate, let alone complete. I bought Persona 4, in which most players racked up obscene playtimes, figured out who the end boss was within the first 20 minutes and put it down forever. Furthermore, as a gamer of really average ability, when the games got too tough I’d put a pin in them for so long I’d forget the “who, what, when, where, why” and sometimes how to play the games effectively.
With the aforementioned The Last of Us, it was the first Survival Horror title I’d ever bought/played (I’m weak, I know.) I clocked about 7 hours in the game before reaching a point where I could not progress further, took a years-long hiatus, and found that it would be better to start over from the beginning than fight a losing fight. Though that was a few years ago, to this day I haven’t picked it up again. Yet, ever-vigilant in both clearing out this backlog and not wasting money, I stayed “committed” to trying to make good on my investments to the point where I stopped buying new releases. With the advent of Steam (which I was years later on), where older/cheaper games are plentiful, I’d sometimes buy a title and flat-out never launch them. Although, if you’ve kept up with my articles, fighting games never lost their luster with me.
Then comes the ambivalence. Like a lot of gamers (or really just people in their 20s), I’m pretty darn jaded, laughably so. News from my fave developers doesn’t excite me as much as it used to. I stopped following conferences as fervently, food didn’t taste as good, you get the idea. However, since signing on with Bit Cultures at its inception, it’s afforded me a chance to work closely and get involved with an industry that I fell out of touch with. I learned to approach gaming as a culture rather than just an “activity” and found more ways to be adventurous, by playing games with renewed clarity and attending events in order to bring our visitors information, and just give them a good time. Slowly, but gradually, I’m falling back into place with a scene in which I lost my foothold. It’s a great feeling.