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5 Hard Truths of Being a Lifelong Gamer

5 Hard Truths of Being a Lifelong Gamer

 

I, like many of you, have been a gamer for as long as I have memories. I was born in the 80’s and remember my little toddler hands taking on the immense challenge of World 1-1 in Super Mario Brothers. From there, I made the rounds through Genesis, SNES, Sega Saturn, N64, Playstation, Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, Xbox 360, Wii, Playstation 3, and Playstation 4. Oh, and add a hefty layer of PC gaming throughout all of that as well. In short, video games have been a major part of my whole life.

In my career as a recreational gamer, I’ve had plenty of highs and lows. And I’m not just talking about the releases of great and awful games. The first thing no one tells you about playing a lot of video games is that it becomes a part of your identity. Both yourself and those around you have to take that into consideration over the years. This continues through your life, regardless of how old you get. And the lessons learned on the way aren’t always pleasant to hear. I’m talking about things like:

 

1. Most Others Will Never Take You Seriously

 

Laughing - Hard Truths

“Wait, did he just say, ‘Sharajard?'”

There is this kickass tabletop store where I live. It has a huge space to accommodate any game you can think of with plenty of room left over to try the games out on their tables. One holiday season, I was browsing the aisles when I caught the tail end of a transaction between the clerk and an elderly customer. All I heard clearly was the customer ask, “So I guess you used to be into all of this stuff, huh?” A blank stare later, the clerk’s only response was, “Well, I still am.”

This story gave me a simultaneous flashback to countless conversations I’ve had about my enthusiasm for video games. That’s something I thought would go away with time. When you’re a kid, it’s easy for others to dismiss your passions as kid stuff. “Oh, he just loves whales!” they say, “he’ll grow out of it when it’s over.” But if that same kid never lost his whale passion, he’d be praised by those same people as an established marine biologist today.

I wrongly believed video games would work the same way. Okay, maybe not exactly the same. But maybe more like reading. Some kids read a lot as kids because it’s an escape. If they keep reading into adulthood, they’re considered well read. It’s not the same for video games. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to answer the concern of, “I have no idea how you can spend so much money on video games.” Simply, “I spend my money on what I like,” isn’t good enough.

And it only gets worse when that’s your career. I write for several different establishments, but my video game journalism is by far the most valuable of my gigs. That doesn’t matter, though. When I bring up how much more profitable writing on video games is, I’m quickly met with a suggestion to push into other areas harder. It’s insane that even when video games is making money, it is still written off as a frivolous and strange avenue. And, like war, that never changes. Speaking of change:

 

2. The Industry Is Constantly Changing

 

Board Room - Hard Truths

“But you know what’s really profitable? Pachinko!”

I know what you’re thinking. “Of course it is, David!” And yes, of course it is. However, this is actually one of the hard truths that is more harsh than we like to realize. These changes mean that the industry you’ve known and loved is no more. Its focus has changed. It had to change, or else it wouldn’t have survived as long as it did. A business that remains stagnant is dead in the water.

The most depressing thing about this point is that these changes are not in line with the interests of the gamers. It’s in line with the interest of our wallets. The best example I can give you is on your desktop right now. You have Steam downloaded, right? Valve is responsible for making some of the best video games ever created. The influence of its Half-Life series will continue on for decades. But check their release schedule. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Did you check it? Valve hasn’t made a major release since, what, Dota 2?

That’s because, like I’ve said before, Valve doesn’t make video games anymore. Valve is a social media and video game distribution empire. This move doesn’t make sense if they wanted to keep gamers happy. There are many sizable campaigns and petitions to get Valve to make the next Half-Life. It isn’t about that. Steam makes Valve so much money, it doesn’t makes sense for them to spend all the resources to make it. Like I said, they followed our wallets instead of our hearts.

And it’s not just that. Turn-based RPG games are a thing of yesteryear. They used to be all over the place. I personally have a staggering collection of turn-based RPGs on the PS1. Exceedingly popular games like World of Warcraft and Kingdom Hearts changed that. Hell, even Squaresoft, the king of turn-based RPGs, abandoned the genre almost entirely. The lesson here is to try and not grow attached to a genre, because it’s just one investment meeting away from being a thing of the past.

David is a certified triple threat of charm, wit, and enchanting eyebrows. Since none of those things make a skilled gamer, he's not always that good. That doesn't stop his drive to reach for the digital stars, though. You can often find David grinding, customizing, shooting, stabbing, grinding, playing god, platforming, upgrading, hyping, grinding, and grinding. He digs deep in the retro trenches but also balances on the cutting edge. David is a man who plays his games with depleted mana stores and half a heart left. David's most favorite of all video games is the under-appreciated gem, SaGa Frontier for ps1. More favorites: Portal, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2, Silent Hill 2, Dark Souls 2, and just way too many more.
  • Aaron

    All so true, awesome article.

  • Limit Break

    True.
    For me the worst nightmare is what keeps on happening with survival horror games… I have NOTHING against first-person walking simulators, but this is just absolutely fucking ridiculous… Resident Evil ? RESIDENT fucking EVIL is now in First-Person because that’s what sells ? Fucking disgrace, man…
    Devil May Cry made into a Twilight-like story.
    Final Fantasy going real-time action.
    And Metal Gear not only ending with the worst game in the series, but then continued by FucKonami in the form of… That… Thing..
    And don’t even start me with Silent Hill… First they give me 4 awesome Lynchian surreal rollercosters, then they liquidate the original team responsible, then they give the license to a bunch of monkeys who thought that Silent Hill is all about nurses’n’Pyramid Heads, SH: HD collection and now Pachinko.
    Rape, death and sorrow upon the executive degenerates who though that this was something right thing to do.

    • J.j. Barrington

      You need a chill pill.

      • Limit Break

        Nah, I just need alternatives, that’s all. I just need some new gaming series’s to emerge that would captivate me in almost the same way my darlings did before.
        Also, your witty remark was noted.

  • J.j. Barrington

    A few things were right. Some of them weren’t really truths at all, let alone hard ones.

    Never had trouble being taken seriously. But I guess that comes from not holing myself up in games. Even while they helped me fight off my depression, even while I steeped myself in “geek” culture, I still found ways to associate myself with people who weren’t into games.

    I guess memory works differently for me than most gamers or something, cuz nostalgia has never been a “thing” in my eyes. The games I loved ten, twenty years ago I love just the same now. I might not be wowed by the graphics anymore- in those cases where I was, back in the day- but the gameplay and story elements I was enamored with as a child are still as wonderful to me today.

    Your games aren’t ruined because the franchise continues to grow and change. Not gonna say I liked the new direction, but DmC doesn’t somehow make the original games worse. You- or me, or anybody- just doesn’t like the new game. Front Mission Evolved didn’t ruin that franchise for me; hell, I didn’t even hate it. It was just a direction I wasn’t particularly fond of for the franchise.

    On that note, of course things are gonna change. Nothing stays the same over the course of decades, even years. This isn’t really a hard truth so much as it is common sense.

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