I never considered myself a hardcore gamer. I never dedicated entire days to gaming, even when I had that much free time. If anything I’d consider myself a “mid-core” gamer. I took gaming seriously but rarely got so into a game that I’d get angry. However, this past year that all changed as I squarely fell into the broadest category – casual gamer.
I took a break from video games this year. My family grew by one this year so obviously priorities changed and free time is more or less gone. What free time I do have is squarely put into other, more-pressing projects and obligations.
Sure, I’ve played my share of mobile/casual games this year and reviewed most of them here at TMA. Casual games are perfect for the few minutes you have throughout your day or before bed. Frankly, the common casual game found on the phone these days is closer to the arcade-style games I love most in the first place. But even then casual games are constantly tilting towards being less casual than ever. As technology gets better the games will get “better” but that doesn’t mean they’ll be any more fun.
In short, despite having less game time this year, I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. I’m not having withdrawl or itching to get the latest console. If anything, with the new consoles finally here I think it is a good time to bow out for a bit. I can stand back and watch what happens over the next year or so while last gen consoles phase out and the new ones rise up. It fits my style. The last thing I want is to be caught up in some sort of artificial race for the next best thing. It’s all the same, anyway. We haven’t seen anything amazing yet. Once that game comes along, then I’ll bite.
But maybe saying I haven’t been gaming this year isn’t the complete truth. While I haven’t picked up a virtual gun in since the summer of 2012, 2013 has most certainly been the year of Minecraft in my household.
Minecraft is quite literally the only game I’ve been playing regularly over the past 12 months. Minecraft can be played in tiny bits as time allows and that’s why it’s been the pick over all the others. A new mobile game might entertain me for a couple weeks before I either win or it just gets boring. Minecraft continues to stimulate me despite being around for several years now.
I don’t want to say that I’ve given up on video games, because I haven’t, but the thrill of gaming has died a little bit for me. Maybe it’s lack of interesting games or maybe just lack of time to get involved. I don’t know but I don’t really care and that’s what surprises me the most. For something that has played a significant part of my life for the past 30 years, I’m almost shocked that I’ve given up so easily.
Gaming from a distance
I still pay attention to gaming, however. I read about what’s hot, what’s not and what the industry is doing. In many ways that’s almost become more interesting than actually playing first-hand. I’ll never be short of opinions about gaming, that’s for sure. I know it’s easy to say “that game is just like that other game,” but more often than not that’s probably the truth. If the only way you can explain a new game is to reference an old game then chances are there’s little that will blow you away.
I think it’s also safe to say that so-called “indie” games is where the most fun will be hand in the near future. The big budget AAA console games will continue to make billions but they’ll cater to the bulk of the curve and I now find myself at the edges of gaming. I’m much more likely to pay for a small indie title than I am anything you’ll find at Best Buy or GameStop.
I also believe that the immediate future of gaming for me is PC-based and not console, in no small part due to the new consoles coming online. I’m rarely one to adopt new technology and that includes games. Gaming on the computer is still a huge market and with help from Steam it will only grow and become more accessible. For better or worse, my hopes for gaming lies on my computer monitor and not on my TV. I’m still waiting for something that will bridge that gap easily and affordably.
Maybe next year
I could be wrong, but this is the first year where I have no video games on my Christmas list. I don’t know what highlights my falling out more than that. If anything, I want an App Store or Steam gift card rather than any specific game from the store.
I don’t know what next year will hold. My kid will be another year older and one step closer to being able to enjoy games herself. I have a hunch that might be what reignites my love for gaming, being able to share and pass on that love to someone else.