WARNING: Incredibly geeky self-examination ahead.
Not “didn’t get enough sleep” tired or “worked hard” tired, just “fatigued” tired. I caught some sort of bug over the weekend, maybe at the sports bar, and it’s been nagging at me since Monday. I took the day off from work and have been doing as little productive work as possible all day. Hey, something I’m good at! I’ve played a little Portal, a little Nehrim, a little LOTRO, and am trying to figure out what to do next.
The thing is, I might be too tired even to waste time. Boy, that’s gotta be a new low.
A personal trend I’ve been noticing for a few years now is my relative inability to game, I mean really game, for long stretches of time. Back in college, and for a while thereafter, I could easily chew up a whole weekend playing 10 hours a day or get home from work and go at it for 5-6 hours before hitting the sack. Now? Unless I’m in an “organized activity,” like a raid, I just can’t keep myself interested in much for more than a couple hours. Maybe that’s a good thing — I’ve heard that there’s this thing called “outside” that’s kinda pretty (though, recently, way too hot) — but I still feel a little out of sorts. Is this what growing old feels like?
Maybe it’s nothing more than that — that I’m getting older and don’t have the endurance for certain things any more. (We’re still talking about gaming, right?) I’ve also become almost exclusively a PC gamer, and I think that the chair I sit at at the computer is less comfortable than my couch, which is where I tended to play console games from. Those are physical reasons for my “gaming fatigue,” but I think there are a few mental ones, as well.
Back in 1997, I did that “play every day after work for 5-6 hours/day,” and probably double on weekends, with Final Fantasy VII. I finished it in about three weeks. And then… well, that was it. I did replay it a few times, but it wasn’t the same. Since then, I’ve tried to “slow down” my game-playing to drag out the experience for longer, especially in the days when money was tight and I wanted to drag out the experience of $50 game for as long as I could, either by taking more breaks or by playing the game more slowly — reading flavor text, exploring, etc.
I’m starting to think that I should maybe try and speed things up a bit. I have enough money now that buying new games isn’t a big deal, and I find myself buying discounted older games on Steam from time to time. Of course, with my job, MMOs usually come free. Even with those, I’m the World’s Slowest Leveler, more by choice than by inability. I realize that as soon as I get to the level cap, it’ll be just a long, tedious grind for gear that I’ll be stuck doing for the next two years until the next level raise. (Please Guild Wars 2, you’ve got to help me!) People who rush to get to endgame they’ll wind up strongly disliking after a few months amuse me.
I’m thinking of adopting a new strategy, of slow-playing “limited” games, like your typical single-player RPG or shooter, and fast-playing “unlimited” games, like MMORPGs or strategy games like Civilization and Total War. Since my original issue with FFVII was that I ran out of content too quickly, this would seem to be a quality plan to ensure that I don’t face that same issue while also advancing at a better pace in games where I’m not likely to run out of things to do.
There is, of course, one other explanation for why I’m not playing games at the same, breakneck, pace I used to: There’s nothing I really want to play like that right now. I might have petered out on Civilization V after just a month or so (and about 75 hours of playtime, Steam tells me), I played Rift pretty heavily for a couple months, and I’ve logged about 300 hours of Empire: Total War since getting it just over a year ago, but I quickly grew past the “five hours a day” phase of both of those games. The last game I really couldn’t “put down” was probably LOTRO, but I don’t see that passion being resurrected anytime soon. The Elder Scrolls series always grabs a hold of me tightly, so maybe Skyrim will whet my whistle for as long as is needed, but it’ll be a “limited” (though expansive) game. I’m really hopeful that Guild Wars 2 will be the game that really grabs a hold of me, like LOTRO did in its early days.
Or maybe I should just buy a new chair, because I ain’t getting any younger.