Childhood, Cynicism, and the Devil May Cry Demo

I like to think that I love video games. I’ve been playing them since before I can even remember. I spent the brunt of my first thirteen years playing games at basically every chance I got. My PS2 was pretty much the best thing ever, and I’d play that thing until it broke, and then I'd buy a new one to repeat the process. I’d sit down and play Sly Cooper for hours, taking in the story and then making up my own once the original story ended. I’d do the same with Dynasty Warriors, Time Splitters, Tekken, Vice City, even Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater; all series that I came to love and treasure. I’d always play every game I got to death, exposing every single little thing that it had to offer, even going out of my way to find glitches, which I considered part of the big package (I was even part of a glitch-hunting clan in online THUG). I can truly say that I was an absolute video game fanatic through the first half of 2000’s first century.

However, the key-point is the fact that my entire first paragraph is in the past-tense. We’re nearing the end of 2012 now, and it’s painful for me to admit that my love has been faltering. GTA IV’s release marked the point that I bought my first PS3, and to be honest, I loved it. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, with graphics that blew everything else I’ve played completely out of the water and gameplay that just felt so real. I spent my first couple of days with it just driving around and taking it all in, getting comfortable with the engine and really settling nicely (by running over innocent civilians and pretty much just causing general chaos). I played the story mode and got as far as unlocking the third island, but then something weird happened. I just sort of stopped. I didn’t make any more progress past that point, and if I ever played GTA again, it would only be to play online with random people. It had dawned on me that advancing the storyline had become tiresome, a chore. I had suddenly completely stopped caring about making progress. After GTA came LittleBigPlanet, which was fun for a while, but really only served as a glorified chatroom with friends I had made online. Various other games came after that, but one game in particular really made me realize just how bad my cynicism had become, and that game was Red Dead: Redemption.

I was incredibly excited for Red Dead. From all the trailers and gameplay videos I had seen, it looked like one of the coolest things I had ever seen. I imagined how great it would be to run around with my posse, shooting dudes with sweet guns, and pre-ordered the special edition with no hesitation. I eagerly awaited its release, impatiently counting the days and having a lot of trouble containing my hype. Then it came out… I loaded it up, played it for a couple hours, and since then, I’ve never touched it again. Now this might make me seem like the most pompous, ungrateful bastard to ever live, but I can assure you, this event scared me. The gameplay was fine, the graphics were great, and the story’s presentation seemed really interesting! But I just couldn’t give a damn, and I had no idea why, and I didn't like the fact that I didn't give a damn. I didn’t like the fact that I would just blow off a game the way I did, when I spent so much of my years playing games with unquestionable love. I had realized that for every game that wasn’t a fighting game (that’s a story for another day), I just rarely bothered to play it for very long. Off the top of my head, the only games I can say I finished this generation were Bayonetta, Portal 2, Mass Effect 2, and Resident Evil 5. Resi 5 however, was admittedly the most fun I’ve had this gen, co-opping it in its entirety with a friend. Despite that, there just seemed to be something missing from all these games I was playing. I had no idea what was causing me to lose interest so fast, and it worried me to no end. I thought I had reached a point where I just didn’t like video games anymore.

Video Games as art, am I right?

But then, something weird happened. On Nov. 20 of this year, the demo of Ninja Theory’s reboot of Devil May Cry came out. I didn’t think much of it, and just absent-mindedly downloaded it while glumly playing PS: All-Stars. I installed the demo, booted it up, and got ready to be disappointed. And... I didn’t think much of it in my first run. Yeah, it was ok, it was a cool take on Devil May Cry and I found it to be alright. Today, I was bored, and had nothing to do, so I booted it up again. But this time, I tried something I’ve never tried before. I went into options, turned off the music, turned off the hints, and when the gameplay started, I advanced… slowly. I just lightly held up on the analog stick while turning the camera around, and noticed so many little details I had missed my first time through. Then the enemies spawned, and I realized I was doing what I used to do as a kid: trying to make the gameplay look as cinematic as possible, moving the camera around to get good angles while pulling off stylish combos. Everything was fitting seamlessly together, and before I knew it, I felt like my childlike glee of playing video games had returned, and I was absolutely loving it. I was doing everything I used to do, looking around for secrets, making up stupid little mini-stories in my head, and I even found a couple glitches. Then I found one of those doors that lead you to those bonus areas, in this case, the race against time thing. After beating it, I ignored the pickup, and explored. I stumbled upon a shot that actually kind of moved me. The ambient sounds of the place and the peacefulness of the waves are actually what motivated me to write this thing, and it’s been on my screen this whole time I’ve been writing it. I realized today that maybe I’ve been going through games expecting everything to be immediately obvious on the surface. What’s changed isn’t that game-creators have become lazy, it’s far from it. It was me who had become lazy with the games, and I had lost sight on what I really love about them: substance. I don’t know if the games I’ve played lately really do lack substance, or that I just never worked at finding it, but either way, the DMC demo has helped me realize that games today might be deeper than they let on, and I just haven’t been digging enough.

