I love video games, but lately I had a kind of “drought.” Nothing interested me or inspired me. Sure I might load up Team Fortress 2 for the usual (setting the opposing team on fire or blasting them with automated sentries), but I wasn’t, well, inspired. Occasionally there’d be a patch to Approaching Infinity to play, but that was it.
I even wondered if this hobby of decades was over for me. Maybe it just didn’t do it for me anymore, something went unfulfilled.
Then two games came out and I suddenly found myself playing them for hours.
The first was Cobalt Core. This was a Roguelike Deckbuilder – a game where your characters are represented by a deck of cards, and you play it repeatedly, unlocking more. It presented an interesting plot, plenty of card synergies and tricks to figure out, and lots to discover. There was something “moreish” and stimulating about it.
The second was the full release of Backpack Hero (well, after a few fast patches). This game crossed inventory management and dungeon-crawling, building a plot around a fantasy kingdom and a magical backpack. Tweaking what equipment was stored where, while rebuilding a pastoral town, was also compelling and fun. Someone made a game that was sort of work and geometry very engaging (and the actual plot didn’t hurt).
I played these for hours at a time – and as of this writing still am! I felt happier, satisfied, and engaged. So of course I analyzed why.
In gaming I seek both challenge and stimulation. I want to use my mind and reflexes, think and calculate – in short, be involved. I also want something that interests and stimulates me, with stories and new ideas, wild vistas and fascinating mechanics. I leave a game having been engaged – and coming out maybe more skilled and with some new ideas.
I think good games – indeed any media – have that level of, well, connection. There’s something that brings you in and makes you leave simulated, and sort of better. Even if it’s a good belly laugh and wondering “why that movie was so bad.”
Now that I knew what to look for, I’m curious to see where my gaming journey takes me. Plus maybe I understand why I enjoy blasting the enemy team in Team Fortress 2 a little better.