My Gaming 2011

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Although no one cares and nothing matters and we’re all just monkeys clinging to a dying rock, I thought I’d share my gaming experiences with you all. Feel free to to hit the back button at any time. Please don't leave me.

The early months of 2011 were spent adding to my Pile of Shame.  I bought games I was sure I’d be interested in. They soon fell to the wayside. I continued to play older titles, becoming a current-gen retro gamer, playing games that have at least one sequel, if not two.

I moved house in May. Unpacking and assembling Ikea furniture took precedence over more important things like punching aliens and killing civilians. Since then my gaming time has decreased. Watching TV and reading seem more attractive nowadays. I must be getting old.

In August, I read Extra Lives, Tom Bissell's excellent book on gaming. It brought me back. The next month I bought a PS3. "More for the Blu-ray and iPlayer than for games", I told her indoors. She wasn't fooled.

I was loaned a few titles, and quality gaming ensued. Call of Duty: Black Ops and Killzone 3 were thoroughly enjoyable. With them completed I looked for another title to play. 

I got Uncharted 2. And it ruined everything.

Uncharted 2 should emit a golden light when its case is opened, like the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. A choir should sing when it's placed in a Playstation. It's so good, people should cry with joy just thinking about it. Playing it was a wonderful experience, 12 hours of bliss.  But like all things, it had to end. 

Uncharted 2 set the bar so high, nothing else could match up. The joy was gone, every other title felt…gamey. I played Ico and Shadow of The Colossus. They did nothing for me. I looked to demos for inspiration. God of War 2? Not my thing. NBA Jam? No.

Why did you have to go, Drake, why?

Help me, Tom Bissell! I re-read Extra Lives for inspiration. The book encouraged me to buy Far Cry 2, which was passable but not what I wanted. I bought Resident Evil 5. I returned it the next day. Extra Lives made me want to review games, but I found nothing that excited me. A friend played Skyrim and Arkham City, while I watched with no interest in taking the controller.

Winter came. One day I stood outside Blockbuster waiting to be picked up. By the time the car arrived I was four games heavier:

Vanquish. For probably the first time in my life I tried to skip cutscenes. I lasted two hours.

The Saboteur. An enjoyable game marred by the most annoying main character ever and a massively childish idea of what constitutes a game.

Killzone 2 was fun but has been barely played.  After having played Killzone 3 it understandably felt like a step back.

I bought Assassin's Creed 2 to see if it was better than its disappointing predecessor. It is. One night I opted to forgo all missions and set about syncing up all the viewpoints in the city. After spending some time as a virtual tourist I felt tense, as if there was a clock ticking in my mind, a reminder of everything else I could be doing. It's a feeling I've had a few times before, and it's becoming more frequent.

There are times when I love games, when I appreciate their scale and complexity and the unique ways they can tell stories and deliver experiences in ways only games can.  And there are times when I feel like they are massive wastes of times, with repetitive missions and clunky storytelling and a timid approach to innovation.

And now here I am in 2012, somewhere between those two schools of thought. I've played one game all year – GoldenEye Reloaded. It's the perfect 'dip-in' game. Put it on for an hour, complete a mission, turn it off again. Even with the optional objectives you never have to stray far from the main goal. It's a simple game, perfect for me and the 'burst culture' environment I currently exist in. Will I ever be consumed by a game again, or will I continue with this shallow approach?  I look to the man in the sky for answers. And he responds, dropping Spinies on me. I've always hated you, Lakitu. 

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