I’m back (to let you know I can really shake ’em down)

Well, I’m back in the U.S. after my brief tour of duty in Tokyo. Actually, I’ve been home for about 24 hours, but it seems that something I ate on the plane made me explosively ill, and all I actually remember from yesterday was a exhausted blur of sleepiness, discomfort, and terrible things happening to my digestive system. Best not to talk about it, really.

Today seems to be going much better. I overslept a little, but I think that has less to do with sickness or jetlag than with the sleep aid I took to ensure I’d sleep through the night. Plus, when I got to the office, I discovered that pretty much every product I’ve preordered this fall all shipped while I was away in a weirdly simultaneous “Jeremy Parish obsession overload.” My desk was piled high with a surprisingly effective cross-section of my interests: a new Golgo 13 DVD, Halo: Reach, a G.I. Joe comics compilation, and of course Etrian Odyssey III. Two copies of EOIII, even! I think one came from Atlus as a way of saying “Thanks for being so vocally obsessed about our game,” though of course I can’t keep that one.

That’s OK. It’ll teach some plucky young orphan the wonders of virtual map-making. My good deed for the day is done.

For the first time ever, I didn’t actually buy any videogames while I was in Japan, aside from a copy of Pokémon White to write about for work. I could blame the bad exchange rate, or my tight budget (seriously, the pile of things on my desk today really is pretty much all I’m buying this fall), but mostly I think the issue at hand is that I’m kind of over games. Uh oh!

Funnily enough, though, being at TGS and in Tokyo reminded me how much I like video games. I just don’t really feel compelled to play that many of them anymore. I’m not really sure what that means.

30 thoughts on “I’m back (to let you know I can really shake ’em down)

  1. Let me know if you figure it out, because that perfectly describes me as well. I still love to talk about them, and voraciously consume media related to them, but when it comes time to actually play, my enthusiasm is nowhere to be found. And given that being a guy who likes video games is a large part of my self-image, this has been an alarming change.

  2. @ Jordan Bramble
    That describes me as well. I watch videos about gaming on the internet. I read articles about gaming on the internet. I read books about gaming all the time. I have several game magazine subscriptions from both the US and the UK. But then when it actually comes time to play, unless it is a game that I’ve just been anticipating greatly, I always find myself doing something else instead.
    For example, I love the Professor Layton series and I’ve had Unwound Future sitting in my DS for 11 days now, but I still haven’t bothered to turn it on. Weird.

  3. Yeah, this pretty much sums up my sentiments about games at the moment, for the most part. Cutting down on playing them has actually made me enjoy talking about them more, I can’t quite figure out why to be honest.

  4. Absolutely. It always boggles my mind to see people talk about playing every new release as it comes out. My current game is Mass Effect 2, and even that, I only started on because I happened into a cheap used copy. Before that, I was playing a lot of Burnout Paradise, purchased only a scant 2.5 years after release. I think my last day-one purchase may have been Halo 2.

  5. Me four! There are two ways I’d LIKE the industry to help out people like us who are leaning away from playing towards watching:

    1. Make multiplayer games into a spectator sport with televised tournaments. Local matches preferable over online to give them more personality.

    2. Game developers who make cutscene heavy games should try their hand at making a CG TV show or CG movie. This year Hollywood is struggling to get enough properly made 3D movies into theaters to justify the premium ticket price before consumers decide 3D is a fad and drop it altogether. Pixar has shown that pure CG is the easiest thing to do properly in 3D, so Hollywood should arrange to distribute movies made by game companies, who appeal to an older, spendier audience than Pixar does.

    Are there signs that either of these things are happening?

  6. Yea I’m the same way with games too. Except I still buy them and I’ll play them for like 6 hours. Then I either get bored of em or I’ll play some online shooter i had for a few months, or i’ll find I don’t have time to play that game, and when I do, I got a new(er) shiny(er) game to play.

  7. Phatslo – That’s exactly how I was, and it got ridiculously out of hand for nearly 4 years. :(
    I’ve only just started to clean up my act and I feel great about it. I actually buy and play games I want to play now, rather than hoarding them for two years at a time.

  8. Parish, I guess your malady isn’t as uncommon as you thought – and I also suffer as well. I have four PS2 RPG’s to play sitting next to me here (well, one of them is in the system), and in front of me I have five RPG’s (maybe six, depending on if Steal Princess is a RPG or not), with another in the DS. I play the PS2 maybe twice a week (Wild Arms 4 if anyone cares), and the DS is mostly relegated to the toilet or family gatherings (Luminous Arc 2) – but only if I don’t have a current game mag to read. And it’s not like I don’t have time to play, as I’m currently (and have been for almost a month) unemployed.

