Video Games, music, art, and all the other shit I enjoy.
I’m sure you’ve heard it once before…
What are you doing?!
…you’re not playing this game the right way.
It’s a statement that, while unnerving to hear, is honest and insightful fact sometimes. Developers often design around their gaming philosophies, setting a standard through out the experience that may contradict your own. We all play games differently, finding our bites of joy in a myriad of different ways from game to game. Does this mean those specific games are flawed in design, or should we stop being so hard-headed, learning to play each game with a different approach and set of philosophies that work for it?
I’m currently playing through The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, which lives and dies by its philosophies, yet I’d still consider a very well designed game through-out. I would assume the implication of flawed design lies on a game to game basis - with The Witcher as an example - or that theory would prove false. If one attacks Assassins of Kings with a hack & slash philosophy they will die often, finding themselves in a position of frustration with the game. This will only lead to distaste, and the inevitable “…this game sucks!”.
The truth is, if you find yourself struggling through a game it is often reality that you are playing the game wrong, as cliche as it is. Running and gunning through stealth-games often makes for a miserable time because they are built around the philosophies of stealth.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution, where player choice was factored into its design, is evidence for a counter-argument against my previously stated flawed design thesis. The thing is, at what point does one cross a line? We decide to play by philosophies set before us because it’s part of the challenge of the game, right?
I’m enjoying The Witcher 2 because the combat forces me to play defensive when outnumbered, a strategy that I must adapt to in order to succeed. If it were any other way, it just wouldn’t matter which game I was playing. I’d stride through every experience as I did the one before, playing by MY rules and eventually dulling myself out of the engagement that comes with playing video games.
I’d say you’re not playing games wrong, you’re often playing the wrong game. When I don’t want to puzzle-solve, yet I’m playing Tomb Raider, finding myself frustrated and disappointed at what the game is giving me, I should probably dig deep into my soul and ask myself…
Why am I not giving this game a fair shot based solely on my unwillingness to play by its philosophies? It’s time to play something else.
It seems like a conspiracy; Vox Media assembling a slew of the internets favorite and most talented journalists as a foundation for their newly renamed gaming division @ Polygon.com. The staff they’ve acquired is a dream team of talent, the likes which any gaming media outlet would kill for.
The rules have been broken.
This is not fair!
…or is it?
The way I look at it, the staff at Polygon has opened new positions in journalism all across the Internet. The lanes are open, and it’s up to freelancers alike to step up and match the talents of those who’ve come before them. Filling those shoes won’t be easy, but the fresh faces will arrive, eager to give it what they’ve got. One of those fresh faces will be me.
For the last 4 years I’ve been freelancing, taking time out of my everyday life to write about the hobby I love. I’ve poured hours of work daily into a non-pay position, using the time to level up my skill-set. 4 years later, I’ve grew comfortable to microphones, cameras, editing video and audio, and of course writing. I’ve grew comfortable with single-handedly covering conventions, bouncing back and forth from show floor to press room all because I know I need to put in the work to prove who I am.
When I heard about the Polygon project, I was excited. Not just because I can’t wait to see that band of merry men at work doing what they do best, but because I knew the cycle for fresh faces has arrived in the industry I love to cover. And while this time around I may not get my shot, eventually my talents will shine through the fog that blinds. I say it because I know how hard I work, and know what I’m capable of.
Best of luck to everyone in the race, and a huge thank you to the guys at Polygon for realizing it was time for some change.