Video games are bigger than ever, but video game fashion still struggles—can Nike and PlayStation change all that? The holidays can ramp up depression, and depression can ramp up addictive behaviors: let's stop pretending that video games are immune to becoming addictions. And here's a snippet from Kyle Orland's new book, The Game Beat, revisiting the argument whether games are better with or without a story.
So, what are you playing?
The urge to play Stardew Valley is great. Too great. With the stresses of graduation in two weeks—thesis, papers, appointments, photos, haircut, holiday shifts at my other jobs—I need the relaxation. But I can’t afford to. As much as I would love to get up every morning, tend to my animals that I have named after food products, naturally, and fish the day away, I barely have time to finish my work in real life. I might be able to find time to squeeze in one evening of play after my full draft is due, but we’ll see.
I am growing tired of Home Renovator 2018, which I have been “playing” for close to two months now. In order to de-stress from that, now that I have finished up Battlefield V I have been pouring a ton of cooperative hours into Strange Brigade with my family. We have all fully embraced our noir 1930’s personas and are dedicated to hunting down all of the treasures and cats that the ancient world has to offer. I am also feeling a major itch to finally sink some time into Stardew Valley. It has been sitting in my Steam list, unplayed, for far too long.
There is still seldom a day that goes by without me visiting Red Dead Redemption 2. I have broken away from the game, having grown tired of being dragged into their various schemes and fights that seem to always end with a major gunfight and a dozen or so corpses lying around. My most recent horse (I tend to kill them through ineptitude and negligence, so I just name them HorseWidNoName to avoid getting emotionally attached) and I snuck out of camp in the dead of night, but not before I pillaged the camp provisions. I don't feel very bad about that since I paid for nearly all of them anyway. I have now taken up residence in the saloon in St. Denis. I have a little over $2,000 to live on, which would last a long time at $1 a night even if I wasn't subsidizing my savings with poker winnings and the money I bring in by catching Gar out in the river and bringing them back into town to sell to the butcher. At $3+ each, it's pretty easy to earn my room & food for the day just by fishing. Although... fishing isn't without its own risks - I starkly remember my first Gar. It took what seemed like a very long time to get it reeled in, but once I had caught it and tied it to the back of HorseWidNoName I figured it was all down hill from there. And it was, albeit only metaphorically: I climbed onto the saddle, spurred Horse forward, whereby he saw a gator and reared up in panic. I fell off the back, got killed by the gator, and lost my fish. Once resuscitated, I went into town and killed the afternoon watching a show in the theater. I felt like an afternoon off was justified.
There is an additional daily-player in my gaming life now, although I can only play it for short periods of time. Someone in line to inherit my vast wealth gifted me a copy of Beat Saber. Sure, it's easy to say that you just want to encourage me to do a little cardio exercise to keep me healthy, but we really know that no one, NO ONE, can play just one song. I'm not sure what it is that Beat Saber does differently from the rest, but I have never experienced anything that has made me feel that I am actually a part of the performance than Beat Saber does. Having recently seen the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and felt the raw (albeit recreated) emotion and energy of the Live Aid performance of the song of the same name, playing it in Beat Saber literally brought me to tears. I'm hooked. Well and truly hooked. Until it kills me, at least.
"Does it really take an entire 60 seconds to reload these cannons, homey?" "Dude, why are we sailing backwards again?" "What could you possibly mean, my guy, by having a map so huge it takes 20 real hours to sail from one end to the other?" If you, like me, are strangely excited by these kinds of gameplay questions, then you, too, likely picked up Naval Action during the Steam Sale. I don't know what's wrong with me either. My favorite games of 2018 seem to distill little bits of reality into video game form. Kingdom Come: Deliverance, American Truck Simulator–Oregon, and now Naval Action. Sometimes I play games for pure escapism. And sometimes I play games to better understand this weird world we all live in. For the moment, I'm really into understanding wind strength and direction, setting the sails, angling the yardarms to the wind, checking the sea state, and noting the flow of the current. I'm always complaining about how naval sailing and combat is way too fast in modern games. Too arcade-y. If Naval Action doesn't make me shut up about all that, then I'm fighting for a lost cause. You can catch me in the wind, breh.
So 7 Days to Die is back hot and heavy after the experimental A17 release has come out. Myself, Sean and John are working through this new build, testing out how the game plays now. Although my review is just about done, I plan to step back into Fallout 76 a bit more to clean up my character in anticipation of the major updates coming over the next couple of weeks. Hoping that this makes the game a bit more palatable for solo adventuring, because coordinating friends together to play can be tough when there are so many good co-op experiences out there right now. I also am working on another piece of hardware for review, which should be ready in the next week or so. Lastly, I may step in and sail the seas again with Randy in Sea of Thieves, as it also just had a major content update and we haven't played together as a group in a while.
Taking advantage of the recent Steam sale, I purchased the first two entries in Dead Space. I decided to skip Dead Space 1, since I’ve already played so much of that game, and have continued on to Dead Space 2. So far, the scares and tension number a bit higher than the first, of only because I’ve only played the second entry once or twice. But the reliance on darkness without things getting too hokey really takes the cake.
Oh, and I’ve also finally gotten back on board with Persona 5. Believe it or not, I’m still not done with my original play through. I’ve decided to take a break from Red Dead Redemption 2 because I’ve been playing that nonstop since review. So, it’s nice to get into some other games.