I love role-playing games. I always have.
One of my earliest memories of gaming is of attending community event to teach people to play Dungeons & Dragons when I was probably eight or nine years old. And we’re talking first edition, basic rules, red box kind of D&D. The classics. I was a magic user. I got eaten by a rat.
This early love of RPGs led me to pursue those sorts of expansive, story-based games on computer gaming platforms. I had my first experience with Japanese RPGs via Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation. I first explored the uniquely Bethesda style of RPGs in Daggerfall, in which I accidentally stole something and was obliterated by every guard in town within 15 minutes of starting the game for the first time. I’ve lost more hours of my life to World of Warcraft than I care to ever think about again (and I continue to pour hours into other MMOs like The Old Republic and Elder Scrolls Online).
But I’ve never finished Baldur’s Gate. To be honest, I’ve hardly ever played it at all. And given its reputation as one of the best RPGs of all time, that’s sort of embarrassing.
I don’t even really have any good excuses. I’ve had access to the game for years, literally since it first came out. My then-wife picked the game up as a surprise gift to us for a long weekend, with the intention of hooking my computer up to our TV, making a nest on the sofa, and playing this expansive RPG for three days straight. Which we did. And then, we never really went back to it again.
I think I still have those original 5 CDs sitting in storage somewhere, but I never went back to that first game we started, and I never put those discs into my drive again. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t have access to the game. In the years since then, I’ve purchased the original version via GOG and, later, the enhanced edition via Steam, both of which I have installed and started to play at various times. But, regardless of my best intentions, something always…happens.
It might just be that I’m easily distracted. It might be that I have something like 250 games in my Steam library that I haven’t played. It might be that Baldur’s Gate promises to be a supremely long experience. Whatever it is, I’ve rarely made it more than a few hours into this game.
And then there’s Baldur’s Gate II. And Planescape: Torment. And Icewind Dale and Icewind Dale II and, well, it just goes on and on, doesn’t it?
I know a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and to start this journey (again) all I need to do is fire this bad boy up, create a character (probably something stealthy, or maybe something wizardy). And from everything I’ve heard, it’s a journey worth taking, a journey I’ll enjoy.
So when will I finally make it through my white whale this year? Next year? Ten years down the road? Will I never make it through? Time will tell, I guess. All I know is that, by writing about it today, I've reminded myself that it's never too late to start playing a nearly 20-year-old game.