Thursday, August 22, 2013

Video Games: My Worst Enemy by Kyle Johannessen

The Chokosabe clan lands their samurai armies near one of my coastal villages. I hadn’t seen them coming. We were allies once, going so far as to marry my eldest daughter into their clan to gain exclusive training rights. But now, in an act of cowardice, they have risen up against me. The village is only guarded by a few archers and yari pikemen. They cannot possibly stem the tide of the onslaught of the nearly twenty-five hundred men about to storm the keep. And unlike the peasants manning the fort, this army is completely comprised of Samurai. They battle is over in minutes, and my coastal village burns. What the Chokosabe don’t know, however, is that they landed right between two of my own armies. Sandwiched between two of my most powerful forces, both led by seasoned and extremely loyal generals, the Chokosabe cowards have nowhere to run. Before they know it, they are attacked from two sides by a force nearly quadruple their own. Once again, the battle only takes minutes.
The armies of the Great Kyle-san look something like this. -Ed

I look up and its four-am. I should have gone to bed three hours ago to get the bare minimum of sleep. And I’ve been playing Total War: Shogun 2 for about six hours straight. I immediately hate myself and realize I told myself “one more turn” about two and a half hours ago.
I know what you’re thinking. This is some kind of confession from a video game addict. I cannot classify myself as a video game addict. I don’t NEED to play video games. I don’t have physical or mental urges to play them, nor do I think about them constantly. My social life has never suffered because I play too many video games, girlfriends have never complained. I just love video games. First person shooters, RPGs, Real time and Turn Based strategy games. I’m a sucker for a good Space Sim. Despite my feeling that I am fairly well adjusted gamer, I have been feeling that it is really time to give them up entirely.
It has always been my dream of being a screenwriter/film director. And its only until recently, where I have once again binged a grand campaign in Total War, that I feel like video games have been getting in the way of this dream. The problem isn’t with the Video Games themselves, however. It is just that as soon as I get stuck on a script or a story, my mind immediately runs to video games. It takes the stress off my brain creatively. I think to myself You need to take a break. Go play a video game. And it’s not until I have defeated Gannon for the umpteenth time or slayed some alien scourge that I realize that I just spent hours I could have been spending working on my story on someone else’s story. I am all for escapism, obviously. I want my readers/viewers to get lost in my world. But I also hope to inspire a little bit and I am only recently coming to the conclusion that no matter how well a game is written, or programmed, or textured, or how much fun I have playing them, I find them uninspiring.  
This game wasn't uninspired. He talks about it in the next paragraph. Pay attention. -Ed

Bioshock Infinite was one of the first games I ever played where I wish there were a way to skip the combat scenes so I could progress with the story. It was also the first game that, for the first time since probably Mass Effect or Half-Life 2, that I even felt a tinge of inspiration. It’s just not enough. I think Bioshock Infinite is one of the best written anything that I have ever experienced. I still spent more time in that universe than crafting my own.
Another instance is when my Xbox 360 suffered the famous red ring of death. It was going to take a month to get it fixed. In the time I spent away from Master Chief and Call of Duty, I completed a page one re-write of a feature length script I had been working on since college. One hundred and ten pages in a month. And, on top of that, it was good (at least in my humble opinion). The second I got the 360 back, that motivation was gone. I mean, those Borgia weren’t going to assassinate themselves. I try to imagine if I could have kept that up somehow, where could I be? Maybe I wouldn’t be working a job I hate. Maybe I’d be making movies. Maybe I’d be making the Halo movie I always wanted to make (I’d do that shit for food and lodging).
Now I understand that Video Games are not inherently the problem. I don’t blame EA for making games (except when they’re shitty). The problem is clearly with me and how I play video games. I binge, and I binge hard. I don’t do multiplayer anymore, I couldn’t handle the racism and homophobia, so that has never been my problem. But I will power play a campaign from beginning to end. The problem with this is my favorite games are always the ones that have 30+ hours of content. I just can’t trust myself not to power through all that content instead of worrying about my characters motivations and whether or not have a plot hole the size of Skyrim.

That's a big plothole. -Ed

So now I find myself at a pretty impressive moment of self realization. I may never reach my full potential if I keep investing so much time and energy into video games, and I simply do not trust myself to simply “cut back.” Maybe that does make me an addict. I did beat Metal Gear Solid 3 in one 13 hour sitting. I don’t think it is as severe as that. I just want to have the ability to focus on what I need to focus on. And maybe I just need to pick and choose which games I play and when I play them. It is just easier for me to think of life without video games rather than managing the time I spend on them. It makes me sad, really, that I feel like I have to deprive myself of something I really love for something else I love more. But losing days of my life to teaching those damn Chokosabe the cost of their betrayal, I feel, is very quickly coming to an end. Maybe after one more turn.

No comments:

Post a Comment