The Catch-Up Game

Thaddeus Stoklasa | 11 Jan 2008 17:00
Op-Ed - RSS 2.0

I bought BioShock the first week it came out, deftly swiping it out from under somebody who actually pre-ordered but failed to pick it up in the first few days. That much I feel really good about, but I've yet to actually beat it, and that sucks. Much as I hate to say such things, these days it feels like gaming is just another on the list of many responsibilities I have, and, as I learned from Spider-Man, with great responsibility comes great anxiety and annoyance.

I don't know what happened; it didn't used to feel like this. Games were the stepping stones leading across my life, leaping from one title or system or genre to another: tabletop roleplaying to DS puzzle to console adventure to GBA re-release of console classic, and so on.

It was a good life.

Back in high school, my buddies and I managed ongoing Super Smash Bros.: Melee matches backstage during theater productions - and the department was hardcore, so pulling that off without a hitch was a miracle in itself. We were the master-class geeks, lords of all nerd-dom. When we played tabletop, we played our own system. It was who we were and how we lived. Games flew by week by week, world by world.

Then, it just ... crashed.

My final semester of college I played through two, maybe three games - one of which I started mid-summer. I didn't feel like myself. And when I did make time for gaming, the experience was cramped and uncomfortable.

There's a lot I could blame it on: wrapping up my Bachelor's degree; living with new, foreign roommates who didn't understand/frowned upon the six-plus hour gaming sessions; solar winds; not drinking enough milk to counterbalance the massive amounts of snacking I do, resulting in Oreo-overdose brain damage. But the truth is it's always been a problem.

In my life, the dark secret has always been how many games I haven't played, or rather how many games I own that I haven't finished. There's not a specific pile - I'd like to think I'm more discrete than that - but I could name them, every single one, if I wanted to.

But that would be far too embarrassing.

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