My girlfriend and I are sitting on our recliner couch in that curious together-but-apart configuration that has become our weekday mainstay. She is furiously trying to prepare a lesson for the class she’s supposed to teach the next morning, while I am browsing the internet and updating my GameFly queue. As the TV drones on in the background, a flash of recognition tears my eyeballs away from the computer.
“God of War III is out next Tuesday”, I mutter, lost in a fugue of geekish intensity. It’s hardly a revelation, but there’s a feeling of being blindsided that’s hard to process, as though the game were silently dropping out of nowhere. My girlfriend pauses to give me a pitiful look, the kind only given to very stupid dogs or very ugly cats.
“I could always buy it for you”, she teasingly replies.
“That’s a great idea,” I say, “I mean, it worked out so well the last time.”
On a Wednesday morning in 2007, a jovial FedEx employee knocked on my door, informing me that I had received a package. I thought it was one of the books I had ordered for my Spring quarter classes. But instead of finding a tattered copy of Siddhartha in the yellow, bubblewrap-lined envelope, I found myself holding a fresh copy of God of War II.
It was the middle of March, the second year of my return to college. Final exams were only a week away and I was comfortably behind in my class projects. Of all the things I needed to have within arm’s reach, God of War II was not one of them.
The box sat on my living room table for about an hour, quietly reaching out to me. For a while, I defied every urge to rip the thing open and gorge myself on its gameplay. There was a certain, small pleasure from playing the role of the responsible adult, but there was also greater mirth to be found by indulging my adolescent whims.
I now know that there are few things in this world as unsettling as an angry Spartan eyeing you from across a room. Unable to resist, I snapped open the heavy metallic casing and thumbed through the instruction manual. I spent agonizing minutes reading everything from the EULA to the copyright notations at the end. After my third read-through, I popped open the PS2, turned on the TV, and dropped into the couch with a soda at the ready. My transformation from procrastinating academic to negligent layabout was complete. If my grades suffered, then they at least were sacrificed for a worthy cause.
My girlfriend later admitted she had no idea I was approaching class finals. She intended to surprise me with something I would enjoy – a kind present to carry over into my spring break. I half-seriously accused her of trying to sabotage me. It was a sweet gesture, but a bit poorly timed.
While I’d like nothing more than to be pampered to the tune of Kratos, I know that I’m too weak to resist plunking several less-than-healthy hours into the game. When Tuesday comes around, I’ll miss the excitement of tearing into the series’ latest chapter. Instead, I will rely on the commentary of others in my community. While I’d like nothing more than to be a little less responsible and spend all of Tuesday cloistered in front of my PS3, I know that it is not going to happen. I’m comfortable with the fact that I’ll come to the game on my own terms, instead of it being Trojan Horsed into my schedule.
No, that’s not entirely right. I’m resigned to the fact that I can’t afford to play it on launch day. Between you and me, I desperately want to relive the wanton disregard for responsibility that God of War II afforded me.