Game Czar

As a child, I was only able to acquire three or four games per year: one on my birthday, one on Christmas, and one or two purchased on my own, using the allowance I had saved up from chores. Once I was old enough to work in the summer, I was able to buy a few more games throughout the year. With my increasing age came an increasing ability to add to my gaming collection. College was my gaming Golden Age. I worked full-time, my rent was dirt cheap, and my only other expenses were food and drink (perhaps more drink than I should have had, but that’s another story). I could buy multiple games per month, so much so that some didn’t even get played for months after purchase. Now, I’m a “responsible adult” with an infant, a mortgage, and more bills than I’d care to admit. The video game well has just about run dry, and I find myself back to only getting three or four games a year again. Certain games, however, don’t seem to last me very long anymore, so I find myself having to replay my old collection.

The funny thing about this is that when I was a child, I had no issue replaying a game. I could spend 200 hours playing through Shining Force, beating it, and then immediately starting over the next day with a clean save. When I had the funds to buy games as I wanted, I stopped replaying games for the most part, with only a few warranting a well deserved replay if it had a new game+ mode. It spoiled me so much so that as I started to go for longer periods between new purchases, I was unable to keep focus on a replay. This, despite the fact that many games in my collection are truly excellent, even more so than many games that have come out recently. Such was my gaming ADHD that I would start a game, then a few days in I would think to myself, “You know what would be fun to play…” and then change my focus onto something different, never finishing the original. This was an issue that I needed to solve. Enter Kiokri.

Kiokri and I have been friends since my sophomore year of college. We have spent many hours talking about and playing games together since then. A few weeks back, I was burning out on World of Warcraft and MMOs in general pretty hard (you can see why in last week’s article). I started to reminisce with him about some of my favorite rpgs. The stories that I can fondly recall with such detail that if I close my eyes I can see the scenes play out in my head. The feelings brought back from gaining the Soul Eater Rune from your dying friend Ted in Suikoden. The rush to save Nanako in Persona 4. The realization of who your character’s real identity is in Knights of the Old Republic. Such great memories of the games of my past. Kio started to suggest games to play, initially other MMOs, and then classics such as Chrono Trigger and Lunar. I have completed Chrono Trigger more times than I can remember as a child but his suggestions got me thinking. I need someone to tell me what to play and then be able to guilt me into completing it before my lack of focus gets the best of me and I move on to the next selection.

I have an extensive gaming collection, consisting of both physical copies and emulation for those games for which I no longer have a working console. The plan was to just write down everything I have and send Kio the list. Then let him wade through and pick something he was familiar with already, or even choose a game completely at random. Given the size and breadth of my collection, we decided it would be easier for me to narrow the selection to five games from which Kio would choose. Turns out, I couldn’t narrow it down to five individual games. Just rattling off games I would like to replay, I ended up with about a dozen options, many of which belonged to the same series as another. So I decided to one-up it and offer up five series. I would play each game in chronological order, keeping Kio informed of my progress. He, in turn, would give me a completely independent selection and take away the time I waste staring at my bookcase of games trying to figure out what I wanted to play next. I even gave him a fancy title that means absolutely nothing to anyone except us: Game Czar.

The first series I was to play through again was Starcraft 2. We had the idea that our schedules would line up and we could play some Heroes of the Storm together. So this was to get me back into the micromanaging, rapid clicking, and hotkeys that are essential to HotS play. Of course, we have yet to have more than a few minutes lineup. Nevertheless I ripped through Wings of Liberty in a few days. Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void followed over the next two weeks. Late one night I sent Kio the message “Legacy of the Void done, Starcraft 2 complete”. I felt oddly satisfied. He set a task for me and I completely it successfully. For some reason, it felt just as good this time as it did the first time I beat Starcraft 2. I can’t explain why and I’m sure it’s all in my own head but I doubt I would have actually gone through and played the series in its entirety without being told that I should. The next day I sent him a new set of series to pick and a little while later, a simple message popped up with my next assignment. Right away I started to think about how I was going to tackle it, and which party members I wanted to use for the first game. I was excited, even though those games have been on my shelf unplayed for the past ten years.

Of course, this is all honor system. I could very easily play something completely different than what he has told me to play. Or I could just straight up lie about my progress. However, Kio is my friend and I trust his judgement and taste in video games. I purchased all of these games at one point in my life and have held onto them for a specific reason instead of trading them away or selling them. Thousands of hours of my life has been spent lovingly on initial playthroughs. Why not spend the time and revisit old friends? Thanks to Kiokri, my Game Czar, I now have someone motivating me to do just that.