As I rapidly approach the not-so-dirty-thirties, I find my priorities shift. The cool becomes uncool, the attractive becomes anything but and the lawn becomes critically, crucially, kid-free.
While certain things don’t surprise me, like a strong preference for gnawing off my own hands over setting foot anywhere that has a cover charge and getting excited over a special on tuna, other things are a little harder to swallow.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately about how my enthusiasm for certain gaming things has dipped dramatically in recent years, so that’s what I’m talking about this week.
The New Hotness
Not unlike a chemically castrated panda, it takes a lot to get me excited. I know what games are coming, I take note of the things that appeal to me and I watch the videos.
That being said, I feel no inclination to buy in early or – perish the thought – preorder anything. I get excited for games in an apathetic sort of “I’ll pick that up on a Steam Sale in six months” way.
I mean if Gaben wants to hand-deliver me Half-Life 3, I’d probably get off the couch for that. Maybe.
Speaking of apathy, I seem to have completely lost interest in putting my considerable lack of gaming prowess to the test. I’ve been playing multiplayer online crap for so long that I’ve forgotten the anguish of getting beaten down by a few lines of code again and again.
I’m currently working my way through The Last of Us, and I was pretty ashamed to be thoroughly undone by my first real encounter with any zombies. I felt a pang of shame as I moved the difficulty from Normal to Easy, which didn’t seem to help a damn thing anyway.
Truth is – I’m just playing for the experience. I want to get the story and narrative elements, and walk around experiencing the world. I don’t want to actually have to, like, TRY or something.
This one is kind of cheating, because I’m not entirely sure I ever cared about any of this. More and more games have built-in systems to integrate with social media platforms, or share highlights of your play.
Hell, my PS4 has an entire button on the controller dedicated to exactly that. Do I look like I want to share my Last of Us clips online? If I wanted strangers on the internet to ridicule me for forty-five minutes of poor performance and inept fumbling, I’d leak another sex tape heyoooooooooo.
Just kidding, 45 minutes? What am I, a robot?
Keeping up with the cutting edge
I used to obsessively upgrade my PC, always wanting and craving whatever the latest and greatest hardware is. Ditto for mice that light up in rainbows, keyboards that light up in rainbows, hell anything that lit up rainbow was me. I wasn’t happy if my battlestation didn’t look like a gay pride parade at all times.
Now I’m playing Overwatch on a two-year old laptop, I couldn’t give a fiddler’s fig about upgrading my PS4 to a PS4 Pro X SuperPwn and I’m almost bloody ashamed to admit that my keyboard has no lights in it at all.
Don’t get me wrong – I’d like to play my Doom 2 mods in 4K on a 30 inch 144Mhz monitor in my DXRacer gaming chair, but my desire for the latest and greatest has been somewhat tempered by the harsh realities of a toilet economy, taxes and bond payments.
I mentioned before that a huge chunk of my gaming time is spent on competitive multiplayer stuff. All of these come with a quest for internet points and recognition from strangers in the form of a ranking, with associated sidequests such as convincing yourself and others that you’re only in the Silver League because your teammates are bad and insisting that Diamond League is full of 12 year olds and jobless losers who have nothing but time to game all day.
The greatest spike in enjoyment of these games came for me when I zen-buddha’d myself into not caring about my rank anymore. There was a certain epiphany that made me realise that being in the top 15% at a game that less than 1% of the world plays or cares about and has a total lack of associated real-world benefits is probably not something I want to be investing my time or emotion in.
If you’re not playing professionally, it’s all meaningless – you could delete the game tomorrow and the amount of people who care could be counted on one hand. If that hand had been in a horrific woodchipper accident.