A Look Back - Experiences and Thoughts of Gaming Through the 2010 Decade

Hello and thank you for taking your time to read this blog entry about my experiences and thoughts of gaming in the 2010 decade.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS!

Playing and Finishing So Many Games

Despite being worked to the bone over the decade, I managed to play and finish so many games. Finishing over 100 games of varying lengths is no small feat though it’s been hard to see that as a major accomplishment in my life. Even if life continues to throw a bunch of obstacles in my way, they won’t stop me from continuing to play and finish games in the new decade.

Finishing Numerous JRPGs

Within the 100-plus games I finished over the decade were a number of JRPGs, one of the few video game genres where finishing one game is a marathon in itself. I’d be happy to finish a few but looking through the finished games, I finished quite a handful. I recall each one of the JRPGs taking so many hours to finish, from the first game I tracked finished in 2012 in Radiant Historia up to the back breaking 130+ hours slog of Etrian Odyssey Nexus last year.

BUMMERS!

Losing Time and Mood to Play Games

Unfortunately, life’s obstacles have made the undertaking to play video games tough over the decade. My job has been the biggest hurdle in getting decent game time in as the ever increasing, non-stop workload at my job has taken up so much of my time and energy. I lament every weekday where I have to work past my usual hours and over the weekends. When I do find the time to play, there are numerous times where I resign to not playing due to not being in the mood, most times sheer exhaustion from working too much is the main culprit. Unless I luckily fall into better working conditions (whether at my current job or finding a new job), I fear the trend of losing more time and mood to play along may inflict a severe blow to my enjoyment of this hobby sooner or later.

Unable to Tackle Many JRPGs

The past two years have been very tough in getting in decent video game time. After getting through four JRPGs in 2017 (Fire Emblem Echoes bled into January 2018), I only played and finished one JRPG each in 2018 (Dragon Quest XI) and 2019 (Etrian Odyssey Nexus). It’s been hard to choose to play JRPGs due to the fact it’s so hard to get back into the groove of one once you’ve gone away from it for awhile. Though it helps if the game is on a portable system that I can play them on the go during my work commutes, it still does not help their cause that it takes so much just to complete one. Plus all that time to finish one game, I could be playing and finishing a number of other games in that same amount of time. I still have intentions of playing a JRPG, but they’re becoming a tough sell for me to undertake nowadays.

Fighting Games

Another genre of games that I’m bummed that I cannot put forth more time and effort into are fighting games. Fighting games present their own unique set of challenges that make it tough for me to attain higher enjoyment out of them. Though I can dive in and play whenever I can without the fear of losing momentum with a JRPG game, there are numerous aspects to them that do require the time and effort to get the full effect of playing them. I do my best to give fighting games a fair shake whenever I evaluate them since I don’t go as in depth with these games compared to other genres where I feel I get a grasp of their inner workings throughout my time with them. Nonetheless, I still have a passion for fighting games and will do what I can to keep up with them even if I’ll never get into them as deep and hard as I would like to be.

INTRINSIC GAMING BENEFITS

Puzzles and Logic

Video games have provided a lot of subtle benefits that I appreciate as I look back over a decade long view of working and gaming. One of the benefits of gaming that I love that playing games does is keeping my mind sort of sharp when it comes to figuring out puzzles and logic. I can feel my brain “working” whenever I play a puzzle game and figure out what to do. While I may not have the patience to work out every single puzzle on my own, I do love the attempt to piece out how to solve and then watching the actual solutions to them. Working so much over the decade has dulled my brain a good deal, so it’s nice for video games to provide some mental sparks that I missed ever since I graduated from college.

Reactions

Another benefit that gaming over the years has provided is keeping my reactions active. No matter if it’s a slow paced game like Resident Evil 2 or up to dodging traffic and racing others in Forza Horizon, I thank games to keeping my head and my fingers on the edge throughout the decade to ride against the drudges of spending the entire day staring at multiple screens of numerous programs open. Shooters and fighting games are the two genres that I feel that really push my reaction limits to the test, since both require multitasking of the mind and body over the course of a match.

