Gaming Like A Sir: Good Games Are Like Good Women
Comparing the games you love to the kind of women you wish would love you.
No, I don’t like cooking sims, Farmville, Barbie games, or anything with the word “sim” in the title for that matter. I will not talk about the kitchen, or bitches and hoes (those being female dogs and an essential farming tool), or sandwiches.
I am making some genuine observations about the remarkably particular preferences I seem to have for a very specific set of features in games, and how this closely parallels the greatest women in my life. While this specific list will not be the same for you, the idea behind its selection still applies.
In case you’re wondering who the girl in the header image is, it’s Dodger. She is a great YouTube gaming news celebrity thing. She’s awesome, check out one of her videos. Go because she’s hot, stay because she’s actually really entertaining and smart. For really reals. She basically personifies the synthesis of gaming and hotness. The perfect storm.
Now, unlike with the porn, I’m not lying to you this time. I want you to open up your memories and ruminate for a few moments on the games you have played the most. Not necessarily the games that you loved the most or that were the best, but instead the games that you just kept going back to. The ones that you found yourself turning on when you were bored, or tired, or sick. The games that, for whatever unfathomable reason, keep drawing you back.
Got your list? Good, now hold onto it for a second. When I though of my list, I couldn’t find a single unifying factor. Different genres, gameplay, styles, stories, worlds, time-periods, pretty much any metric you would normally group. I have long been wondering what weird and glorious power these games hold over me that keeps me coming back.
The oddest part about this list is that it has nearly none of what would go on my “all time best games ever” list. So what the broody herr did I get from these games?
If you are confused by the “broody herr” do not be alarmed, know that it is only the a sign that you are still not racist. Or haven’t seen the Zero Punctuation review of Crysis.
The answer, in a word, is freedom. I love freedom. Seems obvious right, we all love freedom? With me, it goes deeper than that. I want my characters to be able to jump, grapple, fly and cartwheel around the battlefield. I want open space, horizons, blue sky, the sound of wind rushing around me. I love to feel free. Free to explore the greatest depths and the most terrifying heights, the capability to nimbly dance around my opponents and to make an escape.
I keep playing Dark Messiah: Might and Magic, Mirror’s Edge, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Assassin’s Creed (although I am frankly sick of the series at this point) and Batman: Arkham City. The game that I am looking forward to most this year is Dishonored. Why? Of all the games set to release at year’s end, Dishonored looks to let you be the most nimble. Assassin’s Creed III is promising and Bioshock: Infinite has that whole grapple-pulley thing, but only Dishonored looks like it really lets you bounce around and generally make the environment your jungle-gym.
I know that this might just be me, maybe years of living on farms and being out of the city have made some part of me yearn for the freedom of those wide spaces, whatever the reason — I have finally noticed it. Now that I have, suddenly a lot of things fall into place. Why have I played through Dark Messiah many times but I’ve only just sampled a game like Alan Wake? Why do I love Mirror’s Edge but not Diablo 3? Why did I spend hours just soaring around Arkham City, pouncing on people just for the hell of it?
Freedom. True, exhilarating freedom.
Once noticed, I dug a little deeper — how badly is my view of games skewed by this desire to see the open sky, clear space and hear the wind? A lot apparently. Browns and greys just don’t get me excited anymore, not even a little. Even Skyrim, for all its open freedom, is largely snowy wasteland and dark dungeons. I loved Fallout 3 much more (when I wasn’t in the subway system) purely because I was in the open wasteland with the bright sun overhead, the yonder horizon beckoning. There was more opportunity for acrobatics in Fallout as well, hopping railing or scaling building was far more doable than in Bethesda’s most recent beast.
Even a glorious master piece like the Witcher 2 has only seen one full playthrough from me because despite my still calling it the greatest piece of art in recent memory, it is quite clunky to navigate the Witcher himself around the towns and open spaces. The game is still largely open vistas, bright sunshine and in combat, suddenly a diving leap is unlocked and I find myself having much more fun.
Then, after having this minor revelation, I started thinking about the various affairs, relationships and scandalous dalliances I’ve had and at what point I decided to end them. It may sound like I’m about to condemn clingy or needy women or co-dependent relationships, I’m not, I’ve had a few of these and there can still be a sense of freedom in them. Discovering new things together, learning about each other, opening yourself to someone — it’s an exhilarating adventure.
It is at the point that I’ve felt hindered or trapped, that I start to feel afraid of losing that freedom. A great companion should free you, not slow you down. To borrow a phrase, if you feel trapped, it’s time to rage quit.
These are just some ideas I had while I wait for the Quantum Conundrum pre-order to unlock, I think all games are made better, and are easier to appreciate when we are allowed to explore the environments fully. I play games to feel more nimble, faster and stronger than in real life. Maybe it’s just me, maybe other people look for different things in their games.
One thing remains certain however, I would not have been able to make these revelations or illuminate the dark halls of the mystic with the shining light of my thoughts if your mom hadn’t taken a break from Farmville to go to the kitchen and make me a sandwich while I was owning your bitch-ass in Starcraft II.