Monday, July 19, 2010

Misc: Taking a Stand Against Time-Wasting Video Games

Do you remember the xkcd strip titled Cutting Edge? If not, go ahead and click on the link - I'll wait.

Ready to continue? Okay, good.

That strip defines me as a video gamer perfectly. A few years ago I realized that I could get older games - especially PC games - much cheaper from places like Big Lots and the bargain racks at Wal-Mart and Target for $10.00 or less and they would usually perform at or near the highest quality settings on whatever system I was currently running.

One game that has been sitting on my shelf for a while now is Homeworld 2. I really enjoyed the first Homeworld and had high hopes for the follow-up.  Those hopes were dashed to pieces this weekend. Despite being released in 2003, it still looked good and had a lot of the driving story and atmosphere that made the first one so compelling. So why am I so disappointed?

The game is TOO FRICKIN' HARD!

And you know what? I don't have the time to waste playing each mission over and over, ad nauseum, to beat it. In my younger days - heck, even earlier this year - I would've stuck with a game out of a sense of obligation. I spent a whole $5.00 on it, right? I need to beat it to justify the purchase and somehow validate myself as a gamer, a man, and/or possibly even a human being.

Let's say I stick with it. Let's say I forgo all my other time-sucking hobbies and interests to focus on this particular one. Let's say I obsess over it every waking second and get irritated when I spend time being a husband and father while that horrible, obsessive, irrational little nagging voice in my head keeps whispering that I really need to be saving the universe (I have issues, if you didn't know). What do I get for spending all that time beating such an incredibly frustrating game? A pre-rendered scene of variable quality, a list of credits, and - possibly - some message telling me that if I were to go back and play it again, I'd do better. That's it.

The reward is not worth the effort.

My free time is at a premium, and I want to spend it doing something I enjoy. Something that provides a sense of accomplishment, not frustration, and - ideally - will still be around in some persistent form when I move on to the next project. Video games are quite possibly the least meaningful, least rewarding hobby I have, and I will no longer sink hours and hours of my life into a game that is not fun.

If you are one of the few masochistic individuals who managed to unite the cores and defeat the Vaygr, good for you. I hope you feel like it was time well spent. As for me, I noticed yesterday that Wal-Mart had Assassin's Creed on the bargain rack for $10.00 . . .

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