In Scotland we’ve got our own special word for that built-in determination we possess as humans, it’s called dig. If you haven’t got the will to complete something, then (in the opinion of some) you’ve just not got enough dig.
1. Noun: an innate urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need.
Recently, I’ve been lacking in this dig when it comes to playing games. I buy lots of games, I love the feeling of getting a new game (in some cases, probably more than I love playing it), but when that shiny new feeling wears off and the game throws up its first major challenge/chore, I often go “fuck it” and do something else. I lie down to challenge far too easily. I never used to be like this, and it utterly dismays me.
My problem is it’s just so damn easy to be distracted. Within about 7 seconds of putting down the controller I can be on my phone reading my twitter feed. Or I can stick on Netflix, or look up interesting stuff on Reddit. I just did it right there, upon finishing that sentence I hopped on Twitter for absolutely no reason at all. And now you’re thinking of doing the same as I’ve planted the seed and oh, you’re gone.
So it’s very easy to get distracted. In addition to this, many big games of this past console generation (it’s weird saying that) seem to do everything in their power to hold our hands through the experience, moreso than ever before. My biggest weakness is probably checkpoints during levels. As I’ve gotten older I simply loathe to repeat sections of games longer than about five minutes, and I’m not proud of it. In GTAV I contemplated skipping part of one mission when offered the chance as I felt I was being unfairly killed time after time. Playing Lost Planet during the summer I died a few times at a mid-game boss, I’ve yet to go back and beat him yet. It’s utterly pathetic.
Being so close to the games industry is also a problem. I can’t really help but be aware of what’s just come out or is upcoming, following the discussion on these titles through Twitter and Facebook. I simply can’t prevent my head being turned sometimes, especially as my brain loves that shiny-new-toy feeling. I also have a pretty demanding job on occasion and personal circumstances that can ask a lot of me, I often want something to just switch off to at the end of the day.
A few weeks ago my mate came round for our semi-regular day of playing vidya games. I’d got my parents to post me down some Wii games and we were having a look through. When we got to Mario Galaxy I said how I’d never finished it, I’d only attaineda measly 30 stars. He was stunned, “dude you need to play through this game and finish it, you’ll love it. I’m happy to just watch you play it today”. So I fired it up.
When someone is watching you play a game, you tend to become very aware of not screwing up. If I did, I’d restart and go again, eager to show I wasn’t crap at Mario. Something I may not have done by myself. Once my mate left, I was still sitting there racking up the stars. 30 stars had turned into 50 in one session. And Galaxy was proving an absolute joy to play through. I felt really pleased with myself, it had been a while since I’d had such a warm feeling of accomplishment from a game. It may sound daft, but I felt really empowered by the experience.
The next day I fired up my Wii right after work and played through til bedtime. The rest of the week I squeezed in some play whenever I got the chance. For me, Mario Galaxy is the best game of the last 10 years, bar none. It is such a wonderful game with so many genuinely new experiences crammed in, it was the perfect game to get me back into the habit of not chucking it at the first sign of difficulty, even a few crazy-hard purple coin levels didn’t deter me! I’m now at 103 stars and have set myself the goal of getting every star before Christmas day and the arrival of my Wii U. It’s not just Mario either, I finally finished Hotline Miami and I’m back into Pokemon X too, having semi-abandoned it just before the Pokemon League and just after that “omg this is so new” feeling began to wane.
My dig is well and truly back now. After Christmas and New Year, I’m going to look into my collection and start finishing some of these games I abandoned far too soon. I might chronicle it on the blog, since my motivation for writing is so apparently lacking too. New Year’s resolution: start finishing more of the things I start, and not just in games.