I was browsing Kotaku the other day, and a paragraph struck me:
Nobody ever asks why anyone stopped playing Halo 2. No response would merit it. The game came out in 2004, and three years later, there was Halo 3. At some point, it got old. Another game came along. Friends moved on. It was just a thing you did, and then you went and did something else.
This is something I struggle with, internally. Not Halo 2, but with the general concept.
I used to play a lot of Counter-Strike back in the day. So much so that I was extremely bitter when version 1.6 came out and changed the way a lot of the guns fired (1.5 for life). I transitioned into Warcraft 3-modded Counter-Strike servers – Night Elves went invisible when they stopped moving, Undead had low-gravity and regain health when dealing damage, etc – before finally moving on entirely to Battlefield 2. I played that damn near daily for like four years. Then Magic Online for a while, then World of Warcraft for a decade.
Looking back, what can I even say about any of those decades of gaming?
“I had fun playing Counter-Strike.” Maybe someone else can say “me too,” and then commiserate about X or Y change in the intervening years. But that’s it. We can’t really share our experiences in any further detail – you had to be there in that moment, else it’s just a vague sentiment, if one tries to communicate the feeling at all. WoW is different in the sense that I eventually met my guildmates in the real world – and invited each other to our weddings – but I can’t imagine meaningfully talking with some random WoW player on the street.
Contrast that with, say, any of the Final Fantasy games. Or Silent Hill. Or really any single-player, narrative experience. If someone says their favorite game is Xenogears, I could meaningfully talk with them for hours. We could discuss our favorite team compositions, how shocked we were about X revelation, how funny the mistranlations were, and so on. That means something in a way that “This one time on de_dust…” does not. We played the same game, but had different experiences.
At the same time, I don’t want to denigrate other peoples’ experiences. I wouldn’t suggest that someone hiking in the woods or fishing is wasting their time, despite those discreet events being equally ephemeral and unrelatable. There are people who simply enjoy wandering around virtual worlds, like there are people wandering around the real world. If that’s what you like, keep doing it.
I worry about myself though. I started Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice the other day, and enjoyed the play session. After that, it’s been days and days of Slay the Spire (Ascension 12 with the Silent) and 7 Days to Die. The latter is especially egregious, considering it is in an unfinished Alpha state. Why not put it down and go back to Hellblade, which is – by all accounts – a much deeper experience? Because, in that moment, these other (potentially vapid) experiences are 5% more pleasurable.
“If you’re having fun, what does it matter?” Well… wirehead. Also, having fun, in of itself, is not relatable. Which, I suppose, belies an underlying desire of mine to be relatable or at least capable of conveying relatable experiences. Even if there were people who wanted to read “I had fun playing videogames today,” I wouldn’t want to write just that. There should be something more.
I dunno. It would be one thing if the dilemma was between playing videogames and completing some meaningful task IRL. It’s not. There is nothing more #firstworldproblems than angst surrounding which two leisure activities provides the most long-term utility. Nevertheless, the worry exists, alongside a deeper one as to whether wirehead experiences have increased my fun tolerance beyond the reach of narrative games altogether. Or perhaps I am simply playing the wrong narrative games.
I think I just need to admit it: I no longer play games, I collect them.
There is no other explanation for what just transpired. Which was me buying the Humble Capcom Bundle, that included Resident Evil 4 & 5, Devil May Cry, and Remember Me. In my defense, it was the inclusion of Resident Evil 4 – which I have heard is one of the best in the series – and Remember Me that pushed me over the edge. In my prosecution, this was a few days after getting the Humble Weekly Bundle Valentine’s Day 2. For the pants. Or for Hatoful Boyfriend for $1. Your choice.
Indeed, the entire reason I am writing this post is as a distraction to not also pick up Grand Theft Auto 5 for ~$32. Granted, GTA 5 is on my 970 hit-list along with Far Cry 4, and this is an all-time low price. At the same time… I’m at 45 hours in Witcher 3 and I doubt even halfway done with the game. Then there’s Pillars of Eternity still languishing in my Steam account. And, you know, the literal library of other games that were purchased presumably for a reason. Don’t get me started on all those PS3 games on my shelf either.
This shit is the first-worldest of problems. And it has to get sorted out in the next three weeks because Fallout 4.
I don’t even know anymore.
[Blaugust Day 21]
Just like with Amazon, Best Buy decided to look out for me by dissuading my GTX 970 purchase.
The amusing thing is I finally felt ready to pull the trigger, after all my prior dithering. The final push? Best Buy had the Zotac GTX 970 version up for $329.99 with a price match guarantee… and Amazon had the same exact model for $309.99. Sweet. So I’m going to price match the $309.99 and then whip out my
trap card 10% off coupon. I balked previously at graphics cards that barely moved on price, but getting one at $279 is another matter entirely. Plus, the free game code included this time around is Metal Gear Solid V, which is actually something I want to play. So, technically, I’d be getting the video card for less than $250.
