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Techno Mage's blog

4:35 AM on 01.13.2008

Gaming Inertia: My Deadly Foe

There is something over the years that I have grown to despise, an invisible force which with growing frequency and maliciousness interposes itself between me and my beloved mistress, Gaming. I say that Gaming is my mistress because I think my first love has always been the Internet itself, and Gaming is secondary to that, but by a margin so slim as to be almost indistinguishable. So I cheat on the Internet with Gaming, and sometimes, by some arcane and Faustian bargain I manage to get both in bed at the same time, the aftermath of which is generally nights of relentless mouse clicking, kinky keyboard maneuvers and my beard becoming a wholly sentient being unto itself, at which point it strangles me into unconsciousness. As of late, however, the Internet has become a jealous beast and keeps me from my beloved jewel, my delicious Zombie Queen: Gaming.

I've been a member of a community based on a visual chat program since 1996, at which time I was roughly 7 years old, this program has sadly been with me the larger portion of my life. Said community is tight-knit, obviously, as early adopters dwindled and what once were roaring fires of conversation dwindled to sad little candles distressed by the slightest gust. Most of these people I've known for seven full years or more, which of course on the Internet is like saying that I have known them since the Beginning of Time Immemorial. I can easily say that they are my best friends in the world, and so becomes my problem. Year by year it's become harder to tear myself away from said program to play games, generally if it wasn't on the PC I gave it a cursory play and inevitably forgot entirely about the game. Obviously the games I play the most then are on the PC and online, ones that I can play with a host of friends, but the inertia to just sitting down and playing games extends beyond the times when I'm embroiled in conversation.

It quite honestly feels like a lack of passion about the games I'm preparing to play is keeping me at bay. I know these are excellent games, I can feel it in my bones and precious head meats that I'll enjoy myself, but I just CANNOT play them. Maybe something's just broken in me.

It's troubling, especially in light of the deluge of fantastic games we had in 2007, I simply haven't had the time or the will to play even half of my purchases. I recently managed to break the drought by buying Guilty Gear XX: Accent Core, a series which I'd followed for ages, but had never gotten around to playing. I was not disappointed in the least. Immediately, I fell back into my old obsession with 2D fighters, still deep-seated from when I used to go to the local arcade and play Primal Rage (Fuck Yeah Vertigo),

Mortal Kombat II (SUB-ZERO), and the like. It's a good feeling to break a drought, but it's an entirely worse feeling to go back to being a man unquenched in Ozymandias' desert. Aside from the occasional GGXX and TF2 , I haven't quite been able to touch other games yet, so Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Mass Effect, Bioshock, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams and others lay by the wayside, waiting to be played.

Has anyone else had to grapple with that deadly force, Gaming Inertia?   read

5:55 AM on 12.05.2007

Where Has the Magic Gone?

There are some days, when the bright edge of the sun has faded beyond the horizon, and my only luminance is the soft, bewitching glow of my monitor, where I sit, and I think, and I muse upon things that by and large can only be categorized as Totally Irrelevant. But lately I've been wondering on the state of games as we know them today compared to games as they were even ten, fifteen years ago. This is not some kind of Word on High upon the Good Old Days, or how everything was Golden and Candy Ran Liquid From The Heavens And Yea, The People Rejoiced, but something has changed, something elemental that differentiates the games of our respective childhoods and the games of today. I personally don't like the change.

It seems like games are no longer games for the sake of being Fun, they aspire to be Art or to Legitimize the Medium, or in Rockstar's case, Shock the Masses. Maybe it's just the increasing realism, and grittiness of the games we play, the increasing complexity driving us into what is becoming an overall less reflexive, more intellectual, and more immersive pursuit. So, where are the games that still remember that they are, in fact, games? I'm weary of seeing game after game overstuffed with melodrama and anti-heroes, and short-sheeted on all of the things that used to captivate us about the games of yesteryear.

We have games that span universes now, the KOTORs, the Mass Effects, Halos and others, but are there many games anymore that you can honestly say touch you in that special place that games like Earthbound did/have/can/will? I enjoy a serious game as much as the next person, but I mourn the death of the innocent, good-natured game. What we've been experiencing lately is a deluge of the sinister, Bioshock's menacing landscape filled with horrific aberrations, Portal's insane AI and the general inkling along even the earliest of stages that something isn't quite right here, Halo 3's...Halo 3.

While all of the above are stellar games, I can't say any one of them gave me anything I would describe as pure delight. Where's that feeling like a glow of warmth deep in your heart that spreads from fingertip to fingertip, the kind of feeling that no matter what's going on, it makes you smile despite yourself? I miss that feeling, to me it was the pure, unblemished element of what a game was, or what it should be. Zork, Crystal Caves, Commander Keen, even Ghosts n' Goblins (inbetween bouts of me bleeding from the eyes as my brain tried valiantly to escape its housing), Earthbound, Golden Axe, Duke Nukem, all incredibly simplistic games, but ones that gave and still give me that fuzzy feeling inside.

Are all these considered "Kiddy Games" now? I guess they might be, but it seems that now anything without a heart exploding out someone's throat and rolling around on the ground, guided by arterial thrusts like a miniature jet as the person's still living body jerks a ragtime jig is somehow considered beneath a gamer's notice.

I applaud the games now that can be complex without making the game feel like a Goddamn Job, and I applaud the games that can be "Mature" but not exercises in self-depression, dissertations on the self-supposed Horrors of the Human Condition. But again, something unquantifiable has been lost here, and it's just a little sad. It seems like a purer, more innocent fun was sacrificed for the impassioned "Aw hells yeah" that you get from games like God of War while beating a Harpy to death with its own wings. I still get glimmers of that lustrous feeling from games like Paper Mario, Katamari Damacy, Okami to name the few and the far between.

Am I right, or am I so wrong that whatever kind of beverage you found yourself partaking in wound up shooting out your nose in two violent, angry spurts?

What was the most recent game that you've played that filled you with that giddy, airy childlike wonder?   read

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