Well that’s it. The fleeting time we’ve had together has been a memorable, intertwined collusion steeped in the resonating fragility of youthful exuberance, frivolity and the brazen exploitation of vitality. You have bestowed so much distinguished virility to me that I can assure you has been reciprocated with the utmost pleasure and respect. But as our trajectories shift, so too must we. And as we part to pursue our own separate ventures know that there will always be a special place reserved in my heart for your eternally vigilant restrictions that has invariably shaped my life. You will be missed. Farewell my 20’s. May flights of angels send you hurtling towards the next unsuspecting teen who – I’m sure will abuse your power with the same earnest convictions and wasteful extravagance that had enabled me to be perpetually inebriated without fear of morning repercussions. Neglectful of the value of money (as well as saving some of it) and oblivious to the fact that life will never again be so ripe with opportunities. Yes as you can probably tell by the melancholic introduction I can no longer be considered a man in my 20’s, a label I’d been desperately clinging too like Mel Gibson grasp on reality. It’s fair to say that I hadn’t been anticipating this event with anything other than irrational fear, vacillating between vitriol and anxious restraint. Nobody enjoys getting older but it’s something you endure because you have no choice, even if at times it feels excruciatingly tedious.
“This place had the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themed pizza’s!”
I can tell you now with only 3 days experience of being 30 *shudders* that it’s a lot like being in your 20’s, just older. Sorry, I mean refined. It’s a perplexing age, neither old nor young. You’re young enough to know popular culture but a little too old to really understand it. When you reach such a milestone you find that expectations you had in your 20’s have completely changed. I began this blog when I was 24, commissioned more out of boredom than anything. But I completely expected to be an established, well renowned blogger by now, receiving commendations from my prestigious contemporaries. But that’s the kind of audacious fantasies you believe when you’re in your 20’s, treating the slow expanse of time as an almost limitless tool. However that optimism and insatiable zest for life diminishes as you become more observant to the ills this world affords. Cynicism becomes an increasingly fervent response to the protestations of day-to-day activities. You have news programmes and publications that report death with such labouring attention but present nothing of it with any distinctive concern. Whereas anything good or righteous is conveyed with deft economy, ordinarily reserved for some marginal segment at the end or page 85. When you’re presented with a world so absent of humanity it’s easy to see the bad, yet highlights what you should really appreciate at any age.
“Beer and gaming? Why didn’t I think of that?!”
My girlfriend had planned the “celebrations” for my 30th which involved a mini pub crawl around gaming bars across London. With a select group in tow we quenched our thirsts and chortled through them, with a brief triumphant interlude of playing Mario Kart 64 and other nostalgic inducing arcade games as well as TMNT themed pizza’s, until we exerted all of our squandered consciousness and collapsed exhausted on the train journey home. And it was fun, despite receiving a mug with the statement proclaiming that “30. It’s all down hill from here”. Just what I need; visual aids to remind me just how old I’ve become, despite TMNT socks that refute my supposed maturity. And it’s here, surrounded by friends that you realise that you’re not just a games enthusiast, but a 30-year-old games enthusiast with a girlfriend, daughter and a mortgage I’ll never fully pay off. You start to reminisce about the friends you had 10 years ago and realise that none were present and you haven’t spoken in nearly 8 years. That my advancing age is validated by the strands of greying hair that have betrayed my scalp. That my body is slowly degenerating and the brief glimpses of senility are becoming more pronounced. Feeling sorry for me yet? Yet it’s funny just how little I’ve aged mentally.
I don’t feel any different now than I did when I was 18. Not a bit. I’d still rather be isolated in a dimly lit room bathed in the iridescent glow of my HD TV, slightly inebriated, coated in the stray remains of some salted snack and cradling my PlayStation controller as I battle some imminent combatant. The only difference now is that I’m old enough to know better. And I do, I just choice to ignore it. I maybe 30 but that shouldn’t precipitate for one second that I’m mature. Not a bit.
