For the past week or so I’ve been struggling with the notion of buying Dragon Age: Origins in preparation for Dragon Age 2. You see, I already played and finished Origins on the PS3, but I’m getting Dragon Age 2 on the 360. This means that I will have no save to transfer from DA:O to DA2.
I also realize that this means putting down $50 for the Ultimate Collection. Fifty bucks for a game I already own? Also unacceptable.
I spent the better part of an afternoon rationalizing all the pros and cons of buying the game or not. But the real issue was this — I had just missed out on a promising and exciting job interview, due to forces beyond my control. In reality, I wanted to buy this game to make myself feel better, because I deal with disappointment or depression in three ways: drinking, smoking, and buying shit I don’t need.
I do have other legitimate reasons. I never played the downloadable content included in the Ultimate Collection, so technically $20 of the price is going to new stuff. I also really want to replay the game. More accurately, I want to play a western RPG set in a gritty “low” fantasy world — an itch that Dragon Age 2 will scratch in a few weeks, regardless of my decision.
BioWare knows how to get me.
I know that importing a save won’t have any significant impact on the events or characters of Dragon Age 2; the developers have stated that an imported save mostly fills in backstory. But it’s my backstory, and I want it to turn out my way, regardless of how trivial it may be.
As I filled the “Cons” column with my mind’s desperate pleas to reason, and more flawed rationalizations and petty desires appeared in the "Pros" side, nothing really changed. I didn’t re-buy Dragon Age, but boy, I still really wanted to. By the time I worked up the nerve to just go buy it, the time had passed; it was getting late, I had other plans for the night, and I knew there was no point. I decided to sleep on it.
I woke up still wanting it.
The solution to all of life's great dilemmas.
I took my morning constitutional, as I do every morning, to the sounds of my favorite comedy podcasts. I listen to them when I exercise because I find laughing is a good way to start the day. (They also distract me from the thought that I’m actually exercising — an otherwise miserable way to start the day.)
Specifically, WTF with Marc Maron has become a form of therapy for me. I find that Maron and I share a lot of the same neuroses, but he articulates them in ways I can’t because he’s had more experience wrestling with them.
So imagine my surprise when he and guest Paul F. Tompkins briefly discussed this very same issue: buying things you don’t need as a remedy for depression. Boy, was that ever a coincidence to shake my spiritual nihilism (if only slightly).
Specifically, they discussed the process of learning to be your own parent to your inner child, to tell yourself “no” when you know better.
Am I just possessed by a Desire Demon?
My inner child got pushed in the mud and wanted arbitrary material gain to make up for it. Even though I was still shelling out my own money, I wanted the universe to pay the debt it owed me for fucking up that interview. I deserved compensation because things didn’t go my way!
The real-life adult me argued, “No! No, you can’t have this game! No, you can’t always have your way! No, the world does not revolve around you!”
My inner child responded, “Fuck you! I can do what I want!”
All I could do was sigh.
I still plan to buy Dragon Age again — the $50 Ultimate Collection for the 360. But at least now I can characterize the particular kind of self destruction in which I’m engaging. And that, my friends, is a little thing I like to call growth.