Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Not So Jaded After All

Posted by Rampant Coyote on June 3, 2013

Sometimes I think I’ve been wrecked for life. When I was younger – especially in my high school and college years – I would sometimes be up most or all the night playing games. Hours would go by barely noticed as I’d be absorbed in some game. Then I’d feel guilty when I finally quit and realized how much time I’d put into a game -usually because I was supposed to be doing something else. After all, I was always supposed to be doing something else… studying, cleaning up the house, whatever.

It’s been years, and in spite of being an unapologetic gamer, I still have to fight that guilt sometimes.

In recent years, I would sometimes worry that the simply joy I used to experience of being completely absorbed by a game for hours at a time – even a “dumb” arcade-style shooter – was something that wasn’t possible anymore.I’d play top console games – the kind that I believe that, as a kid, I would have played obsessively for hours on end. And they just aren’t thrilling me. Maybe it was because I was now a jaded ol’ game developer. I have a tough time playing a game without a critical, analytical eye. Sometimes I wonder if my experience makes that old joy just something I can only experience through memory and nostalgia.

Has anybody else ever felt that way? The games of today just not doing it for you anymore? And you wonder, “Is it them, or is something wrong with me?” Are those years of latent guilt poisoning the well? If anybody suggested I’d “outgrown” games I’d probably feel inclined to punch them. No way – I still loved games, I still appreciated them, I just had doubts as to whether or not I could be as completely absorbed by a game as I once was.

Fortunately, over the last couple of years, I have found I don’t really have to worry about that anymore.  I keep discovering that I’m still as much a sucker for a good game as I ever was. It really was them, not me. And once again I have to fight feelings of guilt as I realize my quick twenty-minute trial turned into three whole hours.  Ah, well.

I find it’s pretty evenly split between indie games and mainstream games (although some of the mainstream games are older titles I took a while to get around to). I think it’s just a combination of quality and my own changing tastes. I’m just glad to know I’m not as jaded as I once feared.


Filed Under: Geek Life - Comments: 12 Comments to Read

  • Xenovore said,

    I’m jaded, particularly when it comes to first-person shooters. Nobody can make a good one anymore, aside from the rare exceptions like Left 4 Dead or Borderlands. I mean, when I’d rather go back and play Quake 1, there’s something wrong.

    If the game is actually good I can enjoy it just fine. No hand-holding, no rail-roading, no scripted events every 3 minutes, no retarding game-play for the sake of the “story”, no lame UI design, etc. I.e. no consolitis in my PC game.

    Case in point (since I’ve been trying to play Crysis 2 lately): Crysis 1 was well done, with expansive levels, a minimum of rail-roading, and a fairly straight-up plot with minimal interruption by cutscenes. It was made for PCs.

    By comparison, Crysis 2 is mediocre in almost every way, with short linear levels, checkpointed saves (only!), and a convoluted plot with onerous cutscenes. And plenty of hand-holding. It was obviously made for consoles. (And Crysis 3? After dealing with Crysis 2, forget it. I know it’s going to suck because it was made for consoles as well.)

    Dunno, I guess with modern games now you’re just supposed to oooh and aaah over the visuals and the “story”, and ignore the rest. But with the crap game-play and UIs. . . it’s like just slapping a fresh coat of paint on a rusty truck — sure it’s shiny, but you can still tell there’s rust under there.

    . . . Yeah, I’m jaded. =P

  • Andy_Panthro said,

    I get that way every now and then, especially with the big AAA games. I lose interest, and I spend more time away from the computer (probably a good thing!).

    But there’s always something to draw me back in, some gem of a game or revisiting a forgotten treasure. I spend more time reading about and writing about games than I do playing them, but of a weekend I do spend a few hours on something (this weekend I bought and played FTL).

  • Darius said,

    That’s a feeling I can readily identify with. Although the funny thing is, even though I feel like that, it’s not all that terribly uncommon for me to get drawn in by a game. I think that last one that really drew me in for an extended period was Deus Ex: HR, which really wasn’t that long ago. Still it’s nice to be reminded now and again that you’re still capable of being delighted.

  • Greg Squire said,

    I can totally relate to this. Yeah I’m maybe a bit jaded for some game genres like FPSes. I loved DOOM back in the day, but they just don’t really do it for me anymore. However I still love a good adventure game and occasional dips into arcade games. I too have experienced the “guilt” of spending too much time in a game, because “I should be doing something else”. However my kids don’t seem to experience any of that same “guilt”. I think there’s a cultural bias against that that we adults experience because “games are kids stuff” or “games aren’t good for you”. Maybe the media is still too young to have complete acceptance yet. On the flipside do advid readers experience that same “guilt”? Do they think they should be doing other things when they’re reading an engaging novel? I suspect not or at least not to the same level. Why? Because “reading isn’t just for kids” and “reading is good for you”. Again there’s that cultural bias. Maybe that bias will shift with new generations as more and more people are getting into gaming.

  • amazingCatHead said,

    Hey Rampant Coyote, could you name some of the games lately that captured that youthful bliss of childhood gaming?

