Thursday, October 30, 2014

Personal Note - how terribly unprofessional.

This post consists mostly of me whining. 
Forewarned is forearmed.

Chamberlain's about to start playing The Evil Within, and had largely positive things to say about Fantasia: Music Evolved.  Oh my God - that's a Halo reference - I just got that.  Anyway, he's about to start playing The Evil Within and the fan part of me squeed a little at the thought of hearing his take on the game.

You'll recall, no doubt, that I was gushing all over the place when I first laid hands on it, and have noticed, no doubt, that I've said very little on the subject since.

Kayla was gone to Vegas for a week (brought me back a stack of hooker cards and a bottle of Glenlivet 18), and I had a whole week to burn through that game.  I only touched it on the last two days of her trip, essentially because I forced myself to.  Now here's the weird part - I have almost nothing bad to say about The Evil Within.  It's exactly the game it wants to be, exactly the game it's advertised itself as, and it does its job beautifully.

It's creepy and gross and challenging-slash-empowering once you get a handle on its combat or a handle on the current boss fight.  It's good, man.  It's really good and I have to force myself to play it because the only thing I want to play right now is Don't Starve.

It's all I ever want to play, right now.  Pix the Cat looks awesome - haven't touched it.  Wanna' finish Velocity 2x  - can't.

Don't Starve.

Ah, the mighty Koalephant.
I shall eat well tonight.

And I find I don't mind.  I want this blog to be... a certain thing.  An entertainment, a resource - a tucked-away internet destination that I myself would like to return to each day and read, if I stumbled across it.  I have that goal that I've set for myself, and it's slipping.

Heck, it's slipped.  It slipped a long time ago, and I don't feel like I've ever gotten it back.   My work - my actual, paying work - is crushing me, lately.  I get home each day, intellectually exhausted, emotionally battered and bruised.  After pushing myself to the edge of my sanity for eight straight hours, I don't have it in me to push any more.  I just need some... comfort.  A warm bed, a TV with a decent show on and a Vita in my hands.

One thing that bothers me about the blog is that I know it would be the resource, the entertainment, the destination I want it to be if I only had the time.  If there were more hours in a day - but my actual, paying work is required to maintain my financial and literal survival.

Perhaps neither can live while the other survives?

Don't stop just run keep running don't stop God I hope the beefalo aren't in heat... 

Part of it, I'm sure, is that the blog is often times the entire reason for playing a game.

That shouldn't be.  My upper brain knows it, but it often comes down more to games I'm interested in, unsure of or simply curious about that are picked up, played and written about. Destiny, Borderlands, Octodad, Remember Me and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow would never have been touched if not for the blog.

That can steer me to unexpectedly fantastic titles, it's true - games like Catherine and Akiba's Trip: Undead & Unressed, Olli Olli and Hotline Miami - but it's also... dulled me.  Playing a game for review, as opposed to the pleasure of playing it, changes everything.  It pushes me to stick with games I quickly decide I don't want to waste my time on (Thief,  Watch Dogs, Starlight Inception) just so I can give you a bullet-point list of why they mostly-but-don't-entirely suck, and it denies me quality times with the titles that really capture me (South Park: The Stick of Truth, Dark Souls II, Diablo III, Alien: Isolation) as I roll on to play The Next Thing I Need To Write About.

First-world problems, absolutely - but it also renders me a bit... dishonest.  I don't, often, permit the games that really capture and inspire me to do so to their ultimate expression, because I need to move on, to get more done - and it all blends together.  Becomes gray.

That's not how I played games as kids or even a young adult.  I am not honestly representing a gamer's experience - I'm expressing the best breakdowns I can cobble together with what limited time I've allowed myself, because I've imposed some non-existent deadline.

How to most efficiently collect beefalo fur.
Step 1: Approach a herd of sleeping beefalo or, failing that, put a herd of beefalo to sleep
with the dulcet tones of the magical flute you constructed at your Shadow Manipulator.
Step 2: Select your razor blade. 

The games I feel most passionate are those that I can't tear myself away from, no matter how I try.  Your Dragon's Crowns and your Don't Starves, your Fallout: New Vegases and your Dead Islands.  Your Guacamelees.

