It amazes me sometimes just how adaptable we are as a species at wilful ignorance. How attuned we are to compartmentalisation of issues that should impair our day to day lives. We seem to inherit this natural adaptive intuition, that allows us to consign the tribulations of the world to the deepest recesses of our minds, purely out of a desperate need to live. The news is saturated with the grim capitulation of our humanity. Wars and recessions. Greed and poverty. The anarchic dichotomy of our society that is seemingly always on the brink of collapse. And it’s fascinating being with my daughter in a public park, watching as she constructs these malformed sand castles and other elaborate structures, as if this was the most important thing in the world. How are we capable of tuning out the horrific tortures of this world? This question really is as rhetorical as they come, because the simple answer really is “because we have too”.
For the most part, I try to stay as oblivious to traumas that afflict the world as much as I can. I have a vague semblance of certain collateral problems that seem to thrust themselves into our daily lives, like that person that wants to talk about the latest Marvel excretion. Things like politically charged dissent. The perversions of some emboldened celebrity that’s been abusing their position. But for my own diminishing sanity, I have to be wilfully ignorant. Imagine waking up every day, pouring yourself a tea, or a coffee if you prefer. Waiting for your toast to, well toast, settling down to peruse social media for some irreverent humour, only to be inundated with the latest developments in the Ukraine, the murder of a toddler, the acquittal of purported sexual deviant and the sudden tax hike on Jaffa Cakes! How do you carry on your day with the accumulated knowledge of such deplorable misery, if you can’t separate it from your own life? Being so emotionally invested in every skirmish in the middle east would be exhausting as well as demoralising. And I think that’s why I play games.
Escapism is so beautifully encapsulated by these virtually generated worlds. Distractions that immerse you in these robust scenarios that provide a surrogate element of control, absent from our own complicated lives. There are objectives. Environments and scenarios radically different from our own that require our services. Any antagonistic threat’s are designed to be reconciled by our actions. As such we are provided with a guiding purpose from which to resolve these predicaments in fun, deferring ways. With the solutions to these conveyed tribulations, necessitating our involvement. Which does create the illusion that we can make a difference, even if it’s just in a fictionalised, artificially designed environment. But it is also a rejuvenating sabbatical from the harsh society we so often endure. And to me, the best kind of adverse problems are ones I can placate. Not ones out of my control.
I’m not a royalist. Nor am I necessarily a detractor. More of a contentious dissenter of the family’s instituted pomposity. I appreciate the requests to abolish the monarchy, particularly their association with the now marginalized, perspiring impeded king of the nonces, Andrew. But the only coronation I’m interested in is chicken. Watching the televised spectacle of privilege with family equally nonplussed by the whole affair was hardly rousing my own veiled sense of national pride. The absurdity of seeing an elderly man draped in a lavish robe, ostentatious garments that make him look like a toffee penny, a glittery hat, clutching a shimmering stick and cupping a garish stress relieving ball. Paraded through a flock of simpering acolytes is not my idea of fun. Though commentating on the outlandish pageantry displayed by a nation more concerned with securing the affluence of one entitled family, rather than providing for its subjects, is a reasonable diversion.
A coronation is an historical event, steeped in symbolism, tradition and other ritualistic demonstrations. With a procession of coordinated marching from the various divisions of the military, ornate coaches chauffeured by glamorously adorned horses, leaving a trail of excrement in their wake. What could be more symbolic of our great nation? No country does elaborate displays, that ultimately have little impact on its population, quite like us. You can’t fault the grandeur of the ceremony. The preservation of traditions and cultures that appear imperious by modern standards. Dignantries politely requested their countries back from British occupation. Something to be admired, but not something to aspire too. Like an overlong episode of Game Of Thrones, just with an absence of dragons and nudity. Though the royals could probably teach George R R Martin about scandal.
Then there is the newly crowned King Charles himself. A man born to inherit a position that demands self sacrifice and servitude. An environmentalist and climate change activist, before such radical ideas were considered habitual. A pilot in the royal air force. Establishing multiple charities including the Princes Trust that has aided many disadvantaged children. But will ultimately only be recognised as the jug eared adulterer that betrayed Princess Diana. A man with a questionable preference for women and even more contentious philosophy on life after death, having been quoted as wanting to be reincarnated as a pair of Camilla’s knickers. Which is both gross and wholly impractical. This is our head of state! A representative of a country divided by people’s admiration and contempt for the sovereignty of monarchy and the exclusivity it represents.