Emotional Fill

As work continued to take up much of my time over the year, I have trimmed down my hobbies down to mainly music and video games. Working so much has sucked some emotional stimulation out of my soul, and I don’t read many books, watch movies, or TV shows to quench my soul so to speak. Storytelling has been in many video games throughout its history, but this decade has seen a push toward telling a story similar to TV and movie production and exploring topics outside of the general story staples folks have been used to over the years. I tend not to harp on a game’s attempt of a story if it’s not a big focal point, but will enjoy it if the game does tell it well throughout its run time. Outside of storytelling, there’s plenty of “WOW” moments that I experience over the hundreds of games I played that fill that void whenever I feel dull or at a suboptimal mental state.

COOL TRENDS!

Acknowledgement and Availability of Video Game Soundtracks

One of the biggest things I am grateful for over this decade of gaming is the acknowledgement of video game soundtracks and the availability of purchasing them. Music from video games now stand side by side with the music at large and are now available to stream and purchase from numerous retailers. No longer will we have to resort to saving Youtube videos or purchase crazy video game special editions to have the soundtrack available at your leisure. For me, it’s been awesome to purchase these soundtracks outright, download the mp3s to my classic iPod, and have it available to play on the go. It’s also nice in certain instances to support the music composers with my purchases directly or indirectly.

Shorter and Plug-and-Play Games

I am also grateful for the trend of game’s full running times getting shorter to complete or they’re easy to jump in and play. As work and other things have taken up more of my time, I’m glad to see a game that I can finish between 2-15 hours or games that are quick to learn, jump in, and play. The value proposition of certain games may not get the full bang for your buck, but as long as the game functions properly and delivers what it wants, that’s all I’m asking for with my purchase. While my list of games that are short to finish that amazed me isn’t long, I still appreciate that they didn’t take up too much time for me to play and cross off my backlog. There are more games that I enjoyed over the decade that had the quick to play aspect.

Improved Relations Between Major Console Competitors

Precedent for this just happened within the past year and I think it’s great that the three console players are starting to make moves with each other. I’d like to think that Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are seeing that many families only have one console, so it makes sense to have the three try to get a piece of the other audience through small offerings. Microsoft lending some of their previously exclusive games available to purchase on the Switch, MLB The Show available on all three consoles for the next two years, and cross-play between the three on a few games. Who knows if things will revert back or if the three are seeing the market evolve where these moves are necessary to earn necessary income, but the console audience is definitely winning out with these moves and relations.

Microsoft’s Game Pass

If there was one of the few things Microsoft did right over their tumultuous run with the XBox One, it’s their Game Pass. A Netflix-like subscription service where a monthly fee gets users to play a healthy library of games. It’s perfect for games that you were mildly interested in and get to play without having to put down the full price commitment to it. They amended their service to include XBox Gold with Game Pass Ultimate and a PC version available through Windows 10. The service isn’t perfect but it’s the model that Sony and Nintendo should look into considering their lackluster offerings with their subscription services.

GIVE OR TAKE

Digital Version Benefits

Video games followed the trend of other major forms of media where the public is purchasing content digitally. The biggest benefits that digital copies have over the physical counterparts are delivery and environmental factors: you don’t need to wait for delivery and travel to purchase, no manufacturing is needed, and no need to dedicate room space to file your game library. It’s great for certain folks they have the internet resources to do so and suits their lifestyle.

The biggest hurdle for some folks with digital are the internet resources needed to accomodate for digital purchases. Folks that are under a data cap may find it hard to purchase multiple copies due to the culmination of the base game file size plus patches. Sales and permanent price discounts don’t go as deep and often compared to physical releases. Lastly, the inability to purchase a game once it’s delisted is a major bummer. If the game has a physical release, you have the ability to track one down; but there’s no luck to purchase your own copy once it’s delisted digitally. Even worse, the ability to redownload a game even if you purchased a delisted game could be unavailable as well.

