Video games are a wonderful form of entertainment. Whether it is a free flash game you are playing, or a $60 MMO with a subscription fee, the amount of entertainment per dollar one gets out of video games is practically unrivaled. Even if the game "only" takes 10 hours to beat and if you paid a full $60 for the game, six bucks for an hour of entertainment is pretty damn good, especially if you replay the game in the future. Personally, I don't think I have ever paid $60 for a game. The main reason for this is because my primary goal when I'm playing a game is to have fun, and a game that is a year or two old can be more fun than a game that was released last week. However, this blog is not about being a cheap ass gamer. It is not about avoiding getting swept up in hype. It is simply about knowing how I have fun with games.
Like many visitors here, I keep up with video game news. It is fun reading about gaming culture. I read about the latest and greatest games. I'm entertained by trolls and fanboys. I get intrigued by rants regarding video games as art and I have my own ideas on the topic. But when I sit down to play a game, I simply want to have fun! I've been playing games fairly regularly since the late 80's, so I have a general idea of what types of games I will find fun.
This all depends on my mood too. Sometimes, I really want to be immersed in a game, and that really entertains me. Once in a while, I just need a quick mindless gaming session that simply will boost my adrenaline. Other times, I just want to kill some time. Or I simply want to wind down before bed. The good news is, the industry is pretty damn innovative, and there seems to be something out there for every gaming mood that I have so that I can be entertained.
So when I'm playing something like Team Fortress 2, my goal is not to increase my K/D ratio or gain an achievement. Sure, both of those may put a smile on my face, but really, I'm playing for the joy of playing a game. When I'm playing a Metal Gear Solid game, I couldn't care less about the post-modern themes Kojima is trying to put forth. However, I will be entertained by the cinematic and story, and the game play is pretty damn fun. When I play a fighting game, I could lose every single match and still have fun, simply because I know arcade style games entertain me.
I don't get caught up analyzing a game's themes. The only time I ever care about my own skill at a game is when it gets in the way of my entertainment. If I get frustrated during a game, I may try to find a solution online. Or I'll just take a break from the game and revisit it later (or never!). I don't care that I don't have something that all my friends are playing because I'm plenty happy with what I'm playing! Arkham Asylum may have been one of the best games last year, but I don't care because I'm laying on my couch playing Zelda: Spirit Tracks. Last summer, when everyone was playing some big game that I wasn't playing, I was busy having the time of my life playing the original Red Faction on my PS2 (seriously, it may have been one of my favorite games I played last year).
I guess what I'm saying here is that as long as I'm being entertained in the moment with what I currently have, then I am perfectly content. When I pop that disc (or cartridge) in, I know I'm in for a special treat that no other medium is capable of offering. No matter how serious the gaming industry might be, for me it is still simply entertainment. I don't care that New Super Mario Bros might be too short or too easy or a retread of older Mario games, I just know that when I'm playing it, I'm grinning ear to ear. Metacritic may say that Gran Turismo PSP is "average," but that doesn't matter to me because I still find the races fun, and I'm entertained with pretending to drive a Benz. Jim Sterling may think Assassins Creed 2 sucks donkey balls, but I still may find it fun if I ever play it. Anthony Burch may find some crappy indie game to be a wonderful experience because of the art or innovation, but to me it may be crap. Whatever, I'm not going to get swept up in it. What I am going to get swept up in is my own take on how I'm being entertained for the moment. I would argue that I am an expert at making sure I am entertained, which is the main reason I play games.