Personally it is not a position I’d like to hold. A life time of committed internment, that demands frequent public exposure and by extension, public ridicule. To have every discourse or opinion readily scrutinized by anyone with a social media account sounds like a precarious position. I don’t believe I could maintain a level of restraint in conversations, remain articulate or express an opinion that wasn’t interpreted by some easily riled section of our community as offensive. Nor would I possess the patience to have my privacy invaded on an almost daily basis. So question why our valuable taxes help to subsidize their already considerable wealth and privilege. Criticise the antiquated exhibition of appointing a King that has no real authority. Or discuss the efficacy of how pot holes on the carriages route between the palace and the cathedral, were miraculously repaired, whilst my road continues to resemble a trypophobes worst nightmare. But let’s not pretend that there isn’t some good coming out of this charade. If nothing else, we all got an extra bank holiday!
Back in my day – an all too frequent expression for me these days – games came packaged with cartridges that contained all the necessary data to be played. No need for separate memory cards or external harddrive to enable the functionality of your games. Of course the industry has progressed beyond the limited capacity of these humble dust magnets, with the exigency of additional file storage required to expedite the obscene data consumption of modern games. Now even the most rigorous testing to isolate glitches, mitigate bugs and bolster optimisation often necessitates extensive post launch patches, that coerces players into becoming unwitting beta test participants. As a result these game installs swell to such an astronomical size, that it may demand a fastidious reorganization of your harddrive, with the possible deletion of data, to allow a game to run. Not to mention the time needed to download said content, which becomes a separate issue when your Wi-fi is slower than an asthmatic sloth. All of these factors combine to make modern gaming more protracted than it ever has been. Though “Star Wars Jedi: Survivor” is testing both your patience and your storage capacity like never before.
Having been delayed from its initial release back in March, to enhance performance and eradicate other stability issues (Time well spent it would seem). It was casually announced that the PC version would require a minimum of 155gb of space to run. With the Xbox X and PlayStation 5 iterations needing 134gb and 147gb respectively. Now considering a standard PS5 comes courtesy of 825 GB of internal storage, 158 GB of which is reserved for system files, so it’s more like 667 GB of space, that isn’t a lot. Now imagine if every game required a similar volume of data to play? You’d be able to store 4 games, with enough surplus capacity to install the gargantuan patch’s these barely functioning games will subsequently need just to function appropriately! That is an absurd expense to provide gamers with AAA quality content. It’s also not sustainable in a market that is so reliant on potential consumers having money, let alone navigate an already clustered storage system.
If you are anything like me then you probably insulate a few games that you know you will play again. So determining what games are expendable amongst a retinue of reliable titles is yet another agonising decision you have to make. And it isn’t that I have a personal vendetta against upgrading the capacity of my console at some point, to accommodate the thriving list of games in my catalogue, but for it to become such a necessity almost from the start is ludicrous. Which is where I believe Indie games capacity to afford us with less demanding restrictions but supplying quality and variety is a distinguishing benefit. A device like the Steam Deck facilitates this. A console of considerable versatility that can be upgraded to a capacity that supports a robust portfolio of independent titles. I’d argue that this is what this device was conceived for. With a market place stimulated by modestly sized games.
I believe we have reached an impasse with the bloated size of installs, that the industry is trying to resolve by expediting the need for cloud gaming. A solution that depends heavily on the speed, stability and reliability of a service that is anything but. And personally I want to be able to game regardless of my internet connectivity.
Recently I’ve been engaged in a non compliant deferment of cinematic appreciation. A dutiful obligation that every father has must abide by, for imparting knowledge on their respective offspring. Now I’ve confessed in an earlier piece detailing my own concern in subjecting my daughter to stimulus that I found compelling at her age. Movies, games and other influences that help define my own adolescence, but shouldn’t be the preferred alternative to their own inquisitive appetites. Lecturing her on the indisputable superiority of my own burgeoning influences, compared to her own. But there is a necessity to diversify her options. To expand her viewing profile beyond Disney and the vapid narcolepsy of YouTube Kids. My entire responsibility as a father is predicated on teaching her the value that new doesn’t necessarily mean best. Nor that old is ostensibly better.
