Gaming resolutions? Well, I’m hoping to really go all in on 4K for…Hold on. What’s that? Ah, my editor tells me we more or less cracked this exact joke last year. And that it’s bad. And that I should feel bad. (I regret nothing.)
New Year’s is usually a period of fresh starts and tuned perspectives. “New Year, New You,” all that jazz. This year, though, it’s hard to muster such sanguine pomp. Broad resolutions — travel, hit the gym, nail down a work-life balance, pretend you’re a tourist in your own city — are currently off the table. No one can say for sure when life as we know it will go back to being life as we know it, so such brazen declarations are fraught, to say the least. But video games are totally, ahem, fair game. (I still regret nothing.)
“I’m going to play more games,” my colleague Ethan Gach tells me. “I say this every year but this time I mean it. This means playing fewer games to completion, especially large, padded, open-world ones, and spending less time running the same missions over and over again in endless looters like Destiny 2. It also means restricting online multiplayer sessions to the times when I actually have friends available to play with. How many super-short indie games might I have been able to try out in the two hours it took to drop ranks again while playing Rocket League solo? But mostly this means less mindless scrolling on my phone. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are always a race as I try to catch up on all the games everyone has spent all year telling me are wonderful, and it sucks. The holidays should be a time to relax and get some perspective on life, not pulling finals-like cram sessions as I set out on an eggnog-addled death march through my backlog. I love games. I want to play more games. In 2021 I finally will.”
“I’d really like to spend less time reading about games and more time playing them,” says my colleague Alexandra Hall. “I have such a hard time starting things, but once over that initial hump I’m good. Somehow I managed to watch and enjoy five movies this past week, and put 35 hours and counting into Demon’s Souls. So maybe I’ve got some momentum going! I also want to get around to checking out more short and indie games, instead of just letting them rot forever in my Steam ‘Let’s Try ♥’ category.”
“My resolution is to actually finish the games I play,” says my colleague Ash Parrish. “Even the games I really, really like, I perceive I’m getting to the end and stop for no reason I can think of. Maybe I’m subconsciously scared of my good times coming to an end or maybe I just play a game so much that I naturally tire and move on right before the end. But in 2021, I’m going to roll credits on more games.” I, too, am plagued with this inexplicable curse, and will strive to complete more games next year.
As for me, I shall start that by finishing Mass Effect 2 (for the first time), really, I promise, and will then play through it again when the Legendary Edition rolls around, as part of a mad dash through the original trilogy plus Andromeda before the next Mass Effect drops. I’d also love to play games online with more of my friends. Outside of a romp through The Division 2 in the spring, I did not do enough this year to curate a group of pals. If couch co-op remains verboten through much of next year, as it was for much of this year, those social connections would be very welcome. Anyway, let me know if you want to play some Outriders in February!
I’m also struck by this Leigh Alexander column we ran a decade ago, to the day, exploring some general gaming-related resolutions. Some of the proper nouns are of the era (see: FarmVille), but the core advice is still sound: Don’t judge anyone’s tastes, live by the Golden Rule, diversify your interests, remember that games are made by human people, and, above all, have fun with this stuff. I know I could do better with some of those — especially that last one. We all could, to some degree.
OK, your turn. How do you hope to play and feel and think about games differently next year? When the clock hits midnight, what goals — lofty or grounded, gaming-related or, why not, more general — will you carry into 2021?