How Have You Changed? A Response.

Image by Flick user Satish Indofunk
Image by Flickr user Satish Indofunk (CC)

Earlier this week, my colleague, Hatm0nster, wrote up an intriguing and inquisitive article titled How Have You Changed? If you’ve not read it, I highly suggest doing so before moving on, because what I have here is a response. A long response. One that started out as a comment to his article, only to develop a life of its own.

In his piece, Hatm0nster discussed the ways in which his core gaming beliefs have evolved with time, from becoming a less competitive game to becoming a more social gamer.  In various posts on this site, I’ve touched upon my own personal development as far as gaming is concerned, but here I’d like to compile a fuller picture. As well, at the end of his article Hatm0nster asked a very innocent question:

Do you think you would still be playing if gaming was a static thing instead of the constantly evolving industry we’ve come to know?

Pondering this really made me stop in my tracks. But first, let’s tackle the first question, how have you changed?

The biggest change in my personal gaming attitudes and beliefs occurred only recently, within the past decade. Before that, I had an on-again, off-again relationship with games.  I played when I had time and the desire. Before even that, I often played the same games over and over simply because we had a limited stock of games at home. Once renting games became a thing, it vastly opened up my gaming horizons. Even so, I generally stuck with games and franchises that I knew I’d enjoy. Early outliers such as DOOM and Sam & Max Hit the Road helped get me out of my Mario-Mega Man-Street Fighter-platforming-puzzler-punch/kick routine that dominated my first 10-15 years of gaming.

The first Fable game introduced me to the world of role playing games, and it truly served as a revolution. No longer was I bound to a static playing field. In Fable, I could go anywhere and interact with anyone. After that, interaction in games became paramount. I wanted to be able to converse with the world I was playing in. Going down that path took me far away from the games of my youth and into a space littered with the likes of Mass Effect and Grand Theft Auto and Dragon Age. That’s when I became interested in games, when I really began following games, game news, and game makers. And that’s when the tectonic plates of my gaming landscape truly began to shift.

Throughout the first few years of the 2000s, I watched the likes of Tech TV and few gaming shows, but at the time, if the games they featured didn’t involve Yoshi or Conker or Ryu, I didn’t pay very close attention. But once I fell into the RPG chasm, everything changed. Suddenly, I needed to know everything about Lionhead Studios and their other projects, and Bioware and their other projects, and Rockstar, and…well, you get the idea. It was honestly as if a heady addiction had set in, and I simply needed more. And with the help of the Internet, more was what I got. I followed every game site possible. I watched every gaming show possible. I gather up as much information as I could about games to determine which ones were next worth my time, and I followed my favorite franchises very closely, being happy when they did things right (or so I perceived) and being mad when they didn’t (or so I perceived, again). Add to that my decision to start blogging about games, and it was exhilarating to be part of such a vibrant and passionate community.

I use “was” in the past tense not to express my current feelings, because I still love blogging and this here community of gamers, but rather to say that, in large part, and as of this moment, a sizeable chunk of that exhilaration has changed to exhaustion. Even if I didn’t have a “real life’ outside of this page, I can no longer fathom following the gaming industry of today in any coherent fashion. Not only are there so many more (non-gaming) sites covering gaming, but there seem to be an infinite number of people writing about them in some way. And that’s awesome. But trying to understand and digest it all like I used to is equal to trying to surmount a tsunami in a canoe. I just can’t do it.

So, in a sense, I’ve circled back to the gamer I was when I first started gaming – more insular, less worldly, and more contented as a result. Even though I have many more games at my disposal, nothing is making me happier at the moment than tackling a new-ish classic (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess) and returning to old stomping grounds (Mass Effect). Forgetting the clamor of game news, putting aside the controversies and cabals, getting away from the loud-talkers and negativity, being comfortable in my own gaming skin is where it’s at.

Though my thoughts on that end here, there still remains Hatm0nster’s other question:

Do you think you would still be playing if gaming was a static thing instead of the constantly evolving industry we’ve come to know?

My answer to that is, probably not. If gaming hadn’t come back after, say, the crash of the 1980s, I doubt very much that it would part of my regular entertainment routine. Something I’d have left behind with my Barbie dolls and He-Man action figures. A fond relic of the past. And I can especially say this after playing old Atari games for our Nostalgic Notions series. Those games are fun to revisit both in actuality and in memory, but it’s hard to not view them through the lens of modern gaming. Then again, I’m not really a true retro gamer, so I bet the “old” games would live on in some form if there was nothing new today.

5 thoughts on “How Have You Changed? A Response.”

  1. Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    I love it when one blog post begets another! That’s what happened over on United We Game when a comment I started writing on Hatm0nster’s great article How Have You Changed turned into something much more. What I ended up with was this introspective post on how my life with games has changed and evolved over the years.

    Like

  2. I agree so much with a lot of us. Like how challenging it is to follow the industry closely and keep up with it all. It’s so much fun but also exhausting. I have felt that way since I started blogging about games. I used to spend weeks or months exploring my favorite games. Now, I’m happy when a game is short because I can play other ones more quickly! There are just too many to keep up with, and I feel this pressure to play as much as I can for the sake of my blog and being in the industry, but really, I agree that I find so much more contentment when I just take my time and enjoy the games I want to play. Like, really really want to play (or replay, like Mass Effect as you said!). I went crazy last year but am trying to slow down this year. There’s no rush. Games are meant to be enjoyed and savored. =)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally! I’ve become much more content with focusing on games that simply make me happy. It’s way too difficult keeping with the Joneses of gaming these day. Even if you’re just talking AAA titles, let alone what’s populating the indie scene.

      It can be a little tough writing about games when you aren’t up on all the latest and greatest (seriously, I almost don’t knew how people do it without crashing and burning!), but we all do our best to relate to each other. Besides, writing is always better when it’s about what you enjoy and are enjoying, games and all. It’s never good when it’s forced, when you write about something because you feel you “must.” Game writing especially seems to come off as phony at that point.

      Liked by 1 person

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