With a new year mere hours away – and with 2020 almost consigned to the dustbin of history – it’s likely that you’re thinking about New Year’s resolutions.
Maybe you’d like to lose some weight or exercise more. Maybe you’d like to master a new skill or drink less alcohol. Or maybe, like me, you’re resolving to do something really important in 2021. I speak of my aim to finally sort out the crazed web of HDMI cables that threaten to rise from my living room floor like the mighty Kraken, cables that swarm around my feet and trip me up whenever I get up from the sofa to make a sandwich. And I’ve got more…
I would like, in 2021, to actually finish some games. At the time of writing, I am a few hours – and a handful of raids – from finally bidding goodbye to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. I am probably an hour or two off finishing Doom Eternal. The Icon Of Sin can do one, frankly. I never finished Ori And The Blind Forest, let alone this year’s Ori And The Will Of The Wisps. You know the distracted boyfriend meme? That is me with literally any other game other than the one I’m playing. It’s time to be a better boyfriend and start seeing things through.
If Cyberpunk 2077 taught me one thing, it’s that me and day one purchases are done. In fact, I think me and year one purchases are done if the game sports a Bethesda logo. I also plan to be far more mindful of crunch. I love video games more than any other medium of art, but the castle we’ve built is crumbling and in need of urgent renovations.
I want to play the latest open world RPG as soon as possible as much as anyone, but I’m not willing to be complicit in the nervous breakdown of a dev. Here’s my current thinking: the only way the industry changes and a modicum of sanity is restored to its practices is if we, as a community, stop and say ‘enough’. Little says ‘enough’ to studios like refusing to enter your bank details.
I plan to take more risks. Nearly all my favourite titles in 2020 were, if not blind, then certainly visually impaired forays into the indie market. A Hand With Many Fingers, Kind Words, A Short Hike, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, Spiritfarer, Going Under, Necrobarista, Umurangi Generation… These were all wonderful, innovative, inspiring – sometimes all three – games I found on my console’s e-store.
All were significantly cheaper than August’s Marvel’s Avengers; all were infinitely more fun than anything the repetitive action of Cap and co. had to offer. One game – probably my favourite of 2020, Welcome To Elk – was purchased on account of liking the titles art style. Sometimes you just have to take a punt on a cartoon llama, y’know?
It shames me to say this, but I’d like to care less about Achievements and Trophies. You should know that I really, really care about Achievements and Trophies and will spend hours performing the most mundane of tasks in order to tick them off. Games should be everything that a shopping list isn’t.
I’d also like to play more with friends – these distanced times are crying out for Friday night Fall Guys parties, while me and my wife don’t play Mario Kart anywhere near as much as we used to. Away from games I’d like to spend more time hanging out with my best friend and my brother. The world is making that awfully difficult right now. But maybe a regular evening of FIFA and Discord would bridge those gaps?
And, truth be told, I’d like to play less. There have been times in 2020 – such has been the state of it – where I’ve lived in front of my console. I don’t need to replay Skyrim for the 50th time – I don’t think I need to play it ever again – especially when I’ve got so many books lying around unread. I don’t need to boot up Rocket League or Tony Hawk’s whenever I’ve got 30 minutes to fill. At the very least, I could take my Switch to a park bench and play. This doesn’t reflect one jot on a diminished interest in games by the way, rather a hope to enhance the magic of them. I don’t want games to merely be something I do, but something I love to do.
Games saved me in 2020. They saved so many of us, our lives made smaller by COVID, more fearful and cooped away. There are signs that 2021 is going to be equally as challenging, certainly the early stages. I want to make my experience as a fan of the medium the very best it can be. To kick things off as I mean to get on, let me try to work out where I’ve put my cable ties. Time to tame the Kraken…