I’ve never written anything like this before. It felt good to get it off my chest, though, in hindsight, I realize this blog looks like some giant advertisement for the new Devil May Cry game, but whatever, I liked it; I liked it way more than I thought I would, and I definitely didn’t expect it to give me such an eye-opening experience the way it did. I think I can enjoy games more because of it. For someone who's first childhood memory is playing Parappa the Rapper, it's easy to see that video games mean a lot to me. Journey is downloading now. I’m pretty excited.

TL;DR: I loved games, then I didn’t like games, now I’m liking games again.

7 Comments
8 Comments
Posted by M_33

I like to think that I love video games. I’ve been playing them since before I can even remember. I spent the brunt of my first thirteen years playing games at basically every chance I got. My PS2 was pretty much the best thing ever, and I’d play that thing until it broke, and then I'd buy a new one to repeat the process. I’d sit down and play Sly Cooper for hours, taking in the story and then making up my own once the original story ended. I’d do the same with Dynasty Warriors, Time Splitters, Tekken, Vice City, even Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater; all series that I came to love and treasure. I’d always play every game I got to death, exposing every single little thing that it had to offer, even going out of my way to find glitches, which I considered part of the big package (I was even part of a glitch-hunting clan in online THUG). I can truly say that I was an absolute video game fanatic through the first half of 2000’s first century.

However, the key-point is the fact that my entire first paragraph is in the past-tense. We’re nearing the end of 2012 now, and it’s painful for me to admit that my love has been faltering. GTA IV’s release marked the point that I bought my first PS3, and to be honest, I loved it. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, with graphics that blew everything else I’ve played completely out of the water and gameplay that just felt so real. I spent my first couple of days with it just driving around and taking it all in, getting comfortable with the engine and really settling nicely (by running over innocent civilians and pretty much just causing general chaos). I played the story mode and got as far as unlocking the third island, but then something weird happened. I just sort of stopped. I didn’t make any more progress past that point, and if I ever played GTA again, it would only be to play online with random people. It had dawned on me that advancing the storyline had become tiresome, a chore. I had suddenly completely stopped caring about making progress. After GTA came LittleBigPlanet, which was fun for a while, but really only served as a glorified chatroom with friends I had made online. Various other games came after that, but one game in particular really made me realize just how bad my cynicism had become, and that game was Red Dead: Redemption.

I was incredibly excited for Red Dead. From all the trailers and gameplay videos I had seen, it looked like one of the coolest things I had ever seen. I imagined how great it would be to run around with my posse, shooting dudes with sweet guns, and pre-ordered the special edition with no hesitation. I eagerly awaited its release, impatiently counting the days and having a lot of trouble containing my hype. Then it came out… I loaded it up, played it for a couple hours, and since then, I’ve never touched it again. Now this might make me seem like the most pompous, ungrateful bastard to ever live, but I can assure you, this event scared me. The gameplay was fine, the graphics were great, and the story’s presentation seemed really interesting! But I just couldn’t give a damn, and I had no idea why, and I didn't like the fact that I didn't give a damn. I didn’t like the fact that I would just blow off a game the way I did, when I spent so much of my years playing games with unquestionable love. I had realized that for every game that wasn’t a fighting game (that’s a story for another day), I just rarely bothered to play it for very long. Off the top of my head, the only games I can say I finished this generation were Bayonetta, Portal 2, Mass Effect 2, and Resident Evil 5. Resi 5 however, was admittedly the most fun I’ve had this gen, co-opping it in its entirety with a friend. Despite that, there just seemed to be something missing from all these games I was playing. I had no idea what was causing me to lose interest so fast, and it worried me to no end. I thought I had reached a point where I just didn’t like video games anymore.

