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meteorscrap avatar 5:09 PM on 09.14.2011  (server time)
Relaxation: Docile Body, Active Mind

While I've got a warehouse job where I'm management, it's a far cry from simply sitting at a desk. The warehouse in which I work is massive, and my duties require me to traverse the length of the place multiple times a day in between bouts of frantic movement or heavy lifting. Needless to say, when I get home the last thing I want to do is move, no matter how cool some of the games which require movement can be. More to the point, I want something that will engage my mind in some manner and prevent it from turning into a pile of sludge, since work, while interesting, isn't always the most stimulating environment.

It's no surprise that I turned to video games as a source of evening-time relaxation. What did surprise me, was learning that my work environment was directly responsible for the sort of games I was playing in the evening.

I first noticed something strange a few weeks ago, when I was playing Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition on pretty much a nightly basis, often three hours a night or more. When I wasn't playing that, I was playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (my brother having loaned out Black Ops) or some other twitch-action game. Something that was really testing my reflexes as well as my ability to think. I considered that strange, given the fact that I've got a Marriage playthrough of Catherine to finish, as well as getting to the end of my first playthrough of Tales of Vesperia.

I'd really like to stress what odd behavior this was for me, in retrospect. I've got a horrible case of ADHD when it comes to video games, since I've got pretty good memory retention when it comes to storylines and gameplay which interest me. Jumping back into a title I haven't played for months (or even years) is like riding a bike, and often I pick up and play like I'd just finished my last session a few hours ago. So generally, unless it's a really, really new, hot title, I'll switch between it and other things over the course of a night, and playing the same thing for more than a week without switching things up is almost unheard of for me.

At the time, I wondered why I didn't want to play any of the thinking gamer's titles in my backlog. At the heart of things, I do consider myself a more cerebral gamer than a twitch gamer. All other things being equal, I'd prefer a game that gives me time to think compared to a game which forces me to react. Even though I count a few series like Devil May Cry and Dead or Alive among my favourites, I generally spend my gaming time working on ways to game the system rather than learning to execute a perfect combo.

It was something that continued to bother me until I picked up Deus Ex: Human Revolution and things became a little more clear.

Now, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a fantastic game. However, unlike the Mass Effect series, the choices one makes are more often a matter of pragmatism and convenience, rather than having any effect on an arbitrary morality bar. The choice of whether or not to kill an enemy is one of the player's choices to make, rather than being a nondecision in between parts of the game where you can make choices. It all feels like Alpha Protocol but done to perfection, actually.

However, I'm afraid to say that any fear Adam Jensen's co-workers might have about him being unable to handle his augmentation would be justified by my schizophrenic playthrough of the campaign thus far. Adam has, with no rhyme or reason, switched from quietly sneaking through an enemy fortification without being seen, to hunting every gang member down with a shotgun surprise, to silently stalking enemies in the pod apartments so he could play with their blood using his extendable knives, to just outright walking into the front door of a place and using a heavy rifle and/or revolver with explosive shells (now called Thunderfucker Mk 2) to mow down everything that moved.

Now, this actually was causing some concern for me, as well. Usually I have the patience for stealth games, and little things like getting caught for the dozenth time and mowed down wouldn't cause me to flip and decide a full frontal assault would be better. Hell, until about three hours through the game, I hadn't killed a single person. Then after a boring day of doing inventory at work, I stalked through the gang territory in the north part of town and hunted down every single gang member with a shotgun. As more and more boring paperwork filled my day, more and more bullets and/or shrapnel filled my enemies at night.

Right now, my Adam Jensen thinks of his recent invisibility augmentation as something to use to get closer to an enemy to kill them, not sneak past them. And he used to be such a quiet, non-lethal boy.

This weapon is basically Viagra for gun enthusiasts

Looking back, this is a pattern well-reflected in my more recent gaming habits. If I had a boring day at work, I'd fill my nights with round after round of playing Ryu versus any comer or matches of Domination. If I had a hectic day at work driving a forklift, I'd come home wanting to figure out the best way to climb a block tower or figure out the best skills and party members to use to get through the enemies in a certain dungeon.

I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense. Spending a day dodging idiot co-workers who don't understand that walking out of the lunchroom or bathroom into the forklift lane without looking is a stupid, stupid idea relies on a certain amount of reflexes for said idiot co-workers to avoid spending time in traction, so whiling away the subsequent night relying on those same tired reflexes might not be the most appealing thing for me. On the flipside of that, spending all day looking at pages and pages of quantities and weights and figuring out how to move them might not make studying the status screen in an RPG as much fun as I'd normally find it.

Regardless of what manner of work my job has inflicted on me to make me tired, it's nice to know there's always a relaxing game suited precisely for my day waiting for me when I get home. God knows there's going to be enough variety in the coming avalanche of games to fill any gamer's need for variety.

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