I am a student studying English. I plan on being a publisher with the hope of writing urban fantasy novels. I'm critical of the story and writing aspects of the game more than anything else because a fantastic looking game can be utterly marred by a crap story and I really hope that I can show future gamers the importance of this.
On January 7th, I had decided to partake in a fast of games for 21 days. The reason started out as spiritual: to deny myself a comfort in order to grow closer to God. However, I had done this type of fast before with little results and doing food was out of the question. So instead, I did something that I slightly regret doing: I found the most god awful game I could think of and said "Only this." The game I chose was I Wanna Be The Guy, the epitome of the most bullshit game design known to man. It was not created to bring pleasure or even satisfaction to the play. It was made to bring pain, fire and honestly could be a violation of the Geneva Convention. As much as I hated it, I knew that some good might come out of this. I certainly was not let down.
The first week was interesting. I had spent a large amount of time getting my schedule ready for school and readjusting to doing classes, but I had time to play. Normally, I would have reached for some Champions Online, Payday: The Heist, or even some Fallout: New Vegas to kill some time before I called it a day. But, all I had was Guy and it's awfulness. I honestly tried to get some kind of spiritual fulfillment from the game, but I was just looking for an excuse to explain why I was playing it. I was, and slightly still am, uncomfortable with sharing my faith with people because of the problems the topic brings up. Conflict used to be in my nature, but as I become more of a kind person, I tend to avoid things like that. However, explaining why I was playing such an atrocious thing gained more head scratching than anything else I've ever done. "Why play something you hate?" "Why not just play Skyrim?" "What's the point?"
I found myself asking these questions as I entered into the second week. What exactly was I supposed to be getting from this? I didn't spend more time praying or reading my Bible , but I instead was looking for a reason to just not play the damn thing. I found myself stuck in a place that left me more confused than where I started. But on day 10, it clicked together when I looked at a post I made for school. I was able to process information and understand things a lot better. I noticed that I was studying harder and retaining what I read for much longer. Everything seemed clearer and I could focus more. I found what I had been looking for. Gaming was holding me back.
I'm not saying that I decided to stave off games forever. What I realized what that I put more thought into playing games than anything else. Instead of working on school work or practicing my writing, I played games. I actually read the things I used to write and found that it was plagued with things that I had seen in the games I was playing. Gaming had slowly seeped its way into the very thing I hold so dear: the creative process.
By the start of Week 3, I had given up playing the game all together. Instead, I worked on a side project that I had been putting off for months so I could fit more "game" into my schedule. I also threw out all of my old writings and decided to start fresh. Gaming was the last thing I thought about not because I couldn't play, but because I found other things to do. My passion for creating my own worlds was rekindled and that was what I needed.
Of course, that doesn't mean I didn't indulge. I spent a few hours late last night playing Champions Online because the fast was over at midnight. The difference, though, is that while I aim to go back to playing, I'm not going to worry about being a certain level by a certain day or figuring out how to fit yet another game into my budget when I haven't even finished most of the ones I already have. I learned how to balance out my enjoyment of games with the rest of my life. It's something that a lot of people have problems with, especially in a culture like gaming. We're constantly told to go out and buy the next new game because if we don't, we'll never be able to keep up. I can say that unless you review games for a living or work in the industry, that simply isn't the case. You don't really need to buy every new game, just like you don't need to eat that quadruple Whopper. You can if you want, but it's gonna throw some things off in the long run. You look for reasons to justify rather than taking a step back and going "Something's gotta give."
At any rate, the pay off for me was fantastic. However, I would rather get kicked in the face with a spiked sledgehammer than ever go near that game ever again.
Dodge, dodge, dodge, jump, avoid the lightning bolt, jump, jump, jump....get hit by a star. Do it again. You're a pixel off. Do it again, forgot about the lightning bolt. This has been going on for 45 minutes and you still can't nail it. You're stuck knowing what you need to do, but your hands aren't quick enough.
This type of event has happened more than once with me. I try and try and try, but I keep failing. Eventually, I give up, thinking that it is impossible for me to do it. When I complain that I constantly fail, no one ever tells me to get back up and try again. So, I continue on, sometimes for years, thinking that I'm not that great at it. However, I know the steps, I know that I can nail it. All I need it one more shot. But I kept telling myself that I couldn't do it because I failed so many times before.
So here I am: a half finished story, a Game Over screen, or another busted relationship. That small, annoying voice creeps into my ear and says that I shouldn't have even tried in the first place. I couldn't get it before, so why even try again?
I used to believe in that voice. In fact, I listened to it more than I should have most of the time. But after a few changes, I'm staring at a screen that somehow has become a hell of a lot more deeper than it should have for me: I'm looking at myself through a game that is meant to troll the pants off of anyone who touches it.
Only 15 days left. Let's see how far this rabbit hole goes.
This is what is known as a "make or break" point for most fasts. For a majority, the need for food, caffeine or some kind of nourishing item really starts to take hold and the true battle begins. For me, I cannot help but look at my other games like a cockney orphan with his face pressed against the glass of a bakery. The bread that I am envying is Anarchy Reigns.
I am a huge fan of brawlers. I am enthralled by a chaotic fight with other players or against the game itself. Fist of the North Star, Dynasty Warriors and Ninety-Nine Nights were all games that I fell in love with just from the screen shots alone. It'll be released relatively soon and I cannot wait for it. The only problem is that I have to.
