Path to Madness
Firstly I feel like I need to lead off this morning by saying… I am feeling much better. Thanks for all the support yesterday, and I have to admit that a video shared to me by ChibiSeira helped a lot as well. Part of the problem is… I have been reviewing my blog for a project that you can see above. Normally this isn’t a big deal, but depression loves to lie to you. It makes things seem worse than they actually are, and in my mind… I have been in this present down cycle for months and months. The reality however is this current phase has only really been there since late October at the earliest and more specifically in this post Thanksgiving stress period that leads to the end of the year. Basically my down cycle is happening during the most stressful and hectic part of the year so it is absolutely expected. I’ve probably had one of these cycles every single year of my life, but where things wound up getting a little cross wired yesterday was the fact that at the time of posting… I had only actually managed to make it through June. So sifting through my blog it seemed like I was so active and so functional during the first half of the year… and the depression filled in the blanks and told me that I was absolutely useless for the tail end of the year. Hell to be truthful with August and September I have no clue how I ended up playing so many things… especially considering it is another massively stressful time of the year as my wife starts a new school year again.
Basically as I finished sifting through this years worth of blog posts… it made me realize that my brain was in fact telling lies to me. That sure the last few weeks have been a bit sparse, with me getting sucked back into World of Warcraft again… but that this is in no way indicative of the year as a whole. Essentially the above image started as me wanting to know the answer to a simple question… “How long of a break did I take from World of Warcraft?”. From here it shifted into… “wouldn’t it be cool to plot the various MMOs I have played this year” to finally “fuck it lets just plot everything I talked about in my blog”. To the best of my knowledge this represents all of the games that I wrote about this year in one form or another, which pretty closely marries to the games that I have played. If you are really curious you can see the actual google sheet that I built the image off of. I am sure there are little blips here and there that I poked my head in but never thought to write about them, but for the sake of this discussion we are safe just assuming that for one reason they weren’t that important to me. The list as a whole currently includes sixty eight different games, and I underlined the games that represented the AggroChat Game Club titles. The first thing you will notice is that I am absolutely very much an “MMO Gamer”. Thirty Six of the games fall into the loose bubble that is “MMO” or “Online” game, and in many months I was playing more than one of these actively.
The Win Condition
One of the things I have come to realize is that apparently I am wired oddly these days, and this has been highlighted through participating in AggroChat and namely the Game Club. My Co-Hosts often seem to focus on whether or not they have beaten a game, and honestly… this rarely ever enters my mind. My focus seems to be on the playing and whether or not that was enjoyable. The funny thing is… I was not always this way. I remember during the Nintendo era, my friend Wade and I had a running competition to see who could beat the most games and as a result we both had lists of the games we had beaten. My focus was always on trying to churn through the game as fast as possible to get to the end, and then something changed. I was introduced to the internet, and the social aspect of gaming through IRC and MUDs. Then when Everquest was released and I was subsequently “jumped into” playing it… to borrow a phrase from Beau Hindman… my focus became about the experience and the social aspect of playing an MMO. Years later… I still MOSTLY play MMOs and when I play single player games… it becomes about the exploration and savoring the moment to moment game play and less about the win condition.
I guess this makes sense as MMOs generally have no win condition at all, but are instead a sequence of small moment to moment game play experiences that continue to build upon each other making up the overall game experience. Basically I find that I don’t like my single player experiences to end. When I play Mass Effect 2 for example, I spend time doing every single side mission because I know once I start that one mission… it is all over but the crying. That zeroing in on the end of the game is the least exciting part of the equation for me. Similarly I tend to avoid the main story line in both Fallout and Elder Scrolls games like the plague, because in the past at least they have had a similar problem of ending the game… when you finish the main quest. Then there are games that kill your character as part of the main story arc, and I find them insanely unsatisfying because even if I am not playing it… I like to think my character is out there somewhere moving around in the world without me… still existing. I think this is ultimately why I will always favor Mass Effect 2 to 3…. and will always take that one option in Dragon Age Origins. Basically I have been conditioned through playing MMOs to not want the enjoyable experience to ever end. So often I get right up to the end of a game… and then just stop playing it. When I revisited Wolfenstein New Order for example… I was less than fifteen minutes away from beating the game… but there was a part of me that desperately did not want to do it.
The fact that I managed to create a post this morning is a Festivus Miracle!!! That’s right folks… it is Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us. Right now the game play for the rest of the year is to dig into some of the things I played and talk about various experiences… like the game that surprised me or the game I struggled with the most. Not everything I played was amazing, but a lot of it actually kinda was. I am also hoping to finally beat the main storyline for Fallout 4, and maybe do the same for a few other games that I left stranded like Witcher 3. In any case, I hope you have a happy whatever it is that you want to celebrate. Be it Christmas, or Festivus, or a belated Chanukah… or ever a Super Christmas nod to my friend Grace… I hope you enjoy whatever it is that you celebrate with friends and family. Right now we have this awesome Christmas day planned of marathoning through the original Star Wars movies and then going to see seven in the theaters since my wife and one of her friends have yet to see it. I seriously could not think of a more perfect way to spend the day.