I am thankful that SimCity did not have a successful launch. And that makes me a bad person.
We should always hope that games will be embraced and beloved by gamers. Every successful game is another step forward for the medium. And yet, I often find myself hoping for big titles to generate criticism from the gaming press or from the internet community at large. This is a very selfish and cruel thing to hope for, and it’s certainly not my dominant opinion of games, but still… Sometimes, I want games to fail.
I don’t want games to fail because I’ve got a vendetta against the industry or for fear that I might be wasting money. I want some games to fail because I’m an adult now, with less and less time to actually play. In other words, I am utterly jealous of people who have time to enjoy games. These people have time to play. I do not. And that’s a real bummer.
From the time I was a small child to the time I graduated college, video games have been a significant source of my attention. Finished my homework? How about a few hours of Half Life? Time between classes? I could blow through a couple of TF2 matches. Girlfriend wants to hang out? Before I go, I can squeeze in a quick game of Sins of a Solar Empire, right? (Turns out I was wrong about this particular situation. My girlfriend (now ex-) didn’t appreciate the severity of the Vasari threat… or the fact that “quick games” can go well over three hours. Oops.)
But things are different now. My life is fulfilling and I certainly enjoy the time I spend at work, with friends or at the gym. I even have some time to spend gaming. My last 30 minutes of consciousness at night are often spent playing FIFA 13 and trying to not throw my controller at my TV.
The trouble with gaming now as a busy adult is that I can no longer devote major sessions of time to gaming. To do so would be irresponsible. When I see news of a major upcoming release, I cannot help but experience an inner conflict. My inner child froths at the mouth while my inner adult is busily cross-checking projected game time against my work schedule.
As a result of this conflict, I feel a bizarre sense of joy when a game like SimCity is released to so many technical issues and such critical condemnation. By not even having enough time to commit to a good game, I feel relief that that I didn’t waste what little time I do have on an inconsistent and—by some accounts—broken entertainment experience.
But this joy is not healthy.
I understand that the demands of adulthood are not a burden; rather, they are an opportunity for a more careful appreciation of games. I no longer need to play a bad video game for hours on end for want of other options. I can discriminate against poor games in favor of the quality releases that actually deserve my time.
And I think that this is an important early lesson in adulthood for me. Not every game* is worth a 40 hour commitment. I don’t need to chase every game* or hope that every new release* fails. I should simply enjoy games when I can, as they suit me.
Just because my inner adult is in charge now, does not mean I can’t let my inner child enjoy himself from time-to-time.
Life’s too short to worry about what you can’t have.*
*these are probably metaphors.