And those are the games, I think, that I write best about.  Those are the games that I can advise you best about, because I permit them their full expression.

Wanna' see something incredible?  Go back and read my review for Siren: Blood Curse, and compare that to anything I've written in the last two years.  I played that linear little horror game through like, five times.  More.

I played it like someone who loves video games.

I don't know when it happened, but something has definitely slipped.  When I started this blog I said I wanted to re-develop my writing style - and I believe I found it - but at some point I lost the style and became a... worker.

It's arrogant to say, I know, but I don't want this to be work.  I want it to be artisanal.

Step 3: Shave those beefalo.  Shave 'em.
Step 4: Gather your fur and enjoy the depressed look on their faces.
Now, you may fashion a dapper vest.

I want to craft what goes in this space, when it's not just news or trailers.  And I don't take the time required to do that.  I used to, but now...

This is my doing, of course.  My (unconscious) decision, the path I unwittingly found myself walking down.

The solution, I'm afraid, is fewer games.  More time spent with fewer games.  The solution is - perhaps - to play games like I used to play them.  To play them just for the love of it.  To play it and play it and play it some more, when a game warrants it, until I play something else 'cause that's what I feel like doing.

To let my inner gamer just be, and not place limits.

It's often true that prescribing limits is a catalyst for creativity, but limiting my time with each game has not produced results that I'm proud of.  Perhaps limiting the number of games will permit me a more meaningful perspective.

Day 131.
The snows have come again, and I find my camp is feeling a bit cramped.
I shall expand. 

"Find your voice" is what writing coaches and mentors will tell you, and to tell your own truth.  If it's really true, your message will strike the hearts of your listeners or readers who feel as you feel and think as you think.  We all have a unique perspective, but it is perhaps harder now than it's ever been to craft something resonant, something that smacks of shared humanity, when society and even North American culture alone is so splintered and permissive of the indulgence of personal tastes.

Our generation has no shared experience.  Our parents had the hippie movement.  Their parents had World War II, and the great depression.  There is no tie that binds us, as a whole - as a society.

As a culture, however, gamers very much enjoy the effects of shared experience.  We've pretty much all sat in front of the TV, as kids, playing Game X until our legs fell asleep beneath us, and we could not stand.  We've all found ourselves, shockingly, moved on an emotional level by games.  We've all permitted ourselves to tumble into fantasy, and decided to stay a while.  To live and breath other worlds.

I used to stay a while, when the notion struck me.

I will again.

I'm gonna' go play some Don't Starve, and I'm hoping, when it comes to it, I'll have something worthwhile to say on the subject.

Thank you for reading this.


  1. This is great to hear! I wouldn't want you to play something you don't care about. The reader benefits from reading better posts, and you benefit by doing what you like best. Everybody wins. (Plus, you might save some money)

  2. Do what you gotta do man. The voices that push you to focus on your blog versus your sanity are only in your head. We're happy to read whatever you think we should.

    Get some sleep buddy!

  3. Working for a living sucks. Gaming and your blog should be a respite from such, not an added source of stress. If Don't Start is what you need then that is what you need. If spending a few hundred words venting is in order, go for it. There are people here to support you, either way.

  4. What chamberlain said - absolutely. I read the blog because I enjoy your writing and enjoy reading about what games interest you. There are plenty of sites online for pro-and-con reviews - I enjoy yours, but you shouldn't have to force yourself through a game you don't enjoy just to formulate a bullet-pointed list for your readers. That's not the point of the blog, in this reader's mind.

    If you have a rough day or a stressful week and you don't post as much, no one holds it against you. Write about Don't Starve if that's what you enjoy! My favorite features of the blog are the "Games of ____" lists, your personal stories (about life or game experiences), and reviews/game diaries where you talk about games that become your absolute favorites.

  5. You guys are awesome. Just sayin'. Thank you.

  6. I love you, Chance. You love games like we love games and you take the feelings in our hearts and you put them into beautiful, insightful writing.

    Whatever and however much you write, I will be reading it!