Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New game ennui

The process of picking up a new game is never an easy one.

When I find myself with a free evening and a shelf full of unplayed games in front of me, I will stare at my game library with eyes unfocused as I try to decide which one to play. I know the stories of most of them by rote, and friends have sung the praises of others, but that doesn't change the apprehension I feel when I actually have to choose which one to play.

It's a grand, if typical, irony of ultimate agency: when given freedom to do whatever I want, I often choose to do nothing.

This screen scares me far more than it should.

Perhaps this ennui represents a lingering fear of commitment. A good game
, after all, won't reveal the full details of its story without hours- if not days- of dedicated playing. During this time, there are other games and other social obligations which are, by necessity, neglected. While I've never canceled a date to stay in and play a game, I have cut a few unpromising outings short in order to free up some precious time for a game that has held my interest- and I doubt I'm the only one who would admit to such.

Painfully aware of the hours of commitment that lie ahead, the decision to pick up a game becomes anything but enjoyable. This is doubly ironic as the ostensible purpose of a game is to provide enjoyment (or at least entertainment) and I waste time shilly-shallying over the decision instead of actually playing any of the games.

Each physical game represents thousands of man hours of development... who am I to rush into choosing which one to play? What if I choose wrong?

Justifying the expense of a game, on the other hand, is the easy part of the decision . I can spend $40 - $60 on a game that will keep me entertained for 20-180 hours or I can drive into New York, pay for parking, and maybe afford a single drink at a dive bar for the same cost. Unless that drink comes with hours of free downloadable content*, the cost/benefit of a game versus a cheap night out aren't even close in terms of the entertainment they provide.

At some point, after hours of perseverating, I put on my Old Navy candy corn patterned dorm pants grown-up pants and grab a game at random in an existential leap of faith that would make Kierkegaard proud, here assuming that he was a fan of jRPGs. I may enjoy the game, or I may not, but I feel an inordinate sense of accomplishment for deciding that I'm going to play it.

*-It totally sounds like I'm expecting a roofie here.