*pic from Mission17.org*
Towards the end of 2011, I had a discussion with my late friend Jesse about gaming in general, as this was typically all we ever talked about. We were talking about the age old balance of gaming versus collecting. At the time, I was all about collecting and spent way too little time actually playing games. I was persuaded and inspired by Jesse to start enjoying my collection for more than pieces of plastic that look nice on the shelf. I decided to lay down and follow some "rules" for myself for the year of 2012. I would play no more than two games at a time (this allowed me to play one console game and one handheld game concurrently). I would finish every game I started. Lastly, I would remove at least one game from my collection for every new one that came in. The last rule helped me trim a lot of fat in collection, but it's not something I strictly adhere to anymore. However, I still try to follow the first two rules to this day.
In 2012, I hit my collection hard. I started tracking games I was playing in a Google calendar. I staked my claim on a post in the "games beaten" thread on RFGeneration. Of course, I had to choose what I played carefully. I didn't want to end up choosing a title so difficult that I couldn't finish it. I came close to giving up on a few games before deciding to resort to cheat codes on them. Better to roll the credits than give up, no matter what. In November, I reached my limits with the Playstation remake of Final Fantasy
. This could have been one hell of a game. The graphical face lift coupled with ease of use upgrades to a game already considered a classic should have been a masterpiece. This version of the game has one amazing flaw though, its encounter rate is so unbelievably high that it makes the game almost unplayable. No lie, in one dungeon I counted nine battles in a row, tile for tile. I was ready to put the game down, but Jesse tried to convince me to stick with it. No wait. That's not what happened at all. Here's what he said to me:"Why are you torturing yourself? You're spiting yourself to finish this game for a promise you made to yourself. The game isn't going to change, so you got your education on FF, I'd say that's enough. There's more games out there than you can play, why spend time with one you aren't enjoying?"
Despite these words of wisdom, I decided to push through. By the time I got to the end of the game, I was so over leveled that the final boss was a joke, but at least I finished the game. However, I had learned a valuable lesson. I wouldn't take quitting a game lightly, but after I finished the year, I would not force myself to finish a game I was not getting any enjoyment out of.
That year, I finished a whopping fifty eight games. To date, I have not racked up nearly as many completions, but I've never tried as hard as I did that year. So I loosened up my rules a little and finished around thirty titles each year through 2015. Here's the actual breakdown:
2012 - 58
2013 - 33
2014 - 37
2015 - 33
I'm happy with these numbers. As the years tick by, and I have less and less passion for actually collecting games, I'm still satisfied with my efforts to play through as many titles as I comfortably can. Something changed though by the end of 2016, and I've been having a hard time putting my finger on it. I guess I can look at it on the bright side. I may not have finished as many games as I have in the past, but I still played many games. Here's a quick list of games I put a good amount of time into without finishing:Folklore
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright
Crimson Gem Saga
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Call of Duty: Black Ops (DS)
So what happened? Back in 2012 I had a full time and part time job and I still found the time to finish fifty eight separate games. In 2014 and 2015 I was planning and then executing a relocation across the country, and I still found the time to roll the credits on over thirty titles both of those years. Perhaps I subconsciously had a more difficult time adjusting to my new home than I realized after relocating. But really what is happening is the loss of Jesse is finally catching up with me. Before he passed away, my gaming habits were almost completely tied into his, and as rewarding as any game could be, the chance to talk to him about it was even better. There used to be an unspoken friendly competition between us (though this was mostly in my head) of which of us was plowing through more games. I learned Jesse's secrets. He didn't watch TV. He woke up very early on the weekends and played games in the mornings before he went to work. By adapting these habits, I was able to keep pace with him. I remember getting up as early as 4:00am on many Saturday mornings in attempts to "beat" him to a gaming session. In turn, we were able to discuss at length (usually in voluminous emails, daily) the media we were each "consuming."
Now, though I have Internet friends who are into gaming, I will never have the kind of connection or history with them that I had with Jesse. I finish a game, leave it on the "Games Beaten" thread on RFGeneration, and it's over. There is a level of fulfillment that comes with sharing that is gone forever. So where do I go from here?
For 2017, I'm going to try to get the total number of games finished back over thirty titles. I will not force myself to finish every game I touch, but I will try not to just "dabble" in any titles that I am playing off the shelf. As far as sharing or conversing about games, I will use my monthly article here as well as the Playcast as more of a platform. I am honestly not sure if things will change. Life goes in cycles. For a long time I had lost interest in playing music, but that has become a big part of my life again. Perhaps I should not let it bother me that I didn't finish that many games this year. It's almost as if there is more to life than that.
I'm sorry at the loss of your friend, and the effect it had on your gaming, as well as, I'm sure, your life in general. I haven't lost anyone like that, but I've definitely experienced a downturn in my gaming in the last few years. I play a bit of lots of new games but rarely get even halfway before trying something else. The rest of life has been getting in the way, for better or for worse. Personally, I feel like these days, between my other hobbies/interests and socializing with people who aren't as into games as I am, it's getting harder to dedicate chunks of time to them without sacrificing time I put into something else. Like you said, there's more to life than solo gaming. Still, I like the ideas of dedicating morning weekend time to them and discussing them more here as motivation. I may try to do the same. Hopefully, even if I don't end up finishing more games maybe I can make the gaming I do find the time for more meaningful and more fulfilling. Thanks for sharing.
I've noticed a downturn in my video gaming habits as I've gotten older. Work becomes more stressful, and with the passing of a good friend, the game group just sorta shies away from a few titles we all used to enjoy together. I still play my fair share, but it isn't anywhere near where I should be. Good on you for having the patients for getting through all those games though...I usually have a short attention span for games.
I really enjoyed reading this, because I can identify with some of what you have here. I'm saddened by the loss of your friend, but I hope that you will continue to game frequently, and think fondly of him as you do, since this was something you shared. I, too, have seen a bit of a downturn in my gaming. I haven't participated in hardly any of the RFGen play-throughs, partially because I haven't owned all the games, but also because I've just been busy with life and work. Personal garbage gets in the way as well, and because the primary game I've been working on is a 100+ hour journey (Xenoblade Chronicles X), it can be hard to squeeze other games in, or even dedicate time to sit down for a few hours to grind, level, quest, and see the story. Despite all that, I've had a lot of gaming fun this year, and I'm hoping I can keep that going next year, while trying to increase the number of games I play and complete.
Thank you guys for reading and commenting. It means a lot to me. While I am hoping to actually finish more games in 2017, I'm definitely in the same boat as you MetalFro, where even though I did less gaming, I truly enjoyed most of it.
I'm looking forward to following up this article in the future.