I would not call myself a gamer except maybe a former gamer. Once a week, I consider playing or making a game, but maybe once a month, I’ll play something for 10 minutes. Once in a grand occasion, I’ll play for a few hours, but this almost never happens unless I’m playing multiplayer with someone else (and it’s playing more for the friendship instead of the game). Way back when, I used to play games for hours. My favorite genre turned out to be real time strategy (RTS), and my favorite game, Empire Earth 1 (especially the expansion pack, Art of Conquest). I had never played the game prior to purchasing it, but I knew that once I bought it, I would never need to buy another game again. I was correct – the game had everything I wanted, and I played it for hours and hours and hours and hours on end because of that.
I learned about the sequel to Empire Earth 1 (EE1). The sequel turned out to be a flop, and everyone who has played both games knows it. The sequel did not live up to expectations and turned out to be worse than its predecessor in some respects. There were nice features like the citizen manager, and interesting ideas like the allied strategy map and the crowns system, but those didn’t make up for the annoyances of the game, such as the limitations on building structures. There was also the pointlessness of roads, but that was another story. EE2 failed became a joke in my book. I tried the demo for EE3 and hated that game too (and it wasn’t because of the demo limitations).
Skip a few years…
Recently I played Star Craft I for the first time. It was an interesting game, and, after trying all three civs, I found the Terran to be easiest for me to play. The game is surprizingly well balanced for having three unique civs. However, it’s an old game, so it doesn’t quite have the features I would like in a game. The unit pathfinding is alittle slow, but it’s far superior to that of Age of Empires (ANY version). I liked how the different types of buildings aligned to an good extent with those of the other civs (e.g. pylons to supply depots) though each had its own special attributes and had to be applied in differently than each other. This helps alleviate some of the annoyance of learning each civ.
Okay, let’s pause a moment. What made me stop playing EE1 if I like the game so much? First, the game is pointless – it’s simply orchestrating destruction. I don’t want to have my mind dwelling on thoughts of violence and killing. There are so many other things that are more meaningful that I could be devoting myself to. Ultimately, God is what killed my addiction to the game, and I’m a much happier person now than I ever was playing EE1. Second, time is lost. I played games every day of the week in the evenings after homework. Without coercion, I decided I would not play video games on Sunday. I held true to that for years, until the past couple or so when games from Saturday night carry over into Sunday morning. The time I spent must have amounted to over 9000 hours, or so it felt, considering it seemed like I was doing this for years (one year at the least). I used to consider it a waste of time, but I was reminded by a dear friend of mine that I learned an incredible amount about myself and what drives me / gets me excited or active. I don’t have to play a game anymore to rediscover those attributes of myself. (For those of you who like RTS games, you may find that a job involving systems or systems management could be very fun.)
Is there anything I still might play?
Currently, I cannot figure out why I like racing games. Yeah, cool cars are involved, but that’s not the only reason. Why do we like going fast? I played almost the whole way through GTLegends (an awesome, very realistic racing game, by the way, but you really, really should have a joystick, I discovered), even finishing the 60 lap race, and I couldn’t figure it out. Playing the game wasn’t a waste of time, though; I learned how to drive a car, and the first time I drove a (real) manual, I did it flawlessly (at least until I was told to stop on a steep hill and then drive forward again). The game did give me much more confidence in driving than I had prior to playing. Thus, if you are learning how to drive or pilot a vehicle, start with simulators. This is true for pilots I’ve met who grew up playing Microsoft Flight Simulator. The game isn’t a substitute for the real thing, but it can build confidence and make you more aware of what driving or piloting actually entails.
Do I still play other genres?
I don’t like FPS for it’s straight up killing people. Sports games with customizable characters or predictable AI were fun, as was beating teams by over 100 points, but digital sports are about as pointless as real ones, except that at least in real sports you get exercise. RPGs are fun, but the only one I ever got around to playing much was Donkey Kong 64 and Super Mario 64. This is all old news, considering I haven’t played these types of games in years.
More recently, I’ve been interested in danmaku (“bullet hell” i.e. showers of bullets in a vertical-scroller setting). I learned about the style first by Touhou, but I’ve since seen related games like Ikaruga and rRootage. If you follow this blog, you will probably seen many posts on the topics of danmaku and Touhou in general, since the latter has abit of content I wish to discuss, including its music and its own little world.
In conclusion, though I don’t often play games, I’ve watched a great number of them (usually being played by friends of mine who add commentary about what they like and dislike about each game), often times watching for hours. While I haven’t been a moderate gamer in years, at least I’m not as totally oblivious as some people. How’s that phrase go again? You can’t spell ignorant without IGN?