They say hindsight’s 20/20, and it’s a maxim I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, particularly because I’m an idiot who decided to start a gaming blog just as Silly Season touched down with all the force of a category bajillion tornado. Would I do the same again? Has it been worth it, especially given nobody’s reading any of my stuff? Is sleep actually overrated, or are my lack of it, and these hallucinations I seem to be frequently having related in some way? Indeed, why would a pink elephant want to hide my controller and headphones anyway?
Still, what’s done is done, and despite my sanity (and personal hygiene) taking something of a battering over the last couple of weeks, Silly Season has mostly been a lot of fun so far, and more importantly, it’s pushed me out of my usual comfort zone somewhat – and changed up my gaming habits considerably. As one example, I very rarely play multiplayer stuff within a week of a game coming out (for lots of reasons, usually based around fear of being rubbish), but that changed with Halo 5: Guardians, and it’s given me a slightly different perspective. Players who’d played the Beta/Pre-release stuff aside, I found that there was a definite sense of ‘everybody still figuring their own shit out’, and that meant that a) I didn’t feel quite so rubbish, and b) I got a genuine sense of ‘in it at the ground floor’ involvement that I don’t get when I play a game some other people have been playing for a while.
I mean, I was still shite – at first anyways – but my learning curve was running parallel to a lot of other people’s, and I wasn’t just cannon fodder for established players, because there weren’t as many of those about, and actually, I quite liked that. I wrote yesterday about some of the feelz/sense of community that fostered, and that’s definitely a thing I’ll remember about this Silly Season.
Elsewhere, covering a few games in quick succession has helped me break my usual ‘play the living shit out of just one game’ habit, and I think that’s going to be beneficial in the long-run. I’ve got something of an addictive personality, and I’m quite OCD about games, particularly open-worldey ones, and that, if I’m being honest, isn’t the best combination. The first game I played was Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, and had I not needed to move on to Halo, I’d have likely spent the last two weeks solely, obsessively hunting down chests and helix fragments and whatnot. Given that I did the same thing with AC: Black flag, and given that it resulted in me talking, acting and thinking like a pirate in real-life, it’s probably a good thing I’m rationing my immersion in this one. Admittedly, the fact I had to go to a wedding during my ‘pirate phase’ was the real problem, but even so, I think limited exposure to all the ‘Morning Guvnor, how’s your father’ stuff in Syndicate can only be a good thing (especially for my friends, family or, like, anybody who has the misfortune of being stood next to me)!
Finally, needing to produce something reasonably quickly about the game I’m playing has meant I’ve needed to focus on that game in a way I haven’t really had to before. Time’s never previously been a factor in the stuff I’ve wrote, or at least not to the extent it is now, and that’s usually meant I’ve taken a fairly meandering, haphazard route to a review, or first impressions piece, or whatever. However, knowing I’ve got to pay attention to x, y or z in-game has, I think, given me a level of appreciation that I’d only eventually, sometimes, arrive at before.
I’m always banging on about how great games are, and why it’s such a compelling medium, but now I feel like I can better appreciate what makes them so compelling, or attractive, or impressive, because I’m actively looking to pinpoint that exact stuff. Whereas before, my reviews would be an aggregate of general observations, I now feel like I’m pro-actively assessing a medium I’ve loved my entire life, but in a whole new way, and it’s giving me a deeper understanding of it. I might not have the skills to verbalise it all just yet, but it’s a step in the right direction at least. Even the fact that I’ve had to motivate myself to write something has made me focus on things in a more specific way than the general ‘it’s shiny, and there’s some colours and that, innit!?‘ I’d have come up with (and been pretty happy with) before.
Anyways, Silly Season’s not even nearly over yet, and there’s plenty more to come. I’m currently working through the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 campaign (watch this space), and this week, for me at least, is when the real magic (hopefully) happens; namely Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Fallout 4. Setting aside my general ‘WTF, why, in the name of everything that’s holy, do they have to come out on the same fucking day’ type feelings, these are the two games I’ve been really looking forward to, and in the case of Fallout 4, for many years.
I know at this point, this is a journey I’m mostly making alone, but that’s OK for the most part – and precisely because the very act of making the journey, of having decided to attempt it, has allowed me to appreciate the path much, much more than I’d otherwise have done. Gaming’s sometimes an intensely solitary experience anyway, but that’s actually one of the reasons I love it, and the fact that I’m now learning to understand everything on a much deeper level is pretty cool, I think. Sure, Silly Season’s been a lot of work, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to deal with the pink elephant stuff at some point, but generally speaking, I’m glad I decided to have a crack. Hindsight might be 20/20, but it’s the unknown that makes for interesting experiences, and in the awesome world of gaming, it’s worth taking a step outside of your comfort zone from time to time, I reckon!!