The one thing I miss about my life before I started writing about games is being able to really savour everything I played. Back when the GameCube was my only home console, I rarely had more than one game on the go at any one time. These days I often feel I’ve not really given a game the time it deserves, even when I’ve seen the credits roll.
It’s true I don’t really help myself in this respect. As a critic, I often feel that I need to play as many games as possible from a fairly wide range not only to broaden my appreciation of the medium, but also to remain as well-informed as possible. I actually felt quite proud that I was able to reference DS visual novel Lux-Pain in my recent review of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love for Eurogamer.
But gaming is so time-consuming that it’s not really feasible for me to do this, particularly as review and preview work is relatively thin on the ground for a freelancer living in Stockport. I don’t get to too many press events, and with mags and sites slashing freelance budgets, it’s not too likely I’ll get to play the games I really want to; increasingly, I have to focus on more feature-based work.
Recently, I’ve made things much worse by developing a penchant for RPGs, perhaps the biggest time-sink in gaming outside MMOs and Facebook games. Thankfully I’ve resisted the dubious charms of Mafia Wars and Farmville, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I feel slightly out-of-the-loop and feel I should sample them so I can comment on them from a non-biased perspective.
I could do with taking a few tips from my son in this regard, who by comparison is something of a gaming monogamist. Granted, much of this is down to his current obsession with all things Pokémon, but it’s remarkable how much time he and I have sunk into WiiWare title Pokémon Rumble together. He’s not bothered that we’ve completed the game several times over, or that we have three separate save data slots with every Pokémon captured. While I’m happy to experience these games over again for his sake – his enthusiasm and delight when a rare or favourite ‘Mon is befriended once more is genuinely infectious – I’m not sure I’d feel the same if I was playing any other game on my own.
I’m not sure when or even if I’ll solve this problem, but I suppose it’s not a bad one to have. After all, it’s surely better to have too much you want to play than not enough. It proves my enthusiasm for gaming remains undimmed. When I reach the point where I’m perfectly happy to miss out on games I previously would have given my right arm to play, then it’s time for me to look for another hobby. My present dilemma shows I’m not even close.