I Am A Videogame Sampler
There is a television. It has videogames on it. My hands are holding a controller and I am staring at the television. It might be dark in the room. My cat is rolling around on her back next to me.
The videogame wants me to do something. Kill some dudes. Build something, defend someone, collect stuff. Sometimes the videogame wants me to find my own thing to do, but that’s still a thing.
If I’m lucky I can occasionally do these things for very long periods of time. At my most fortuitous I can go forego sleep and nutrition and fall into a videogame, forgetting the parade of shit that we deal with in our daily lives. On my most unlucky of days videogames feel exactly like that parade of shit.
I finish a thing and then the game asks me to do another thing. It’s pretty much exactly like the last thing but a little different.
I turn off the videogame.
I really want to like videogames, but most of the time I only really like the first hour of a videogame, when things are new and novel. Before the game keeps asking me to do things over and over and over. I just can’t care about that stuff for very long – story or art or design be damned.
My name is Adam Harshberger and I am a videogame sampler.
What does the videogame life of a videogame sampler look like? 10 hours of Borderlands 2 over like 3 weeks, most of which spent miserably bored. One slightly confused and very excited hour of FTL, followed by about 4 more being very bored. Nine extremely fucking painful hours of Arkham City, prefaced by about 45 minutes where it felt good to be Batman. A shit ton of Xenoblade: Chronicles, followed by complete and utter repulsion at the thought of picking that game back up. Showing the first couple levels of Bit.Trip.Runner to friends of varying levels of intoxication, but never ever wanting to play anything beyond them, beyond the part where the glee wears off. Something like 2 hours of Diablo 3. Half an hour of Civilization 5.
I’m level 14 on Guild Wars 2 and I think it’s a great game. But I can see every inch of the leveling curve in front of me – not just the time investment but the way that time would be spent – and it isn’t anything that interests me at all. But I know it’s good in the same way I know something like Mozart is good. To respect something critically isn’t the same as to give a shit about it.
I don’t know what I want from a videogame, but I’ll pick them up incessantly trying to find it. Sometimes I find it for an hour, sometimes twenty. The fact that I played Skyrim for 40 hours boggles my fucking mind. I almost always lose it before I finish a game or play the game for a large amount of time.
Part of me would like to pretend I’m relentlessly hunting depth, or beauty: a reflection of my life in videogame form. I’m not. It’s just the vast majority of videogames that get made – indie or not – don’t click with me. It’s not that I think they’re bad games; I just don’t care about them. Not enough for me to give them the time that others do, at least.
I don’t know if that’s something I need to apologize for or not.