    I just spend all my time on the internet, talking/reading about stuff. And when that’s done (stretching often from the late morning to late evening), I play Guild Wars (just got it a week ago).

    Not that I don’t like the games…but I like reading about them more!

    And I’ve noticed the same thing with me and anime. Besides the one show I’ve been following/obsessing over (which is only once a week), I haven’t watched any for over two months. I have several series that I’ve purchased over the last few years that I haven’t watched yet. But I spend a lot of time on anime sites and the like.

    I wonder what causes this. Is it the inherent nerdiness that drives us to learn everything about a thing, without taking into import the relative quality of the thing? (Star Trek isn’t really that good, but oh how I obsess over it so!)

  9. This post reminded me of how when I was in high school and college, I would take all the money I got from relatives for Christmas or my birthday and get $100-$150 worth of stuff I wanted from Amazon. I’d get these leaden packages full of CDs, books, and videogames and I’d spread them all out in front of me and marvel at them.

  10. @parish and others:

    I think the wain in interest in video games has more to do with what is going on in your life than the actual games. Though it doesn’t help that some of these games are 150-200+ hour endeavors.

    Though I have to admit, if you need to just blank your mind from a heap of stress, Mass Effect on the 360 is an excellent way to do that. DQ9 has really only been a play at bed time and farm gold golems for cash.

    Weird thing is I just got a PSP MGS:PW pack, because it was on sail and have started playing that, FFT:WotL, and going through the Item world in Etna mode on Disgaea DS.

  11. I, too, have been tempted by those new compilations of the old GI JOE comics – they were the first comics I read as a kid and drew me into the medium for life. I really dug how serious they made Snake Eyes as a character. Assuming you aren’t referring to the newer GI JOE comics, let me know how they hold up!

  12. I’ll join the seemingly endless chorus that find myself often in the same boat. It’s kind of sad, really. I play, hoping something will stick, but it really doesn’t.

    I think the problem is that I’m not wired for today’s games. Having grown up so heavily in the 8-bit/16-bit era, I’m almost hardwired at this point to enjoy games that mimic this style more than anything. I suspect that’s why, for the first time in a long time, a game actually made me lose a lot of sleep until I finished it. That game was Ys Seven. :)

    Plus, a lot of us are older, have jobs, and our patience runs thin very, very quickly. And you probably have it worse than a lot of us, given that reviewing video games is your job. At least most of us can choose to take a hiatus from games with little detriment to our careers.

  13. Argh. Should be “I’ll join the seemingly endless chorus in that I find myself often in the same boat.” I need sleep, it’s been a long day of that work stuff I mentioned.

  14. When you’ve been playing video games for over 2 decades, it’s easier to explain my recent boredom. Even DQ9 with all it’s charm and execution is becoming a trial. Games today don’t excite me anymore. Innovations like move, touch, etc are fun to read about but like other modern technologies, I don’t feel the need to experience them first hand. Most games you can get the gist of from the media flood. I want a game to surprise me even after I’ve read all about it. If I could just stop studying games I might be able to enjoy them again.

  15. I think you’re right jrc. A lot of my distance from gaming comes not from the games themselves, but due to a lack of available time. With a wife, two children and a full-time job that keeps me away from home for days at a time, I have to manage my time and often there just isn’t enough left over for the games I want to play.

    It’s different when it comes to consuming gaming-related media, because it’s pretty easy to squeeze in reading a magazine article in bed or listening to a podcast while mowing the lawn. However, playing an actual game (particularly a console game) requires a real time commitment.

    My boys are getting older, to the age where they can really play games and Dad no longer has to just let them win. So maybe that will get me back into the console gaming a bit more.

  16. This ‘problem’ really isn’t that uncommon. I’m in the same boat as you guys, it makes me think we should maybe get a bigger one, just to be safe (nobody wants a disaster of Titanic proportions blamed on video games, right?). Anyways, I’ve had a 8-10 week period this year when I didn’t touch any games at all. I just didn’t care. A few years ago I had this on-again off-again relationship with games. It usually takes something new and exciting to get me playing again.

    I also happen to consume a lot more media ABOUT games than I actually play them. It comes down to a different kind of accessibility, Jet Pilot already mentioned this. That’s probably why a quick session of of Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes on the DS while you’re waiting for the water to boil so you can put the pasta in is more appealing than a long session of “random epic game with 10-minute long cut-scenes”.

