December 31st, 2009

Neurotic Buddha II by Flickr user BlimpboyI buy a lot of games — responsibly, or so I tell myself. That is, I buy most of my games when they’re discounted, rather than new. Although I buy these games with the intention of playing them, I don’t — not always. I’ve taken to hoarding; I own games that I’ve gone for weeks, months, or years without ever playing.

One such game is World of Goo. I bought it once during a Steam sale, and again during 2D Boy’s pay-what-you-will anniversary promotion ($2). Despite that, I’ve never played World of Goo – not even the demo. Another example is Plants vs. Zombies. My Steam profile claims that I’ve played it for four hours and that I’ve earned some achievements, but those marks where made by a friend who used my computer. I didn’t want to watch him play, but I relented. It looks fun.

My neurosis extends to finishing games as well. These aren’t games that I don’t finish due to a lack of drive (Infinite Undiscovery), or ability (Osmos), or even time (I’ve an embarrassment of it) — they’re games that I don’t want to end. Fittingly, The Longest Journey is an example of these; I’ve never finished it even though I’ve been plucking away at the same save file since 2001. I don’t finish because, having played Dreamfall already, I’d be done with Stark and Arcadia. I could revisit them, but there’s nothing like the first time. Who among us hasn’t wished they could play a game for the first time again? I’m merely prolonging this first time.

To what end do I entertain my neuroses? Were I to play them, I would enjoy World of Goo and Plants vs. Zombies, and I might be satisfied in finishing The Longest Journey, but just as a recluse who keeps their china locked away for when company is over, I deny myself these games until—when? I don’t know. I just want to experience them perfectly. But I’m cheating myself; rather than prepare to play my best games, or savor playing them, I should simply play them. I should be concerned with this moment, rather than so many hypothetical ones.

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