Gaming's Glorious Summer
I've just come off a wonderful week of vacation with my lovely spouse. It was great, but I learned something about myself. I learned that something as a corollary to another lesson, and that primary lesson was that, if you turn a smart phone on while on a ship floating in the Pacific Ocean, you will get a text message telling you that using that phone will result in a charge of $30 per megabyte.
In the days running up to vacation, I put in a lot of work. I didn't want to fall behind at the office too much, I had volunteer duties at GWJ and elsewhere that I needed to work ahead on and find substitutes for. (Incidentally, Mister Magnus did a fantastic job keeping the Front Page running here, and you should all buy him candies or flowers or beer or something.)
One of the last things I spent any time thinking about before setting myself adrift in a data desert was Elysium's piece on discontent with 2012's games.
You might not know this about me, but I am an internet person. If I weren't such a loudmouth about how great Chicago is, you would be justified in assuming that I'm not just figuratively a "digital native," but that I was actually birthed by some database in the early '80s. I loved my time on vacation, but there was a voice in the back of me whispering, "If you were going through this via a game, there would be a progress bar, and perhaps an achievement for this — not one of those 5-point achievements, either. We're talking 50, maybe 150 points."
Of course I cheated when we were in port. I have a lot of links saved in my iOS Safari Reading List from RSS feeds I follow. A snuck a couple Tweets out. A couple games of Go against an iOS AI.
I had a great time, but I missed the internet. I missed games.
I've been slowly going through all the Front Page stories and comments I missed, and I had occasion to revisit Elysium's lament and the discussion it sparked. I fully concede that expectations were not met for some key games. I understand that expectations can be dangerous things, though I honestly wasn't very excited for Diablo 3, and I'm behind on my Mass Effect storyline to such an extent that I'll likely not be buying ME3 for a couple more months. Still, I have loved this year.
This is the year I took amazing masters classes, really dove into Skyrim, watched some amazing Kickstarter projects get funded, read insightful and fascinating writing about games — especially here on GWJ — and then, just before Elysium wrote his article, I finally grabbed Crusader Kings 2 via Steam sale.
What's more, gaming is proliferating outward into the rest of our worlds. I'm not just talking about the Wii U (which I'm excited to see get into the hands of hackers), but in Chicago alone, 2012 has seen the opening of a new arcade bar and the funding of an arcade brewery as well. Gamers learned that Anita Sarkeesian was attacked, and we exploded in generosity toward her Kickstarter page in a way that almost forces warm fuzzies into my heart.
With all this swirling around us, disappointment almost seems like a choice.
I know we all love looking back at years like 1998 for gaming history, but we should not let nostalgia or grognardian dispositions blind us to the golden age of gaming — of gamers — in which we are living. We just need the perspective, and the time, to appreciate it.