‘Gamer’ – Hanging the term loosely in our busy lives

To describe ones self as a ‘gamer’ is perfectly fine in my books and I assume the phrase will be used in many different manners as a lot of labels are these days. There are many different types of ‘gamers’ or shall we say, people who play video games. I have certainly in the past called myself such a thing but, upon having a busy work schedule, the amount of gameplay I manage to rake in has varied if not decreased.

With that decrease so has the type of games I play. I used to play everything basically at one point or another and have gone through different phases where I would play indie games, retro games, Nintendo games and now I find myself to be playing more multi-player or online-orientated titles. The reason for this it would seem is that I appear to be afraid of story-based games as they do not take the same approach as an online shooter.

Take a game like Overwatch for example which has become a favourite of mine over the last year. The Blizzard shooter has many different types of shooter mini-games such as capturing the flag, revolving character play, point claiming and objective delivering. Most of these games can range between 2-10 minutes depending on the game and the ability of the team to hold off against the other. These games can be over quickly and with that you are also rewarded for your progress and play with ‘loot boxes’ which are treasure chest unlockable items such as new character skins. Now you don’t get them after every game, but you will probably play at least a level’s worth of gameplay in a sitting to claim something from it.

over
Overwatch has become one of the most popular online shooters with a core following of fans

Like other shooters such as Splatoon, it has monthly events which draw in more play-time because there’s that unlockable factor and once that campaign ends, those skins and other unlockables are unobtainable. So in one theory I may not feel as much of a gamer now because I concentrate on one game more than others in my vast (ever-growing) collection. Is it bad to only play one game? In no way is it my favourite but it certainly strikes out more to me than other titles in its genre.

Another way I look at this is almost ‘drug like’ as I want my quick fix of achievement. I did used to play for achievements and try and get as many as I could. There’s many different senses of accomplishment in games and completing a game seems to be one I struggle with these days. The main games you will find for completing at least for the most part are ‘story based games’. You know like something that might lead to end credits after a campaign in Halo or Horizon Zero Dawn and with these and the idea of ending a game quickly is another problem I face.

horizon
Horizon Zero Dawn… I will finish you one day

It might even sound like a chore. I can assure it’s nothing like that but, sometimes playing certain story-based games I feel I could be looking for the nearest save point because I feel I need to take a break from the experience or don’t feel like I can invest too much time into the game. It could even be that I feel the end of the game is so far in the distance I cannot feel like I’ll reach it.

Having so many games provides an issue of what do I want to play or feel like playing. Leaving myself in a difficult position of what to play might just take me to something familiar that I can adjust to quickly like a bit of Battlefront on my PS4 with a game of Blast (first to 100 kills in a team game). Referring back to playing for purpose and achievement, if I am a very busy person which I tend to be balancing work, music, home and other media forms I need to find time to enjoy a story-based game to its fullest and with a game like Gears of War, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Bloodborne or Fallout 4 I want to devote a whole days playing to really get something out of it.

Growing up I played a lot of 3D platformers such as Croc: Legend of the Gobbos and games like this and those inspired by Super Mario 64 let you play at your own pace at times and explore areas. There weren’t time limits like in my other genre love that is side-scrollers (although I played a lot of Sonic The Hedgehog with no time or end wall restrictions). I feel that relaxed environment aided me into playing video games gently…not having a memory card for my PS1 for a long time has probably ruined my engagement for stories as well.

mario kart
The average Mario Kart race will last around 4 minutes so a cup race is over quickly

One game I am playing a lot of at the moment is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch and the future games Nintendo have planned fit the same feeling I get with this title. So far on the Switch we have received a small number of big titles which have been the aforementioned Zelda title Breath of the Wild along with Super Bomberman R and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the latter two have major multi-player aspects to them on top of their single player options. Coming this month is boxing title Arms along with July’s Splatoon 2 which are all heavy multi-player games. Since its release I have been a big fan of the Switch and its capabilities and with a lot of my time on it being played with friends and colleagues the thrills of the games are quick and enjoyable.

I guess the benefit of the Switch is that I can incorporate it into work time on lunch breaks so I get the best of both worlds, giving me much needed gaming time. At the same time, I have yet to complete the main story of Breath of the Wild which I hope to achieve by the end of year and I can play this game wherever I go, but at the same time it still feels like a sit down kind of game where I want to be in my own comfort zone. A gamer for me feels like someone who is playing lots of games all of the time and playing them to completion and this was once me but is such a title that important? Maybe we should start a campaign for me to play more games to completion new and old…because man I love my retro games.

Retro games give me another enhancement of how much I have to play as for not being old enough for when the majority were produced. The only benefit to some of them is that they are a lot shorter than other games and probably can be beaten in one sitting. A lot have loopholes (not forgetting modern games like Sonic Boom) which leads to quicker completion. It all may just be a matter of well developed time management and ignore procrastination.

I ask you the audience as I conclude this post, is it important to rush games to the finish or can we go back and play them whenever? Should we concentrate on one game at a time or fill ourselves with a nice mixture?

Thank you for reading
Travis Ward – Wardculture

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