Gaming Like A Sir: Don’t Do Drugs, Just Play Games
Shhhhhh….Don’t speak. Let’s not get stuck on who called whom what and instead let’s just focus on moving forward. Said no innocent person ever.
So last time was intense. The more time that’s gone by and the more I’ve had a chance to think about and re-re-read my glorious eruption of molten truth, the more I’ve come to realise that I was missing something last week. My argument was definitely emotive, and exaggerated, and a little cray cray, but otherwise it was a good point.
So why was I uncomfortable? Why did I read my own work and get uneasy. It’s the same feeling I get when I’m walking out of an exam, worrying about a question I didn’t quite understand. It’s that empty, sinking feeling that somehow manages to feel heavy as well. Lurching around in the deepest part of your stomach, and hiding in the coldest corner of your heart. It is dread. The foreshadowing of disaster and failure.
It’s the feeling that you made a mistake. Or missed something.
You look for it, and you look hard. But you find nothing, which satisfies and comforts you a little. So you put it out of your mind.
Then, when it’s inconvenient and impractical, you remember where you didn’t look or what you didn’t check. So you look again, and you look frantically.
And every second that goes by, every moment that you keep on looking, brings you closer to believing that maybe you weren’t wrong. If it isn’t here, it isn’t anywhere. Maybe you were right. Maybe, you guessed or behaved appropriately. Maybe you were smarter or better than you thought. After all this time, did you get lucky? Maybe you did. I think you did. I’m pretty sure you were right.
In fact, when I think about it, you were definitely…ahh…no. No no. I see it. There it is. There’s your mistake. Definitely your fault. Nice going. Completely embarrassing.
I shouted and fumed that publishers were destroying the sanctity of gaming. That money grubbing and consumer milking tactics, almost exclusively pushed by the big publishers, are a cancer in the healthy, lithe and sexy body that is gaming. And I am right.
But not completely.
I forgot, in my blind rage, that publishers are also responsible for everything that this industry was, is and will become. Whether I like it or not, I have to admit that the large publishers, evil denizens of the black abyss that they are, are also responsible for helping gaming to become mainstream. They certainly don’t hold all of the power but they do sadly hold most of it.
Although I don’t agree with their methods, and I certainly couldn’t see their side of things last time I sat down to write, I can at least tip my hat where it’s due, now that I see things a little differently.
Even though every tachyon of my soul screams otherwise, I must admit that publishers could be right. They really probably aren’t, and even if they are, there are better ways to do the things they’re doing. Ways that don’t make me feel like I need to cry in the shower, ways that don’t make me feel like I was just milked every time I buy something.
I spoke to a few younger kids recently. I wasn’t actively seeking it out, but I am a high school tutor and I do get a chance to chat to kids that are a fair bit younger than me. Also I have siblings.
What came out was something strange, frightening and just a little bit heartbreaking. They are as excited, and as pumped up about the games they’re playing and the games they want as I used to be. They have no reservations or cynicism. Sheer, unbridled, naive, optimism. Actual excitement even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
It is as beautiful and pure and cleansing as it is annoying, tiring, and plainly unrealistic. But that’s the point. It is not a logical argument, it is an emotional one. If these kids can be as excited and happy with the games of today as I was when I was younger, then I have to admit a fair amount of cynicism has developed within me.
Not on purpose and in fact despite my active efforts to stay untainted, I have become slightly cynical.
It is a sad thing, and it gave me genuine pause the first time it occurred to me so strongly. I am not the starry eyed kid I used to be, I am not as easily excited and what satisfied me so completely before doesn’t even scratch the itch now. I don’t miss the games I played as a kid, I miss being a kid and getting to play games.
This may seem sombre but it is actually a good step on the road to recovery. The first step. When I think about it more, I don’t see my development of cynicism as a negative thing, I see it as an inevitable one. Sooner or later it was going to happen and I was going to start down the path of the Negative Nancy. But now that I have recognised it, I can wage war.
I’m going to play games forever. It’s a frightening statement but one that I feel is a pretty good bet. In whatever incarnation gaming eventually takes, I think it’s safe to say I’ll be there over-thinking some aspect of gaming most people take for granted. What this means to me is that I need a way to fight the darkness, to keep the childlike wonder and hope against all hope.
And I think I found a way:
Just play. Don’t over-think, don’t expect and don’t evaluate. Just try to enjoy what is on offer and suspend all else. It doesn’t matter if you play badly, or don’t see a twist coming, or get a fright, or lose. Just enjoy yourself.
Afterwards, when the dust and orgasms settle, then start nit-picking and whining.
But at least initially, just try to have fun.
It’s a noble goal if nothing else.