I’m not a gamer. OK, so I have been known to play some games, but I’m not very good at them and don’t justify committing any significant time improving my playing skills. Besides, I’m fairly occupied outside of the gaming experience. Part of it, I think, is that games I don’t identify with the experience gaming offers. Driving games? No. Flying games? Nope. Shooting games? Nah. Puzzle games. For a few moments, then naw. Building games? Farming games? Role play games? Not so much. That said, many friends and associates play games, so I remain somewhat aware and occasionally participate badly. My son plays certain games, so I am aware enough to allow for a communication thread in the same way I am somewhat conscious of sports because my brother steeps himself in sports. But in practise, I couldn’t tell you the difference between Marcus Rashford and Alex Verdugo.
All of this said, I come upon a piece from a few months ago. Ultimately, it reads like a philosophy on gaming. In the piece, the author, Austin Walker reviews Watch Dogs: Legion and explains why it doesn’t live up to its meta potential. I haven’t played any of the Watch Dog games and might not ever, but his point seems to be that they had the best talent and could have been edgy, but they didn’t. He offers some possible solutions on the edge, but he leaves a fuller solution to the game makers.
For those unfamiliar with the context of Watch Dogs: Legion (as I was), it’s a collaborative anti-establishment game. It promises to rail against the oppressive, ultraconservative, fascist powers through collective action, but as Walker writes, this activity is performative. In the end, nothing changes beyond some superficiality.
Perhaps, this, itself, is the commentary: Nothing changes except at the margins, but I don’t think this was the intent. Instead, it’s about a place to redirect one’s anger and frustration, except there is no resolution. Perhaps it’s supposed to be more about the journey than the destination, but I’m not buying that either.
In any case, rather than summarise Walker’s work, I link to it to speak for itself. And despite its deficits, it still feels it reserves a space not yet occupied by other properties yet, so a little more imagination could inch it into just the right place.
For the record, the last game I enjoyed playing with friends was 7 Days to Die, which I’ve played on and off since 2013 or so. It’s come a long way since it was first released. Interestingly, it’s still in Alpha—some 8 years later, so I’m not sure what that even means anymore.