by Sam Desatoff
It’s a new year, and with it comes a wave of new games. Because being an adult is a massive crock of shit, it is nearly impossible to play all the new releases seeking to ravage your wallet in 2016. But it is possible to guide your gaming year. By managing my time and budget better, I hope to have a more fulfilling year in gaming, which is great because if anyone knows me, they know my time-management skills are superb (HAHA-it took me ten years to graduate college).
Below are the efforts I plan on making this year in my quest to game better (not necessarily more), seek entertainment that fits my lifestyle, and generally have a more varied 2016. This list pertains only to games, and does not include my other resolutions like “read more” and “learn to make a bitchin’ pizza.” A couple days a go, I wrote a list of five games I wish I played in 2015. As might be expected, there is some overlap between the two articles, but for the most part I tried to hit different aspects of my gaming habits that I felt need addressing.
On with the list!
Growing up, I cut my teeth on a number of different game styles. From platformers to beat-’em-ups to sports, I had varied tastes. But if any one genre can define my gaming adolescence, it’s the JRPG. I was drawn to the turn-based battles, the character development, the party customization, and the huge, sprawling worlds. Some of my fondest gaming memories revolve around alternating play of Chrono Trigger with a friend until the wee hours of the morning. Discussions of Final Fantasy VII materia combinations led to us putting our theories into practice, usually with no fancy effects (Deathblow + Time = nothing).
Unfortunately, I no longer have the time to invest into these forty-plus hour games. I mean, I can probably find the time, especially given the fact that the JRPG is prominent on portable consoles, but I’ve noticed I don’t posses the patience I did when I was a child. This may be attributed to the increasingly action-heavy triple-A titles we see every year that seem tailored to shorter attention spans, but that feels like a cop-out; the gaming landscape is more varied now than ever before, and there are titles that appeal to every kind of gamer out there. There isn’t much of an excuse to avoid any particular genre outside of “I’d rather play something else.”
In some kind of effort to recapture the feel of childhood, or perhaps to re-teach myself patience, I want to return to the JRPG. 2016 will see a great deal of new entries in the genre, and thus lots of opportunities to revisit my favorite genre. The only problem is deciding which game(s) to play. I’ve yet to play a Persona game, and with the fifth entry releasing in 2016, now seems like a good time to jump in. Also of not is the Legend of Heroes series. I played the first half of Trails in the Sky and absolutely loved it. The choices are many, but that is a good problem to have. Here’s to a more turn-based 2016.
Play More Tabletop Games
I love video games. They’re capable of taking you on journeys to different worlds, galaxies, time periods, and more. But, aside from the rise in virtual reality technology, immersion can be limited in a medium that revolves around watching action on a screen while you hold a hunk of plastic in you hands. That is why, sometimes, I prefer board games. There is something satisfying about sitting around a table with some close friends and some drinks while you each try to screw one another out of a key card or space on the board. The tactile, tangible cardboard and wooden bits add to the experience as well.
My board game collection grew an irresponsible amount in 2015. Because of this, there are a handful of games on my shelf that haven’t even been played yet. One my resolutions for 2016 is to play more tabletop games. This can segue into a broader resolution of “spend more time drinking with friends around a table.” This resolution also extends to tabletop RPGs. Our Dungeons and Dragons group has not met in quite some time, and it’s time that changed.
Pay More Attention to the Indie Scene
It can be overwhelming every year when the big publishers present their shiny new games in flashy, scripted presentations in filled-to-capacity theaters. The explosions and beautiful graphics and this year’s Assassin’s Creed are all shoved into our faces, and we eat it all up. And why shouldn’t we? New entries in our favorite triple-A franchises are exciting. New properties from our favorite triple-A developers are exciting. But thanks to the glut of television ads and sometimes cringe-worthy conferences, it’s easy to miss the huge number of independently-released games released every year.
I didn’t pay much attention to the indie scene in 2015, but the fact that Ori and the Blind Forest made my top five games of the year tells me that I should have. I missed out on too many critical darlings to make that mistake in 2016. Undertale and Axiom Verge, both highly-praised indie titles, were games I missed out on last year, and I don’t plan on missing out on this year’s crop of hits.
What are your gaming resolutions for 2016?