In July of 2013, for a Arizona-based website called ByteSizeGaming, I began a series of articles where I did what many people with massive stores of games they have never played should do: play them. Along the way, I talked about how these games work; the finer points of themes that exist in the games we play, the practices that are undertaken when we play these unknown games and somehow draw it back into some apologetic letter to the creators of these games saying how sorry I am for paying money for things I have never used before in my life and yes they do actually mean something to me no really.
The series, such as it was, began with a little indie title called The Path and gradually escalates away from just working through the list and became something of a writing exercise for me. The latest entry in the series, Red Dead Redemption, was written in March 2014, and then life dived in front of that progress like some sort of presidential bodyguard. I took solace in the fact that, despite my inactivity, the work that I had done still existed somewhere, in the form of ByteSizeGaming. Even though no one maintained it, it was there. I took comfort in that, and as a future video game critic with stars in his eyes, it was something I held on to in some small way.
And then today happened. I typed bytesizegaming.com into the URL, and the site was gone. All of that work that I had done with these lovely people and the opinions and experiences that we had shared had been erased completely. On the one hand, this is massively crushing for me. We’ve all gone our separate ways on this earth and the one epitaph of our meeting has finally been swallowed up by the gelatinous grey goo that is the Internet, never to be seen again. That fucking sucks. On the other hand, I have a clean slate. This is my chance to begin again, to take the chance that I have been meaning to take for a long time and step towards being an independent video game critic slash academic.
This blog is that project resurrected, starting from The Path and continuing past Red Dead Redemption and off into the sunset. This project is mostly for me – it helps me write, it gets my creative blood pumping and it lets me jot down the ideas that I have regarding video game critique and cement them as opinions that I know are mine. Maybe this will evolve into something bigger, if people choose to read it and find something to like in it. Maybe I will fall off the bandwagon and stop updating when life gets in the way again. Or maybe this whole project will fall into some sort of diary-esque project that only I ever see or know about.
But you never know until you try. So let’s try.
– Liam “Doc” Watson
I have a lot of games.
I want to believe it to be an an occupational hazard. Own as many games as you can and you’re bound to have material whenever you want to write a piece, right? On top of that, I’m not the worst culprit of overindulgence. Gaming journalists like TotalBiscuit and the folks at PC Gamer have Steam catalogues soaring off into the heavens, and even outside of people within the gaming industry, several of my friends are not far behind.
It isn’t just Steam that floods my catalogue of interactive media, although it is certainly the worst offender. My PS3 HDD is full due to the almighty boon of Playstation Plus and my purchase of a 3DS means a good two generations of handheld gaming I have yet to discover. Worst of all are the games that I have started and never finished, not because they were bad, but because there just isn’t enough time. Bastion, Catherine, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Metroid Prime, the Halo series -I’d keep going but I’d like to keep a little bit of my gaming integrity.
This is all posturing, though. It’s come time for me to face the music.
I have a backlog.
*not mad, just disappointed*
The worst stigma a self-respecting video gamer can endure is to own the best games money can buy and never have the time to boot them up, let alone complete them. I feel hypocritical every time I berate my friend for not playing Spec Ops The Line even though it is sitting right fucking there and I can see it and he should play it right now, when over in my PS3, the sad little eyes of Journey stare up at me and hand me its controller with a hopeful smile. Well, I’ve had enough. I need to fix this, say I, straightening my hypothetical tie and readying my wrists.
The most extreme penance would be to not purchase any more games until such a time that I have finished my backlog, but being a hermit never really suited me. Thus, I have decided to make my quest into the deepest recesses of my backlog a public affair. I will be chronicling my progress to do my gaming library – and the thousands of dollars that it is worth – justice. To assist me, I have signed up to Backloggery, a site dedicated to these kinds of efforts. Every time I complete a game to a satisfactory standard, or I cannot feasibly continue a game due to horribleness, I will review it on this blog. Along the way, I will be talking about a whole bunch of stuff – academic and cultural, personal and global, relevant and tangentially-almost-relevant – in an exploration of sorts, how those gems that we may never talk about are just as important as the ones that we do talk about. For better or worse, I have no idea, but it’ll be fun trying to find out.
So let’s get started. First up on the list:
Indie survival horror? What could possibly go wrong?