The phrase passed through my head once or twice this past Thursday evening. My New Years resolution was to up the workload and graduate by the end of the calender year, and taking classes through the summer was part of the deal. The extra work upfront paid off, as now there's only two classes left on the docket before I happily accept a fine, crisp piece of paper from Portland State University for the past five years of hard work and perseverance (which I am positive the administration cares far more about than the $41,000 I've given them to continue and fund our shit football team with). The only downside being the lack of a vacation added with the previous twelve months spent grinding my brain into mush has turned the remnants of my physical being into an empty shell; devoid of tangible thought and lacking in purpose.
But a tiny rainbow of relief sparkled across my path on Thursday evening. My final final of the term had finished earlier that afternoon, which left me with about two weeks worth of vacation before school “starts back up” in the fall (I still gotta work but, hell, I’ll take three days off a week with no homework as a vacation at this point) . This brings me to The Wall, as my roommates like to call it. Our basement/Foosball room/laundromat/moped repair shop also became the home of The Wall along with all my equipment and a couple of comfy chairs. The Wall is where the vast majority of my minimal disposable income has gone pretty much since I started working, and this beacon of architectural design has formed over the years to become a video game collection a large percentage of my extended family would probably find alarming.
So there I was. In the basement, with me and The Wall. Finally we had some time together. Being a full time student while also working as a full time pizza delivery driver on top of trying to find work as a freelance writer in addition to attempting to have any semblance of a social life has left me with a fraction of the gaming time I had as a young lad, but the next two weeks were going to be different. All I wanted to do was just kick back in the recliner and tackle a couple of games off the backlog before I bought another round of fall releases doomed to also fall into the backlog. The only question being what games to cross off the list before heading back to school to turn my rainbow of relief into a double rainbow of rejuvenation.
I stood there at The Wall for what felt like hours as side bindings peered into my soul as my wallet shrieked in horror. Somewhere along the line, as I kept buying games and adding to The Wall, the radio of games purchased to games completed derailed into sheer absurdity. I had absolutely no idea where to begin. Once in a while I would get motivated on a day off and plow through Vanquish or a Sam & Max season, but these occasions have become a far too sparse exception to the rule. This true viewing of the current state of my main hobby left me somewhat demoralized, almost as if Mt. Backlog had become a perch too tall to conquer. What started as a quest to layeth the smacketh down on some prior purchases quickly descended into watching Top Gear.
But it was Top Gear America, so that only made matters worse.
In the immortal words of Fred Willard, “Hey, wha' happen?” The seventeen-year-old me always scoffed at people who would complain about not having enough time to finish eight hour games while I ripped through whatever 60+ hour excursion was currently on my plate. Seventeen-year-old me would be pointing and berating me if he was here right now. In response, I would probably hit him over the head with a sock full of nickels and make him pony up for my car payment this month, as that little twerp living rent free at home without a care in the world doesn't seem to comprehend how reality can make the prospects of completing a strategy RPG the length of an aircraft carrier somewhat bleak.
Which brings me to Saturday. It wasn't a particularly pleasant day on the job, but I made a killing in tips. So what do I do? Maybe save that money for fall term or buy that oil change that's due? Pfft. Fuck that! If I made responsible decisions with my extra scratch, I wouldn't be in this predicament. Naturally, my first inclination is to go to the store and buy another game, which is clearly the first step in recovery! This was around the time when I finally realized I was probably never going to finish H.A.W.X. It was a big week for releases with Dead Island, Resistance 3, Driver: San Francisco, and Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, but one title in particular made that seventeen-year-old in me perk up with some enthusiasm.
My internal reasoning at the time for buying Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten is partly why I'm in this mess. “I've always loved these games, and I have the other three games in the series, so what's one more gonna hurt, right? Never mind the fact I’ve never actually...y'know...finished one of them, but if I wait, I may not get that premium edition with the little figurine!” You see the problem with this strain of logic? Nowhere in this little monologue going on between my earlobes while I was waiting in line did I think, “Boy oh boy! I sure can't wait to get home and PLAY Disgaea 4!” The $60 I spent on this game could have been my share of utilities at the house next month, and I've already written it off as a cool collectable that will look nice on The Wall.
Then something clicked.
The seventeen-year-old is officially mad as hell, and he's not gonna take it anymore. He has sat by and watched me add to The Wall only to allow it to balloon out of control while I continued spend worthless hours doing things like homework or attempting to further my career path. Obviously, three months before I graduate is the perfect time to forgo these habits! But seventeen-year-old Jarrod has made up his mind and shoved Disgaea 4 straight to the front of the line to conquer like I used to in the good old days, and that's where this blog comes in.
So here's how this is gonna go down: I'm dropping everything video game wise. No more Deus Ex, no more El Shaddai, no more Shadows of the Damned from here on out until further notice. Until it's done, with the exception of games I'm assigned for review through the Portland State newspaper or other outlets, Disgaea 4 will mostly be the only console game I play. Furthermore, I'm not buying another game until I finish it. On top of the time advantage I had in my youth, it was a lot easier to knock these RPG's out when it was the only new game you had to play for months on end. At the end of each week, I'll post a new blog here tracking my progress while sharing my thoughts on the game up to that point. Lastly, I will also be writing a column on a bi-monthly basis for the Portland State newspaper on the same subject, which I will also post here. These articles will have a 500 word limit, so expect the tone and style to be somewhat different. Writing under the constraints of print is a strange beast when compared to the vast wilderness of the internet, but its a skill I would still like to hone even if it is a dying medium.
Whether things turn out the way I hope is yet to be determined. Will I fall back into the same cycle that has done irreparable damage to my inner nerd cred? That seventeen-year-old is gonna do everything in his power to see to it that doesn't happen, and he's bringing plenty of Pepsi and Doritos along for the ride. Now is the time. Now is the moment where I ride atop to mighty steed and take control of my hobby once more! The return to my roots starts NOW!
Wait...Holy hell it's 1:30!? How did that happen? Damn I gotta get to bed. I got work in the morning. Seventeen-year-old me can wait til tomorrow nig...Shit, the Cowboys game is tomorrow night. Umm...well ok MONDAY IS THE TIME...probably.