(Taken from the Schlock Mercenary Open Letter, Saturday, December 18, 2004)
My last Open Letter was written shortly after renting Fable for the XBox. I spent around $6.00 on the rental, which isn’t too bad.
Then I spent around 24 hours during the week playing the game that WAS bad.
Symptoms of the opportunity cost of gaming: the house is more cluttered, the dishes haven’t been done consistently, the buffer has slipped a few days, and the Open Letter hasn’t been updated.
The game went back to Blockbuster this morning. The kids are sad — they liked watching Daddy play Fable, and are already clamoring that we rent it again. Nope. It’s too expensive. If I had the $6.00 to blow on it, I’d pocket the money and keep the associated three full workdays (24 hours divides into three eight-hour workdays, folks) for doing actual WORK.
I don’t know how you kids these days get anything productive done. I hear you telling me about console games, MMORPGs, cool new TV shows… all these things take TIME, and I don’t for one minute believe that you’re actually DOING all that cool stuff in the same lifetime.
Fable, ironically, bothered me on two time-related points. First, the load times were awful. I’ve heard that this is likely a problem with my XBox, and that I should have it modded with a giant hard disk. This is not going to happen, because it would be akin to forcing me to rent the game (or BUY it) to get my money’s worth, and we’ve already discussed that. Those load times, though… they kept breaking the game-play into discrete, fourth-wall-shattering “bricks.” It yanked me out of the game every time I traversed an area.
The second problem is that in the course of 23 game-days, my character aged SIX DECADES. Sure, I ran around doing non-questy sorts of level-whoring, but discovering that suddenly I’m 60 years old was pretty distressing– probably because I can relate in real life. What kinds of stuff am I wasting time on today? When I wake up one morning at age 65, will I look back and wish that I’d finished some quest or another earlier in life?
I play video games to ESCAPE that kind of thinking.
The good news… yesterday I did some coloring for a corporate client, and made some breakthroughs on my coloring technique. Granted, this type of coloring won’t make it into the daily Schlock until I’ve gotten really, really fast at it, so don’t hold your breath. Still, I made progress as an artist this week. When I wake up one morning and discover I’m a geezer, I’ll look back at that moment and say “well, THAT was pretty cool.”