Japanese role-playing games and I have been good friends since I was around twelve years old. A criteria I held as a standard before I picked the GameStop I went to was always based upon how many JRPGs they had in stock during my last visit. Even if they were the most cliche, tired tripe that NIS slapped a translation on, I snagged it up eagerly and began to play it. This obsession stemmed (big surprise, folks) from my fandom and passion for anime and manga. Throughout high school, my interest in this genre of games waxed and waned, but I still kept up a consistent pattern of buying based on that standard. Doing this introduced me to some of my favorite game series, such the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. But during my senior year, I discovered something sinister about this practice of snagging any JRPG I could get. Namely, I wasn't finishing any of them.
It's not that I didn't finish my games. In fact, most games that fall into my hands, I finish. Hell, I even finished Catherine, and that game was one of the most brutally difficult ordeals my thumbs have ever endured for an upwards of 20 gameplay hours. But something about all of the JRPGs I purchased kept scaring me off. Whether it was the unfair amount of cheap deaths, the incessant need for level grinding, and the intimidating amount of hours I was required to sink into many of them, I wasn't sure. Trying to stay on track in high school, maintain an active role in my drama ensemble, and managing anywhere between 5-15 long-winded RPGs was simply too much for me to handle. So I quit many of them. Even worse, the ones I didn't quit just sat on my shelf. As an example, I bought Persona 3 Portable around the week it launched. Guess what? It's still sitting in my PSP. The PSP whose batteries have been dead for months. I've only logged about 18-20 hours into the damn thing, over the course of nearly two years.
Financially, this is terrible. I'm spending my money (and my mom's money, because I'm a spoiled little heathen) on games that I never finish. P3P was around 40 dollars, and I've haven't come close to making that money back in gameplay hours. In terms of the narrative and level progression, I've barely scratched the surface of the game. Essentially, that was 40 dollars blown on something that, despite having ready access to, I barely use. Any money manager worth his or her salt would most likely lynch me for this egregious practice.
Furthermore, doing this is a giant waste of my time. Thinking more critically of my purchases, I've found that I'll typically sink 7-12 hours into a game before banishing it to my shelf. For most games, 7-12 hours is going to give you a full experience, with a complete narrative, satisfying gameplay progression, and balanced difficulty. That's never the case with JRPGs. With most of them, you've made it about one-third to halfway through the experience with that time. With more extreme cases, such as the Final Fantasy[/] and [i]Shin Megami Tensei series, you're lucky if you've made a tenth of the way through. So, by buying all of these games, and not making it through any of them, I've accumulated hundreds of empty gameplay hours. I've started dozens of stories that I'll never finish, and I'll die with those tales left incomplete.
Maybe this says something about me as a person. At the age of 18, I've been in a few relationships. Before you dismiss this as normal for somebody my age, hear me out. These relationships have been incredibly emotional, filled with promises of commitment and marriage. Talks of having kids and getting old together. Guess who started these talks with grandiose ambitions, and guess who brought the relationships to an end when heavy conflict began? If you guessed me, congratulations, you get a cookie. I always have the best of intentions, yet my personal unwillingness to commit and push through misery brings it all crashing down around me, leaving me alone to bring my plague to another poor girl. It's not fair to them, because I was the one who instigated it.
Which is why I'm pleased to say that I've been in a relationship for over two years with one of the sweetest, kindest human beings I've ever known. Over the course of the last month, though, things got a little turbulent. It's not like it hadn't happened before. I was a complete douche and had fallen for two girls during the course of this relationship (never cheated, though, because that's a whole other level of wrong). I was with this amazing girl while my mind was on the others at times, and as much as that hurt me and made me feel conflicted, it wasn't myself I should have been concerned with. It was her. By letting myself get distracted and sidetracked, I hurt her, and abused her trust. That guilt cut me like a knife, digging down and burning like a thousand salted paper cuts.
Poor metaphors aside, this was a serious problem. And this past month of arguing, primarily stemming from my going off to college, brought that to light. I was on the verge of breaking up with this girl when something finally hit me: I wasn't unhappy. There was nothing wrong with our relationship. Sure, she had done some things to piss me off, but so had I. It was no reason to get huffy and storm out of something I'd stuck with for so long, something that given me more good times than I'd ever had with anybody. Furthermore, she had stuck with me more than any sane person would, and given so much. I saw all of her efforts, and she saw mine. What's more, whenever I chose a girl in a game featuring a romantic component, their personality matched hers' closest. I'd never felt so in touch with somebody before, and it took me way longer than it should have to realize that I was with my dream partner. It's kind of like that song by Rupert Holmes, the one about Pina Coladas. Except minus the actual Pina Coladas. Seriously, those things smell nasty.
What does this have to do with my nasty habit of quitting RPGs, though? Honestly, it has everything to do with it. This month, upon realizing that sticking with something instead of bailing on it is infinitely more rewarding, I picked up a game I bought back in December: Sakura Wars:So Long My Love for the Wii. I told myself that I would put every other RPG on hold until I beat it. Lo and behold, within less than a week, I'm almost through with the game, with only one more chapter of gameplay left. This experience has been more rewarding than any time I've ever spent with a game of it's type before. Instead of quitting when the dialogue grows tedious, or when a fight keeps kicking my ass, I persevere and push through to the next battle. Doing so has beget bonds with characters I'll never forget, and carried me through some of the most stellar battles I've experienced in a game. All it took was a little effort.
And now, from my girlfriend and this stellar game, I've learned a valuable lesson about both the games I play and myself. Instead of picking a bunch of games that look cool, I'm learning to pick one RPG at a time to work on. Sure, I can play some other shorter games in different genres, but my main commitment will be that one RPG. Kind of like my relationship. I can still chill with friends, and go have fun by myself, but the one constant love and receiver of my romantic/physical/sexual attention will be her. It took two years, a bunch of mistakes, and one giant robot dating sim to teach me something that most people probably already know.
The moral of this story is when something gets tough, and seems tedious at times, stick with it. It may end up being more rewarding than you ever imagined. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a JRPG to finish.