I mentioned on Twitter that the new hotness in gaming seems to be arena-based MP titles. We’ve got Battleborn, Overwatch, MOBAs are springing up all over the place; the company behind The Order: 1886 is now working on some arena-based MP title, Cliff Blezinski’s BossKey is making one; every developer seems to want to tap into e-sports in some way. I said that this ‘movement’ made me happy both because I know tons of people love those games (and believe it or not, I like it when my friends are happy) and kind of because I don’t. Having all the hugely hyped games be of zero interest to me is making it easy for me to get out of Gaming as a Hobby.
Someone responded saying they could play nothing but single player RPGs and still have too many games. I agree; I have a ton of unplayed or little-played games laying around. And I don’t plan to stop playing games as one of the things I do. I’ve just been kind of easing away from being a Gamer. And it’s hard to articulate what I mean by that, particularly in 140 characters. I’m not even sure I can do it in a blog post.
For years, gaming has been what I did when I wasn’t working. It was my primary hobby and I self-identified as being a gamer. I followed the hype-train and spent lots of money on whatever was the flavor-of-the-week. And as often as not I’d play that game for a week and then set it aside. I read the gaming blogs and followed gamers on social media and in those rare moments when no game was calling to me I felt adrift. Like “I have nothing to play… WHAT DO I DO NOW!?”
But I don’t have to tell you that the gaming community and social media are combining to create a seething pit of toxicity. It’s not JUST gaming, to be fair. There was a great post titled Fandom is Broken making the rounds and it talks about this issue as it pertains to many aspects of fan-driven activities, from comics to gaming to movies. (Is that a generic and inoffensive way of putting it?) When No Man’s Sky was delayed last week, the developers found themselves on the receiving end of death threats. Heck even the reporters covering the news got some. It’s fucking insane the way (some) fans behave these days.
I kind of don’t want to be a part of any of that any more. I cut almost all the gaming blogs out of my RSS reader and replaced them with sites like Southern Fried Science and Brain Pickings. Instead of spending my spare time reading hateful comments on a post about some new MP game I’m reading posts that make me think or maybe teach me something. At the same time I’ve backed away from social media quite a bit. I cut out Facebook and Google+ completely, though I still dip my toe into Twitter now and then. But not nearly as often as I used to. That has freed up a lot of time and I’ve been spending it sharpening my development skills and learning new things. That feels really good.
The overall result of these changes are that I spend less money on games, which is a good thing because we don’t have an abundance of extra cash laying around. And when I do sit down to play a game, I’m playing a game I want to play (rather than a game that the hype-train says I must play), and playing it the way I want to play it, which is almost always single player (even if it’s something like The Division that most people play multi) and usually at my deliberate, methodical pace. I’m level 9 in The Division on PS4!
Which is a long-winded explanation of why I’m glad the gaming industry has decided to shit out a million e-sports titles that I don’t care about. I’ll keep on quietly working through my backlog while I wait for the Mafia III-hype train to come by this fall. That seems to be the next ‘big hype’ single player game in the pipeline. Although I’m giving serious consideration to Grand Kingdom which comes out later this month and I bet you’ve never heard of it.
I’m still playing games, sure. But I don’t want to be called a Gamer any more than I want to be called a Reader or a TV Watcher. Playing games is just one of the things I do in my leisure time. Please don’t lump me in with these crazy people ranting and foaming at the mouth because a game was delayed, or a patch broke a feature, or some other inconsequential thing that makes them get so mean.
Playing Lately: Alienation, The Division, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, The Elder Scrolls Online