With almost every video game I play, I find my music collection expanding more and more each time. From musical scores to songs being played during the end credits of a game, I always want to own and carry a piece of the game experience I have loved and enjoyed with me.
Deciding to buy a video game, as opposed to renting from GameFly or borrowing a game from a friend, is a big deal when you’re an adult who has to be mindful of what you spend your money on. Prioritizing paying next month’s rent is much more important than blowing your paycheck on that AAA title everyone is playing right now. When you do buy that video game you have to have, you’re hoping you’ll get your full money’s worth from the purchase and a good gaming experience. Does buying a video game necessarily give you an incentive to complete every single aspect a game offers you? It depends on how much you enjoy the game.
Video games have all kinds of effects on me. Some help me unwind at the end of the day; others totally stress me out. Some are easy, while others are so difficult I end up rage quitting. But this is why I love games — there are so many different genres, I always manage to find a game that suits my mood.
Weekend Morning Games
Specifically, I have weekend morning games. These are extremely special to me, because they are easy to play. Sometimes that’s exactly what I want. My favorites for weekend mornings are the episodic TellTale games, such as The Wolf Among Us, and dating sims. Immersing myself in the dramatic world of Fables or just goofing around with Chrono Days — that’s how I like to burn a morning while I have a pastry and some coffee on the couch.
Games With Rewarding Combat
I also have games that require quick skills and concentration, and I love those for how rewarding it is to get them right. It’s all about the gameplay style — and for me, that’s hack and slash combat. I like beat ’em up combat as well — it’s so similar — but hack and slash is my favorite because it feels much faster paced and looks so glamorous.
Devil May Cry is my favorite here. The series offers a challenging combat style, but it’s the only one that I have had so much fun with, I actually replay missions over and over to improve my score. And then I go on to play the more challenging modes you unlock after beating the game once. I may not be the most skilled player, but it’s a gameplay style I find really rewarding to practice. That’s why Devil May Cry has become my go-to series for when I feel energetic about my gaming.
When I’m Stressed or Tired…
When I’m feeling stressed or tired, indie games are a much better fit. I love playing little offbeat platformers or just burning up toys in Little Inferno. The less skill required, the better — I’m more interested in an unusual atmosphere that sparks my imagination. It’s actually been a while since I dug into these types of games, partly because my PC burned out on me. (I used to get all my indie games on Steam…) I will have to remedy that soon!
And then there are the games I like to play when I really want to game: RPGs and adventure games. They’re my favorites for their immersive worlds, epic storytelling, and compelling characters.These are my go-to games when I have lots of time to immerse myself in another world. I find myself replaying my favorites over and over — games like Mass Effect and Skyrim. I can’t get enough of those, and I have to admit, I’m pretty particular about them. While I have enjoyed exploring the rich worlds of Red Dead Redemption, Assassin’s Creed, GTA V, and Tales of Xillia, at the end of the day, I have only a handful of absolute favorite RPGs and adventure games that I just can’t get out of my head. Those are the games that really make me a gamer, and without them, I probably wouldn’t have the job that I have now or be blogging here today!
It’s inFAMOUS weekend, guys! I’ve been excited for Second Son‘s release for quite a while, but here’s the thing: I decided to tread the infamous path by being basically evil. And it’s so hard to do. My heart can barely take it. I won’t give any Second Son spoilers here, but that first choice you have to make? Ughhhh.
So many video games these days let players make moral decisions and choose “good” or “bad” routes, and I once wrote on my blog about how much I love playing the hero in games. The thing is, in games like the Mass Effect series, even choosing Renegade options (the “bad” options) won’t prevent you from being a hero in the end. You might be tough on people, you might punch reports in the face, you might hang up the phone on the Council… but you’re still Commander Shepard, hero of the Citadel and humanity’s last hope.
When the story is set that way — when your character is fated to be a hero — it frees me up to be a jerk for most of the playthrough. I love going for the Renegade, intimidate, badass side. It’s totally unlike how I am in real life, but that’s part of why I love it so much.
In real life, I’m a nice person. Probably way too polite, sometimes. I like to think most of us who play video games are nice, yet our games let us act out in ways we never would in the real world. That’s the fun of role playing.
I also have fun choosing an alignment that I never would in real life, even if it’s “bad,” and being a generally good person within its confines. For instance, I’m all for playing an assassin and making really tough choices there, as long as my character can be loyal to her friends and believe in her cause. The Dark Side can be fun, and it’s a world all its own.
But for some reason, when it comes to inFAMOUS, I have a really hard time treading the evil route. It feels much more “good” and “evil” than “polite” or “jerk.” And I don’t want to be evil. I can’t just run up to civilians and kick them. I can’t betray the people I care about — even if they’re not real. It doesn’t feel like an alignment choice, either. It’s just straight-up not-very-nice person — unrealistically so.
