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Up until now I have remained faithful where it concerns my romantic relationships. But I have a confession to make; I can hardly remember a time in which I was faithful in my relationships with videogames.
As a matter of fact, things have only gotten worse in the past six years, in which I’ve grown obsessed with building a library of all the games I ever wanted to play, in order to have immediate access to these titles.
This has, very predictably, resulted in the age old luxury problem of possessing too many games and too little time spiraling out of control… and a condition wherein, when sitting down to play one game, I can’t escape that nagging feeling that I’m neglecting more than 800 other titles.
Sometimes this feeling becomes so difficult to ignore that I opt not to play any game at all and do something else entirely, instead.
Now there have been titles in recent years – like the Street Fighter IV games, Bayonetta, The King of Fighters XIII, Mushihimesama Futari ver. 1.5 and The Wonderful 101 – that have had a strong pull on me, tempting me to forget everything else, straighten my game playing life out and devote it to them. To dive in deep, explore their systems and become good at them. But to no avail. I couldn’t have it any other way.
Yes, like a few of the Cane and Rinse team, I lead a polygamous gaming lifestyle.
On the other side of the coin are those who fall in love with a small handful of games, or sometimes even a single game. They are players who are not so concerned with interacting with the full history of videogames old and new, the way I am.
Often, these are the speedrunners and other competitive players of videogames. They are that one guy that can clear Alien Soldier without taking a single hit and yet keeps on playing, with increasing self-imposed limits, just because there is no other game like it.
They are Saurian Dash, who turns an extremely complex stylish action game inside out, takes it apart and puts it back together, gaining a level of understanding of it that’s at least on par with that of its creators.
They are those that love their game so deeply that nothing else existing outside of it is worthy of the same attention, so they make a career out of playing it, travelling the world to face other players and scraping by.
They are monogamous gamers.
Throughout my work in the gaming industry, I have come to speak with many a monogamous gamer… but with many who are like me, as well. And sometimes I sensed a form of disdain for the type of player I described above, from those of my ilk, speaking of them as if they were bigger geeks than they are – or even imputing them with autistic characteristics.
I think this type of talk is incredibly disingenuous and often times born out of someone’s insecurity about their own gaming skills when compared with those of players who eat, live and breathe a single game or genre.
After all, when it’s for the right reasons – and not just because playing a certain game competitively “is where the money is” – this gaming monogamy is a beautiful thing, driven by the deep love a player has for his or her game. Any great videogame with sufficient depth is in fact designed for this type of player behaviour; to be played and studied for years and years and a game’s quality and greatness can in many cases be measured by players’ willingness to do so.
So here’s to the monogamous gamer. You have my envy, respect and admiration. Hopefully one day I can be like you and settle down, pick that one game from my collection that I will have come to love more than any other and forget about everything else.