    I’m an old codger who cut his teeth on games like Metroid and Kid Icarus as a kid. I still remember when I get an NES and Metroid for my 8th birthday…which sadly enough was probably the best birthday of my entire life! 😛 I remember popping in Metroid, not knowing what to expect, because the commercial for it was the only thing I had to go on, and it was…shall we say…cryptic at best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZxrvxJrg4A

    But when I played Metroid for the first time, I was blown away! It seems silly now, but being able to go left, right, up, and down at will was unusual for games back then. Most games back then you just went left to right, or just went from bottom to top, or just stayed on one static screen. But when exploring Zebes, I really felt like I was I was on another planet. I’d draw maps on graph paper, and was it fun trying to find all the secret passages and areas! The music was also mesmerizing to my 8 year old brain, some music even kind of scared me (in a good way), like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjeISoK3pqs

    I could go into more detail about my memories of playing Metroid and Kid Icarus as a kid, but if I don’t want to write a ten page essay right now, and you probably wouldn’t want to read it anyway. 😛

  • McTeddy said,

    Most games of today don’t do it for me but I could always tell people why. There are specific aspects of modern games that don’t interest me such as handholding, easy difficulty/zero punishment, and excessive B-Movie scripts that think they are special.

    I was never Jaded, regardless of what people told me. I simply don’t like what publisher’s are selling.

    But I agree that I’m happier today with the state of games than I have been in a long time. The rise of indy games and Kickstarter for niche titles has made people like me a legitimate audience again.

    It’s nice to have options again.

  • Xian said,

    I don’t really consider myself jaded, instead it’s the real world responsibilities that I did not have earlier in life that prevents me from gaming so much as I used to.

    I think that many of today’s games are less diverse than before, but that is due to a couple reasons in my opinion – consoles and development kits.

    Consoles standardize the look and feel of games and go for the lowest common denominator.

    It used to be in the past that every developer had their own in-house engine and way of doing things which made each game a unique experience, even if it was in the same genre. Now with engines like Unity and Unreal everything is blended together, feeling the same, and that uniqueness is missing.

  • groboclown said,

    There are some modern games that I have invested literally over a thousand hours in – specifically, Team Fortress 2. I also invest over a hundred hours into each Elder Scrolls game that comes out (well, starting with Morrowind).

    I think that with many story driven modern games, the real issue is the lack of real choice. I even see this with indie games that give some illusion of lots of choice. There’s this monotony that seems to make me feel like I’m playing a tutorial-as-a-game, and as such my level of investment in the game is low. This is why I like the Elder Scrolls games (big open sandbox with some story if I want it), and I hate the Mass Effect games.

    However, I don’t think that some of the modern homogenization trends are bad. For instance, there’s now a fairly standard keyboard layout for games (wasd + mouse) that allows for a transfer of muscle memory between different games, whereas the older ones you pretty much had to learn a different way to play from all the others. Same thing with some concepts like the hud – by putting different graphical elements in roughly the same place, your brain knows how to pick up some of that periphery stuff without having your eyes look.

    In another way, this transfer of skills makes some of the modern games more interchangeable – because it’s easy to pick one up, it’s also easy to pick up a different one and never go back. With an awkward UI / key combination, you might say you have more invested in that game, but that’s me just guessing.

  • groboclown said,

    Wow, that was going off topic now that I think about it.

    So, yes, I feel some pangs of guilt over spending time playing these games (like my recent dive into modern Rogue-likes). “I could be doing something productive!” Yet, there I go into my gaming compulsion, because something about those particular games scratches an itch.

  • Anon said,

    I never felt guilt for playing games – not as a kid, not as an adult.

    I have much free time (about four to five hours on a regular workday and much more on the weekends) but on the other hand I have no family of my own.

    The only situation I was in trouble was when I nearly missed my highschool graduation because of the Ultima games (III and IV at the time, we had to resort to save file hex-editing to reduce the time spend on them…) but even then I barely felt “guilt”. I had a blast.

    The guilt – or rather remorse – I feel in my life is based on decisions that weren’t related to my hobbies and which I won’t go into here.
    All in all, however, I can’t complain – I pretty much live exactly the life I dreamed off with much free time for my favorite pastimes and very few responsibilities and disadvantages.

    Am I jaded? No, but when I see where the mainstream gaming is headed – gaming becomes a service – I’m not happy.

    As a result I try to cling to the old business model as much as I can. I want the freedom to sell expensive games if I don’t like them, at least with console games.
    True, I subscribed to PSN Plus but it’s for games I want to try out or never would buy anyway. It won’t fully supplant regular console games but I’ll pay less for games now…

    On the PC I pretty much converted to only buy games as DRM-free digital downloads (which I can’t sell obviously, but they are comparatively cheap) which I can install when I want, no server authorization required etc.

    In fact thanks to indie bundles I buy more games than ever before, even though I only play a fraction of them (but have good to brilliant times with them). My “to do” list of games is growing faster and I already have enough games to reach retirement and beyond…

  • Nikola (Blogging Games) said,

    I was in the same situation with the added effect of piracy. Piracy is pretty much the general culture here in Croatia. It’s a lot less so these days than it was a few years ago, but still most people pirate everything here and rarely buy any digital merchandise.

    So I felt the same thing you felt, but I also had the “issue” of having access to every game ever for free, so I was also getting oversaturated.

    I tried writing the blog I’m currently writing, as a sort of diary which would help me stick to my games until I complete them, because I thought that was the issue – I play something, then a new thing comes along and I switch to that, etc.

    The blog helped a bit, but not as much as I hoped. A few years ago, mostly because of that, I also stopped with the piracy (at least when it comes to games). This helped a lot. I started picking my games with more forethought, I focuded more on the indie scene, I discovered GOG.com and now I couldn’t be happier.

    I’m currently playing through Might and Magic Book One, which is as old as I am, writing about it as I progress through the game and I couldn’t be happier.

    In my case, it was partially me, but it was still mostly them.

  • Anon said,

    Good differentiation, Nikola: Oversaturation isn’t the same as being jaded.

    Being jaded could lead to a more general, persistent problem with games that needs to be addressed one way or the other (for example by playing different types of games).

    Oversaturation on the other hand will often fade with time and you are then back doing exactly the same as before (for example liking the same type of games).