下手の横好き世界5 by William Van Hecke

Buy, Then Play, Then Buy

I have reached a time in my life when I need to buy video games that I will play, and play the video games that I buy.

Traditionally, I have gotten worked up about games and I have buzzed with excitement until I could somehow get my hands on them. The procurement of the game often superseded the enjoyment of the game. If a game was part of a series I considered myself a fan of, or had a particularly attractive package, or showed up at a Shinjuku used-game shop for cheap, I couldn’t be satisfied until I had it on my shelf. Sometimes these games became lastingly memorable life experiences. Sometimes they became nothing.

Now I’m not in charge of my own budget anymore. I need to feed, clothe, and shelter two adult human beings. The lady controls our money because she knows better than to let me spend $200 on a Limited Edition game that might end up as a disappointment, or $75 on a game I might not play for more than five hours, or $30 on a game that might never find its way onto the disc tray at all.

Yesterday I was freaking out a bit about how my hobby is kind of passing me by. If I finally get around to playing a game, it’s often well after everyone else has already discovered it, chattered about it online, drawn their fanart, and moved on to the next thing. Part of the fun of games for me is participating in the culture and exploring the game along with hundreds of other people around the world. Recently there was a Dengeki poll asking gamers about the best game they played in 2007; it kind of spooked me to think that some games I’m still meaning to pick up and play (particularly Etrian Odyssey and Fate/stay night [Realta Nua]) are now officially last year’s news. Of course, that’s because I spent the last five months playing Ar tonelico 2, which is also on the list. (Not to mention that I still mean to play their all-time favorite #9, Gensousuikoden II, but haven’t partially because I was busy playing #4, Xenogears, at the time.) But I’d like to keep up better than I am.

I mentioned to the lady that I worried when I’d even be able to buy another video game. She hit me with the eminently sensible notion that it’s fine to buy a new game if I have finished the ones I already own. This is a completely alien concept to me, but it’s clear that with our current resources it’s the only reasonable way to proceed. Of course, this means I can’t employ my old shotgun method of game collection and then sort through the loot when it’s time to start a new game. I’ll have to carefully weigh which of the games on my wishlist I really want to play next, then buy it and play it. I won’t be playing fewer games, I’ll just be spending less money on games that are bound to become shelf decorations… Though I am proud of my shelf decorations.

Of course, the first stage of this discipline will be finishing (or rejecting) the 20 or so games in my queue. To that end, I dove back into Ar tonelico 2 last night and finished Croche’s path this morning before work. Next I’ll go back and finish the secret character’s path. Then I’ll choose a game I already own and get through that. When I truly own no video games that I still want to get through, then I’ll take a look around at the landscape and see which game I truly want to play next.