January 1, 2015

Here come the games

The last computer game I bought on a physical disc in a physical box was Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb, in 2003 ($29.99? $39.99?). The first computer game I bought as a discless boxless purely digital download was Braid, in late 2009 ($9.99). Thus began the new era.

Starting at the very end of 2010, beginning of 2011 — i.e. exactly 4 years ago — I began acquiring a lot of such discless, boxless games. The retailing of these infinitely reproducible substanceless goods has become a constant parade of brief and incredibly drastic discount sales. While a clock ticks down the hours, a year-old game (or a “bundled” collection of games) might well be available for 90% off the list price. Often the discount is hard even to fathom as a discount; it’s simply, e.g.,”$1.49.” That is, very very very cheap. Impulse-buy cheap.

Between such sales on Steam, the “pay-what-you-want” charity bundles from Humble Bundle, and the various promotional freebies and deals at GOG, I have, since Braid in 2009, amassed a collection of (according to my spreadsheet) 197 games. Yes. 197.

The outrageousness of this number is in great part due to the bundles, many of which have contained eight or more games (for which I have generally paid about $5 total). Nonetheless I have to take responsibility for it. I have personally and with full knowledge bought this many games.

Of these games I have played 36 to completion. Another 18 I have at least sampled. The remaining 143 I have not touched at all. 143 games!

And still these sales keep coming, and every time I’m tempted. “Hey, of this new batch of eight games, there’s one that I have genuinely wanted to play, and another one I’m at least curious about. I’ve never heard of the rest of these. Pay what I want, eh? I guess that’s worth… $3, sure.” The logic sounds good. But acquiring more meaningless possessions does not. I feel queasy about adding to those 143 games no matter the price. 143 is a lot.

Part of the deal we make when we replace physical possessions with digital ones is supposed to be that we will still get think of them as possessions, with all that that entails. But that’s not always how it works. I’m not comfortable with how easy it is for the data to pile up into infinity without the hoard ever even slightly creaking my floorboards. Limits are reassuring where infinity is not. In the digital age it has become our responsibility to be our own reassurance.

So I have decided that to ease my conscience and reassure myself, I am going to get around to it and start playing my pile of games, dammit. At least give them each a fair shot. And as this website has been my checklist and notepad for all things checkable and listable and notable and paddable, so it shall be for this too.

The idea is to be brief about it.

Right now the plan is to proceed through the games I’ve never played (and the ones I’ve only sampled briefly) in the order I bought them. Well, all the single-player ones, anyway. Multiplayer is another kettle of fish. We’ll see about that.

The notes I am passing to myself here are just my sort of checks for my sort of checklist, and are not necessarily tailored to explicate or present these games to a general audience. If you find yourself needing to know more about these computer games, it would of course be my pleasure to respond to your inquiries. It will be the internet’s pleasure too, I’m sure.

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