Man it feels weird to type “2022” — that’s the kind of date that the sci fi novels I read as a kid would use.
Anyway, I’m not usually one for resolutions or gaming goals but I decided I’d make an exception this year since I’ve been thinking about how I needed to change my gaming habits anyway, and it just so happens to be the end of the year. Bam! Resolution. More accurately I should say I need to revert to some old “bad” habits.
Historically I have been really bad about finishing games. Back in the day I made more money than I do now and had fewer expenses so I could pretty much afford to buy any and every game that interested me. The pattern in those days was buy a new game, start playing it, be enjoying it, but then some other new game would come out that interested me. So I’d buy that and start it up, solemnly promising myself I’d get back to the first game, but of course I never would. For games that are not “finishable” (MMOs, live-service games) you can substitute “reach the end game” for “finishing a game.”
Fairly recently (heck maybe it was a resolution from last year!) I’ve tried hard to change that pattern. I’ve been making a concerted effort to finish the games I start, or just accept that I wasn’t enjoying them enough to ever finish them. Our financial situation is such that I have to think hard about spending $60 for a game and then only playing half of it. That was part of the reason for the change. The other part was that I was missing the satisfaction of completing something. Anything! In my life, both at home and at work, I seem to rarely take on (or be assigned) a project that has a satisfying conclusion. I build web sites and a web site is never really done, right?
Anyway so that was the plan and I’ve executed on it reasonably well, and when I finish a game it IS very satisfying. But the flip side is I keep playing games long past where they’re really enjoyable. I just push on and try to power through and while that has worked, it hasn’t been very much fun, apart from the satisfaction of finishing. I walk away from a game thinking “Thank god that is over, I never want to see that game again” even if it was a title that I initially really enjoyed.
So my resolution this year is to try to find a middle ground between never finishing games and being so bullheaded about finishing them that they become a chore.
One “tool” that I think I need to work on is being able to re-engage with a game when I come back to it, picking up where I left off. I’m really bad at remembering the subtleties of a game’s systems, so when I go back and pick up an old game I start over. If I could get better at re-learning a game without re-starting it then I feel like I’d have the ability to both finish games and be able to step away from them when a new shiny catches my eye or the current title is starting to feel repetitious. Go back to an old game enough times, always picking up where you left off, and eventually you’ll finish it, right? Of course I say this after having re-started Death Stranding from the beginning for the 3rd time (nope, I’ve never finished it).
I think basically this is a matter of patience. When I return to a partially completed game I get impatient with myself if it is difficult or confusing, but in this day and age there are tools, right? I could find a let’s play on YouTube and watch the first couple hours of a playthrough. I could read the start of a walk-through. For most games there’s a Reddit or a Discord where I can ask questions and in my experience visiting these places when a game is a little older is fairly pleasant. Most of the toxic people have moved on to the communities of newer games where there are more targets. The people still hanging around generally love the game and want more people to play and enjoy it.
Or of course I could start a new game but save my old one, re-play the first few hours then switch, though I’ve had limited success with this since I so quickly engage with my current character/decisions.
Anyway so that’s my New Year’s Resolution. Basically stop making gaming a chore or an obligation. Gaming is supposed to bring me joy, and it generally does but lately it’s started to feel more like an obligation than a hobby. Just a few days ago I threw in the towel on Metal Gear Solid 5 because I couldn’t face playing nothing but it for what appeared to be 5-6 more weeks in order to finish it. That was kind of an extreme decision and if I’d just let myself set it aside and play something else before I got tired of Metal Gear, it might still be on my hard drive waiting to be played.
So last night I set aside Death Stranding (which I’m once again enjoying very much) and fired up Ghost Recon Wildlands, a game I haven’t played in years. Instead of starting from scratch I’m just being patient with myself and re-learning the systems from where I left off, and it didn’t take very long at all before I was having fun.
2022 has a LOT of potentially amazing games on the way. All those titles that slipped from 2021 due to the pandemic are going to start arriving. Horizon Forbidden West is my next “Day 1 Purchase” game for me, and it’ll be here in February. I can’t wait!
I hope you have a year full of great gaming, and thanks for reading Dragonchasers!