Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The call of the new game

I’ve been faced with a dilemma this past week. For those who don’t follow gaming closely, last week we saw the launch of Nintendo’s 2DS, which is essentially it’s 3DS with the 3D element stripped out for cost.
For those still not following me, the new Game Boy came out last week.
With it came out the latest Pokemon games, Pokemon X and Y.
If you’re unclear as to what Pokemon is, click here.
Let me explain something before we go on: I never buy new consoles when they first release. Upon hearing the announcement of the X Box One memories of my friends original X Box in high school flashed through my head, as it would overheat so badly trying to run Halo we nearly tried cooking a steak on it. Considering I went through NINE X Box 360s before finally finding a model that wouldn’t die because I had the gall of trying to play games on it, I’m not all that excited for most of the next gen stuff.
Speaking of games, I will rarely buy games on release day either. I will get one maybe two games a year the day they come out, but that’s only after I’ve done extensive research on them, the company, their development history, and criminal background checks on their programmers. Reason being I’ve been burned way too many times by glitchy, useless games I thought were going to rock my world. Fallout: New Vegas became a game of “How long can you play before the game freezes permanently” instead of an epic post-apocalyptic roadtrip, and Saints Row III decided that allies are for wusses, and ditched all the NPCs I had picked up as companions, including Burt Reynolds.
So my usual plan is to wait.
And then last week.
There they were, sitting on the shelf, taunting me to try them. Pokemon Y and a new 2DS. Whispering soft secrets of times we could share together. Meanwhile, the sensible part of my brain was screaming things like “You bought a $200 Windows Surface last week!” and “You stopped playing Pokemon when you realized a majority of the players were still in grade school!”, all sensible arguments. Yet there I was, staring, wanting, and wishing.
I didn’t buy it. Not because I couldn’t afford it, but because I realized that my logical brain had some good points and that some consumer research at the very least would be helpful, yet with all the logic my massive space brain could bring up I still wanted Nintendo’s latest cash cows. The dilemma allowed me to ask the existential question: Why?
I consulted some friends on the subject, each giving me a different answer. My beloved fiancé pointed to the impracticality of the exercise, what with our wedding in 7 months and the fact that I had just bought a tablet. My friend Stu pointed out that waiting like I do on other games and consoles was indeed wisdom, and that I should see what happens in a few months, even after Christmas. Both extremely validating and right in their own ways, but the ultimate council that snapped the song of the Pikachu siren was my friend Neil. In bringing my dilemma to him he simply said “Why don’t you just play a game you haven’t played in a while?”
I know the siren statement was a joke but I honestly felt like I had been slapped to reality. Could that be it? Was my problem just that I was bored with what I was playing now, and this new game and toy simply offered me something new?
I looked at what I’ve been playing recently, namely Diablo III and Disney Infinity. Diablo III I’ve found to be extremely fun, especially on my X Box, but the challenge in single player skyrockets at a point that my poor little thumbs just can’t keep up with. Infinity has an opposite problem: After beating all the playsets I own and the next one not coming out till Saturday, I had nothing to really do in single player.
 I was honestly bored with my video games.
This realization leads me to the conclusion that boredom is not a very good reason to buy a brand new and expensive game and console. Neil was right, though I suspect part of his suggestion was just to get me to play WOW with him again, which, yes that worked, but I just needed to do something different. Not necessarily new but different.
So I went through my CD case and I plugged in Skyrim, and I’d switch between that and a new Minecraft world I made on the X Box while chilling out during fall break. Just to satisfy my shopping need I also picked up Just Cause 2 for $8, just to say I had a new game. And you know what? It worked. The desire for Pokemon and a new 2DS is still there, but it’s now with my desire for an Assassin’s Creed hoodie and that Complete Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle I’ve been eyeing at Barnes and Nobile. Yeah I want them but I don’t NEED them, and I’m not going to run out and get them right this second.
This reminds me of Paul when he visited the people of Areopagus, a people who “aspent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). It’s implied that they for the most part rejected Paul’s teachings because it was the same thing they’d heard before and thus mocked or dismissed it. That’s pretty much how large chunks of our society work: the best things we are told are the newest, and therefore we must have them. I’ve had droves of people tell me, upon finding out that I’m a gamer, say “You probably wouldn’t like what I play. It’s just Mario 3 or Sonic the Hedgehog on my Sega.” What? Those games rock! I’ll play those all day long, just as much as I’d play Left 4 Dead or Grand Theft Auto 5.
Here’s my final thought: I let myself get taken in by the shiny new glitter Pokemon and the 2DS have to offer because I didn’t stop to think what I was really wanting and whether or not I could get it without giving even more money to Nintendo. Now that I have, I’m revisiting games I haven’t played in forever and loving it and I didn’t have to fork over $160 to do it. I’m getting my video game itch met and I didn’t spend a dime, how cool is that?
P.S. What games do you love that you haven’t played in a while? Reply in the comments and let us know what’s kicking around in your CD cases!

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