Ever get overwhelmed by choices? 350 channels and nothing to watch. A library of books, games and movies and nothing strikes your fancy. So what do you do? What helps you scratch that itch for entertainment when every tool at your disposal seems inadequate to do the job? I find myself currently stuck in that quagmire.
I am coming off a rather successful run on Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. My ninja is sitting pretty at level 60 with a gear level of 176. Not earth shattering but a solid showing. Now as much as I have enjoyed the new content, I get tired of that end game grind. Running the same dungeons over and over for a chance at gear gets tedious to me. I’m in a Free Company (guild) but I’m not active. I mostly just enjoy reading their banter. They are a lot like Dtoid with a strong sense of community and I like how helpful and silly they can be.
So like flipping a light switch I have gone from obsessing over Heavensward to not feeling compelled to play it anymore. Nothing new for me and I know that at some point down the road I’ll jump back in to continue the surprisingly well done main story and see what new gear is available. Now I am left with a hole in my waking world. I need a game to play. I need something to do. But with all these options available to me, I find myself sitting here, writing this blog about how I can’t choose.
I try and vary up my media consumption. I have been reading a collection of short stories from Shirley Jackson. Her most famous work is probably a short story called The Lottery. You probably read it in a high school English class. (There was a made for tv version in the 90’s starring Dan Cortese. I watched that shit when it came on.) She reads a lot like Flannery O’Connor in that Southern Gothic style only less Southern and more…hmmm…Twilight Zone meets Good Housekeeping? That’s not exactly it. She’s a lot smarter than Good Housekeeping but it’s hard to pin down. A lot of her stories deal with domestic life and the facade of well being that can portray. Her stuff is disturbing and fucked up but it is also demure and she has a delightful economy to her language. No detail is superfluous. Not a sentence is wasted. As someone who rambles on in their writing, it’s a skill I admire and envy.
I read that in bursts, my brain barely processing what I’m looking at before I feel compelled to move on to the next thing. When did I lose my attention span? I wonder if that’s an adult thing. I am 34 now and I feel like I struggle to stay focused on things in a way that I did not experience at 24. Maybe it’s what I’m viewing, though I would like to think Shirley Jackson and Heavensward is a far cry above whatever I was doing at 24. Maybe listening to New Found Glory and looking at Suicide Girls. Jesus, are Suicide Girls still a thing? I hope not. I hope that we as a culture have moved past that unfortunate time. Just put Suicide Girls on a barge along with Myspace and that paperclip help tool from Microsoft Word and sink it in the Atlantic.
When I do play a game, it is me jumping around. I never beat Dragon’s Crown. My level 25 wizard is a hoot but after a few levels I don’t quite care. Though lordy that art is just fucking superb. I’m talking toe curling-ly good. Then I try Monster Hunter 3 on the Wii U. Eh, I don’t like the camera and the controls feel weird. Sitting on my shelf is Witcher 3. It has sat there since the day it came out. Why don’t I play that? I know I’ll love it. I loved Witcher 2 and everything I’ve read and seen says 3 is even better. Plus, it’s like 700 hours long. So why has it been sitting there on the shelf for so long? Well, Heavensward kind of got in the way but that’s no longer an excuse. I think my hesitation stems from the fact that I love the idea of media and the potential that lay within more than the actual experience. Like if I have all these games and books and movies at my fingertips, then I have access to all this potential. It’s exhilarating to me. I always have something to do. But then I don’t want to do any of it. There’s that quagmire again.
What an obscene feeling to be bored in the times we live in. The world is at our fingertips. Thousands worlds really. And here I sit, wondering what to do with my time. First world problems, right? But in that search I am trying to find quality vs quantity. I want to fill my time with meaningful experiences rather than mindless misadventures meant to mask the malaise of a mind meekly meandering through a miasma of moldering moments.
So I think my days of playing video games just to pass the time are over. That’s not to say every game has to be a treatise on the human condition and examine the darkness that lurks within us all. I just don’t want to waste what precious attention span I have on an excuse to kill an hour or two. I want to be inspired. I want to grow and learn something. I want to have an experience I can relish for many moons. If that comes from losing myself in a rpg for 60 hours and falling in love with a brand new universe then that’s delightful. If it means turning on Final Fight HD and doing an all flying pile driver playthrough then yes indeed. I just want to scratch that itch on my own terms. Not because I’m bored but because I crave inspiration. I old enough and smart enough to know that I am responsible for what media I consume and I can choose to learn something or I could waste my time.