April 30, 2008

A Gamer's Duty

Over the past few weeks, I've primarily been playing Rock Band and SSBB, and I am ashamed. A while ago I drew up a list of all the games that I felt like I ought to play. These are the games that everyone agrees is underrated or overlooked: Psychonaughts, Beyond Good & Evil, and Ico for example. The immediate appeal of another Brawl has kept me from expanding my gaming horizons.

But today I finally got some discipline and loaded up Shadow of the Colossus. I rode out on my horse, took down a giant, and turned off the console. I had fun, but not enough fun to keep me playing. The puzzle design is great, but maybe this game isn't for me?

I had a similar experience with Psychonaughts. I appreciated it, but couldn't play it for long. It never drew me in. I felt like I was a spectator of the game, watching the wonderful levels play out while trying to clear out the boring platforming in my way.

I worry about this; how can I not love the games that everyone agrees are works of genius? I suspect and hope that it's a matter of genre. I've never been a huge fan of platformers or third person action-adventure games. I'm a game design tourist, showing up to appreciate and understand the elements behind the game, even though I don't stay to play 'til the end.

As long as I'm learning, it's worth it, of course, and playing these games is not a significant sacrifice. I just bought Ico and Katamari Damacy. Down the hatch!


Max said...

Stepping outside of your chosen genre can be enlightening, but I wouldn't worry if games you don't normally enjoy are still unenjoyable even when they're masterpieces. It's like how there are classical books and movies that are part of lcreative canon but no one actually reads except in High School. If it's just not your thing, it's not your fault.

I'm the same way. I've started so many games without finishing them that I might get my gaming license revoked if anyone ever saw a list. Game systems fascinate me more than the games themselves. (Except Devil May Cry. I can't get enough of that nonsense.)

For certain games, I think you just have to be in the right mood. Shadow of the Colossus is a little difficult with some very subtle emotional content; it's actually a lot better if you have someone to watch you play. Nothing adds more tension to an in-game dilemma than a close friend screaming "NO NO NO GRAB THE FUR JESUS NO YOU'RE ON ITS ASS YOU HAVE TO JUMP ONTO ITS ELBOW AND STAB THE HOLY GOD NO NO NO GRAB ON GRAB ON DUCK DOWN IT'S ANGRY NOW NO!! NO"

E McNeill said...


Actually, since writing the post, I played Shadow of the Colossus with my roommate and his drunk friends giving me advice, and it was the most fun I've had in a while. I doubled my progress in the game in that one night, and I suspect that I sorta learned how to enjoy the game.