Video Games as art, am I right?

But then, something weird happened. On Nov. 20 of this year, the demo of Ninja Theory’s reboot of Devil May Cry came out. I didn’t think much of it, and just absent-mindedly downloaded it while glumly playing PS: All-Stars. I installed the demo, booted it up, and got ready to be disappointed. And... I didn’t think much of it in my first run. Yeah, it was ok, it was a cool take on Devil May Cry and I found it to be alright. Today, I was bored, and had nothing to do, so I booted it up again. But this time, I tried something I’ve never tried before. I went into options, turned off the music, turned off the hints, and when the gameplay started, I advanced… slowly. I just lightly held up on the analog stick while turning the camera around, and noticed so many little details I had missed my first time through. Then the enemies spawned, and I realized I was doing what I used to do as a kid: trying to make the gameplay look as cinematic as possible, moving the camera around to get good angles while pulling off stylish combos. Everything was fitting seamlessly together, and before I knew it, I felt like my childlike glee of playing video games had returned, and I was absolutely loving it. I was doing everything I used to do, looking around for secrets, making up stupid little mini-stories in my head, and I even found a couple glitches. Then I found one of those doors that lead you to those bonus areas, in this case, the race against time thing. After beating it, I ignored the pickup, and explored. I stumbled upon a shot that actually kind of moved me. The ambient sounds of the place and the peacefulness of the waves are actually what motivated me to write this thing, and it’s been on my screen this whole time I’ve been writing it. I realized today that maybe I’ve been going through games expecting everything to be immediately obvious on the surface. What’s changed isn’t that game-creators have become lazy, it’s far from it. It was me who had become lazy with the games, and I had lost sight on what I really love about them: substance. I don’t know if the games I’ve played lately really do lack substance, or that I just never worked at finding it, but either way, the DMC demo has helped me realize that games today might be deeper than they let on, and I just haven’t been digging enough.

I’ve never written anything like this before. It felt good to get it off my chest, though, in hindsight, I realize this blog looks like some giant advertisement for the new Devil May Cry game, but whatever, I liked it; I liked it way more than I thought I would, and I definitely didn’t expect it to give me such an eye-opening experience the way it did. I think I can enjoy games more because of it. For someone who's first childhood memory is playing Parappa the Rapper, it's easy to see that video games mean a lot to me. Journey is downloading now. I’m pretty excited.

TL;DR: I loved games, then I didn’t like games, now I’m liking games again.

Edited by smokeyd123

Turning off the music... That might be an amazing idea. I'm kind of in the same boat you are; luckily, I get to try games for free, so I don't have to buy a game, play it, then realize it bores me or I hate it and regret the cash spend.

Edited by AjayRaz

is it weird that we've pretty much noticed this stuff at the exact same time?

i'm in the same boat as you, to some extent. i was absolutely blown away by GTA IV when i got my PS3. as well, i was really excited for red dead, played it for a bit and never touched it again-- although mainly because the ending was spoiled for me. you and i played a tad of multiplayer here and there, but i had dropped it really quickly. i've definitely noticed that i can't finish games as frequently as i used to. i mean last year, i bought 72 games and finished 15 of them-- 6 of them from 2011. it just seems like i play something for a bit then toss it aside to go back to something like Dead or Alive 5 or more recently, Ninja Gaiden Black. i admittedly have a bad habit of making an increasingly embarrassing backlog for myself. i should probably finish Portal 2, huh?

