I Need To Go Soak My Head

A gamer is a fickle beast, perhaps, but it is a fickleness of necessity.  We play games for reasons beyond simply establishing a feeling of flow – we play them to be continually delighted at a new perspective as one would be upon stumbling for the first time across any art which sought to entertain.

This is an outgrowth of a fundamental realization that I’ve undergone, and that is that I’ve been foolishly retreading the same old circles by playing the same old games and it’s time to move on.  There’s a surprisingly thin line between a discerning gamer and one who has beached themselves.

It was a habit taught to me by MMORPGs: if you roll a new character, you may be able to milk some more fun out of the game.  The developers of such games would like you to play forever, and do everything they can to keep you paying those monthly subscription fees.  However, it was ultimately an unkindness: there’s only so much fluid that can be wrung from the sponge before one must find a new body to dip it in.

In particular I wanted to finish Neverwinter Nights 2’s main campaign, get as far as the Mask of the Betrayer expansion.  For a brief moment yesterday, I felt what it was like to play the game anew, to not care about the character I play but rather to soak in the story.  However, as I slowly shimmied up the storyline for the 12th time or so, I stopped and reconsidered my character, and the spell was broken.

It’s not the character, I have to face facts: it’s the entire pool of the game, no longer radiant, which my character indecision is merely a symptom of the tired old sponge refusing to absorb again.  I’ve learned how to hate AD&D 3.5 edition quite effectively.  If I can’t forget that, perhaps perpetuating my ignorant bliss from yesterday, what hope does the game have to entertain me?

So it is with many of these games I have residing on my hard drive right now: I’ve learned to hate them for all the right reasons, and they need to go.   These old reliables were an excellent soak while they lasted, but the old brain sponge has been wrung and re-wrung itself in their fluids to the point where it is a dessicated, pathetic thing indeed.  If there’s anything left to be found within these tired reservoirs, it would be a substandard dip at best.

I need to stop playing old games – at least, games that are old to me.  Regardless of what the masters of the monthly subscription grind would tell me, it’s simply not healthy to keep ramming my head against these dried up ditches and expect to take something new away.  At a certain point, there is no replayability, merely building dissatisfaction.  It would be better to find new games – ones which the grey matter can still tolerate absorbing.

As I write this, many of the old standbys are being uninstalled.  BioShock, Crysis, and Oblivion have fallen to the digital scythe.  Many linger still, but my eyes now regard them with suspicion.  Why cling to a dried ditch, digging for a rare pocket of water, knowing there’s whole oasises to be found yet?   Why protract the pain, if not out of the blind desperation?

Blind no longer, I think.  Time to stop scavaging and start the voyage.  Hopefully I’ll find something worth playing on GameTap, from GameFly, or residing the Internet in general.  Failing that, even creating my own would be a more enriching experience.

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