My New Year’s resolution to play more video games is so far not going too badly. Since the start of 2017 I’ve played The Last Guardian, began The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker with my stepson, and recently completed Firewatch (thanks to a tip from cripleh from Howling In the Dark) despite writing that I was going to lay off the walking simulators for a while.
Before Firewatch however there was another title that I attempted. It’s a very-well-known adventure: one of those titles that everybody is aware of even if they haven’t played, and those who have usually rave about it. It currently has a metascore of 84 on Metacritic so you can understand how popular it is – and I seem to recall that it’s one of Ben’s favourite video games.
Over the course of a week or so, my other half and I managed to get in around give hours of gaming. According to HowLongToBeat.com that means we may it through over half of this game so you’d have thought we’d have had a pretty good grip on it by then. The puzzles weren’t particularly difficult and the humour wasn’t necessarily to our taste, but it was something not-too-taxing to zone out with after being at work all day.
One evening after dinner though, I asked Pete if he wanted to turn on the PlayStation so we could continue and he said: “I’m not fussed.” It was then that I admitted to myself… neither was I. This adventure wasn’t a terrible one, but it wasn’t capturing my attention and giving me that got-to-rush-home-so-I-can-play-it-again feeling either. After five hours of playtime, I couldn’t see what all the hype was about.
As gamers, we have this horrible habit of feeling guilty about either our backlogs or lack of completion. We all have our own ‘pile of shame’ that sits there patiently in the corner, eyeing us up critically as we reach for our wallets to purchase yet another release that we won’t play.
As we get older, more of our time is taken up by adult responsibilities so there are fewer available hours for gaming. It’s one of the reasons why Ben and I moved to Later Levels: our grown-up commitments meant we couldn’t achieve the goal set for our previous site, so we had to make the decision to start over with a new objective that was more compatible. If that was the right choice, and one that’s working out well for us, then surely the same can be true for the video games we choose to play too.
I mean, why should we spend our free time on titles we’re not enjoying when it’s so limited and therefore precious? Yes, the result may be that some titles I never complete and my backlog will never reduce as much as I’d like it to. But surely it’s better to actually take pleasure in the games I do finish? We’re meant to look forward to our hobbies – that’s what makes them ‘hobbies’ rather than ‘work’ – so that guilt we all feel as gamers seems a bit self-defeating.
A title receiving high-ratings from critics doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone should buy it, will enjoy it, or will see it through to the end. As long as we’re open to new experiences and give them a decent chance when they come along, there shouldn’t be any guilt felt at putting them down in favour or something else more fulfilling of our spare time.
Pete and I didn’t finish that adventure I mentioned above but does it bother me? Not at all. Deciding to put it away and move onto something new meant that we found Firewatch, and that was an experience we enjoyed a whole lot more.