Pile of Shame

Yesterday I finished and sent off my latest piece for Life As A Human, an examination of the game Heavy Rain and why it appeals to me. (It hasn't gone up yet as of the time of this writing.) This is now the second article I've written for them about video games, and so far I'm the only one there to write on that topic. It makes some sense, probably, since I think I'm the only guy of my generation (or younger) writing for that site, but it's still a little odd for me because I haven't been much of a gamer for quite a while now.

The last game I played while it was still current and a big deal was probably Mass Effect, back in '07. Which I loved, don't get me wrong, but even at that point I was pretty far behind most of the rest of the gamer world. Consider this (non-exhaustive) list of hugely popular or influential games over the last five or ten years that I did't play (it's lengthy, so feel free to skim or skip): both Deus Ex games, Grand Theft Auto 3 & 4, all of the Metal Gear Solids, all of the Elder Scrolls games after Daggerfall, both Gears of War games, all of the God of War games, all of the Halos after the first, Shadow of the Colossus, both Bioshocks, Braid, Fallout 3, Flower, Heavy Rain, Uncharted 2, all of the Final Fantasies after 7, Super Mario Galaxy, Katamari Damacy, Little Big Planet, all of the Battlefield games, both Modern Warfares, Dragon Age, all of the Splinter Cells, Mirror's Edge, Left 4 Dead, Spore, Civ 4, Geometry Wars, Dead Space, both Assassin's Creed games, and basically all of the post-SNES Zeldas.

I'm obviously aware of the gaming industry, at least to the point where I know what I'm missing, and yet I spend less and less time actually playing games. The "pile of shame" I listed up there--slightly misleading since I don't actually own them--gets a little bigger every year, and it's to the point where I don't think I'd ever actually be able to catch up.

Moreover, I'm finding that I care less and less about the fact that I'm missing out. As with most of the things that have fallen by the wayside in the past couple of years--games, TV, movies, etc.--the pull has slackened a lot. In some cases, like with TV, it actually feels like kind of a chore to keep up, and I actively look forward to the ends of series that I've been following for a while.

The strange thing is that even though the allure of games seems to be falling off for me, my interest them isn't. I spend rather a lot of time each week reading gaming sites, listening to gaming podcasts, and thinking about games and the game industry. It seems that I've become more interested in games as a phenomenon than as art or entertainment that I actually intend to experience. Which seems a little perverse, if you ask me.

My relationship with art and media is always changing as I age, which is, I suppose, inevitable. But it leaves me curious to know where it will go from here. Will I ever get back into gaming? Is it something that I'll eventually abandon entirely? What is it that's holding my attention about gaming now? I don't know, but it's interesting to think about, anyway.

What do you think?



I don't know. I go through phases.

I'd like to play a shiny new game right now, but that would only last a couple of minutes, I'm sure.

I thought that I'd never role play again, then I got interested in D20 Modern, and the potential of forum RPG'ing as an art form. But I was quickly overwhelmed by meatspace, and was relieved that a true master of the art took the idea and ran with it.

We change. We change back. Go with it, whatever it is.