Why I may never stop playing video games

I friggin’ ADORE video games. You know it, I know it, it’s no secret whatsoever.

Love being pretty much this mysterious thing that cannot be rationalized, I never bothered trying to analyse the reason I love video games so much. It was an intense coup de foudre, friggin’ love at first play, and it’s been a burning passion ever since. There has been teary, heart-wrenching breakups and reconciliations in the process, and the love is now burning brighter and fiercer than ever before. (For the interested, the full story can be read here and there.)


On the other hand, it’s no problem writing down how playing video games make me feel. I’m not referring to the fact that gaming makes me all giddy and happy, because that’s a no-brainer. We’re dealing with more subtle and complex feelings that can be encompassed by three words: discovery, escapism and freshness.


Discovery: Each and every game is a trip through unknown and uncharted territories. Sure enough, there are tropes and gameplay mechanics that pop up on a regular basis; but the way they are used, and the coating around them, is always unique. A game is always tied to a specific, one-of-a-kind atmosphere, and basking in that atmosphere is something I relish and never get bored of. Cherry on the cake, knowing a given game like the back of my hand doesn’t erase that discovery factor; on the other hand, each replay adds new emotions and atmosphere elements to the mix.


Escapism: I love the real world to pieces, that much is sure; but gosh, do I also love to dive into parallel universes through gaming. Gaming worlds act as breathers: they are welcome diversions that take your mind away from your personal life, only to let you go back to it with a relaxed mind. Some say that gaming sessions are akin to meditation to them, and I fully subscribe to that view of things.   


Freshness: Last but not least, gaming act as a refresher. I kid you not: gaming resets the world for me. Every time I start a game and think of my run the next morning, I feel a wave of freshness in my mind, as well as a surge of giddiness; and that sprightliness suffuses the rest of my life, making everything else feel new and sparkly. And just like Discovery, this happens even with games I know already, providing that I haven’t played them for long enough to erase most memories of my last run.


We’re now coming to this post’s title. Not only do I love gaming, not only does it make me feel happy and giddy, but it also gives birth to these deeper and more layered feelings. Mind you, I could probe even further, and expand on even subtler ramifications such as the fact that my dreams routinely got more complex since I started gaming again, or that gaming has taught me values I use IRL. An activity that generates such a vibrant lattice of delightful emotions, feelings and mental constructions is bound to last, and to take an ever-stronger hold on my life as runs and memories pile up. I rest my case, dear fellow gamers: gaming and I are meant to roll together indeed! See ya soon with more gaming goodness, and take care!



The Pokemon Sword & Shield Report, Part 4: The ultimate overview



After three posts of shameless praise and vibrant declarations of love to Galar, it’s time to wrap up my S&S report on a more general, yet higher than ever, note. I think you’re well aware by now that I friggin’ adore Galar indeed, dear fellow gamers; and here are a few extra reasons I love that newest of Pokemon regions so darn much. 



The first thing I have to get out of my chest is: Galar is the absolute best interpretation of a real-life region, ever. I’d bet my arse that it’s because GameFreak dared ditch many Pokemon tropes at long last, in favour of a more faithful recreation. Listing all the things that scream Britain in S&S would be way too long and tedious for all of us, so I’ll just quote one of these things: the football tie. Heck, this is absolute genius, pure homage brilliance. Not only is the link with Britain obvious even to a non-football fan like myself, but it also fits perfectly into the grand scheme of Pokemon things. Indeed, it makes perfect sense that Pokemon battles should be a sport people pay to watch, and not an arcane activity practiced by only a few, in Gyms no one can enter but Pokemon Trainers. I can only wish GameFreak will keep that trend going, and offer us more regions deliciously faithful to their real-life inspirations.



Another thing I have to praise vigorously is the fact that your Trainer occupy their rightful place — namely centre stage. As the player, you’re in the game again or maybe like never before, actually. No more attention-whorey friends and rivals stealing the spotlight from you, no more Pokemon Professor treating you as a lackey, no more villain team trying to conquer the world: the game is very blatantly about you and your quest to clear the Gym Challenge, and everything else is treated as a distraction you shouldn’t bother with. Heck, the game goes as far as to have Leon and Sonia repeatedly tell you that they’ll take care of Macro Cosmos issues and that you should focus on your own goals. Wait, is that crew actually handling things like the adults they are, and letting me be a regular 14-year-old? Blimey, that’s certainly a first in a Pokemon game! 



Next, I wanna elaborate on the brand-new grindiness. Does mandatory grinding create an unbalance of sorts in the levelling-up dynamic, as one could rightfully fear? Well, not quite: with the mandatory grinding factored in, you’ll reach the same levels as in old games by the end of a run. Even the levelling rate is preserved: fast-levelling ‘Mons do reap more benefit from levelling Candies than slow-levelling ones, making the former stronger by the end of a run. Old games had you reach high levels through fighting everything in your way; S&S, on the other hand, does so through grinding and farming. Is it better or worse? It’s up to every Pokefan to answer that, I guess. My only pet peeve is the fact that Route Trainers are now way too weak compared to wild ‘Mons; but that’s only a minor balance issue that can easily be fixed in next games.



Interestingly, whilst I love Galar to pieces, I cannot occult the fact that it robbed me of the thrill of rushing breathlessly through a region and seeing my One and Monly become a powerhouse as I did so. That has always been my main pleasure in Pokemon solo running; and with mandatory grinding and farming stops and Trainers being such pushovers, that sweet bulldozing rush is now gone. However, S&S treated me to something really sweet in exchange: the thrill of grinding and farming into oblivion, and seeing my One and Monly literally gain 30 levels in two minutes and my, that isn’t a bad trade at all



I could probably go on more; but as I’ll have many more occasions to probe Galar and expand on it in exquisite detail in future run reports, I’ll take French leave for now. In more ways than one, actually but more on that soon. If my burning passion for S&S made you itch to play the pair, or love it even more if it was your jam already, then I’ll consider my work done indeed. Take care of yourselves, dear fellow gamers; and keep playing through thick and thin!


You can find the rest of the report here:

Part 1: The Most RPG-ish Pokemon Game of Them All

Part 2: Say Goodbye to the Tropes

Part 3: My Own Private Pros & Cons