2015 has been an absolutely phenomenal year for gamers. With sweeping single-player epics, innovations in technology and game design, and top level pro-gaming, there’s been something to get excited about for just about everybody. This is arguably the best time to be alive if you’re a gamer, yet despite all of this, the past year has been one that I’ve found myself increasingly becoming disillusioned with the gaming industry. I absolutely loved The Witcher 3, but for me, nothing else really stood out. The truth is, the only other ‘modern’ games I really play are Ultra Street Fighter IV and Hearthstone. But the problem hasn’t been just the games. Sifting through my favourite gaming reddits, I’ve slowly began to realise that the gaming communities I once called home have become the enclave for pseudo intellectual rubbish, pretentious waffle, and trolling 12-year old keyboard warriors who want to f*** everybody’s mothers. And it’s hard to read through any gaming newsfeed now without some kind of huge controversy that brings out the very worst in people. I mean, death threats to game developers? Really?
No wonder non-gamers think we’re all misogynistic, angry idiots.
I’ve owned multiple consoles during the past few years, but I’m a PC gamer through and through. And I can tell you that you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Maybe I am exaggerating a bit for dramatic effect, but let’s be honest, for every awesome person you meet in WoW and LoL (even my beloved Street Fighter IV), there’s an army of trolls and simpletons ready to remind you why everybody thinks your community sucks.
Pile on the financial responsibilities of adult life and trying to juggle family and relationships, and well, it’s easy to see why 2015 has been a bit of a miss for me when it comes to gaming. Except that it hasn’t. I’ve played more games in 2015 than I probably ever have, but all of these games have come from the upper echelons of gaming’s mythical and storied history. In 2015, I became a retro collector.
I still have a relatively small collection compared to some, but I’ve managed to loot quite a lot recently, from a SNES with a bunch of awesome boxed games, an original PlayStation with all of the Final Fantasy games ever released on it – FFIX has aged the best – and a bunch of old big box PC games. I’ve been having an absolute blast replaying some of the games that made my childhood, as well as going through titles I wish I never missed (The Legend of Zelda, where the hell have you been all my life?!).
Still, it took a six-year old Wii game to remind this old PC gamer of the reason we all play games in the first place. I’ve never liked the Wii or the Wii U; something about the motion controls and Nintendo’s totalitarian shift in focusing on casual, family-friendly games never caught on with me. But when I saw one at a local car-boot sale, with New Super Mario Bros. Wii and a bunch of controllers for a tenner, I thought “why not?” – I needed one for my Nintendo console collection anyway. What I got instead was evening after evening of pure, unadulterated, joyous fun. I played through the entire game in co-op with my girlfriend, and then again, and I can honestly tell you I have never had as much fun, or laughed as hard playing a video game.
So for 2016, my new year’s resolution is to do just that. Have fun, and remember that that is the actual reason I play games in the first play and why billions of us around the globe do too. It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative side of gaming whether it be with community, the factory farmed franchises (*cough* EA), the pretentiousness, the console ‘war’, the controversies, the big triple AAA developer who didn’t fulfil their promises (*cough* EA), the ridiculously overpriced DLCs, and questionable business decisions (*cough* still you, EA). Let’s not forget the simple fact, the very reason we spend our hard earned cash and get so passionate about our hobby. Video games are fun.