I remember back around 2004 or 2005 a friend of mine managed to get me into Star Wars Galaxies, an incredibly popular MMO at the time that ran from about 2003 to 2011. This game was significant to me both because it was one of the first real games that my new friends and I could bond over, but also because it was the first and last game that I can remember religiously playing. Star Wars Galaxies was a daily event for us and was often times our congregation point as friends. Nowadays I see people playing things like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, League of Legends and Destiny 2, all of which have these thriving communities around them that kind of leave me feeling wistful when I think about them even though I know I could never engage with games like that ever again.
We’ve seen a ton of games-as-service games release over the past few years, often boasting these long roadmaps of events, updates and content drops, all in service of cultivating a consistent and engaged player base. Some these games land while most of them do not, but regardless of how they perform I always feel that despite how alluring one of these games might be, I know that I’m no longer the kind of person who will play a singular game for years on end. Some people are just able to pick a handful of games to play throughout any given year and just stick with them until something else comes along, but for better or worse, I am not one of them.
I consider myself more of a video game tourist that drops by these video game landmarks, taking some photos, seeing the attractions, buying a souvenir and then moseying onward to the next thing. I don’t consider this to be a negative thing, but it does lead to a lot of instances of me not being able to engage with these overwhelmingly popular products in ways that others can. For instance, The Elder Scrolls Online looks pretty cool to me, but I know that I won’t stick with it long enough to see all of the rad new shit they’ve added to the game over the years. Sure the expansions seem really well done and positively received, but there’s no way my enthusiasm will propel me through the base game and onto an expansion.
Clearly I’m just a broken individual who can’t enjoy things, because just by looking at the Steam concurrent charts you can see that the top performers are by and large older games that have endured for years thanks to their thriving and possibly toxic communities. There isn’t one game in the top 10 of this chart that came out this century. The most recent game in that selection is 2019’s Apex Legends, which Steam lists as a 2020 release because that’s when it came to Steam itself. Yet here I am unable to fathom playing any of the games on that list that weren’t released in 2021 for some reason, one of which might be my weird desire to stay up to date on video games for the purpose of having things to write about on this site.
Maybe this is all just a big case of “the grass is always greener,” and I’m just looking at these games and manufacturing a feeling of longing, or maybe it’d just nice to be a part of a community once more especially after the forced isolation of 2020. Ultimately I’d like to be able to find games I can consistently resonate with that aren’t annualized sports franchises, but getting into a game like that seems like a lot of effort. Maybe the real thing that’s happening is that I’ve gotten so lazy that the idea of starting a new game is just something I don’t have the energy for anymore. Now that I say that out loud, I think I need to change some stuff in my life.