The funny thing is that I know a lot of people must feel the same way I do. In fact, Sucker Punch devs were surprised to see that the majority of inFAMOUS 2 players chose the heroic sacrifice ending rather than the more selfish ending.
It’s such a silly thing, but there really is a moral line that I have trouble crossing even in a virtual world, which must say something about how deeply ingrained morals can be. I’m trying to do it for this playthrough of Second Son… but it’s making me realize I really do like playing the hero in games!
Usually when we choose to purchase a video game, we tend to make our choices based on reviews, gameplay, graphics, and story. What often gets overlooked is the time and detail artists take to make the environment you’re playing in truly spectacular.
As an adult with jobs, lives, and responsibilities outside of our geeky hobbies, time can be our enemy. Being an adult gamer requires mastering the skill of time management. We have more concerns we have to deal with in our daily lives, but carving out at least 20 minutes or an hour of time to play a game is possible. The only time playing a video game where time can be an issue is when you want to replay a game you’ve already finished.
Why do we replay games? It’s one of my worst habits — though I only call it “worst” because it leaves me with less free time to play the new games coming out. Obviously, some games try to get you to replay them with extra storylines, special unlockables, new game modes. We even give that special something a name — replay value — and it’s considered a big plus when you purchase a game.
However, there are some games that are so big, it’s hard to find the time or willpower to replay them. The Witcher 2 is one of my favorite video games of all time, but I’ll be honest and say that diving into that difficult combat and detailed story is so intense, once feels like enough… at least for a long while. Yet The Witcher 2 is set up for people to play twice, because there are two very distinct paths you can take after a key decision. It’s like you play two-thirds of the game in one go, and then have to go back for that other third when you replay the game. I loved that when I first bought the game, but I ended up just watching playthroughs on YouTube to get a feel for the other path because who has time to replay such a long, intense game?
But as soon as I say that — who has the time? — I can think of several other games I replay over and over again for no real reason other than how much I love them. For me, it’s all about the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. I’m constantly in the midst of a playthrough of each of those, which I pick up and put down whenever I get the urge. I’ll play intensely for a couple of weeks and then leave it, sometimes for months, while I play other things. When I get that itch to kill darkspawn or hang with my Normandy crew again, I pick those games back up. And because I’ve played them so much, I know exactly where I left off. I have the stories memorized. There’s not a lot of novelty there, other than some missed conversations and alternative dialogue options — nothing major, really. But that makes the games easier to pick up and play after long absences, which only feeds that addiction to replay them.
Other games aren’t known for their replay value, yet I still find myself going back to them. The big game for me last year was BioShock Infinite, and I feel like I keep bringing it up here and on my blog and on Twitter even though most people were satisfied to play it, get to that wild ending, and put it down forever. I just bought the strategy guide for it. I completed a whirlwind second playthrough of the game right before Christmas, in just a few days’ time, and I’m ready to jump back in and 100% it ASAP.
Why do I want to replay a game like BioShock Infinite? Unlike The Witcher 2 and Mass Effect, it doesn’t have alternative storylines or any dialogue options. You don’t reenter the game choosing a new character class. There are no options. No surprises. You simply launch the game, play through Booker’s adventure, get to that ending — the one that has such impact the first time you play — and set it down. It doesn’t make sense to play it again.
But I was drawn to the beauty of its world. I wanted to spend more time in Columbia, as messed up a place as it was. I was also attracted by the game’s combat — something most people didn’t like. I already wrote about some of things I enjoyed about the game’s combat on my blog here; it boils down to loving the weapons and vigors enough to enjoy what would otherwise be lacklustre FPS action. And the fact that BioShock Infinite only takes about 10 hours to play through makes it even more appealing to replay, because at least I can justify that I’m not wasting too much time on it.
In the end, that’s what playing games really comes down to: time. I’m always saying, “Just five more minutes,” in the midst of an intense shootout before bedtime. Last weekend, I felt awful because I had to retry a Fire Emblem: Awakening battle several times to get through it — an activity that took me almost two hours… after I’d promised my sister I’d make her breakfast “in 20 minutes, after this battle.” I get excited to hear that an RPG takes 20 hours or 40 hours or 100 hours to complete — and then I have trouble finding that time as more and more new games pile up on store shelves. It’s easy to rewatch your favorite films for two hours or listen to your favorite albums over and over while you drive, while you commute, while you walk to the coffee shop, while you work out… but video games require a hefty time investment that’s unique in the world of entertainment.
This year, I have a New Year’s Resolution to finish one game a month. But I know I’ll be playing more than that at a time. I can’t help myself. There’s a part of me that would like to say I’ll break the habit of replaying video games, but I know that will never happen. The act of replaying a game is a statement about how much you enjoy it: You can’t get enough of it. You have to reenter that world, relive that scenario, remake that decision to take a different road. When video games are that compelling, they’re doing something very right. Going back to those favorites takes me back to a feeling of unadulterated fun that is really what video games are all about.