My task is made exponentially easier by my daughter’s natural curiosity. She’s at that impressinable age wherein the limits of her inquisitiveness are not restricted by the cynicism of others pessimism, or an elitist attitude, critical of anything new, a condition that exasperates my own thinking from time to time, but one I hope remains a dormant hereditary trait in her. Because of this energetic vigor to experience something she knows nothing about, she is far more receptive to my suggestions. For instance I felt confident in her flourishing maturity to suggest that we watch “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”, on the condition that if any moment during the movie provokes any kind of adverse emotions, that we would shut it off. Bearing in mind that my daughter would cower behind the sofa cushions when an animated otter in “Zootropolis” turned feral, I was concerned about her capacity to manage something a little more potent. But, to her credit she remained stoic in her conviction and remained unfazed by the swells of death and violence depicted. Though she did eventually get distracted as most children do, having to sit still for any length of time, which subsequently meant she missed the rather gratuitous scene with the titular “Ark” turning Paul Freeman’s head into an incendiary watermelon.
These exercises are essentially an exchange of interests. She gets to experience a modest sample of movies from before her time, of which there is considerable elapse in comparison to someone like myself who was born in the 80’s. But I too get to watch the things that interest her. It’s not always good, but objectively speaking neither were many of the movie’s or television shows I watched at her age. Some of which is reciprocated, others we might not be as amenable too. For example the “Princess Bride” just didn’t resonate with her at all. Now that doesn’t mean to say that in a few year’s time she won’t feel differently about it, but at the same time it doesn’t matter if she never watches it again. Ultimately it’s fun trying to discover thing’s that interest us both and share a quant, father/daughter connection. That’s is what is most important.
Games have always been an escape from the labours of every day life. A respite from the scalding reprimands of your parents and their irascible need for you to go outside and socialize. The emergence of open world games only further enthused these diverting proclivities. For a game to facilitate such seemingly boundless opportunities for exploration, was such a liberating novelty. No longer impeded by the shackles of linear game design, the world was free to roam at your own incorrigible leisure. The ability to run without exhaustion, with no need for sustenance or rest is a freedom seldom permitted by our own restricted reality. Many of my sophomore gaming experiences were conducted within the realms of the open world. Whether it was the top down shenanigans of GTA or the iridescent vibrancy of a Tales adventure, these feasts of traversal are so rooted in our desire for exploration.
My family home was nothing special in regards to space. It was a very pleasant, though simple residential home. A 3 bedroom semi-detached with an adequate garden from which to embark on my own modest quests. What was remarkable to me was our house being perched on top of a rather large hill. From my window I was blessed with a tremendous vantage point from which to survey almost the entirety of the town centre, as well as the adjacent sport’s ground and the encompassing park. There was always a humbling sense of satisfaction being able to visualise a distinct spot that appeared so far away in the distance, that within less than an hour I could walk to, scan the horizon and observe the window I had previously devised my excursion. For me the satisfaction comes from the perception that I have travelled a great distance on my own little adventure. Sure, I’m not vanquishing trolls or bandits, but in my imagination I was most certainly on a pilgrimage. And I think it’s that sense of expedition that is replicated in open world games that makes them so compelling.
Now I may not be the biggest Assassin’s Creed fan, a statement that may alienate me somewhat amongst my peers. But you can’t deny the series zest for grandeur, lends itself well to player autonomy. Though more recent ventures have expanded the acreage of its world beyond its capacity to furnish these lands with any meaningful ventures for players to engage. They still provide fertile resources for players to observe. Structures far off in the distance that in time can be reached by whatever means suits your sensibilities. Visual markers to entice exploration. Not because you need to, but because you can. For me a good open world game emulates these real life compulsions. Because regardless of the abject story or the boring characters, at least there is still the potential to sate those inquisitive appetites for exploration. And if anything encourages us to explore our own neighbouring environment more readily.