My attempt at Shameless Gaming - it has been shameful. The month of July is over and after all the blood, sweat and Pepsi Max, all I have to show for my pitiful efforts is two games competed. A pathetic two games removed from my pile of shame. Where did it all go wrong?
That's a story that would take a hundred posts to regale... but first my progress.
Coming into the last weekend, things looked grim. I hadn't completed a single game. The closest I'd come to finishing was Bulletstorm, a short first person shooter I should have knocked over in a couple of days. My planning had come undone - I wanted to use the month to blast through short FPSs I had ignored as a result of overwhelming shooter fatigue - Homefront, Bulletstorm and Crysis 2 were at the forefront of that list. I passed on Crysis 2 initially, because I worried it may have been too long; I ignored Homefront because it was probably too mediocre to bother with.
Bulletstorm seemed like a happy medium.
It took me far longer than I expected, mainly because, while Bulletstorm was frantic, innovative fun in short bursts, it was tedious to marathon. This feeling was amplified towards the end, when enemies became bullet sponges and interesting encounters were replaced with buggy scripted sequences. It was a struggle to finish, but I managed it.
Child of Eden, I thought, would be the perfect antidote to my re-occurring shooter fatigue. I was excited - I loved Child of Eden, and only had a couple of levels to finish. This was the kind of Shameless Gaming I could enjoy, instead of force - if I could find my copy of the game.
Yes. Someone had borrowed my copy of Child of Eden.
Because I have a decent sized game collection, I've gotten into the habit of lending games out to friends/family/any old random who visits my apartment. I realised this after roughly 30 minutes of frantic searching - rustling through game drawers, DVD drawers, Blu-ray drawers, pants drawers...
To no avail - I had to move on. I had to look for another game to finish. This turned out to be a difficult task.
Because it was at this point that I realised that at the dark marrow of Shameless Gaming lies a heartbreaking fact of life - games get tossed into the pile of shame for good reason. I picked up Batman: Arkham Asylum - an incredible game by most accounts - but tossed it back. It had been almost a year since I last played it, the context was lost, it was too difficult to hop back into, the difficulty spikes were too frustrating. I picked up Split/Second - did racing games count? Who cares - I didn't want to play a racing game. WWE All Stars - tossed it. Crysis 2 - I didn't have the time.
It was then that I found it, buried undernearth a pile of other games - half-finished efforts squawking like X-factor rejects.
"Pick me! Pick me!"
The temptation to blast up Bastion or From Dust was almost overwhelming, but I stopped - took a deep breath.
L.A. Noire. Fine. I'll pick you.
So yes, the second and only game I finished for Shameless Gaming was L.A. Noire. So shameful.
Now that the month is over, and everything is back to normal, I have mixed feelings about Shameless Gaming. On the one hand it was a beautiful experiment - a chance to cast aside the pressure I often feel - to be on top of the latest games, to be familiar with the cutting edge of gaming. But Shameless Gaming almost made me realise why gaming often winds me up mercilessly - it just seems to be populated with so much mediocrity to the point where everything feels the same, everything plays the same and fresh experiences are difficult to find.
So many of my unfinished games were shooters. So many. I found that quite depressing. Others were third person games that were too long to even consider. I guess Shameless Gaming really made me realise how little free time I actually have as an adult person with responsibilities - and it made me realise that I don't always want to spend that free time gaming. My spare time is precious, and if I'm going to play a video game, it had better be extra-ordinary, otherwise I'd probably rather go and watch an episode of Mad Men.
But regardless - I'm glad I took part. I'm even more glad the whole thing is over.
Now I can finally go and play Bastion!
I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who supported Shameless Gaming and took part. It's been great fun talking to you guys and sharing the experience. I want to give particular thanks to Trjn for coming up with the idea. He has written his own wrap up post, which you can read here.