Mine is 1920×1080. Wahey!
Sometime over the Christmas break I’ll find myself looking to the year ahead. I’m not one for making resolutions, exactly – this will not be the year I become a better person, or the year I start working out, or the year I fix the lights in the bathroom.
But maybe it will be the year that I play the Mass Effect series?
I’ve been doing this job for nine years now and, for all the opportunity it offers to play videogames, it’s easy to find yourself stuck in a rut. There’s the big games you need to play for work, the big games you think you need to play just to have an opinion on them, the comfort games you play to relax. It leaves little time for the kind of thing you never tried before.
I thought I had a handle on the breadth of games – an idea, at least, of just how many there are – until one New Year’s I decided I’d spend the next year trying to expand my horizons.
For me, the first step was to start playing a couple of genres of PC games I’d always bounced off – simulations and grand strategy games. I got into LockOn and then X-Plane, Crusader Kings and then Europa Universalis.
The second step was to explore consoles that I’d missed. I bought a PlayStation 2, a selection of second hand games, and then started importing things.
Then I went hunting for new indie things, stumbled across Minecraft and Spelunky early in their development, and finally overcame the initial learning hump of Dwarf Fortress.
What I discovered at each turn was that, with a little persistence, I could enjoy almost any kind of game. Each was a gateway into a new genre with a decades-long history I’d never touched, and a source of new fun stretching off into the future.
I was only scratching the surface obviously, but each new year has brought a new urge to tumble down some new rabbit hole. Whenever my ideas seemed to run out, I’d turn to Hardcore Gaming 101, to read about far more games than I could ever play. I started trying to play Japanese visual novels, but never found one I liked. I got other foreign games, struggled with fan translations, stumbled about on forums. If this were a film, I’d cut to a scene of me running towards the camera against a black background, never moving, while I bug-out at warped neon signs and emulators and clunky PC Engine strategy games floating past.
If you’re serious about having fun with games – an absurd notion, I know – then “play everything” is a pretty good bit of advice. You’ll discover you enjoy far more than you realised. You’ll unlock new avenues of fun for yourself. You’ll learn a lot more about the things you already enjoyed, as you see parts of them reflected in the new games you’re playing.
Counter to all of this, for me, right now my rut is about not making enough time to play big games. Mass Effect might be in my future yet, but also Dragon Age: Inquisition and Divinity: Original Sin, Alien: Isolation and Wolfenstein: The New Order. I missed a lot this past year alone. If I had to condense my goals for 2015 down to a resolution, I’d say my aim is to play fewer games for longer.
So here’s my question for you: what’s your New Year’s gaming resolution? If you want to change your gaming habits, how do you intend to do it? What games are you finally going to play? What game are you finally going to give up? Is this the year you learn to love collectable card games? Is 2015 finally time for you to overcome your fear of esports?