I haven’t finished a single-player game since completing Mass Effect 3. When it came out, Lisa and I put an entire weekend aside to finish it in one complete play through. For the record, we were fine with the original ending (we chose Synthesis). As I later put it, the entire game felt like an ending, played out over a series of very emotional hours. The line “Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.” still gives me major feels.
But still, I haven’t really picked up any new games since then. While I appreciate the growing power of narrative in gaming, something in me just isn’t drawn as much towards them any more. I still like multiplayer games, and quite enjoy the social aspect of sitting down and having a stressful time with friends while other friends (or even complete strangers) trounce us over and over. I’m not very good at games. I was all right at Starcraft once,* back when I was procrastinating over editing a novel and playing game after game of it could fill the time quite nicely, but now I just feel angry and disappointed as everyone else seems to have mastered their sub-15 minute builds while I’m still dawdling over which building to make.
I don’t think I can play a MMO again, either. I enjoyed World of Warcraft when it started but by the time we stopped it had passed through feeling like a job (or an obligation, making sure we were ready to raid every evening) to something that we just happened to fill our evenings with, like Eastenders or trips to the local. Not that there’s anything bad about any of these things, but I was starting to get that itchy feeling at the back of my head, that feeling that I was spending all my time consuming and not doing a whole lot of creating. It’s no coincidence that I started writing almost as soon as I stopped paying my subscription. Your milage may vary on that sort of thing – certainly there are plenty of creatives who can and do juggle their time effectively – but nevertheless: that’s at least one thing I had to do to get my arse in gear.
But I still like games. I’d like to play more, or at least to have opportunities to play more. I’ve had it in my head for a little while that I would really like to build a little arcade table…well, build is a strong word. I’d like to drill a bunch of holes on a suitably-sized piece of easy-build furniture and put two arcade sticks in, then hook it up to a dedicated computer so that I could play arcade games on the tv with my other half or anyone else I could trick into coming to the house. Nidhogg looks like the most fun ever and I know there are other games that would equally fit the bill.
On that note, I think Johann Sebastian Joust would be an incredible convention game. It’d be hell getting it on the official programme (Health and Safety nightmare, or what?) but if someone were to suddenly start carting round a laptop and some Move controllers, I could well imagine a few people would be well up for it.
*Bronze league “all right” which is just north of “acceptably poor”.