Additional Content

Additional content doesn’t bother me as long as they’re optional and not scamming the players out in purposely cutting certain portions of the main game behind it. I don’t mind spending the money to play more content with a game I enjoyed playing through its main content. I do feel what is offered as additional content isn’t as interesting and impactful compared as they’re working around what they already laid down in the main content. I feel more games should stand up for themselves and just release the game as is without the additional fuss. Certain genres and games benefit more with additional content, rhythm games making the most sense out of the major gaming genres.

Fighting Game Seasons, Season Passes, Patches

Riding along the additional content topic, I feel mixed in regards how most major fighting games are being run over the decade. Most major fighting games are now offering season passes with additional characters and seasons where the games are patched frequently for a variety of reasons. The benefits to the season pass model are great: no need for a separate release, evolving meta with character and mechanic adjustments, the excitement of a new or returning character, and patching some egregious items (overpowered characters or moves, unintended mechanics). Some part of me feels like the constant evolution of these fighting games makes these games look like a constant work in progress with no finish line and the additional finances and efforts for the players to keep up with the latest knowledge and foundation. While some games get the benefit of a sustained audience once the fighting game is done with all of it’s content years after its initial release, other games won’t have its audience sunstained once it’s all said and done. I’ll be interested to see if folks who stuck with Street Fighter V or Tekken 7’s once all of their content is out will still play them once the next entries of each are released.

NOT COOL!

Differing Content Between Physical and Digital Special/Deluxe Releases

Based off from a few personal examples, I feel it’s not cool the different content between physical and digital deluxe releases are being handled. One example is with the upcoming Granblue Fantasy Versus US release, with XSEED offering a special physical edition and a digital deluxe edition. The physical special edition includes additional physical perks such as an art book and game soundtrack on CD while the digital deluxe includes the season pass. In this case, I would rather spend the money above the regular edition on the digital deluxe because the season pass is bundled with the additional cost over the physical edition with its exclusive bonuses. I understand if there’s some stipulation with the separation of content between the game’s two deluxe versions, but I think it stinks for those who could be caught off guard not knowing what’s not included. I felt a bit burned when I purchased the Control special physical edition not knowing the digital deluxe had the cosmetic bonuses that the physical version had plus the additional content included and had to pay more money to get that content.

The Crunch, Certain Studio Working Environments

It’s been harrowing to read a lot of the reprehensible working conditions at numerous video game studios lately. It stinks to know certain games were produced under poor conditions, whether it’s harassment, working crunch, or other unsavory aspects that is likely the fault of poor decisions lead by management. I hope worldwide there’s a combination of internal and external pushes that will make working in the studios more enticing and welcoming to work as a career against the nightmare cases that we’re reading more about.

Half-Baked Releases

An unhealthy trend that’s caused harm in the industry are “half-baked” releases. It’s hard for me to plant a definition in stone, but I’m certain folks have encountered a few releases where the game upon first release doesn’t feel like it has everything there. Street Fighter V is widely criticized for not having certain game modes and a broken online that severely hurt its reputation. Those that have stuck with SFV can see the strides Capcom has made to recover and make it a respectable, there are a few that still feel the sting and will never find the positives of the game due to its poor start. Not every game will recover its goodwill like a No Mans Sky and hopefully studios will put more effort in making sure the game has everything it needs to have before release.

Loss of Games or Game Content Due to Licensing or Other Matters

Though we have lost many games through various reasons in gaming history, the loss of games being available to find and purchase has been heightened over the decade, particularly digital only releases. Some games are unavailable to buy due to licensing agreements, others through other matters. If not full games altogether, some games may have some content patched out or unavailable to purchase any longer. In Rock Band, there’s a batch of songs that are unavailable to purchase any more or unable to carry over from previous releases due to licensing reasons.

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