Everyone has gaming sins. Whether it’s leaving discs out to gather dust and scratches, screen-cheating, or ignoring that super popular game everyone loves, we all have those little sins that surprise others. “Sin” may be a strong word. Admittedly, there are times others will do: bad habits, eccentricities, quirks, tastes, and traditions, among others. Sometimes though, “sin” is a good choice, and in those cases, it’s when change is real, necessary, and wanted. In my case, it’s definitely one of those times.
Simply put: I don’t play digital games. I’ve bought some, but I never play them. This may sound like a strange life to live in an increasingly digital gaming space, but let me explain. I’ve bought several titles over the years: Sin and Punishment and Super Metroid on Wii; Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation 3; both Earthbound games on Wii U; as well as my libraries on Steam and Good Old Games. I have more than this, but I’ll be honest, I can’t remember what most of them are without looking them up.
That, ultimately, is the problem. Remembering. I buy these games intending to play them. Games I’m excited for, ones I have every intention of beating. But inevitably, I put it down after a day or two and forget, or lack the drive to keep going. Only once have I actually completed a downloadable game – Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies on 3DS – but that’s only because I’ve been a diehard fan of the series for years. It still took me a few months to get through.
It’s a strange phenomenon, but I think it’s time to change. If I want to keep active as a gamer, it’s necessary to do so. The digital space is only growing larger. I’ve made it a goal this year to start buying and playing more digital games, but I feel like there’s only so far I can take that before I’m just ignoring the fun and forcing it on myself. I still need to try though, even if it’s just trying more mobile games. I’ve been trying to get retail versions of some digital indie games I’ve missed, like Limbo and Don’t Starve, but that doesn’t help me avoid this weird, unwanted bias for physical copies.
I could only begin to guess why this bias exists. Is it that I’m attached to the tangible aspects of physical games? Could it be because digital games are more abstract to comprehend since I can only see them on my console? Even though I’ve had Final Fantasy VII downloaded on my PS3 for years, it was only when I bought a physical copy on PlayStation 1 that I played and beat it. It’s like I’m a squirrel or something, only focused on the shiny object I can grip in my hands, totally uninterested in everything else beyond that. I’m not an expert on psychology, but it would be interesting to talk with someone who might be more familiar with this type of behavior.
Before that though, one issue I have is: how do I bring this up to someone in a way that makes sense? Do I want to label this phenomenon? Do I even need to? I’ve looked up “digital amnesia” as a term but came back with a definition for how the convenience of our digital devices allow us to forget birthdays and phone numbers. The closest search result I’ve found are a few people discussing how in the amount of games they already play on Steam, there’s a few they’ve forgotten they own because they bought them during sales, or didn’t even know what the titles were. But there’s no bias there, just forgetting one game out of a hundred. I can’t find other people really talking about it, but I can’t be the only person who experiences this. That doesn’t make sense to me.
Part of me just wants to suck it up and quit complaining. I should just break out the Wii and play Super Metroid already. And believe me, I will. I definitely want to get that under my belt this year. But I also know I would have done that years ago if I had a SNES and the cartridge ready to go. I have a good amount of games I’m playing now, there’s just something about the thought of pulling out my Wii to play something I have installed on the system that just seems extra and unnecessary. Like I’ve got more important things to do. And that’s not just because the Wii is the Wii.
But I need to change that, and I hope to. I want, by the end of the year, to write the article about how I repented and cast out this gaming sin – how I got over whatever this is that’s been stopping me, and downloaded Celeste or something. Then, after beating that, I could go on to talk about how I got through Super Metroid, The Cave, and both Earthbound games without breaking a sweat. It’s a goal I can see – and if I push myself enough without overdoing it, I believe I can get there. I just have to account for what I can reasonably do, given my time and abilities.
I hope to report back to you all with good news.
If you’d like to talk to me on Twitter, you can do so here. You can also email me at dcichocki(at)tiltingwindmillstudios.com.
A version of this post can also be found here.