There is no form of entertainment that affords the same unequivocal variety as a computer game. They are an expressive purvayer of robust, diverse creativity, singularly encompassing a breadth of art forms that most mediums simply aren’t capable of emulating. Certainly not with the same compelling dexterity that compliments a games expressive methodology. It’s a unique experience that is often ridiculed or even criticised by those that are simply ignorant to something they just don’t understand. Nothing is more emblematic of this philosophy than RPG’s, a genre that possess all the inherent qualities listed above. They are part of the global vernacular. Revered amongst the community for its whimsical depictions of fantasy. Persuasive, rich worlds, radiating with expansive, resplendent gregarity that compels you to explore to its full immersive potential. Inhabited with dynamic, noble characters, gallantly aligning to prevent some world ending cataclysm. With journeys typically fraught with monsters, conflict–both physical and figurative. Magic, swords and other Tolkien like mythology for our intrepid adventurers to overcome. The trouble is with narratives so structured and dependant on regular player interaction, not to mention the enormity of the adventure, you really have to dedicate a significant portion of time to really live it.
I don’t possess the time nor am I afforded the luxury to game with the same implicitly I once did. RPG’s are an immense commitment, requiring a dedicated attentiveness that I simply don’t have. There’s gameplay to learn, strategies to comprehend, character motivations to understand and a world to immerse yourself in. Now it’s possible to play intermittently, making steady progress over a larger time period. And to an extent you can. Something like Skyrim, that has a very broad, yet maliable narrative doesn’t encroach on your own spontaneous curiosity to explore in a way you want. The main quest is always there, subverted by other objectives or whims that may tickle your proverbial pickle. But there’s no immediate obligation to save the world, but rather to embrace it. Live it. You’re assured the freedom to play periodically without neglecting your duties as a “Dragonborn” or feeling lost when you finally return to the game.
Whereas a game like “Tales Of Symphonia”, which is arguably my most played RPG, is a far more intimate experience that necessitates a greater emphasis on routine. Though the primary danger, typically global destruction, similar to that in Skyrim or any other RPG for that matter, there was a broader, personal story that burdened you, one that required prolonged and regular participation. You could still engage in other miscellaneous errands and little side quests that gave an insight into a characters personal motivation. But ultimately the threat imposed was always looming over you, even though technically you could take as long as you liked. The towns and villages you’d encountered on your journey generated a greater sense of the world you were saving, as opposed to the imminent danger that would afflict them. You wanted to keep playing, not out of some asinine obligation to finish the game but because of an explicit desire to save this world. You felt a responsibility to protect the sanctity of life. You owed it to these simulated inhabitants to protect them. So the notion of casually leaving to perhaps play something else for a while was inconceivable!
Personally, trying to finish a game as substantially imposing as “Tales” with the limited time I have at my disposal is just too intimidating to contemplate. Frankly it scares the shit out of me just thinking about! I wish I had an amnesty from life’s relentless demands. To push a button, shut out the world and fully immerse myself in the vibrant, jaunty fantasy world and become a valiant defender against the tyranny of insidious malevolence. But sadly I can’t. At least not to the same satisfying standard I want. And that’s my problem with RPG’s: I resent them. I loathe the restrictions of time placed upon me. But mostly, I miss playing them with the same carefree attitude I did when I was young.
Treasure your youth kids. Embrace adolescence. And remember: play more RPG’s!