I don't know who came up with the whole notion of New Year's resolutions, but I feel like they missed some pretty serious logistical issues when crafting and casting that particular vision. I mean, if I had to pick the absolute worst time to promise myself "I will jog twice a week every week this year," that worst time would probably be January 1, just as winter really started to bite into my Chicagoan lifestyle.
On top of this strange cultural habit of declaring an intention to be physically active when we ought to be hibernating, there's a notion (which I personally find rather convincing) that New Year's resolutions have their own inherent problems. Ultimately, it may be better to set personal expectations for how you're going to act, rather than to set specific goals. After all, achieving those goals might not result in the glorious, perfect future you might anticipate. And then there's the standard temptation to fudge your figures or move the goalposts.
No, I totally jogged today. I jogged to the conference room at work because I was late for that meeting.
I personally tend more toward picking a "theme" for each year, and try to live my life in a way that keeps that theme in mind. It helps me set priorities for the year without getting down on myself by Pączki Day. Still, if you're goal-oriented by nature, then more power to you and your gradual progress toward ruling us all. I'll be wandering off somewhere else, probably daydreaming or editing Wikipedia articles for punctuation.
All that said, I think there's something valuable in looking at resolutions. They show what we're uncomfortable with — what we wish to change about the way we conduct ourselves. So I asked the writers here at GWJ about what their resolutions are, so that we can collectively psychoanalyze them and expose their negative self images. (You may note that Sean Sands did not contribute to this collection.)
So let's take a look at what we're all thinking. Maybe we'll pick up something we didn't realize we want to change about ourselves. Perhaps you'll disagree with some of the underlying values driving these resolutions. Or maybe you'll just have something to brag about for already being better about than we are.
Play More Multiplayer Games.
After a long day off work, I'm usually too brain-fried to want to engage in social interaction, so I tend to veer into simple, single-player games. Playing more online with my friends and the GWJ community is good for the soul and really, the conversational expectations are usually pretty low. Maybe it's just me.
Buy Fewer Early Access Games.
Again and again my impatience gets the better of me, and I buy a game that isn't close to finished. To have an experience that's closer to the developer's final, complete vision for the game will serve my enjoyment of it more in the long run.
Part of being the "old man" in the room is feeling like I've kind of figured most of these things out. But there's always something new, and there's always room for a new and improved Rabbit, too. So here are two things I really want to work on as 2014 rolls along:
Play more games with my kids.
I know you probably all assume that I play tons of games with my kids, but the honest truth is, I don't. I play a fair amount of League of Legends with my son, but hardly anything with my daughter. She's growing into an amazing nerdling in her own right, but she's playing in her D&D group at school now, not mine. So this year, I will make a conscious effort to carve out weekend and evening time to sit down with them and play good games. Not just throwaway fillers or simple video games, but big, meaty games. The best part of being a parent, after all, is that you get to grow your own playmates.
Spend less on dumb stuff.
If there's one part of myself I'm not proud of, its the consumer. I am easily swayed to buy something just because all the cool kids are playing it. This is especially true with videogames. At this point, however, I should just recognize I will not have time to play even all the good games that come out in 2014, so I will force myself to be a bit more selective, and focus on buying the games I really know I will enjoy, or that I really believe are doing something new and interesting. Otherwise, I've got an enormous backlog pile to work on.
New Year's Resolutions? Well, the one on Lazarus is set at 1920x1080, but the monitor on Rinzler is smaller and older (and so is its graphics card), so I've got it running 1280x1024. I imagine I'll keep running on those unless I decide to get a second, bigger monitor.
No, I'm not being a smart-aleck. You asked, and I answered. That's the only use of those words I ascribe to. I don't schedule trying to get my ducks in a row; I'm always working on that. So picking one day a year to make a show of it really doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
I can tell you what I'm working on right now, though.
Being more brave:
For many years, when I tried to play online or with strangers, the experiences were so bad that I just stopped doing it. If I wanted that sort of contempt from random strangers, then all I need to do is go down to the grocery store. I certainly was not going to squander what little free time I have to play games and then, to make matters worse, pay $70 a year for the privilege of that squandering.
But I've decided to change that. While it was keeping me safer from repeated discussions of whatever the latest crude slang for various parts of my body were, it also sidelined me in gaming. I've already got enough reasons to feel othered — knowing that I'm purposely not participating in these kinds of experiences just makes matters worse.
