Gamer's Block

It's just me and my dog on the couch. Open magazines and half-wilted carnations sit behind me. My laptop rests on my legs. The room vaguely smells like pasta. I'm desperately trying to come up with something to write, because it's my turn to go on Friday and I don't want to make Elysium whip out an Employee Profile on my behalf. I've come up with about six ideas, and written two or three pages each, and discarded them all because they weren't going anywhere. For some reason, I expect this one will.

My puppy, Boötes, eyes me closely. When she realizes I'm not going to give her food, she rolls her eyes and goes back to sleep.

I peer over at the video game stack. Still unopened is a pile of four or five games, shrinkwrap ever so slightly manhandled, with the last shreds of their paper price tags clinging to the plastic. These games I haven't played, have been meaning to play, want desperately to play, and yet, can't bring myself to take out of their wrappers. I blame it on gamer's block.

Uh-oh. Is it possible to have writer's block and gamer's block at the same time? Worse, could they stem from the same source? Is there some sort of generic Block™ from which all subsequent genre-specific blocks derive? Could it work like allergies, where having one makes you more susceptible to having another? Oh no. Am I going to get cook's block? Or coffee-drinker's block? Scuba diver's block? Olympic medalist's block?

Oh, how miserable I have now made myself, contemplating all the different varieties of mental impotence I could conceivably and unwittingly contract. And now I worry that at any moment, I will discover some new horrific variety lurking behind my couch cushions, waiting for the perfect opportunity to jump up, surprise me with a digital camera and a big grin, and shout, "Congratulations! You've got llama farmer's block!"

The dog emits a muffled bark/burp in her sleep. She must be dreaming of a particularly intense squirrel chase. Lucky bitch.

I stare back at the computer screen. I'm on Document 7, Word tells me. You have failed seven times, Obi-Wan Goodjer. You suck seven times over. Seven's a lucky number, but guess what, Katerin? It is so not yours.

Frustrated, I look at my list of "Article Topics When You Are Stuck". Sexy Sprites: The Hot or Not Phenomenon hits MMORPGS. How to Make A Good Puzzle. Why I Love Coliseum Minigames. When Nintendogs Attack!

Instead of feeling inspired, I suddenly wish I had decided to go to graduate school, where I could have invented a time machine to go back to when I wrote this stupid list and kick myself in the shin. I sigh. Screw writing. Dad was right. I should have been a dentist.

I close my laptop and pace around the tiny apartment, like a ravenous tiger in too small of a cage. I glare at the unopened games, sitting innocuously by the PS2. This is all your fault, I say using telepathic human-to-electronics powers. If you hadn't given me gamer's block, I wouldn't have writer's block right now. I should take you back to the store. That would show you little bastards.

Sure, Katerin, they reply. We know you lost the receipts.

I slump back on the couch, opening the laptop back up. Now what? I'm on Document 7, and I've wasted all this time, and Elysium's going to kill me because I broke the streak, and I still have so much work to do before the week is out, and this is the only time I had available to write this piece, the only time that fit my schedule this week, and I won't have time to write it later or ever and--

CRASH.

The plastic hook, where we hang the dog's leash, falls off the wall, taking a sizable chunk of paint and drywall with it. My dog leaps up as if she were back in 'Nam, being shot at by Commie squirrels.

"Sorry, Boötes. It's just the hook. It fell down," I offer lamely.

She glares at me, at the hook, and back at me. Gingerly, in that way puppies have that sometimes makes them act like infirm elderly ladies, she steps across the couch cushions to sit primly next to my thigh. And I swear to God this part is true, she smacks the top of my laptop down with her paw, closing it. She then looks up at me, and tilts her head. Well, you silly human? Are you going to take me out or what? Oh, owner and emergency foodstuff, what possible reason could you have for hesitating to walk me?

"Okay, Boötes," I mumble. "We can go out." I pick up the leash. "I wasn't really doing anything anyway."

Comments

I do get gamer's block, where I just can't seem to get into anything. Usually, I go to the company gym, pop a movie in the DVD player, and sweat away. More scary, though, is the performance anxiety I used to get. I'd go through a game, usually an RPG, get up to just before the final climactic battle, and... stop playing. Never come back to it. Guess I couldn't take the pressure or something. I got over it though, so now I go through a new cycle:

Hour 5: This game is great!
Hour 20: This game is OK, I guess. If it doesn't pick up, I'll just move on to something else.
Hour 30, near end: This game is great! I wish it wouldn't end so soon!

I vaguely remember Deva having this same problem pop up after a similar streak of excellent articles. Don't sweat it Kat... you all (the writing caste, I mean) have stretched and twisted the subject in so many new and different ways, that the occasional impasse is completely understandable. Besides, we (the class of plebians that we are) rather enjoy Employee Profiles.

