WHY I WRITE

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132m-ultros

Hello, my name is Greg. I am an engineer, an internet blogger, and a video game and music aficionado. I will be one of the people placing words on this website for all those who care to read them. I’m going to keep this one short, because it really only serves to elaborate on my own motivations, and because I realize that people might not care so much /why/ I write as long as I continue informing and entertaining you. And since I only do that sporadically anyway, it means that your curiosity is probably just as sporadic. Anyway. This is Why I Write.

My writing started out as nothing more than ranting. Ranting is something I do very, very well, and I realize that this doesn’t make me any different than anyone else on the internet. It’s the internet. It’s basically just one big never-ending anonymous rant. Seeing as how I’ve been playing video games for most of my life, whatever game I was playing at the time was, and still is, usually the target of my ranting. At some point it occurred to me that a lot of other people were enjoying reading my ranting and were commenting on why I was right or wrong about what I was saying, and so I started actively seeking an audience. Of course, that’s the story of /how/ I got into video game writing, but that does not really tell the full story of /why/.

See, like I said, I have been playing video games for a very long time. Most of my life, actually. I think I played my first video game when I was five. It was Legend of Zelda, by the way, because I know that was going to be the next question I would have been asked. I have definitely put more than ten thousand hours into video gaming, which means that according to Malcolm Gladwell, I’m an expert in it. Beween me, my friends, and the town video game rental place, I pretty much played through everything I cared to play through (and in the pre-memory card era, the fact that I rented my games put the constraint on my gameplay that I finish games quickly lest I lose my valuable save data to the next guy who rented the game). Once I got old enough for employment, I could afford, mostly, to purchase my own games, and once I got into college games were again purchased and swapped between friends so that I got my hands on and played pretty much every game I wanted to, with no real limitations.

But then something happened. I grew up.

Oh, I’ve always been a mature individual who was very good at managing time. I never, for instance, sacrificed my college grades to play EverQuest or, later, World of Warcraft. I never spent my rent money on game consoles. I never did any of that, so it wasn’t the acquisition of responsibility that triggered this ‘growing up’. No, it was the acquisition of a graduate degree and a career as a hardware engineer that did it. No longer was money the constraint on the number of games I could play. The constraint shifted to ‘time’. And I realized, as well, that this same phenomenon had happened to many other people who, like me, had grown up on video games for their entire lives. It confuses people, puts a strain on people, and sometimes people give up the hobby, figuring that it takes more effort than they possess in order to keep up with what games are worth playing. And it is quite possible they are correct.

See, there is a new class of gamer that has developed in the past ten or fifteen years. This is the gamer that has grown up with the medium, and has watched it grow from obscurity to widespread popularity just as they themselves have grown and developed into successful adults. I have personified this class of gamer, in my mind, as ‘Johnny Job’, or his equally motivated and successful female counterpart, ‘Christina Career’. This is the person who works more than 40 hours a week and comes home to, oftentimes, more work and the demands of maintaining a clean and functional home and, sometimes, a similarly functional marriage and family. This person gets the chance to play games maybe 20-30% of the time that they used to be able to put into them when they were in college, and so it is this person who needs to know, beyond any doubt, whether they game they decide to play is going to hold their attention and be a worthwhile gaming experience. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of gamer that the industry, or most reviewers, cater to at all.

So this is where I come in. See, I, too, am a Johnny Job, and I am happily married to a Christina Career. The difference between me and others is that gaming is my lifeblood. I’m stubborn. I will make time to play video games. At the same time, I have become increasingly intolerant of games that do not respect my time. And if I do not think a game is respecting my time after a few hours of gameplay, I /know/ that others will have been fed up with it long before.

That, dear readers, is the origins of my Opening Turn reviews. I do not aim to review a game in its entirety. Other, better reviewers do that, and they do it faster than me because they have /time/ to marathon the games that come across their desk. Those aren’t the reviewers that are targeting Johnny and Christina. What I aim to do is review a game based solely on the first few hours of gameplay. I want people to know exactly what they should expect, right out of the box. Is there a weird installation issue on a PC game? I want you to know about it. Is the UI confusing or hard to use? I want you to know about that, too. Is there more cutscene than game? You should know about it, because that may not be your thing. Does the game catch your attention and /make/ you want to play it? If not, well, why would you put any more time into it than that?

As gamers with other responsibilities in your lives, you should not be subjected to spending two hours just learning the controls of that RTS you picked up because they are completely non-standard. You should know if you will have to go through a mandatory install process on your console game, or if there is a day one patch you will have to download. You should know if a sequel demands that you have knowledge of the original right out of the gate. You should know all of these things, as well as if the game is actually any /good/. And my goal is to adequately inform you of those things. That is Why I Write.

Oh, and the rants. I totally still do those too.

[This article originally appeared on the gaming website Attack Initiative.]

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