It’s funny, but I haven’t played many games lately. While I was in Japan and still employed full-time, I usually used my one or two free hours a night to work on whatever game I happened to be playing at that time. I figured that when I got back to the States and had way more time on my hands, I would be able to wrap up Super Robot Taisen Z, get into Persona 3 and even have a bit of time for BioShock.
That hasn’t worked out so well. I mainly owe my failure to time spent visiting friends combined with a certain amount of stress that stems from being in a transitional period. I’m sure that it’s different for some people, but I have a hard time concentrating on RPGs when I’m worried about this or that. I can’t focus properly on the story, or I just don’t have the patience to grind through battles and build up my characters.
The games that I do play in periods like these are sort of like comfort food for me. Not altogether nutritious, but certainly sweet, fluffy and delicious. Games like Super Stardust Portable, for instance, which merely requires that I pulverize asteroids and other space junk for points. Trust me, when I’m feeling stressed out about something, I’m more than capable of blowing things up for a few hours. It’s cathartic to pummel the debris into space dust and watch it fly off into the void. That and people. People tend to get a dose of wrath as well.
Not real people, of course — just the ones in the magical world of multiplayer. Part of the reason that I tend to defend Warcraft III from its detractors is that it went a long way together anesthetizing me from the troubles of reality back in the summer of 2002, which probably went a long way toward keeping me sane. For a few hours at least, engaging humans in mortal video combat could help me forget about my worries.
I wouldn’t say that it’s always healthy to use games to ignore real-life problems. For the most part, I tend to think it’s better to tackle them head-on so that they cease being problems and you can move on with your life. So, in that at least, I can at least thank Super Stardust Portable and Warcraft III for saving me a few wrinkles. And later, I can curse them for giving my advanced arthritis.
Video games, they just keep right on giving.