So wait,... you're saying that Nintendo does not think that it's time to proceed into Hi-Def age, because they believe that majority of gamers are still using the standard TV. Hmm... This idea has some interest to me... is there a way to subscribe to the newsletter?

Poppinfresh wrote:

I do get gamer's block, where I just can't seem to get into anything. More scary, though, is the performance anxiety I used to get. I'd go through a game, usually an RPG, get up to just before the final climactic battle, and... stop playing. Never come back to it. Guess I couldn't take the pressure or something...

Are you still talking about games here, Poppin?

Nei wrote:

So wait,... you're saying that Nintendo does not think that it's time to proceed into Hi-Def age, because they believe that majority of gamers are still using the standard TV. Hmm... This idea has some interest to me... is there a way to subscribe to the newsletter?

Yes.

Kat, how do you pronounce your dog's name?

Well, you don't have writers block, since that was just a divine article. Let me just confirm...

Smile on my lips: check.

Yep, good article, as always. But...

Or coffee-drinker's block

That's cause for suicide right there, if you ask me.

Yoyoson wrote:

Kat, how do you pronounce your dog's name?

It's supposed to be said, Boh-oh-tez (I've also heard Boh-oh-tees). But usually, it's just Boh-tez, or, sometimes, Get-off-the-table-you-damn-dog.

Dhaelis, I think the only this worse than coffee-drinker's block would be perhaps a sexin' block. Hence, my fear.

Thanks for the compliments, guys. Warms my cold Jew-y heart and all.

Yoyoson wrote:
Poppinfresh wrote:

I do get gamer's block, where I just can't seem to get into anything. More scary, though, is the performance anxiety I used to get. I'd go through a game, usually an RPG, get up to just before the final climactic battle, and... stop playing. Never come back to it. Guess I couldn't take the pressure or something...

Are you still talking about games here, Poppin?

Well, after I had this little blue pill, all my "performance" issues went away! Ask me about it!

[Note: Poppinfresh is not a plant, but note the smooth transition from games to product. Don't you want to hire him on your campaign? Reasonable rates.]

In other words, your dog ate your homework, right?

Yoinks, great article Kat! One question: is writer's block a subtle rebellion against your evil slave-driving web editors?

KaterinLHC wrote:

"Congratulations! You've got llama farmer's block!"

A llama farmer's block? Is that a technique you can use to avoid a llama spit attack? Damn, I wish I had known about that when I was a kid.

KaterinLHC wrote:

Gingerly, in that way puppies have that sometimes makes them act like infirm elderly ladies,

Inspired.

Poppinfresh wrote:

Hour 5: This game is great!
Hour 20: This game is OK, I guess. If it doesn't pick up, I'll just move on to something else.
Hour 30, near end: This game is great! I wish it wouldn't end so soon!

Where you gettin' these 30 hour games from?

The key to playing lots of 30 hours games is lack of talent.

EDIT: After reading this again, this sounds like a slam on Poppin'. It is supposed to be a slam on me.

What an entertaining and lively article.

IMO the reason you have the gamer's block is not your fault, but the game industry fault. The industry is supposedly aiming at the demographic of our age, but it assumes that all people of our age are Forrest Gump. Forrest "don't take your eyes off the ball" Gump adored mind-numbing repetition. It gave him peace. It worked for him, but it doesn't work for me.

Staats wrote:

The key to playing lots of 30 hours games is lack of talent.

So sad, so true. PoP: Warrior Within, I'm looking at you here...

KillerTomato wrote:
Staats wrote:

The key to playing lots of 30 hours games is lack of talent.

So sad, so true. PoP: Warrior Within, I'm looking at you here...

And that's a slam on Ubisoft, am I right, am I right?

Danjo Olivaw wrote:
KillerTomato wrote:
Staats wrote:

The key to playing lots of 30 hours games is lack of talent.

So sad, so true. PoP: Warrior Within, I'm looking at you here...

And that's a slam on Ubisoft, am I right, am I right?

Not specifically, but I'll be more than delighted to expound on their apparent inability to stomp out animation glitches, control issues and almost-game-ending bugs in a $#&@*$& console title.

My complete lack of platforming talent comes into play as well, though, as I watch the Prince fling himself into the abyss while his opponents stare at me, dumbfounded at my ability to consistently execute the stupidest action possible. Sigh.

KaterinLHC wrote:

Dad was right. I should have been a dentist.

I can't stop thinking of Little Shop of Horrors and you dancing around singing "You'll be a dentis!" but, I've never seen you so I put "Angry Fry" in instead.

I don't know whether to thank you for this mental image or not.