Do you feel like you’ve ever grown up? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Phew, what about that Horizon Zero Dawn huh? It’s some game right? All those dinosaurs tearing up that rich, vibrant world replete with exploratory tangents to satisfy even the most hardy of adventurers. I’d like to express the overwhelming joy and fluttering anticipation I get from scavenging resources gathered from the shrapnel of these prehistoric replication’s. How I’ve finally realised my “Game of Thrones” fantasy by coming inside ygritte…..I mean playing with Ygritte…..playing as Ygritte, as Ygritte! Or portraying a version of her at least. A strong versatile female that I wouldn’t dare objectify with demeaning misogynistic remarks, that has successfully overcome her hereditary infirmity of being ginger. I’d like to tell you just how much I’m enjoying my time with this PlayStation exclusive, but I can’t. You see the online retailer that I had purchased said game from (for argument’s sake let’s call them “zamazon”) have chosen to enlist the services of their preferred distribution partners, one that rhymes with “Foil Grail”. Of course being the trustworthy and dutifully reliable company that they are my copy didn’t arrive. It is instead currently residing in some storage compartment at my local postal distribution centre, which is mere minutes from my home but isn’t accessible until the morning. Apparently their very singular religious beliefs mean that they don’t believe in letter box’s nor the concept of posting packages through these heinous zealots of Satan!
So thank you “Boil Bail”, I salute your tireless pursuit to disappoint customers up and down the country. You truly are an institution to be preserved and continue to be the primary advocate for independent delivery service.
Loyalty is a commendable attribute. It’s a measure of one’s integrity to value the convictions of another’s adaptable principles with resiliency and respect, even if mistakes are made along the way. We consider loyalty a virtuous exercise in tolerance, a virtue deserving of admiration. Is there anything more chivalrous than 2 heroes stood side by side, facing down against an opposing force even though their failure is all but assured, simply because loyalty commands them to do so? To wilfully betray someone who you’ve followed with such dedication can be perceived as dishonest or even cowardly. But when does loyalty become obstinate faith, blinded by perceived nobility? Is loyalty really a commendable attitude to have or just a falsity derived from the persistent hope that things will improve because of your staunch defiance or willingness to persevere whatever the cost. We form bonds and relationships everyday with people we expect to pledge significant loyalty too. Friends that you’d happily lend money too, spouses you can rely upon to provide counsel in times of distress or football teams that continually disappoint. We forgive the minor transgressions because of the dedication of familiarity and the committed modesty of loyalty that has been forged by years of sustained attachment. So it funny just how often loyalties are disposed with by gamer’s and just how fickle we tend to be.
Being loyal to a brand is grounds for either instant acceptance among your peers or instant isolation. The “console wars” that have been waged since the SNES and Genesis days has always been about flaunting your preferred fealty to one or the other. In school playgrounds there would be heated discussions between two opposing students at lunch that often resulted in fraudulent evidence distributed by both that trumped the other, and a petulant retaliation of scrappy punches and name calling. These sorts of conflicting loyalties haven’t abated as the consoles have progressed but have worsened, thanks in part to the advent of PC’s and the all too often communal latrine known as the Internet, where opinions are expressed and presented as fact! I myself have always favoured Sony products because of their reliability. Having been a firm investor in Sony products since the PS1 days, I have never felt compelled to purchase a competitor as I’ve never experienced any significant issues with any of my endeavours, barring a few innocent, self-inflicted fractures. Not even Sony’s arrogant approach to marketing the PS3 didn’t deter me from remaining loyal to my favourite ambiguous entity. Of course such purported reliability is all relative as others may have had opposing situations that they themselves just couldn’t tolerate, deciding instead that the freshly mowed grass on the other side was perhaps greener.
Many would consider my loyalty to Sony to be something of considerable naivety, that I have been too lenient towards Sony’s shortcomings. It’s understandable that formerly resolute defenders of Sony would feel discouraged by their inability to secure their own servers from hackers, causing PSN to collapse quicker than a stack of cards assembled by arthritic Nan. You can’t blame gamer’s for turning their backs on such a catastrophic lapse in security and protecting their clients confidential information from cyber terrorists. The trust, reliability and of course loyalty is hard to repair then. Yet I remained and continue to do so just like so many others. Does that make us ignorant? Stupid? Loyal? I remember when Microsoft announced they would be implementing restrictions on trading games on the Xbox One, in an attempt to regain profits lost through the second-hand market, by supplementing trades with a convoluted initiative that permitted trade agreements between specified friend for a limited time, rather than simply giving the game to a mate and play at their own discretion. Many fled the proposed dictatorial scheme, which was an obvious collusion between developers and Microsoft like guests at a Coldplay concert, yet many stayed. Are those loyalties any less deserving?
