I have to say man...I fucking love the Switch. What a wonderful system. I don't even know why, to be honest; it's underpowered by any reasonable standard, its controllers are all basically garbage (hey Nintendo, did you forget how to make a nice Dpad? You only literally invented them.) and its onboard memory is about as good as my own, but it's just a lovely little thing. And since October last year, I have collected about 33 physical cartridge titles for the system. From awesome Limited Run releases like Golf Story, to Play-Asia ones like Vallhalla (the one with weird spelling about being a bartender) and many, many more retail off the shelf games, it just feels really good and tactile to pop those little carts in and out of the thing and at least have the illusion of a cool collection of physical games, despite massive patches required for a lot of them to even be playable.
Yesterday, I started Hollow Knight, and it has quickly turned into a "where have you been all my life" moment. It just keeps getting better. There are so many things coming out I can't keep up, and I even have a plan in mind to buy a couple of these things when they are finally discontinued, pop all my downloads onto an SD card, and then I can enjoy Switch until I am finally dead in like...five years, or however long it might take.
Why am I so infatuated with the thing? Because it honestly feels like it's the last time I am going to make an investment and commitment in a console, and the first time in a long time I am trying to actively collect an unreasonable amount of games for hardware that is less than twenty years old. And it's because right from the start of these shenanigans, when my cousins gifted me a Switch (seriously, who does that, you guys are the best...) I decided to go full bore on the thing, and tell myself "this is it, for real this time. This is the last console for me."
Jim Sterling is one of my favorite people online. Anyone reading my personal opinions for more than five seconds will know that I find the internet and especially YouTube a wet cave of narcissistic sociopaths, and that I despise the cult of personality that has built up around them. But if YouTube is a den of malignant evil, then Jim is the last light burning deep within its murky halls. I love his humor, I love that he is looking out for the little guy, love his language, and especially, love Sterdust because Stardust is my favorite WWE wrestler (although Cody Rhodes is JUST FINE without any makeup, thanks, as AEW has proven.)
Lately though it has been exhausting to watch his antics. Every time he posts it's some exponentially more negative shit about every company you could possibly imagine. I mean, XSeed fucking over employees now? I thought this kind of behavior just existed within the "AAA" realm, not with companies that have sort of an underdog feel to them (one I probably created in my own mind, I guess.) It's depressing to get on the internet and read about a new scandal almost every day in the gaming world - sometimes more. What is this, the United States Government? Is this Hollywood now?
It's not far from the truth, though. Gaming has become one of, if not the biggest industry in the world of entertainment. This stands to reason that eventually a bunch of scumbags with the title of "consultant" somewhere in their overly verbose profiles would stick to it like a proverbial lamprey, waiting to suck the life out of the whole affair. Lawyers and marketing experts are making ten times more than most of the actual coders, and the whole thing has become so impersonal and gargantuan that you can't make heads or tails of it.
I hear people complain to Jim about "making so many negative videos", and my take is - what the fuck do you expect? This is what the guy has essentially built his media platform on, and like Homer being forced to eat infinite donuts in Hell, this shit is never going to end for him. A thousand Jim Sterlings with typewriters wouldn't be enough to cover all the controversy, let alone one man producing videos. The bastard doesn't have a choice because these fuckers just won't stop screwing up.
Plus I will never say no to a good Randy Pitchford rip.
I mean good Lord, let's talk about Pitchford for a second. I mean, it's not like I am surprised that the CEO of a company who gets millions in bonuses a year (regardless of if he is getting them fairly, or siphoning them from another account as happened recently, allegedly) would turn out to be a psychopath with an alleged proclivity for young girls. Pitchford has been acting like a shit for years, and although he has been on a real rampage, I don't want anyone to forget the most egregious and horrific of his personal failings: eating dinner at Medieval Times.
All this shit has really taken the steam out of my love for this stuff lately. When a marketing lady has to literally go to court on EA's behalf and try to convince a legal team that "surprise mechanics" are different than "loot boxes" and say with a straight face that doesn't curl up into a sinister Grinch smile that these things are "ethical" it's just like...
I have never felt boycotting major conglomerates to be an effective method of protest, but I have done it anyways, sort of unintentionally. I look out for games made by EA, Activision, and Ubisoft and purposely avoid them because I just don't want to be roped into any of their stupid bullshit. I don't want to deal with what might be a reasonable experience, and know that I am subconsciously being manipulated because the developers literally paid some psychologist to find the most effective method to exploit my lizard brain for maximum profit. That is so horrific to me.
The arcade and console era's practices to ensure devs got paid seems so innocent and simple in comparison. Make the games too hard! Then people will have to put lots of quarters in the machine, or buy the games! The whole gaming community circa the last fifteen years of course was like, "heh, challenge accepted" and now there is basically a culture around getting so good at games made to be prohibitively difficult that you look like a fucking wizard when playing them.
