Thursday, June 4, 2015

Making Time for Fun

This week on PopMatters, I remind myself to step away and play games frivolously.

I never mention it in the article, but the subject of this post, and some of the fatigue that explains my admittedly hasty rejection of The Witcher, also explains why I so very much want to play Splatoon. I have been hearing from a few people that while Splatoon is fun and unique and an exciting project from Nintendo, that it just doesn't have longevity. I think we have started to measure multiplayer games in particular by weather or not they can unseat the forever-games of League of Legends or Destiny and the like. "Yes," you might say, "Splatoon is enjoyable. But will I play it for more than six hours?"

This strikes me, like single-player length time, as a useless question. Actually, strike that. What this sentiment does tell you regarding multiplayer games is that you should play the game now. Strike while the iron is hot. Jump in with all the new people before everyone abandons the game and you're stuck playing against experts, or worse, no one at all. That I see as an invitation to embrace the ephemeral moment of play. If I pick up Splatoon and abandon it again after ten hours or so, who cares. I've played shorter games in my life, created imaginary moments of play as a child that were far more ephemeral. Jovial, frivolous, battery-recharging play doesn't come with an "best-by" date.

The other game unmentioned in the article, but in the back of my mind while writing, is Life is Strange. The adventure game is far from perfect, but I've been struck smitten with every episode so far. Like Splatoon, maybe Life is Strange is just coming at a good time for me. While it features the science fiction maelstrom that is time travel, it still feels small in  scale and scope. Dontnod is not trying to compete with Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. In fact, they want you to think about time not just by traveling through it, but by savoring it. During the last episode, I saw on a bed and listened to the entire, sappy, high-school-memory-inducing "Lua" by Bright Eyes. I was never rushed. Max had nowhere important to be, and neither did I.

To make time in games for, well, nothing? It's refreshing.

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