When I tried calling Best Buy yesterday, there was simply a recording that stated “due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to take calls at this time.” Uhh… okay. So I tried once again tonight. And, as I should have expected, the answer was “No.” Or more specifically, they weren’t going to do both.
Technically, I could still realize some measure of savings by using the 10% coupon: about $13 or so off the Amazon price. But here’s the thing:
There is no in-store pickup options available and the order takes 6-10 days to process. And it apparently takes tiny children an additional two weeks to hand craft the video card before it arrives at my door. Seriously, 25 days from order to arrival? The scenario is especially ridiculous if all I was doing was looking for the price match, considering this is the competition:
That little Prime symbol means it will be in my hands in two days. Two days. I could order a video card drunk and have it arrive while I’m still hung-over, depending on the bender I went on.¹ The days in which you could just price match Amazon are ancient history, myths spun in the abandoned break rooms of Circuit City and Blockbuster. Shipping and handling? GTFO. It’s 2015, people – if the UPS guy isn’t ringing my doorbell before I even click the purchase confirmation button, you’re doing it wrong.
Jokes aside, the sad thing is that Best Buy might end up having the last laugh on this one. The Amazon listing doesn’t mention the Metal Gear Solid V promotion, and the Nvidia fine print mentions that it’s only applicable through authorized sellers. Waiting an extra three weeks to save $13 is one thing, but waiting extra for ~$63 is another. Plus, it’s not exactly as though I need the card right now anyway. Hmm.
So… yeah. There’s another glimpse into the madness that is my method.
¹ Always express your crippling alcoholism² responsibly.
² This is a joke.
Way back when, Gaben of Valve and Steam fame put forth an assertion that (game) piracy is an accessibility issue, not a monetary one. In other words, the primary driving force for piracy is because companies make it difficult to legitimately use/acquire their products, and not because people don’t want to pay for them. The economic argument can’t be dismissed, of course, but the accessibility one was particularly novel for its time. The meteoric rise of Steam as a PC game platform certainly has codified the argument as a truism.
I have a series of vacations coming up soon (in fact, I’m on one right now) that will see me far from my normal means of entertainment. Indeed, one such vacation will be 2 weeks in Japan, and the corresponding 13-hour one-way flight is particularly noteworthy. So, in order to assuage my upcoming gaming withdraw, I purchased a PSP from eBay for about $60. I was going to spring for the Vita instead, but the outrageous price of its memory sticks and lack of hackability dissuaded me from a purchase. How could it really compare to a cheaper PSP with nearly a hundred of the best NES/SNES/Genesis/GBA/PSX games on it?
Well, let me tell you how: by not being a giant pain in the ass.
This is truly a First World Pirate Problem, but setting up the PSP to play original PS1 games has consumed more time thus far than I would likely play any one of them. If I sat down and devoted an entire day to copyright infringement, no doubt I could get everything set up and likely streamline the process somehow. But every minute screwing around with POPS loaders and converting .ISO files to .eBoots and wading through sketchy websites for files is another minute I’m not using my leisure time for its titular purpose.
A friend of mine had gotten on the PSP pirate train early, so I hit him up for advice. “Get a Vita.” If the news passed you by, Sony has digitized a rather large selection of PS1 classics to be purchased and downloaded from the PSN service. Much like me with PC games, I’m relatively certain that my friend’s change of heart had more to do with ease of use than necessarily a moral epiphany. Nearly 5-10 hours into this process across as many days, I am certainly pondering how much I would be willing to spend to just have everything work.
$9.99 per 700MB game that came out in 1998 that I already legitimately paid for? Tactics Ogre at $19.99?! Ehhh… let me dick around with it a little bit longer.
This question may be be moot by the time anyone can read/respond to it, but…
If you had zero next-gen consoles or games, which one (1) console would you purchase?
- Xbox 360 250GB w/ Halo anniversary and Forza 4 ($199)
- PS3 Slim 250GB Console with Uncharted 1 & 2 and Infamous 1 & 2 ($219)
- Nintendo Wii Console with Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort ($119)
- None (see below)
I have zero interest in the Wii U or any of the handhelds – I’d be using the console as a Netflix box for a 32″ TV at a minimum. I am heavily leaning towards PS3 right now between the number of exclusive titles that I have some interest in, but I am also aware of how many times PS3 owners have been screwed over in terms of updates, game ports, etc. My PC will still be my primary gaming rig, but if I wait until 2013 and the next-next-gen, then my 32″ TV will be quite out of place attached to my PS2.
Then again, I haven’t actually bought the 32″ TV yet ($180), so technically I could just do nothing at all and wait all this shit out like I have been for the last 6-8 years. Sigh.