Hi. My name is Snuphy. I have ED. No, no, not that kind of ED. I still get or turn into a raging hard on at the mere thought of lady parts. I think I have gaming ED. You know, the kind of ED where gaming no longer makes my loins stir as they once did.
There was a time, back when I had a CoD “problem”, when I yearned to play constantly. If I got home a half hour before my family, that meant I had time for a few FFA matches. If dinner needed to simmer an hour, TDM was in order. Tucking the kids into bed meant the beginning of a domination or headquarters marathon. Coworkers half my age used to check XBL in the mornings before I got to the office to see how many hours ago I was “last seen” so they’d be prepared to ridicule my eye color and queasy stomach. I’d spend lunch hours scouring the interwebz for gameplay vids, gun stats and tips. I went ape shit each time a trailer rolled out for the next year’s release, emailing the smallest new game details to friends who didn’t give a shit. I discovered 2o2p searching for CoD enlightenment.
These days are much different. I’m not excited about anything I’m playing. It’s not that my games aren’t fun. I enjoy them. But I no longer obsess over any of them. I don’t even feel compelled to play them. In fact last night I turned on my console and couldn’t decide what game to place in its disk tray. So instead I watched some shitty sitcom and went to bed. Video games aren’t holding my attention as they once did. I’ve been wondering why.
My first thought was age. Old folks don’t seem to head off to the retirement community with consoles tucked under their arms or tricked out gaming PCs strapped to their walkers. I’m sure these awesome older people exist. But it seems to me that the natural progression for the geriatric populace at large is to reach some Golden Age of GAming (GAGA) at which almost everyone grows out of the hobby. Perhaps I’m smacking up against my GAGA. I did just turn forty-freaking-four, an age at which some lesser men embark on a midlife crisis, trade their minivans for Harleys, dye the gray out of their hair, lament the years they’ve wasted and the few they have left, and try to substantiate their existence by combining alcohol with curious young coeds. I mix beer and video games until the wee hours of the morning. Yet I personally know no one 10 years older than me who still plays, or 5 years older for that matter.
I have to say this GAGA notion is troublesome on a couple of levels. First it implies I’m fucking old, which I clearly ain’t. Second it seems to suggest that I believe there are some physical or social reasons geezers shouldn’t game. As to the physical, I say bullshit. I mean I’m capable of moving back into my mom’s basement to subsist entirely on Cheetos, Mountain Dew and video games. I could be l33t if I didn’t have a family, a career, other hobbies, or what passes as a sex life. As to the social, well, you clicked on the cock critter to get here, so you probably already know that socially UNacceptable is the way I roll. I don’t think this age thing has much to do with it.
So I’ve been digging deep into the depths of my own mind, a scary place to say the least, in search of answers. In doing so I’ve rediscovered my appreciation of the Grateful Dead, found I’m unusually fascinated by an extraordinarily long belly button hair, and I’ve identified a personal gaming limitation. Yup, I’ve realized I like to shoot shit, and to blow shit up, and that’s about it. I dwell almost entirely in the shooter genre. I’m a man who has eyes for only one horse. I’ve limited myself to one corner of the gaming world. I have very narrow focus. I’m stuck in a rut.
But it’s the same rut I’ve been in for years. My rut used to be a happy place filled with explosions, mayhem, and giggles. My rut used to possess a golf-ball-through-a-garden-hose type pull that was constantly sucking me in. “Excitability” or “getting it up” was never an issue. Now, not so much.
Have I changed that drastically in the last four or five years? I don’t think so. I’m still pretty much the same idiotic, good natured douchebag that I’ve been for quite some time. What about the games, have they changed drastically? Definitely not. Which I think is my problem. The shooter genre seems stagnant. It’s rife with homogeny and repetition.
Just thinking about the modern warfare style shooters spectrum alone, there’s Battlefield at one end, Call of Duty at the other, and a smattering of others like Homefront and Medal of Honor trying to eke out an existence in the niche in between. All strive to become the juggernaut that Call of Duty 4 became, or at least they strive to claim a chunk of the jugger pie. All employ the “realistic soldier”, which also means all employ the same guns, weapons and military goodies. All imitate each other’s gameplay elements and multiplayer styles, or at least they all imitate CoD. It seems to me that the overlap between franchises is growing. The distinction between titles is being blurred, franchise individuality is becoming more difficult to identify. Shooters are becoming increasingly less interesting.
And they don’t just mimic each other. They also mimic the living shit out of themselves as they string together sequel after sequel, beating us with the same campaign sequences and the same played out multiplayer conventions. So, after ten years and five iterations, even unique franchises like Halo seem tired. Hell, since joining XBL for my 40th birthday I’ve played my second Medal of Honor, two Left for Deads, three Gears of Wars, four Battlefields, four Halos, and eight Call of Fucking Duties. What’s on tap for 2012? Another Medal of Honor, another Halo, and CoD9. The best looking thing on my horizon is a sequel, Borderlands2, or maybe Bioshock3. There are long periods between the emergence of unique titles like Brink, Borderlands, Bulletstorm, or even Duke Nukem Forever. I spend a lot of time filling those expansive voids with masturbatory sequels and wannabe knock offs. I’m tired of filling those voids with the same old shit. I’m in one of those voids now.
I think my plumbing works fine. I’m not going GAGA.
I’m just bored.