Rookie of the Year: I Am a Deadbeat Gamer

The following is the latest in a series of journal entries chronicling the author’s descent into next-gen gaming degeneracy and assorted geekery – from getting his first television in years to trying to figure out why the @$@$&@@ you need two goddamn directional pads just to walk down an effing hallway.

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I am a deadbeat gamer.

Since I started the Rookie of the Year column a year and a half ago, I have beaten such games as Portal, Portal 2, Skyrim, Fable 2, Fable 3 and BioShock.

But I am leaving far more of my quests incomplete.

Bastion, Skyward Sword, Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto IV, BioShock 2, Red Dead Redemption…these titles and others languish on my shelf, rich digital worlds trapped in perpetual pause.

Alien hordes are going unchecked, the Wild West remains untamed and the streets of Liberty City are rife with polite, safe drivers.

Sure, I rocked War Games for iOS — completing every stage at Master level.

And I’m crushing (most of) my opponents in Words With Friends.

But alien hordes are going unchecked, dystopian art deco universes are slipping further into decay, the Wild West remains untamed and the streets of Liberty City are rife with polite, safe drivers, not a single carjacker in sight.

When I was a kid, I spent every waking minute during the day playing baseball, but nighttime was for Nintendo, and I burned through games, beating them several times over just for the hell of it, exhausting every last Easter egg or cheat code I could find in my Nintendo Power.

I longed for a day when games would last forever, when even after Link saved Zelda, there’d be more hidden levels to play, or another island to sail to beyond the borders of that little grey plastic cartridge, deep into my rich and fertile young imagination.

Now those games exist.

And I wish they’d fucking end already.

I am a deadbeat gamer.

The real problem is that many of them take so long to begin I lose interest before I get anywhere worth going. Skyward Sword felt like hours of tutorial about how to play the game, filled with cutscenes during which I was asked to build the valuable watching skills that apparently would come in handy later on.

I remember playing GTA IV for what seemed like weeks before my first “Aha!” moment, by which time I was so tired of the game I didn’t even feel like playing anymore.

Even Skyrim, I have recently discovered, has a downloadable expansion pack. When I was 10, that would have been the ultimate dream come true – a never-ending adventure!

Now that just makes me feel old and tired.

I am a deadbeat gamer.

I can’t be alone, can I? I’m sure there are others like me out there, wondering what else our afflictions say about us. I believe I’ve heard Unwinnable’s own Charles Moran making similar comments. Are we doomed to be deadbeats in other aspects of our lives, Chuck? Deadbeat husbands or wives? Deadbeat dads or moms? Deadbeat lovers and best friends?

Or will our excess free gaming time be put to better use?

Perhaps never getting further than the Swarm demo will lead Chuck and me to summer Olympics gold in men’s canoe doubles in 2016 or a Nobel Prize for eradicating pica.

OK, probably not.

But if you’re anything of a quitter like I am, you’ve stopped reading this column several paragraphs ago anyway, so I can pretty much type whatever the fuck I want right now.

Which, at this point, is absolutely nothing.

Because I’m a deadbeat columnist.

And I’m done with this shit already.

———

Matt Marrone has now bitched and moaned in two of his past four columns. He promises to return in two weeks with more sunny sunshine and Skittles. Taste the fucking rainbow. You can follow him on Twitter @thebigm.

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Categories:
Commentary, Gaming, Matt Marrone, Rookie of the Year
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  • wogzi

    Errant Signal has a good take on this from a ludology (ie theory of game design) perspective where he points out that games are now more about cramming in hours of gameplay rather than producing a good game. His example of Bastion as a good game, which doesn't linger on introduced mechanics and uses them sparingly but effectively is used to contrast to Portal 2 which, for all intents and purposes, was Portal 1 plus a couple of gimmicks but about three times longer. The only satisfying thing about Skyrim in terms of gameplay is leveling up for skills and, ultimately, that's not enough to be entertaining. The story does drive it along but it comes off as being basically LOTR/GoT cliches or like a really generic DnD scenario. Neverwinter Nights 2's expansions had better plots than most of Skyrim and you can't even begin to compare it with Morrowind's darkness. Modern games are just huge, boring Dan Brown novels designed to generate revenue, not to be a good game.

  • wogzi

    Basically, be selective about your games. If you're playing every huge blockbuster game that comes out, of course you're wasting your time. You're wasting your time if you're watching things like Transformers and 2012 but movies like Adaptation and Brick have really interesting things to say about human nature that may help you to find meaning in your own life. If you're wasting time in games, it's because the games themselves aren't worthwhile in the least. And if all you're playing for is to have fun, then you're approaching games in the same way a child does to a toy. Which is all to say, if you want to play games without feeling like you're wasting your time, stop buying into the hype and start approaching them critically. You sound like you're old enough to have gotten to this point yourself but for whatever reason you're still sticking with franchises.

  • cronodas

    You're not alone. After entering my collection into The Backloggery (http://www.backloggery.com/) I discovered that I am a Minion of Bak'laag with over 100 unfinished games.

  • UnSubject

    I'm not a deadbeat gamer, but I am a cheating gamer. I don't have time to explore and make mistakes, so walkthroughs showing the most efficient path are my constant companion.

    Oh, and finish Bastion. Just for the last stage.