It’s been a week since I last plopped myself down in my office and fired up a game of LoL or knocked out a few quests in Skyrim. I always think these holiday weekends will have some profound effect on the way I think about games or the way I play them or even the way I write about them, but it just doesn’t happen. I’m not entirely sure why, just as I am unsure why that would be a good thing.
I think part of the problem is that I would like to be playing a wider variety of games. In the past two years I’ve spent the vast majority of my time with just a small subset of games. I’ve pumped more time than I care to tally into League of Legends. I’ve played a lot of Minecraft. I’ve dipped in and out of WoW. I’ve been playing the hell out of Skyrim. I even had a brief affair with Diablo II. It’s a short list, and two of my five games aren’t really all that new. Why such a limited list?
For starters, time. It’s not the amount of time spent actually playing a game that concerns me. It’s the amount of time it takes to learn a game. To get to know its mechanics. To see whether I like it or not. A few weeks ago I was given access to the Star Wars: The Old Republic beta for weekend testing. I spent probably 10 hours with the game over the first two days, but those 10 hours were painful. The storyline wasn’t gripping, the combat was a complete WoW-copy – I was completely underwhelmed. I took my concerns to a couple forums, trying to figure out what I was missing. Plenty of reviews claimed the game was good, even great. What had I overlooked?
According to the internet, I hadn’t even cracked the surface of the game. Granted, 10 hours is a tiny chunk of time compared to the years people have spent with games like WoW, but 10 hours before the game even becomes remotely enjoyable? I’ll pass, as I do on most games. I would say that I’ve “missed out” on some big titles, but have I? What have I really missed? I can count on one hand the number of titles that have truly changed the way I think about games in the last 10 years. Even League of Legends, a game I play and write about on a daily basis, isn’t on that list.
I’m not trying to make the case that every game should break the mold, forever changing the way that we game. No industry supports that kind of innovation. I do, however, wish it happened more often than it does. The next big games on my watch list are Guild Wars 2 and Diablo 3, and I only have high hopes for GW2. Diablo 3 is a load of fun, but it’s fun at its most mindless.
I’m going to end this post here, because I’m not sure I have much else to say. I love games, I just wish there were more games worth loving. You know, variety being the spice of life and all. What about you? What are you playing? What games made you rethink the medium? What’s on your gaming horizon?