As nerds, we obsess about being “part of the conversation”; Our identity often defined by the things we like. Our credibility questioned in the world’s most pointless dick-measuring contest if we have not beaten the latest game. I would like to pretend it’s the fault of the gaming industry and the marketing machine but I know the ailment is self-induced. YouTube comments consistently one-up each other in a battle for the self-proclaimed title of “Ultimate Nerd”. A title most of society would gladly run from, but not us. We wear our gamerscores with pride. Who cares if we let the game sink in? Who cares if we gave the story enough attention to let it resonate? We played the game. We conquered it. Now we can talk about it on social media. We are able say “oh you are barely playing that?” with patronization on our breath.
Videogames fall victim to a problem that rarely affects great books and wonderful films. They are forgotten. We move forward in a zombie-like herd consuming what lies in front of us continuously looking for our next meal. In our wake, lies nothing: Nothing that was truly appreciated nor reflected upon.
I myself have added to the problem. I have raced to finish a game, watch an anime series, and read a book with the ultimate goal of moving on to the next. However, one cannot fully appreciate a work of art with one eye focused on another. I decided to take a small stand with Horizon Zero Dawn. I told myself I will not rush to complete the game for the sake of completion. I will play the side quests I want and ignore the ones that bore me. I will beat the game at my own pace or ultimately decide to abandon it all together, but I will take my time.
I replayed Psychonauts recently. The Double Fine game is as brilliant today as it was when it was released nearly 12 years ago. There is no conversation to be had. No hashtag is trending; allowing me to read the superfluous opinions of strangers. However, Psychonauts is still a great game. Most games become more enjoyable after the hype train has sluggishly rolled to its final resting place. The hyperbolic platitudes have faded into memory leaving nothing but a game. A game the player is allowed to experience for themselves and form an opinion uniquely their own. There is no angry commenter typing with caps-locked ferocity to call you a “fag” or any other vitriolic slur for that matter. There is no one to tell you that your opinion is wrong nor is there anyone to cosign your thoughts. You are left with an opinion that is pure and 100 percent correct. You are left with YOUR opinion.
As time goes forward I ask you to try and enjoy the piece of art you are consuming. Enjoy the pulse-pounding combat of an action game and hang on every word of your favorite author. Worry not if you are correct in your tastes. A good game will still be a good game a year from now. Come to terms with the fact you cannot experience everything and you are guaranteed to miss out on something that is perfect for you. Get around to games when it is convenient for you.