Falling Back in Love with Video Games
New Year’s resolutions rarely come in the form of “I’m going to play video games again”, but mine did. Not to say I had completely stop playing them. I tinkered around on Destiny and Dragon Age for a little bit, but the excitement of playing them no longer gave me pleasure like it usually would.
This made me realize something: I hated video games.
A lifetime of being addicted to the virtual worlds, the characters, and the stories all boiled down to an almost nauseating feeling when I thought about picking up a controller and forcing myself to pretend like I was enjoying it. How does that happen?
I refused to believe that gaming was a phase for me. I spent 7 years on Runescape becoming one of the best damn runecrafters you could find. I could make it through this hump. Still, finding out why I couldn’t bring myself to click on a Steam game was something that I needed to figure out.
I think things started to go downhill when I tried to bring work into my life of pleasure. It was cool getting a new game every day. It was fun being one of the first people to try out what could be the next big hit. Press releases and conversations with devs flooded my inbox and I thought life was good.
Then, the games became too much to handle. The people became too mean. The pressure of not wanting to break someone’s dream overwhelmed me. I could no longer just enjoy playing a game because I would be searching for content to write about or make a video with. This is when the subconscious loathing set in.
I dreaded turning on my PlayStation. I would stare at the never ending list of games in my Steam account. Steamleft.com estimated that it would take me 3,028 continuous hours to finish every game in my library (in which time I could watch the entire Futurama series 58 times). I didn’t even have games on my phone. I had cut them out completely.
What caused this drastic change in my life? I guess you could attribute some of it to the fact that a new game comes out every 3 minutes. Usually, a game that is a minor tweak from something that came out 3 minutes prior. This wasn’t just indie games, even the triple A titles couldn’t keep my attention because I felt like I played them the last time I tried to trudge through a previous title (Ubisoft, I’m talking to you).
Not to mention the fact my inbox was full of barely playable prototypes I was compelled to at least start so I wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. There’s only so many times I can clip through a wall or get stuck on a pebble before I start pulling my hair out.
The community didn’t help either. As a female who games and works with games, there’s a certain amount of crap that you just deal with. It’s not only the gaming community, it’s life in general. Life I can accept. When it’s brought into my passion and one true love, it became heartbreaking. God forbid you don’t do a walkthrough like somebody wants and you turn into “just another dumb bitch on the internet”.
How do you deal with ignorance of the interwebs? You can’t confront them. “Hey crazy 13-year-old on YouTube, thanks for the compliment but I won’t show you my butthole. ” I decided to ignore it and hoped it would stop.
It doesn’t stop.
This brings me to ask: How do I fall back in love with video games again?
Fallout 3 is one of my top 5 favorite games of all time. It was my first of the franchise and I moved to DC shortly after. It was kind of cool to walk on The Mall and say “Hey! I killed a super mutant over there”. The story kept my attention, and everything was so fascinating. I don’t remember ever being so immersed in a game.
Obviously, when Fallout 4 was released, I was like a kid in a candy store. I left work at 1 in the morning to head to the only 24 hour Best Buy in the country and buy it. You couldn’t imagine how excited I was. Finally, something to kick me out of the lull that I was experiencing.
A week later and Fallout 4 was still in the case. I hadn’t even unwrapped it. Could it be commitment issues? Did I not want to commit to the time it would take to play the game? Did I not want to develop feelings for the characters and live in the story they created? Or was I more apprehensive about tarnishing my positivity surrounding the game itself because I loved its predecessor so much?
Another shocking realization: I expect video games to be terrible. I expect myself to hate something about it. I expect things to go wrong. Instead of embracing a small bug and appreciating the work that went into making it, I would get frustrated and call it trash.
With a deep breath, I finally put the disc in and waited the 27 gajillion hours for updates to go through. “The game has been out for a week, why are there so many patches and updates, why can’t I just play the game” – another deep breath.
I can’t say that Fallout 4 was the shining gem that broke me of my non-gaming spell. It was a good start, though. The story is not great – your son is missing, why do I have to build a chair for this old woman tripping on psychoactive drugs? – I tend to get stuck between rocks, and I can’t kill a Death Claw to save my own virtual life. But I remember the first time I encountered one of those roving packs of ghouls and, heart racing, I wasted all the bullets in my machine gun to murk every last one of them.
That feeling. That’s what I’d been missing. The sense of accomplishment, the excitement of death being right around the corner, the anticipation of searching through their bodies hoping to find something good.
It’s been a slow process, but I think video games and I might be working it out. There are rules this time around: some games are strictly for my gaming pleasure, if I don’t like a game I’m given I just won’t write about it, no more answering emails when I’m out with friends, and general acceptance that there are some shitty people in the world and there’s nothing I can do about it.
I’m kind of looking forward to this next year. My goal last year was to make it to E3 in 2016, but it looks like it’ll get pushed to 2017. Just as long as I get there one day, I’ll feel accomplished.
It’s going to be a long journey, but worth it. Thanks for surviving this with me.