Yeah I go through a bit of this after I fire a MMO, for a while everything just seems grey.. then the color starts creeping back in and tendrils of growth start sneaking around my neck whispering of hype of adventure... The hard part is not to choke to death on my cynicism as something tantalizing appears on the radar. I have learned to stop looking hard at games before buying them, much like a off the cuff sci-fi flick I almost always enjoy them more when I don't have prerelease hype and expectations coloring my first impressions.

KaterinLHC wrote:

It's supposed to be said, Boh-oh-tez (I've also heard Boh-oh-tees). But usually, it's just Boh-tez ...

That's still too hard for me, so I'll just call your dog "Burt."

Anyway, I'm in a small gaming rut, too... my gaming rut's name is "Animal Crossing: Wild World." Haven't found my way towards playing any of the umpteen games I've got stacked up since this game came out *last November*. It's a sickness -- harvesting fruit, fishing, sending the animals in my town letters with filthy innuendos...

So yeah, I'm the Don Knotts of hardcore gaming. Got the second-largest house and 4.5 million bells in the bank to prove it.

I agree with Poppinfresh, so many great games have gone unfinished by me when i know the final boss is just around the corner.

That was one teh awesum article! Gratz

Now I wanna see an employee profile, stat!

Where's our pesky german when we need him? From ages ago in German 101, I seem to recall that an O with an umlaut is most closely approximated with "er" but not like a slacking teenager "er". The e is more of an o. Almost "ur". Kinda put a short o, u, and e in a blender, followed by a very soft, barely existent r.

duckilama wrote:

Where's our pesky german when we need him? From ages ago in German 101, I seem to recall that an O with an umlaut is most closely approximated with "er" but not like a slacking teenager "er". The e is more of an o. Almost "ur". Kinda put a short o, u, and e in a blender, followed by a very soft, barely existent r.

Well when you put it that way, it sounds like her dog is named after some kind of german sausage. Bourtes! Goes great on pizza.

By the way, Kat, do you know about the Bootes void? Well, it's a void...and it's in the constellation Bootes. At any rate, it's just a place with not much in it, and it's interesting hunting grounds for things that are found in places where other things aren't (i.e., in a void). (There are very few galaxies in the Bootes void, but the ones that are there are all the more interesting for being where the others aren't.)

It's funny, but sometimes I tend to buy new games because they're new and I've got a bit of gamer's block with the old games. Doesn't mean I'll play the new ones any more than the old after the first few days. Inevitably when I get in a gamer's block situation, though, I fall back on the oldies but goodies. For me that means NFL 2k5 and Civ III.

Danjo Olivaw wrote:
Poppinfresh wrote:

Hour 5: This game is great!
Hour 20: This game is OK, I guess. If it doesn't pick up, I'll just move on to something else.
Hour 30, near end: This game is great! I wish it wouldn't end so soon!

Where you gettin' these 30 hour games from?

Role playing games! I just finished one today that took something like 24 hours (Shadow Hearts. Yes, I just finished playing a game that is about to have part III come out... ) If I'm not playing RPG's, then I'm playing simulations like Civ IV, which don't really have an end.

I used to always get in a gamer's block way back when I played nothing but RPGs. My collection used to be literally nothing but RPG after RPG. I had Final Fantasy I-X plus Tactics, Suikoden I and II, Wild ARMs, Tactics Ogre, etc.

But then it got to the point where I wanted something different, so I went over to the action genre for a game that I could just screw around with when I need something for a change of pace. Lately I've been popping away at Ninja Gaiden Black and Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition whenever Chrono Cross or Grandia III is getting on my nerves.

Oh, and I continue to play The Sims even after I tried to force myself to stop since I was literally focusing on my sims' lives more than my own. I was too busy trying to satisfy their hunger when mine was more prominent and important. It's virtual crack, I tell you.

I could never really get into action/shooters, but I do like things like Shadow of the Colussus, Katamari Damacy, and Guitar Hero. I just get bored quickly shooting at sprites over and over again. I'll also play the occasional platformer, like Sly Cooper, or racing games. The only shooter I ever really liked was Halo.

Poppinfresh wrote:
Danjo Olivaw wrote:

Where you gettin' these 30 hour games from?

Role playing games! I just finished one today that took something like 24 hours (Shadow Hearts. Yes, I just finished playing a game that is about to have part III come out... ) If I'm not playing RPG's, then I'm playing simulations like Civ IV, which don't really have an end.

I guess I should have said where you gettin' these fun 30 hour games from? You're on probation.

Poppinfresh wrote:

The only shooter I ever really liked was Halo.

You're absolved. Likewise the only traditional RPG with menu based combat I've liked was Chrono Trigger.

Perhaps this is why I like MMORPGs. Even if there are no other games to play, the MMO of the day is always playable. Might have something to do with the subscription fees.... =/