Twenty years from now, no one is going to create a culture around collecting "hats" in a video game. Or paywalls for content. Or massive day one patches. In fact, most of these games are going to be utterly ruined or unplayable because out of the box, they are practically garbage. Even my beloved Switch collection will be effectively moot if I don't backup my Switch memory and keep a copy I can transfer over to a new console if the old one dies. In a way, I chose the worst time to pick one console and go ALL IN before deciding to go ALL OUT.
(If you got the AEW reference, I love ya bad, mo mo.)
But I'm just getting tired. My kids are growing up, somehow, without giving a rat fuck about games. I am very glad about this. There was a time when even a little bit of access to gaming caused my daughter severe behavioral issues when it was time to "put the 3DS" away, so we had to be careful to restrict access. You know what she did? Played outside. My son wouldn't care if a cleansing fire ripped through our home and systematically destroyed every game. He loves the idea of Mario Maker, but he will play for about two minutes before getting bored and picking up Lego.
Good. And good fucking riddance.
It's not that I don't love games. Clearly I do. Fuckin' love 'em. But I'll give you one guess how much my Switch collection has cost me so far...okay, it's about $2400 Canadian. Give or take shipping on a few titles. I mean, holy shit, right? That's a lot of money. it's nothing to sneeze at. I could have bought a super fancy compound bow with that money. Or a boat, a fucking boat! Like, one of those little boats, anyways. I could be fishing on a lake right now. Instead I'm fishing in Stardew Valley. That's great and all but...man.
If I look at my game collection as a whole, it's nearly comical. We are talking close to 100 NES games, 50 Game Boy games, 300 PC games (mostly digital obviously, I don't live in a LIBRARY so I could store all those old God forsaken boxes) 25 DS/3DS games, 30 Switch games, 15 PS4 games, 10 PS3 games, and vasically endless acces to every emulator and rom in existence because you know you fucking do, too. How many games is that? Effectively thousands, anyways. Let's round it out using pure hypothetical, utterly incorrect math.
Let's say I only focus on my favorite systems and assume there are between 50-100 games I would actually spend time with on the big boys, and maybe 10-20 on the small boys. Let's be as modest as humanly possible, keeping my existing collection in mind, and cut out games I have actually beaten (the list is not long.) That puts us at around 700 games with rounding. Let's say with the longer experiences, even on older 16 bit consoles being on the smaller end, we hit an average of investing about 4 hours per title. And we know that many of these games have hundreds of hours of potential playtime, especially strategy big boys, multiplayer titles, etc. If we do that, we are looking at about 2400 hours of gameplay to fully experience most of the games in this library without trying to beat most of them, or siphon as much enjoyment out of them as possible.
On average, on the HIGH average, I play games for about 4 hours per week these days. Often less, seldom more. That being true, and given there are 52 weeks in a year, it would take me roughly 11.53 years of consistent playtime in order to "exhaust", or experience all of these games. And that was calculating about 4 or 5 consoles that I enjoy, but that I only count about 10 essential games for, and an additional two consoles I count about 50 games for that I would (and already have, really) enjoyed in such a manner.
My point is, I don't have to spent another single cent on games to continue playing them for the next ten years, and enjoying them exactly as I have up to this point. And there are plenty of games I own that I will go back to again and again, beating or playing multiple times.
This is the reason why this is the end (beautiful friend) for games and me. I am sure I'll miss out on cool stuff. Life has you doing that all the time. But things have just gotten out of hand. Even the Switch ain't perfect - the online climate sucks, some of the ports are really disappointing (I specifically got Hollow Knight because Bloodstained was so bad, so I cancelled my pre-order - thank goodness for that, because it really is intensely wonderful.) and first party titles, though more frequent than they ever have been, and wonderful, are always going to have blown their wad at the beginning and the end of the systems lifecycle, usually bookended by some Zelda release, a series I don't care much for (though BotW is the best game/Zelda ever made, fight me fuckers)
I am content though. The list of games I want and have decided to go without this year alone is staggering. The list of games I am going to go ahead and purchase ain't nothin' to shake a stick at, and I am pretty careful to pare crap out of my collection that I have decided I have no interest in. So even as a pretty discerning collector, there is still a lot out there to get in there.
Thanks, Nintendo. You aren't perfect. You are like weird old men trying to figure out what "the youth" wants, and so you don't understand basic things such as the fact that friend codes are utter shit, and that your online service is laggy, shitty, and has crap voice options. You are a weird little antique, but every time I get one of your consoles, it brings back just a slice of what it felt like to be a kid growing up with these games. The sleek juggernauts you are competing with have shit on you in regards to this. You are lovely, and so is the Switch, but this is the last of it all for me.
So I am going to enjoy it before its over, then hang up my hat as a "gamer" and try to catch more fish instead.
Not in Stardew Valley, I mean in real life...though if I still have Stardew by then, I'll probably stil be playing it regardless.