Missing; inaction.


Or: help! I'm trapped inside a fictitious, iron-age, high fantasy environ and can't get out!



So, I've gone a bit quiet. A couple of reasons: firstly a month of overtime as we had to work at ridiculous pace to get some paintings finished for a couple of art fairs, but primarily (and this is the real reason, if I'm completely honest with myself), I bought a copy of the devil's own time-eater, Skyrim, the massive free-form high fantasy rpg for the xbox. It's such an extraordinary game but unfortunately it's completely dominated my life: I've even dreamt in-game twice this week, and I'm not the kind of person that usually remembers their dreams. At times yesterday, I felt a bit like Twin Peaks's Josie Packard, my soul dislocated, unable to drag itself back to my corporeal form.  

It's becoming a bit of a concern as it's pretty much all that I can think about: real life is quickly losing it's lustre. Ironically, though, the life I'm inhabiting in-game isn't that different from my own life - if we leave aside the mythical bestiary and greater sense of order and reason. I've been eschewing the main narrative arc (something about dragons debating or something) and instead have been undertaking banal tasks for hours to earn a bit of gold to procure a little house, furnish said house, fabricate new clothes and generally mooch about, reading lots of books. The game has quickly become a dark mirror in which I'm enacting all the things I'm neglecting in the real world. Perhaps it offers more security and a better sense of purpose than I can actually begin to muster up myself at the moment. Whatever it is, it's incredibly addictive. I've refused to allow myself to turn the xbox on as yet today: I think I cranked up about sixteen hours gameplay yesterday (doing nothing), but instead all that I seem to have managed to do is pace about my flat like a mad cat and think about when I can get back online, and now I'm even blogging about it. 

Hmrph.

I'm never entirely sure that comparisons between video gaming and table-top gaming are worth making, the two being such different beasts. They have a superficial similarity in terms of their fantastical settings, but the game-play is entirely opposite: video gaming is insular and anti-social, whilst TT gaming is completely dependent on building and fostering relationships with similarly minded people. Also, the amount of time that's invested in each is utilised in completely different ways: TT gaming easily eats up as much time as video gaming, however, the time is consumed in building, prepping and painting miniatures, which can sometimes feel like a considerably more challenging endeavor than taking on dragon number three single-handed using only an iron dagger. Video gaming is incredibly easy, comparatively - just turn on the machine and away we go: Goodbye life! Hello new life! It's in this that I think certain wargaming companies face their greatest threat - there is so little in the world now that takes real genuine effort, we're incredibly spoiled and subsequently very lazy as consumers. It takes a great effort or a certain mindset to really want to sit down and plan (and then complete) an army of the size that GW promotes these days. 

I'm fortunate in that I do a relatively 'creative' job: I get to make stuff all day, so I don't have the urge to build, paint and craft in the same way that some of my contemporaries that work in offices (for example) have. However, this means that I have to really stay on the ball to be engaged with whatever creative practices I do for myself in my own time - like army building or completing my own paintings. However, at the moment, the level of escapism that's being offered by a game like Skyrim is winning hands down, simply because it's so simple. In some ways I've lost a little of the joy that I used to have in building an army or even a single miniature - it really feels like an ordeal or a challenge at the moment - not to mention a massive drain on my time that currently has so many things competing for it. Although, not entirely, for reasons that I shall talk about later this week: there have been a couple of things (three publications specifically) that have entered my life that are reigniting some of my love for miniature gaming - or rather, the GW IP. More on those later, I'm striving for a bit for balance in all things this week - I'll let you know how I get on, and I'll let you know whether anything can break the hold that the xbox is having on me. 

If you haven't heard from me by mid-week, send for Agent Cooper.  

9 comments:

  1. Tim. How strange!!

    The adverts on telly look immense. I daren't play stuff like this as it would turn me into a total spazz-nerd. I bet it's bleedin' boss, though.

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  2. I have resisted the game for now as my son is playing it ;-) Deus Ex did the ame for me last week though . Interesting post as usual

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  3. Hi Neil - thanks very much - yeah, it's an incredible game. It will eat your life if you let it. There's such a massive number of different ways that you could play, too, as you specialise your adventurer. Deus Ex is on my shelf waiting for the Christmas break :)

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  4. I agree totally with what you said about TT games and video games. TT armies just require so much craftsmanship (for want of a better word) which takes time, especially at the size GW expects you to field, as you said.

    I have a baby on the way, a 40-hour a week academic load and an X-box, so I've decided it's most likely going to be computer RPGs (or skirmish games like Infinity) for me for the next year or so, if anything.

    The larger TT wargames just expect too much from the modern gamer in terms of commitment I think.

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  5. Heya Fulgrim, found your site courtesy of a link James S posted. Consider yourself followed. I'll drop you onto my blog roll too. Cheers.

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  6. Ohh I tried this with Fallout 3...
    Hours just went Wosshhh, and then you needed to stop playing for just long enough to get food and drink...
    Scary ;)

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  7. Tim, this is an awesome article. It's nice to read about someone playing like in real life, doing mundane things and stuff. I've completely gone off on the deep end now, I'm currently seeing how many beasts I can start fights with and then luring them into towns. The town guards hate me not only for the constant shouting but also because of the combat squads of bears that I deliver to them. I think I am the single most loathed entity in the world of Skyrim, so in that sense I feel I have won. :D

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