After all those years hiding my light under a bushel-basket, I've decided to expand my horizons. I've been playing multiplayer and online with friends. At some point here I am aiming to start gaming online with people I don't actually know. I'm going to start branching out into game-types I haven't played in a long time, or haven't tried yet. We'll see how it goes.
I'm not a collector; I don't have all this stuff because I want a complete set or something. It's just that as each generation has come along, I've still clung to the previous one, and it's just rolled down the line as time has gone on. There are games that simply get left behind by everyone else that I consider to be important, and that means I have to have the old hardware for as long as I can.
So I've got several generations going at once here in my house. It's been good for the kids and for me, but I just can't keep up with it anymore. And, if I'm going to be honest here, part of my motivation comes from my mother's illness and her struggles with what to do about all her stuff. That's combining, Voltron-like, with my own increasing awareness of my stage of life and how much cruft is drifted into the corners of my house.
I'm probably not going to be able to do anything active about it. I'm not going to just start chucking perfectly good hardware. But one of my original Xboxes died a few weeks ago, and I've made the solemn decision not to replace it. I have two others, for one thing. But it's a start.
I want to steal both of Julian's. They are definitely resolutions of mine; particularly the first.
To stop being enticed by the new and shiny:
It's difficult to not get caught up in the hype train, or even the (IMO more reasonable) concern of wanting to be involved in the conversation everyone else is having, instead of lagging behind. But I have plenty of older games I have the best of intentions of playing — right up until I see Nintendo's or Atlus' release schedule. I need to do a better job of realizing that time and money are both finite, and there is plenty to keep me occupied now whilst waiting for the new and shiny to sell for 80% off.
Tangentially, to not feel shame if I want to go back and play an old favorite for the 10th time. Yeah, that's time I could spend playing something I haven't played yet. So what? I'm having fun.
Get a couple more steady board game groups set:
Because, ultimately, face-to-face interaction is way more fun than talking to someone through a headset. Even when that person is sassy.
Find a happy medium of play:
For whatever reason, I tend to go through big cycles, where for a time all I do with my free time is game in some fashion, then I burn out and take a couple months off. I'd love to flatten that waveform out a bit. Somehow.
Play My Boardgames:
The problem with my videogame pile is that I simply built up way too many at one point, and after that I couldn't keep up. I continue to play games I purchase and have purchased, however. That is no issue at all.
Board and card games, on the other hand, have seen a great increase and have barely been touched. I've come up with plenty of excuses as to why, but I feel it is time to put all that to rest. I have a good number of board games, I have friends I'd like to see more of, and plenty of time to work out how to play them with my friends. I even have time to do test runs with my roommates. I've used the fact that I only have a simple coffee table as an excuse for not playing, but that's just an excuse.
(I've also found myself feeling guilty about not making progress on a video game I'm trying to get through. This is also stupid.)
I bought those board games to enjoy and experience with friends, and teaching a few how to play Mall of Horror reminded me of how board games are, perhaps, the best excuse for having friends over. So I therefore intend to schedule more Friday or Saturday nights for board games and socializing.
Video games may be my top passion, but they don't have to be my only passion.
For my part, I think I'm going to go with two things:
It's time I finally filled out my collection at Board Game Geek.
I'm already planning on trying the Open Shelf idea for my books in 2014, with the assistance of GoodReads, so that I can include digital copies. The notion is to clear a shelf this January and add books to that shelf as you complete them over the year. Mostly, the whole thing seems like adding a progress meter to your reading, so that you can see how "productive" you've been and congratulate yourself. I'm doing something similar for games by adding a category in my Steam library for games I played this year.
The big addition to the open-shelf idea that I want to make is that I don't want to put anything on the shelf unless I've also given it some critical thought. It's not enough for me to consume these things, I want to digest them, too. Yeah, this might mean a couple more book reviews coming to the GWJ front page, if we're desperate for content.
With regard to GWJ:
Encourage longer-tail thinking. There's a tendency in games writing and gamer communities to focus on the new sensation while forgetting about other worthy games. For my part running the articles here on the front page, I want to get us thinking about games from last season, last year, last decade, or even earlier.
Take back "gaming" from being a euphemism for gambling.
So that's what we're all trying to expect from ourselves in 2014. What about you?