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2010 Sucked: Writer's Block


Beyamor, baby! Bey. Beyamundo. Mount Beyamor.

Was that last one a play on Mount Rushmore? That was terrible. That physically harmed me.

Beyamonster. Beya-

Listen, anonymous second party, I've had a long day and these people just want to get to the premise. What do you want?

Just wanted to catch up, bro. I haven't seen you since that New Years party. Where'd you go? I lost track of you at, like, 10 o'clock.

Ah. Shortly after the Vesuvian blaze of my scorn vaporized that guy in the pointy party hat belting out Kesha, what was his name, Brad or Tad or something, I buried myself so deep into the quietest, darkest, least off the hook corner I could find that I burrowed through space and fell out the other side of the wall. Pretty much decided to call it a night after that.

Good god, you are bad at parties. But 2010, man, what a ride. Year of the year, am I right?

I don't know. A lot happened sure, but I guess I was kind of underwhelmed. Heck, if I were to put a theme to it, I'd say 2010 sucked.

What'chu talkin' 'bout?

Sorry, wonder rabbit, I don't have the answers to all of your questions.

If I thought long and hard about it, I might concede that 2010 was a big year for me. I played a fair shake of games, met a great bunch of people, and did about as much as anyone could manage from their couch. More than that, I think it's important to mention that I've been pushed and pulled by the gravity of gaming's great satellites, and as such, I think I came out of the year a man much removed from the one who entered it, one drifting on tides of a subtly shifted current . I can't point to any singular thing which changed me, but the culmination of innumerable waves has given way to a beach that looks the same, but is different in every grain of sand.

I think I messed up my metaphors.

But anyway, this is a good thing. I'm older, sure, but wiser, and, dare I say it, handsomer. And I like my new perspective, I do, but it's sort of responsible for the deluge of suckage I now dare to contemplate charging 2010 with. Y'see, it's like sitting at a public desk at school. From the side you normally see, everything is hunky dory. A nice, strong writing surface upon which to enjoy yourself. Then, you drop your pencil, lean down to get it, and catch a glimpse of the musty crenelations of used gum stuck to the bottom of your table, to make no mention of the pencils, hair, and what you're pretty sure is a live bat lodged in it, and suddenly, you're just not happy with your perfectly normal desk.

So maybe I'm bad at similes too.

Okay, I'm dancing around the point and verbally, I have two left feet, so let's get to it. Between Mass Effect: Simba's Pride, my awakening to the medicines of a certain doctor, and a whole kick of other things, the most preposterousness of which might be an incremental development in my maturity, I've realized this year saw me swing from the blind enjoyment of hammering my buttons and twiddling my thumbsticks to something a shade more finicky. 2010 was the year I really started to appreciate everything in games which was so much more than playing them. Now, I'll spare your lethargic paragraph upon lethargic paragraph where I espouse the thematic merit of Gotcha Force, but I do want to touch on my greater appreciation of character and story.

And how it damned near ruined 2010 for me.

Like this, but with a whole cow.

So, in brief, while I've always fallen within the standard deviation for getting attached to characters and losing myself in grand tales, this was the year I truly began to value them as more than axillary components. If you'll bear with me, on my diagram of game anatomy, I essentially relabeled big toes to brain stem. This was why I'm convinced Bioware's All My Space Children was such a ball. The inexhaustibly interesting cast kept me hooked for the better part of a sleepless weekend because they scratched that intangible itch so delightfully. With reflection on Mass Effect, I realized I desperately wanted more of the same and used this as the rocket fuel which would propel me from game to game.

Little did I know the rocket would be built of dashed expectations and piloted by the astronauts of heartbreak.

See, that's foreshadowing, because I am a literatus.

That craving for a meatier would haunt me through the rest of the big games I played that year. I received Assassin's Creed for Christmas and haven't found the energy to sit through another second of what I'd dread to call melo-apathy. I dropped Darksiders near the end because I realized I couldn't live through another dreary utterance from War's admittedly brawny mouth. And the mirror puzzles. Let the mirror puzzles be condemned to forever reflect the lightless fires of Hell.Transformers, a game whose world is the very depiction of my Eden, fell by the wayside when I couldn't stomach the paper-thin utterances of another robotic monster.

Reach. Reach, the final game in my most beloved series. In terms of gameplay, it succeeded in every respect I had hoped. It should have been the greatest monument to my fanatical dreams that I might know that year, maybe even that decade. And I can say with unflappable confidence that it is well and truly fun, but with equal surety, I can meet that with the declaration that the thought of tackling its story mode, and the soiled napkins that are its characters, is the pack of velociraptors to my Robert Muldoon.

So we're all agreed then, dinosaurs are cool.

It's not like 2010 was particularly bad. Heck, there was a ton that got right to the heart of what I'm after. I hear great things about Enslaved and 999 and Deadly Premonition. Even beyond the mainstream, there's a host of indie games jumping at the bit to fill the niche. No, 2010 sucked because it brought us too many games which fell short of the shining light of real soul. There was Black Ops and Dante's Inferno and, simply, not enough. Not enough character, not enough story, not enough for me to fill my lungs and life with.

This isn't anything new or exceptional. This is simply what gaming is. It's still enjoyable, still a slice of joy on angel wings to pick up the latest shooter and get 'er done with the friends or lose a couple hours to some quirky little adventure game, and that's great. But in 2010, it wasn't what I wanted. 2010 didn't suck because it was any different; it sucked because it was the same. It sucked because I found out what I really needed, character and story and more than immediate, reactionary fun, and it wasn't there.

See, this? This is why no one talks to you at parties.
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About Beyamorone of us since 1:10 PM on 06.24.2009

I知 a gamer. Take a minute and get over that shock. I can say I知 an Xbox man, though I値l support anything that advances gaming (I love you Sackboy). I致e also got a DS Chunky, so I can take this whole nerd thing on the road.

As far as genres, shooters and western RPGs top my list. Halo, Fable, and Morrowind, for instance, rock my socks hard. Of course other things, stuff like Animal Crossing and Kingdom Hearts, do their share of stocking rocking.

In the world outside of buttons and pixels, I知 an engineering student (that nerd thing I mentioned? I do it hardcore) on the west coast of the Great White North. I知 a fan of a harder rock, bands like Breaking Benjamin and Hurt, though I値l kick it (very much figuratively) to stuff ranging from The Fray through Franz Ferdinand to Five Finger Death Punch. Optimus Prime is my hero, but I do love Starscream. Finally, thumbs up to you for reading this. You池e never getting that time back.

Kirbey by the talented and generously endowed (probably) Enkido