    It’s a rollercoaster ride of motivation

  17. I find now my interest in games is also lessening. There is an exception though, party games. I can’t bring myself to spend two hours chugging through a corridor in a shooter, but get some people over and play something like Guilty Party, or Castle Crashers (which most would consider lame) and I feel invigorated again. Maybe I don’t like games, maybe I just like my friends and games give us an excuse to get together that does not cost as much as a night on the town? Maybe for me the single player long form game is dead?

  18. How is it possible that, yes, I am exactly the same. I read about games online every day, including nearly every article on this website. I download and buy games, hoarding them relatively obsessively, but I have only completed one of the games in the stack on the left of PS2/PS3 game boxes (Fallout 3). The only game I’m playing at the moment is FFIX with my girlfriend. I now find I have too many options to make a firm decision.

  19. We all seem to have slightly different reasons for why our interest in playing games has waned, but I think we can all agree that forced tutorials are the bane of evil and should die in a fire.

    Make them optional sure, but most of us know perfectly well how to operate a few buttons and a couple of sticks without being forced to stop and be condescended to. Yeah I know it’s a dead horse, but it seems apt for this blog post.

  20. I sort of understand how you feel. I used to game a lot more when I was younger but these days I find myself playing less games. I don’t think it’s a quality issue because I’m still into learning about different video games and I’m interested in playing more games but there’s other things I want to do too.

    Generally, I only purchase about 8 games a year and am usually content with that stock. The games I like are usually 30+ hour investments so it takes time to get through them.

    I’ve realized that my tastes are much more selective now and I don’t need to keep up with the gaming community’s obsession with the next big title. I’d rather just go at my own pace and play a different title every few months.

  21. I wish my copy of EOIII were here.
    Decided to use the last of my gift Gamestop card to pre-order, gave them my credit info too… And there was an error. So awesome that they canceled it instead of alerting me to any problem before I lost the pre-order bonus.

  22. What do you guys feel is the best way to sample games, beyond videos and demos? I have a Gamefly subscription but they seldom send games in queue order and their mailing method doesn’t really fit my schedule. I’d like to be able to download game rentals.

  23. I’ve noticed the lack of desire to play as well, but have found two “remedies.” First, most of my resistance comes before actually sitting down to play a game, at which point I become engaged. I just finished Heavy Rain, for example, and while I had trouble getting myself to sit down for a session, once I did I was completely absorbed and having a blast.

    Two, it’s a problem when playing games becomes a responsibility rather than something you can do on a whim. Obviously Parish doesn’t have much choice. But for the rest of us, turning games into books — what with all the “must reads” and such — kinda makes them a drag. Feel free to play a minute here or there and never finish a game once you’ve gotten from it once you came for — a 50 hour burden (as with Etrian games) is quite the burden, just as it is with books. I imagine this is a problem within the retronauts/gamespite community, as we’re the types to think about all those “need to play” games we missed.

  24. For me it isn’t being tired of games. I mentioned in a TT thread that DQ9 is therapeutic, and it has been, in the sense of helping me keep my distance from the hype machine. I’d like to keep on this path of playing games I can savor, rather than spastically meandering here and there, for at least a little while longer.

    But maybe it’s just that the economy and the season has slowed down the releases to the point that I’ve mistaken a temporary lack of being in a constant consumerist frenzy for a shift in my entire attitude towards games. The next season chock-full of huge releases, whenever that might be, will call the lie if it is one.

  25. Just to be different, my lifestyle of excessive game-playing has not at all diminished, nor has the joy I obtain from it. Man, I love playing games.

  26. I’m the opposite of a lot of the commenters here – I’m spending more time playing games (though this is technically still very little time) and much less reading about them. I’m enjoying the act of isolating myself from what’s happening now, and enjoying the world of gaming I have on my shelf.

    Still, I think that one of the leading causes of “Gaming apathy” (aside from time) is that few games are really playable in bite size chunks. Even some portable games have cutscenes, tutorials, etc. which drag out any single session . I know you can put them into sleep mode, but there are certain points in a game where doing that isn’t desireable.

    On this note, I do believe that I am affected psychologically by games that are, in fact, playable in small chunks, but continue to tease me with what is next to come. Imagine if, upon saving, more games would dump you to the title screen instead of continuing throught the story. I think I’d be more willing to turn it off and head to sleep for the night.

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