I have questioned the "why" about this whole thing. It's not like I'm denying myself anything I really need. It's just playing one game for a month, why is it so difficult? Older gamers remembered days where they only had one game to play for months on end and they found enjoyment out of it, even if the game was crappy. But that was yesteryear and times have certainly changed.
This was the thought that flew though my head before classes started today. How often do we take for granted the things that we currently have? It's like what I mentioned in my first post: I have a lot to be thankful for. I guess it's reached a point to where I'm thankful to even have the decision to play one game for a month rather than being stuck with a crappy arcade port until next Christmas.
But is it a futile effort to do this? Not really. This process is forcing me to take my own faith a little bit deeper than I would like, but that is the entire notion of a fast. It may sound strange, but I've been looking for a level of peace within all of this. Not necessarily a zen type of thing, but rather a stillness that I've wanted. I want to enjoy sitting down and doing nothing. I'm so used to using games to fill the silence, that I forgot how incredibly fulfilling the silence can be.
I am however still counting down the days until I can power bomb someone while wearing a pimp hat.
I didn't forget to do a blog at the last minute. I started classes today and had to slowly carve out a schedule for myself in order to incorporate everything I needed to in order to function as a human being. Sadly, this somehow involved me looking at that .exe file for longer than I should have with the saddest face in the world.
However, there is still hope. I have made progress.
It's a strange thing to read about so many people giving up around the third screen. While it is possibly the epitome of trolling, the game is not necessarily difficult. What it requires is enough time to think about how to do something rather than rampaging through it like so many people do. There is no hand holding in this game whatsoever and, from what I've read, people seem to take glee in the fact that they've played the game. It is somewhat disturbing at how many play it "ironically," as if it makes them cool.
As someone who voluntarily did something so asinine as to only play this for a little less than a month, I can safely say there is nothing "cool" or "ironic" about this game. It does not make you "hip," "trendy" or even "rad." This game is made for you to go insane or reach the pinnacle of gaming zen.
It has only been 72 hours and I've already regretted my decision. It's not that IWBTG is beating me into submission, it's just that I'm bored with it beating me into submission. You can only get your ass handed to you so many times before you just stop caring.
However, I did other things to occupy my time today. I cleaned up, got back into my yoga, and triple checked everything I needed for school. It's during days like these that I would sink hours upon hours into New Vegas, but all i had were invisible platforms to occupy my time. Normally, I would attempt to stick a Bible verse into this post, but the reality is that it would be shoe-horning it in. As I sit here, I can feel the temptation to play something else just to pass the time.
Tomorrow, though, is a new day and a busy one at that. I'm just glad that the NHL is back so that I can invite people over for hockey matches.
Today was pretty frustrating. The goal was to attempt finalization for classes but there was a hold on my account. The hold was from (I kid you not) the Office of Information Technology and it was about advisement. So, like a normal sane person, I called the school to see what this was about. I was never told what the hold was for, but that I had to report to the counseling office to get it taken off. Since I don't own a vehicle, I explained that it was nigh impossible for me to get on campus. I got a pleasant sounding response but what I heard was "Tough. If you can't get on campus, you can't study. No way about it."
I needed to get to campus but I didn't know how. In desperation, I called a friend and he was actually glad to do it. I thanked God for having a friend that understood my situation and off we went.
I am a distance learning student. This means that all my classes are online and I study from home. It's somewhat tougher to do since I have to wait on the teacher's response and there is a lot of discipline that's involved. I have only been to the main campus 3 times, but today was different: new student orientation was happening. The hallways were packed with students and I made my way to the counseling office, where I found 30 people milling around the waiting area. They were waiting on an advisor. "How long will it take?" The answer: shrug. So I stood there and waited. It was at this point that I thought "I can't wait to play Payday when I get home."
It was this thought that kept me entertained for the entire 50 minute waiting period.
Whenever I get frustrated, I use games as an outlet. Normally, I play something that requires my total attention so that my mind is off of whatever the thing that is frustrating me. But it's already Day 2 and I felt the need to go play games.
Colossians 3:15 says "And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful." I had a lot to be thankful for at that moment. I was pissy, snappy and by all means wanting to kick a baby, but I had a lot going for me at that moment. I had a friend that was willing to drive me to the school and then wait for everything to get done. I had a school to be studying at. I had money to study with, which most people struggle with. But the thing that got me was to just be studying at all. The past few years could have completely taken me off the path that I'm at now: getting a degree to enter into a field that I am passionate about. These were the things that brought me peace.
I Wanna Be The Guy, after playing it last night, is the same way. I've yet to get past the second screen and it is incredibly frustrating. How the hell can someone make a game this brutal? Why would someone make it this brutal? A lot of people would have quit by now and just played something else, but I didn't feel that. I just kept going despite having to dodge giant cherries for the 50th time. Some people don't even get that far.
A pudgy looking man bellowing from the hallway breaks my thought train. "IF ANYONE HAS A 12, 24, or 48 HOUR HOLD ON THEIR ACCOUNT, FOLLOW ME!" Six people, including me follow him. I am seated in front of a cute looking girl and am asked for my student number. Ten literal seconds later, everything is done. I felt my frustration build again, but I smiled and said "Thank you." She gave me a wink (hey hey hey!) and my buddy and I went to get Taco Bell.
Patience is something that comes when finding peace despite all the stuff that is going on. It's difficult to do, especially when this entire situation could have been handled over the phone. I wanted to walk into the office and bully and browbeat until I got it fixed, but that would have made it worse. Finding peace when things are shitty does make things less shitty, at least for you.