My daughter is 15 months old now. Things like time and money are at an all-time premium in my life, which is not a situation that lends itself well to playing lots of video games, my pastime of choice before I fell in love with chasing a screaming gremlin around my house so she doesn’t slam her fingers in the kitchen drawer again.
It’s funny how quickly you can adapt to huge life changes like this. Sure, I’m exhausted all the time and broke most of the time but I’ve really come to love and appreciate My New Normal. I don’t really miss all the time I used to spend playing games, which probably sounds crazy, especially if my mom is reading this. What having so little free time and money to spend on games has done has actually gotten me back to a point that I’ve been wanting to get back to for years – really appreciating everything I’m playing.
In my pre-parenthood salad days I was able to play pretty much everything that was even remotely interesting to me. I wound up picking up a lot of games that I was only sorta into because I felt like I had to be there day one and stay on top of what was current, which is a real crappy way to do things and it led to a lot of unfinished games. A lot of those unfinished games are good, too! We played Yoshi’s Wooly World like twice and I still feel bad whenever I see it on the shelf. Then I see all the Yarn Yoshi amiibo and I feel less bad, but still sorta bad.
When I was a kid I never really got new games all that often. I’d get a game for my birthday or Christmas or for getting straight As and stuff like that, but keeping on top of monthly releases was entirely out of the question no matter how much I drooled over every issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. No, the games I got were My Games and I would pour countless hours into them, replaying them, finding secrets and really getting my parents’ money’s worth out of them. The past few years? Not so much.
Due to finances it took until Super Mario Odyssey released for us to get a Switch. I can count how many games we have for the console on one hand. Same goes for how many PS4 games I’ve purchased over the past year. I actually didn’t get any new games for Christmas or my birthday this year. It’s been really nice! I don’t have games piling up and I don’t feel guilt for not getting to the new stuff or not spending enough time with the old.
Final Fantasy XII is my favorite Final Fantasy game so I was beyond stoked to pick up The Zodiac Age for PS4. It makes a breathtakingly fantastic game even better by giving it a fresh coat of paint and making it easier to play with adjusted difficulty and an expanded Job system. I got it day one, played about halfway through and stopped. I don’t remember why. But I picked it back up about a month ago and I’ve been playing it just about every night and it’s been GREAT. I’m not even doing story content; I’m doing all the side stuff, like collecting materials for weapons, completing Hunts and gathering Espers – all the things I wouldn’t have bothered to do before, no matter how much I loved the game. I don’t feel like I need to finish it before something else comes out or anything like that. Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age is My Game and I’m really treasuring the time I’m spending with it.
The other game I’ve been going back to a lot is Splatoon 2 after a much-needed break – I was losing a LOT and not enjoying it anymore. I’ve been playing it casually again since the update and it’s been really nice to have a game that I can quickly pick up and put down depending on what else is going on and even take extended breaks if I need to. It’s a good “break” game for when I’m playing something meatier and want to spend time with something less involved.
Before I buy a new game these days I really think about if it’s something I think I’m going to stick with for the long haul. The new God of War looks fun but am I really going to see it all the way through? I won a free copy of Wild Guns Reloaded on Twitter the other day, which was awesome because it was something I’d been wanting to pick up for a while. I’m glad I didn’t pay for it because while it’s really awesome and fun, it’s super hard and not really my type of game and I’d feel like I should have saved my money for something else. I’ve had a few games on my Amazon wish list for a while now and even when I’ve had gift cards to spend I haven’t really felt like it was the the right time to pull the trigger.
I’m just not really in a place where I want to buy games just for the sake of having something new and I wish I had arrived here a long time ago. Even though I only get like, at most, two hours a night to play games I feel like it’s time I’m appreciating more and I’m enjoying the games more than I would be if I had tons of time and was playing all sorts of things.
This is all hitting at the right time, too. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (which my wife and I are playing together for a second time) and Super Mario Odyssey (which we got 100% on) have had a kind of ~mystical quality~ I can’t really explain that have made them feel like games did when I was younger. Pairing that with spending more time with fewer games has gotten me back into that mindfeel (it’s like mouthfeel but for your insides) I had when I was a kid. Games feel fun and personal for me again. They aren’t stressing me out and I don’t feel like I’m falling behind or anything. I’m enjoying My Games.
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