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Video games

Play what you feel like

I’ve developed a bit of a personal gaming mantra in the last few months. It’s something I’ve always adhered to, but as the pressures of other commitments have kept me away from video games for longer and longer stretches it’s been made all the more important.

It’s a very basic idea and it’s remarkably liberating. Ditch the video game magazines, the PR spin and the website hype for a while and play what you feel like.

Not a new idea, but sometimes a rare one

The video game industry lives and dies on the members of the gaming community keeping their fingers on the pulse. We’re actively encouraged in nearly every media output to aspire to the next great game. Every potential gaming experienced already slightly mired by the anticipation the next big thing. We live for product cycles – beautifully designed gaming experiences but products nonetheless.

I’ve been easing myself out of this cycle in recent months. Playing based on mood and gaming appetite rather than anyone elses steer. A good game is a good game forever – despite how late into its release (be it days, or years) until you finally get around to playing it. Getting home and playing what your desire right at that moment – no matter what – is such an underrated pleasure.

Off the beaten path

Instead of desiring the gaming’s industries latest and greatest I’ve working through the guilty mass of secrets that is my gaming backlog. Starting and finishing games at my own pace, away from the worry of spoilers. As a result I’m avoiding the nervous hurry of wanting to finish and complete a game¬†before elements of it are spoiled. Ultimately though it’s time for myself away from the scruntinous glare of others – a somewhat guilty pleasure – slightly at odds with¬†my last post.

I’m moving away from being teased with details of a game months away from release. I am no longer being drip fed morsels of details about a game I desire. Instead I can simply examine the list of games I’ve always wanted to play, or pick up a title I’ve been meaning to experience.

I’ve realised throughout this process that I am a retro gamer at heart. Playing older games is at the very heart of my mantra. It’s also particularly exciting when I inspire this feeling in others; encouraging people to start or even return to a game that has languished on a shelf for years, it’s wonderful how a very personal urge, can evoke the same feeling in others.

Going back to gaming staples

I also use these quieter more contemplative moments of the gaming year to go back to games I love. These titles are the backbone of my video game palette and are tried and tested games that I can return to time and time again with minimal effort. I know them intimately. I’ve played them numerous times, and they are the benchmark upon which all future games are compared against.

These games are the rarest of the rare, they simply don’t come along often. There’s something both nostalgic and delightful about replaying these favourites. It takes me back to the pleasure of playing them for the first time, except I know every inch of their contents, and can play expertly from the off – it’s complete indulgence and a different sort of enjoyment to playing a new game.

I will eventually of course return to my desired new releases, but I am definitely a happier and more satisfied gamer in the meantime.

6 replies on “Play what you feel like”

This post resonates with me because I went through something similar in the couple of years.

In fact, you know this since you’ve had to (at times) put up with my whinging about being overwhelmed — the end of 2008/start of 2009 was particularly problematic — and how I kept on having too many games to play, let alone too many games waiting to be played. As this went on I realised it was just impossible to manage and started to slow things down, though despite trying I didn’t succesfully reach a level I could manage until this year (two years after attempting to pace myself in the first place) when I chose just four brand new games as the ones I’d be buying for sure in 2011. Everything else, no matter how desperately I wanted them, could wait and this attitude would only change if I was satisfied with my progress in playing what I wanted to play, rather than what the industry thinks I should play.

Things are going nicely for now but it’ll be interesting to see how L.A. Noire, one of my “big four”, affects that progress when it comes out in May.

I love this post.

2010 was definitely a year where I felt I was chasing too many new games. The beginning of 2011 was far more reasonable, though lately I’ve been falling into a bit of the same trap. Not necessarily from buzz (one of my games I’m juggling is Radiant Historia which is great, but nobody’s talking about it) but just from the crammed release schedules in general.

Starting up The Mega Man Network’s podcast has been great because it allows me to make time to replay the old Mega Man games I love. We play one game a month to discuss it and it’s a great excuse to use for myself to put an old game as higher priority than a new game.

Getting caught up in every new release that comes along is just too overwhelming. There’s not enough time in the day. Your mentality is definitely a good one to live by.

@Nismo Yes it’s the sensation of being overwhelmed that initially started me down this path to be honest. I realise now that as I get older I have less time to play games – but games are still hugely important to me. It means I really need to prioritise my gaming time better. I can no longer keep up with the pressures that game releases put on me, it’s simply become easier to just ignore most of what’s going on and do my own thing in my own time.

@Jesse The very clear video game release window that seems to have developed in the past few decades (namely Autumn/Winter) used to mean we got Spring and Summer to court our gaming whims. Not so any more. Now in an attempt to succeed more and more games are pouring out of the woodwork in what were historically “quieter times”. I think that’s part of the reason we’re all feeling so stretched with game release dates lately, particularly in the last few years.

I have a list of games I want to play and I have a one in and one out system for new games although I play my favourites whenever the mood strikes me. So I won’t buy a new game until I’ve ‘beaten’, which may not mean 100% a game I already have. Problem is, that you end up trawling the pre-owned sections because goddam it you don’t buy every new game at launch.

It’s why console and handheld gaming is broken there’s no concept of classics or all time greats supported by publishers or retailers.

I fully agree. Especially now with a baby in the house, I don’t have the time to care about keeping up with titles I only have a passing interest in. I have several games queued up for my backlog that I’ve been dieing to get to

Great post on another relevant but not-often talked about subject. I thought it was just me but it seems that the combination of less time + more games seems to have altered many peoples’ gaming habits. I still keep up with modern gaming news and play a new game every now and then, but I’ve mostly gone back to my backlog. Games that I can pick up and put down at any time are especially attractive to me these days. But I mostly just play what I want, and most of the games I want to play are older, pre-current-gen ones.

Another interesting related article is on 1up, in case you haven’t seen it (though it’s specifically about people not finishing games): http://www.1up.com/features/gonna-finish

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