9 Nov 2011

Gamer's block or: How I braved the Abyss of Uninstalled Games and saved my soul

I'm definitely riding a To the Moon come down. Recently I've been struggling to find anything to play. I've no review codes to game at, no desire to explore something epic. Gemini Rue is waiting for me, Bastion has bored me. I'm an addict with so many drugs to choose from that I can only sit back with my arms folded and wish I was high.

When a game like To the Moon comes along it's a funny thing to figure out. Afterwards, when the credits roll, you're left with thoughts that will continue to pester you for days. And I don't want any old run-of-the-mill run-and-gun hit-and-run action to destroy that feeling. I want love and sorrow and laughter and tragedy to continue onwards. Where do I get that? How do I safeguard its destruction? It's almost as if I'm scared to embark on a new adventure in case it ruins something I've already experienced, clouds my memory.

I have so many unplayed games to pick and choose from it's pathetic. The various sales and bundles over the last couple of weeks have levelled my bank balance as well as my ability to become enthused by video gaming. Where do I start? How do I end this?

Well... by trial and error. By staring at the screen, hovering my mouse pointer over shortcuts on my desktop and trying to imagine what it might feel like to hit that main menu and drop right into that game. Most of the time I'll turn my nose up, or I'll be repulsed by the very thought of giving up all my good staring time to something that certainly is not To the Moon.

Argh... get over it. Get over it. Get over... hey. What's this? Oh. Something on Steam I bought but dropped right into the Abyss of Uninstalled Games. Should I click? Aye, go on then...


Let me tell you about Painkiller.

Painkiller isn't incredible. It's a game I've tried to love over again and over again, but found to be of little substance. It’s creaky and uninspiring. Even on initial release I disliked how it presented the devolution of video gaming, taking it back to the primal stage as if the developers, People Can Fly, had crawled right back into the ocean because they found the trees to be dizzying.

So I loaded it up out of desperation, hoping that something I knew I couldn’t love could lift me from this hole. A shot of stupid to cure my ills, waxing my boredom and obliterating any other emotion I might care to feel. And somehow I'm thirteen again, stalking through the most stripped down form of our favourite entertainment: Point and shoot, point and shoot, pick up ammo, lay down hell. It's not great, but it could be frenzied enough to flush this feeling of malaise from my mind. It’s overkill. I’m using acid for mouthwash. I’m amputating limbs to kill itches I never had. I don’t know what’s going.

But do you know what? It’s working. It’s my medicine. I’m self-prescribing and kicking ass. Shoot this demon, shoot that witch. I don’t care what I’m shooting, I’m just fighting back until I’m ready to climb up to whatever pinnacle of entertainment it was that knocked me down here in the first place.

My love for this hobby rolls in cycles and it’s a funny thing, but I’m a total sucker for this kind of punishment.

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