Control checks a lot of my boxes when it comes to not only games but media in general. I love conspiracies and secretive government agencies and stories about human beings trying to grapple with the supernatural. Control is a game about all of those things, and you can fly. I love Control so much that I haven’t so much as touched it for the past week.
Here’s the big problem for me: The more I play the game, the less game there is to play. Soon, the game will be over, and while Control still has missions to complete after the credits roll, the act of discovery will be over. The Federal Bureau of Control won’t be entirely unravelled, but the major mystery of the game will be. I’m dreading this.
At one point, protagonist Jesse Faden says that despite all the terrifying things that happen to her in Control, being in the Bureau feels like home. It feels like home to me as well, but when it ends, that illusion will be broken. Confronting the finality inherent in fiction makes it harder for me to explore it with the same kind of wonder as the first time around.
I have this problem a lot with media. I’ve been reading Infinite Jest for now close to a decade because every time I get to a piece of prose that makes my heart swell, I think about how if I keep reading, the book will be over. Series finales of television shows go unwatched for months.
With movies, my anxiety about endings take the inverse form. When I finish a movie that sticks in my imagination, I’ll sometimes watch it again the next day, to try to recapture the feeling of seeing it for the first time.
My particular brain chemistry has led to a shortage of good feelings in my life, and so prolonging those positive moments has taken a priority. Letting myself savour these experiences has been a form of self care. Now I have therapy and medication — I’m not chasing after serotonin like lions after a gazelle. But old habits die hard. I am still surrounded by half-finished books, television shows, and video games.
My job at Kotaku has forced me to finish things more than I have in the past, and slowly peeling off that Band-Aid has been helpful to me. You have more experiences when you finish what you start, meaning more time to find those games or books you never want to end.
I’ve promised myself that I’ll finally pick Control back up this week, and maybe I’ll even finish it. I know that my home isn’t in Control. Prolonging my experience of it is just prolonging a kind of fantasy that isn’t helpful for me anymore.