The image above is what I see when I look out the window. A nice, snowy Minneapolis street. It’s where I’ll be spending the next month or so, acclimating myself to the States before I pick up and move to San Francisco. Good old Minnesota.
With me are a stack of games to play and several packages of Sour Patch Kids, both of which should go a long way toward keeping me busy for a while. I’ve got Chrono Trigger on my DS, Bleach: Soul Carnival and Super Stardust Portable on my PSP, Persona 3: FES on my PS2 and Far Cry 2 and BioShock on my PC — two shooters that are making their to their computer. You might be surprised to know that they are joined by Half-Life 2. This is my attempt at pretending that I’m a well-rounded gamer. Also, actually being able to access certain content (like, you know, BioShock) has a way of loosening your purse strings a bit.
It’s for that reason, at least, that I’m happy to be back in America. When you don’t have access to something for a few years, it tends to get elevated to the status of myth in your head. Thus, good Mexican, certain items on Steam, root beer and timely new movies (see my tragically belated reviews of Iron Man and Wall-E) are all making a welcome return to my life. Of course, I’m also bidding goodbye to friends, decent sushi, and a population of nerds who rank the original Mobile Suit Gundam next to the likes of Star Wars (that is, the good Star Wars). I’ll be feeling the pain whenever I get a craving for okonomiyaki.
But having lived on what feels like the moon for the past few years, I feel like I’ve gained a new appreciation for America, and really I think that’s one of the most important things that you can take away from living in another country. There was the fun and the aggravation, stores filled with dozens of variations on Gundam and Monster Hunter, packed trains and Japanese news commentators trying to explain “lipstick on a pig” with the help of hand puppets. And somewhere along the line, I got to know wild and crazy Japan a little better. I imagine that all the giant robots had something to do with it.
Of course, being in America won’t stop me from writing about Japan (quite a bit, I imagine). And there’s always TGS in the fall, provided that I can badger the right people into letting me go. Until then, I’ve got a 2009 with a new career, a new state and a ton of new games to think about. With luck, it’ll be every bit as successful as my last couple years, plus a little extra. And as for you, hey, play a game and go somewhere you’ve never been before. Who knows? You might even like it. Until then, I’m looking forward to writing a whole hell of a lot about video games. Here’s to a happy and successful new year.