Who Moved My Cheese?
If you have a few mates around to watch a film, what do you put on?
A horror film? An adult comedy? Some dude-bro action? A bit of nerd-fest sci-fi?
More importantly: would any one of those films be anything less that a 15? Granted, you might scoop to the odd 12, such as The Dark Knight Rises, but I reckon you’d be playing it safe and pitching for a 15 or 18. I know that I would. In fact, when you’re on your own, isn’t it pretty much the same deal? Don’t you feel compelled to immerse yourself in adult content?
Wow. That came out all wrong. But you catch my drift. Ahem…
Now, forget we’re talking about films for a moment and replace the topic with games.
If I look through my collection, it’s by-and-large filled with 15 and 18 rated games. I say by-and-large; I mean entirely. I have a separate wallet for my kids, which is where all of the Sonic and Lego games end-up, but when they’re in bed and it’s my time to play, their wallet is the last place that I look.
Why am I forcing myself to play mature games? Why has my taste in games gone in one direction over these long years? Why does the thought of playing something that doesn’t feature blood, guns and zombies seem like an anathema? Why wouldn’t I put Finding Nemo on for me and the guys to watch over a few beers? Because I’d get a swift punch to the mangina, is why. And why don’t I watch The Incredibles when I’m on my own? Because I’d probably find a way to punch myself in the exact same place before beating my chest in an attempt to man-the-f**k-up.
We’re watching WHAT?!
At VoxelArcade, we’ve recently been talking a lot about variations on a theme: losing our faith in games. Yet if you read between the lines, you’ll see quite clearly that the passion’s far from gone.
So what’s the problem?
Maybe it’s just that we’re looking in the wrong places? Maybe we’re just playing the games that we think we should be playing as opposed to the ones that would make us genuinely happy? Maybe our score-obsessed industry has driven us into this mentality? Maybe we’ve become so used to going to the same places to look for our cheese, that we failed to notice the stockpile running low and forgot the fact that sometimes you need to go out and look for more in the most unlikely of places?
Or maybe not. Maybe it’s just time to play a game?
And so as I thumbed through my wallet of death and destruction, I breathed a heavy sigh and resigned myself to the apparently mundane routine of adult gaming. My boys, on the other hand, clearly had different plans for me. Having left their wallet out next to the PS3, I happened to glance through, suddenly experiencing a whiff of excitement as I noticed Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed. I’d seen them play this many times – even played with them a bit when I was offered the chance – but the thought of sitting down on my own over a Guinness to play it when everyone else was asleep? What a mad, crazy idea that was…or was it?
The old rebellious streak in me reared its beautifully ugly head – and I’m more than a little glad that it did.
Put the shotgun and the zombie down, sir, and step into the vehicle.
Playing Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed, on my own, late at night, was one of the most welcome breaths of fresh air that I’ve experienced in a long, long while. Somewhat tired and jaded by the ways in which Mario has monopolised the kart-racing genre; it’s one that I have long-since ignored. Somewhat numbed and desensitised by years of brutal violence and explosions; ‘kids’ games in general are something that I have largely ignored. And yet there I was, slipping and sliding around stunningly beautiful, insanely designed, rip-roaring roller-coaster-styled tracks with my car morphing into a boat one minute and a jet the next.
It was as though someone had surgically removed all of the amazing memories I had of Zoids, Thundercats, He-Man, Going Live!, Tiswas and Scooby Doo and distilled them into a fluorescent-blue fluid before injecting it into my eyeballs. With laughing gas. And sugar.
To clarify: I’m sat, on my own, approaching forty, playing a kids game, drinking beer – and grinning like a Cheshire cat.
So: did games get tired, boring and predictable – or did we?
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Husband. Parent. Gamer. Go figure.