I guess extreme situations such as these are more to do with trust rather than loyalty, though they are mutually associated. So when can an individual or a product representative of a corporate agenda push the loyalties of someone too far, to the point that their rooted allegiance becomes irreparable? Personally I think it really comes down to just how much trust you have, without that how can anyone expect to remain loyal? If you maintain trust then you should retain the loyalty of your friends. Just don’t get hacked….or try to undermine your audience. That’s the moral here folks.
Do you think you can be too loyal? What does loyalty mean to you? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Variety in games for the most part is a good thing. It allows players to craft their own individual style with specific requirements that suite their needs. Precipitating enough versatility to a games basic functionality to accommodate the dedicated precision of some while facilitating the casual persuasion of others. Of course with such a wide range of options available it can be difficult to customise either a character’s appearance or inventory without compromising something else. “Did I choose the right skill? What if I need that other one later? What if I can’t alter the style or colour of my hair later? Is this green afro a major fashion faux pas!” Personally I find character creation a tedious nuisance. Whether it’s the alignment of your characters nose, the positioning of the cleft on the chin, the detailed structuring of one’s cheek bones or the wealth of opportunity to enhance the modest assets of your female elf, it’s all just unnecessary accessories that trivialize my experience. I get that there are a catalogue of facial subtleties and cosmetic alterations that add a deeper level of personalised integration that many find endearing, but I don’t. I just want to play the game. For me it’s a redundant feature I rarely utilise that I have neither the time nor the inclination to indulge in. It makes sense that people want to create an identifiable character that exhibits personalised traits reflective of their own, but for me playing the game should evoke such catharsis, not the gilded tunic the snow elf is attired in. But I don’t begrudge the features intrusive implementation, I simply ignore it. The real problem with the concept of “variety” is the way it’s used to restrict the player as you progress or more accurately level up.
Most games adhere a similar ubiquitous tenant of levelling up. A system legislated so that players can’t become all-powerful gods immediately, but rather distributing the benefits of progression in a timely fashion. You kill a few enemies, accumulate a differing amount of experience – dependent on the strength of an opponent you’ve defeated – ascend to the next numerical digit and reap the slight benefits of your increased stature and repeat. It’s familiar, easy to understand and the most assured way of preventing the game from becoming too easy. Particularly if enemies level up in conjunction with your own, which is the case with Skyrim. The method of progression in Skyrim differs slightly from its contemporaries in the sense that it isn’t necessarily an encompassing points system that allows sustainable development of your character, but rather focuses on the contributions of singular attributes. For instance I have taken preferential steps to become a prolific exponent in stealth, archery and aggression simply because it suits my surreptitious style and hostile feelings towards mankind, which has provided a steady growth in both stealth and archery as well as two-handed weapons, light armour, blocking and other disreputable proclivities such as pickpocketing and lock picking skills. As each individual skill improves so too does my level. But once these skills get closer to their maximum capacity it becomes harder to reach the next level, leaving you with little choice but to engage with less desirable attributes. The superfluous attributes that require sustained repetition to improve, most of which concern the use of magic.
Because a more direct combat style negates the contributions of skills such as alteration, conjunction and illusion you’re now forced to adapt your preferred play to accommodate a style you won’t ever use in active combat. The only time these kind of ancillary support is ever useful is for casting the odd restoration spell to replenish lost health. You’re probably thinking that a game that encourages the player to diversify is a good thing, and you’d be right. It’s certainly a creative way of engaging the player’s ability to utilise a variety of skills to improve both performance and level. But that doesn’t prevent it from being annoying too! Now I’m reduced to merely waving my hands around like I’m doing my own interpretation of “Jazz Hands” with arthritic wrists, casting vapid incantations through the cities of Skyrim, much to the grievance of the city guards in an attempt to improve these latent abilities that have little use in my own combat. Sure it’s great that games have adapted the limitations of levelling up by incorporating a multitude of variants that goes beyond the banal accumulation of experience points. I just wish that the ideologies were a little more naturally occurring. Features or in this case skills that you don’t favour shouldn’t be compulsory, but rather enhance the things you do use. Forcing elements that some consider unfavourable shouldn’t be necessities but endeavours that complement and reward rather than just benefit you through persistence. But I guess there’s nothing that can be done, so if you’ll excuse me I have guards to upset with my magic hands…..wait, no! That’s not what I meant?!
How d you think levelling up in games can be improved? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.