Games Over and I’m Not Playing Around Anymore

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been playing Fez and Mass Effect 3. As I noted last night, I finished Mass Effect 3 with a bit of a whimper. And Rilla and I made it to something on the order to 196.5% in Fez, which was all the collectibles and one heart piece, leaving the two most insane riddles in the game untouched. We feel pretty good about having done that all on our lonesome, and having read the solutions to the two remaining puzzles I’m glad we didn’t try any harder on them than we did. Yikes. The other thing I’m glad about is that I’m not playing any games now.

And that’s a bit sad, perhaps, but a reality. While ME3 and Fez were in play they sucked up a lot of time, both in terms of moment-to-moment play hours and in terms of thinking about Fez‘s puzzles offline. Both experiences were fairly good, overall, and I don’t think I regret playing either game, but I kind of do wish I could have a few of those hours back. My game-making productivity took a pretty bad dive, for instance, and it’s taking me ages to put together the next game even though it’s insanely simple.

If I ask myself the cheesy but effective question about the ol’ death-bed, “what would you rather have done more of in your life, playing video games or making them?”, it’s a pretty easy response. It even gets dicey when I compare games to books, which feels like a form of betrayal to me, but true nonetheless. In fact, in many ways the best thing that comes from playing games isn’t the experience of play (which I’m prepared to admit is only ever fleetingly joyful or interesting and mostly a grind), but rather the experience of thinking about, blogging about, and discussing them after the fact. That is, any given existing game offers a chance to reflect on the medium itself, and that feels valuable.

But how many games do you need to play to stay fresh and up-to-date? Because I’d kind of like to play as few as possible, if that’s alright with you. At least for now.