i've still managed to play a healthy (or unhealthy, i guess) amount of enjoyable single player games. it's nice going through Ninja Gaiden Black and noticing the little details which make the entire thing seem more special. i always try to give things a chance, and it's been working out really nicely apart from dropping some games for no reason at times. i'd be playing Far Cry 3 right now but i'm waiting patiently until my exams are all over until i can play it. that's better than playing more Dead or Alive 5, i guess. i just hit 1000 matches-- i figure it's as good of a time as ever to take a break.

games have always had substance-- it just depends where you look. highly stylized games like DMC and Bayonetta are filled to the brim with substance and lovely detail. Sleeping Dogs is a great open world game with lots of detail + stuff to do everywhere that make the experience more immersive. even as i'm starting to slowly go through some older games, the Assassin's Creed games Deus Ex: Human Revolution have a lot going on. oh, and play pretty much any Rockstar game and you'll get sucked into some of the best immersive worlds in video games. even Table Tennis, i guess. if that's what you mean by substance, anyway.

although, i think you've definitely missed out on some great single player games. i definitely can't speak for you, but it seemed like sometimes you just kind of tossed things aside. the more recent example was sleeping dogs, where you just immediately showed disinterest because it was an open world game-- or something along the lines of that. i wasn't even sure if that was a joke or not, but not cool. Sleeping Dogs is dope as fuck.

anyway, play more games. seriously. why haven't you bought Mass Effect 3 yet? finished Dragon's Dogma? did you even continue the Uncharted i let you borrow? oh, and Vanquish situation...

...god dammit.

Posted by believer258

It's like everybody hits a point in their very late teens/very early twenties where they go "do I actually still enjoy this thing that I used to love"?

Most of the time, it's the issue that we expect to get the same wonder and joy from a new game as we did when we were kids because, hey, it was a new game and those were rare as kids. But when you get older and get money, you end up buying a bunch of new games and suddenly buying a new game isn't as big of a deal and if it loses your interest - oh well, there are way more to play with.

What I'm saying is that your tastes have gotten more demanding due to being exposed to and playing a whole lot of games, whereas when you're a kid, you don't know any better.

Posted by M_33

@AjayRaz: Blowing games off has been my main problem and what I'm trying to be better with. But honestly, I'm as mystified as you are as to why I haven't expressed any care for Sleeping Dogs. It definitely does look like a fun game, and I totally didn't mean the thing about not liking it because it's open world. If anything, I consider open-worlds to be a plus. Maybe I'll play it at some point, but I figured I should play through the games I already have before I start another one. Dragon's Dogma is one of the games I'm planning on trying again since my whole "revelation", as well as Uncharted. For Vanquish, yeah, I'm still ashamed of selling that. For Mass Effect 3, I'll probably end up waiting a while before I play that, like what I did with Mass Effect 2 (I only actually beat that game a couple months before the ME3 dropped).

@believer258: That's definitely what I'm thinking happened, but I can still say that I'm not nostalgia-blinded by the old games I used to love on PS2. I recently played through Jak III and still loved it, as well as Metal Arms, which is still my favorite third-person-shooter to date. I didn't really touch upon it in my blog, but fighting games have definitely been a main culprit for me. It seemed that every time I'd take out a Single Player game and put in something like UMvC3, It'd be a rarity for me to ever take out that game and swap it for something different, unless someone invited me to play a different multiplayer game, while the single players just collected dust. That's been different lately, since I'm more inclined to play the games I've ignored, since, in a way, I feel bad for ignoring them.

Posted by nintendork666

Yup, I went through the same exact phase in my late teens. Thankfully I eventually saw the light again. Now I love gaming more than ever.

Posted by Demoskinos

I find with games at least with me its kind of like food. Sometimes your hungry but nothing looks good to eat and its all about finding that one thing that really hits the spot for you. Same with games. Right now Im trying to figure out what the hell that game is for me. Im basically done with all of my new games from this year. Been bored as shit with games for last few days so I just end up playing Halo 4 since I dont know what else to do. Also eagerly awaiting DmC.

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Posted by Nettacki

Funny that this was made. Considering all the fans of the old games (and even some non-fans) are bashing this game to hell and back for a variety of reasons, you still ended up having *this* be the one to provide you with this eye-opening realization about video games. A lot of them would have a far easier time believing you if you cited a game like Journey instead of DmC.