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End of 2013... (An exercise in written catharsis)

One of the benefits of having 6 weeks of school holidays (as a teacher, although it was sweet as a kid too, although there was a lot more working during high school...) is that I get to try and make a dent into the pile of games that has grown throughout the course of the year. While many in my profession use the six week period to spend time with family and friends, I tend to play a LOT of games - this is maybe easier to do by not really having a close family (outside of my brother), and, outside of work, not really having a large friendship circle (it's close to non-existent). That, and my proclivity to avoiding socialising in many instances out of either anxiety in group situations (like my work Christmas party - I spent a lot of that either by myself or sitting in a small group with 3 or 4 others), or anxiety that I'm going to bother/annoy people on their hard-earned time away from work and me. I try to avoid using my mental health situation as an excuse, but at least I can be assured I'm not bothering/annoying anyone if I'm playing games at home, by myself (much to the chagrin of my friends/brother). I also claim it as work, seeing as I'll be teaching a video games course this upcoming year. But, yeah, six weeks is a lot of free time to play games.

So far this break, I've played a bunch of Spelunky (on PC), some Rogue Legacy (post-patch; and those remixed bosses are a fucker...), made a start on Dawn of War 2 (about five hours in, judging from the Steam clock), made some progress on my third Diablo 3 playthrough (perfect podcast-listening game, as I want to try and play games without music or podcasts over top of them now...), a little MK (PC), Gone Home, finished Fallout 3 (finally, I've had the GOTY basically since it's release on 360; put about 46 hours into it, finishing most/all of the quests before Mothership Zeta and The Pitt and maxing out at level 30), and I've now finished Dishonored.

I enjoyed both Dishonored and Fallout 3 greatly. Each definitely has their flaws, such as Fallout's poor mapping and the needle-in-a-haystack method employed to find and complete some quests (I get that part of the point of Fallout 3 is exploration, but would it have killed Bethesda to mark quest-givers, particularly side quest givers, on the map - leave the unmarked quests for the exploration), and Dishonored's lack of navigational assistance (which I only found to be a problem in small number of instances, and mainly because I was looking for all of the runes etc.) and a frustrating final mission (at least leading up to getting into the lighthouse - but I made sure to give all three of those motherfuckers what they had coming...). But despite these minor flaws, I found that both games were immensely enjoyable.

Or, at least, I did for the most part. I tend to, with the time I have, try to play through as much as I can, as my constant purchasing of games (predominantly while on sale - mainly on Steam) leads to times of feeling overwhelmed and I try to barrel through the game I'm playing to put it on the (digital) shelf and move on to the next one. I try to do as much as I can in each game I play, but I feel myself putting pressure on myself to get through each game as quickly as possible - this leads to feelings of frustration, and, when I'm done, a lack of satisfaction that I didn't get as much out of the game as I could have (which was the case with Fallout 3, after completing the main story line after about 22 hours and feeling that I hadn't scratched the surface of it...). I think part of that is my mental health and a lack of 'patience' (I'm not sure if that's the right term, but I'm trying to describe my inability to sit back and wait for situations to mend themselves; even though I'm more content to wait for people to contact me than make the first step myself...)

With the way my budget has been worked out, buying new games at full price makes getting through a pay cycle difficult, so I normally wait until either a sale (mainly the Steam sales, but also on the Xbox 'Games Store', which is what I'm guessing the 360 store is now called, and also on PSN). Because of this, there's a lot that I still want to get through before going back to work, mainly as a result of not buying them through the year, including:

  • GTA 5 - plus online perhaps (if I feel like re-upping my Gold subscription)
  • The Last of Us
  • Uncharted 3
  • Ni No Kuni
  • Skyrim
  • Dragon Age: Origins
  • Rayman Legends
  • The Swapper
  • Deadlight
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Hard Reset
  • Iron Brigade
  • Metro 2033
  • Monaco
  • Path of Exile
  • SimCity 4
  • Trine 2
  • The Witcher 2

And this list doesn't include a bunch of games I haven't got yet, such as XCOM: Enemy Within, AC4, State of Decay, Enslaved, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Mercenary Kings (once that comes out of early access). Plus, I'll no doubt keep on with Spelunky, Rogue Legacy, and (assuming I re-up on Gold), some online SSF4: AE. Going over this list, and actually writing it out, adds some kind of overwhelming feeling that there is a LOT I have to get to. On top of this, there was so much music I didn't listen to this year, that I feel a need to catch up on that too...

(See, this post is a small insight into the way my thought processes work. I know I'm not the only who has 'issues' like these, but at times, I don't feel like I can get away from them, and I feel like a wierdo for thinking this way...)

So, being that resolutions are called for at this time of year:

  • Enjoy the games that I play and the things that I do, without treating them like a chore (or, in a 'hippie way', 'be in the moment'),
  • Improve my comfort levels and skills in interpersonal communication,
  • Get back on to a basketball court (I've had some back issues for a long time that came to head this year, it's taken me 3-4 months to become almost pain-free), and
  • Keep getting better mentally (this year was better than last, by a mile, but there's still a lot of work to be done...)

That's it - the four things I want to 'fix' this year. Some of it might take some work, but they're realistic and I've got time to work on them. And I've got time to play all of those games, and actually enjoy them (I'm going to need to keep telling myself that one a few times me thinks...).

I've also put this as a forum post - a long one I know, and, if you've read this far, I appreciate the time you've taken to read this. I know it is something of a ramble, without much in the way of clear progression of thought or structure (horrific for an English teacher, I know), but the catharsis of writing and getting some of this stuff out once I started sort of bred that. I also wanted to do it as something of, I guess, a personal introduction of sorts, as, despite being a member of this site, and its community, since close to its inception (and a paid member for about 2-3 years), I feel like something of a stranger. And, if I'm going to improve my communication skills, starting online might not be a bad idea...

That's it. Thank you again for reading, and happy 2014.