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The Eyes of a Jaded Gamer?

Melinda Nguyen

I was sort of just laying there on my bed, about to close my eyes after quietly flipping through the RPGamer I used to be very active with; Casually reading sections which, admittedly, due to time restraints and other circumstances, I only get around to reading once or twice a month.

I kept reading through the news articles; How there was going to be a crossover of Capcom and Namco characters in an RPG, of the developments of The Matrix Online, of announced remakes, reviews various Lord of the Ring games, news concerning more sequels, the release of the PS2 Full Metal Alchemist game, the Advent Children trailer...

Except that for some reason it didn't really click. Not in that way, not in the way that it would have struck me. Even though there's been a huge surge of news with many more companies now in on the action, it didn't really feel like something getting excited over.

Then while I was watching the rain come down on the window, I then realised what all these things had in common, and why they didn't strike me as particularly interesting.

It was the fact that a huge dominating majority of all the news and new releases are all about things that have been, in one way or another, mostly processed and prepackaged to variously large degrees.

Take the Matrix Online. Almost everyone (Even someone like me who has never seen any of the movies) has at least a very good idea of what the Matrix is about. You know, the whole world being a carefully crafted digital illusion, and there were people who could take control to do spectacular moves, and a whole bunch of other things. But we all KNOW what to expect because it was already crafted.

With remakes of older fairly popular games, we've already been introduced to everything in it; if not directly, we may have heard of its fame through friends that have. With many sequels, it's just the continuation of what has already come. We all know what to expect to the near finest details, as everything's been established.

Same with spinoffs like the announced Namco/Capcom RPG, and with continuations, such as World of Warcraft, all with massive amounts of background... already there. Previous games have established who the players are, how the world exists and how it all works.

It might explain why when I read the news of gaming websites (it's not just a RPG specific issue, we've been drawing from about everything, even real life. Take Full Spectrum Warrior, C&C generals, Playboy: The mansion, Rome: Total War or a huge number of titles as other examples.) I have this very distinct feeling that I already know a lot about the games in question, even though I may have just heard of it for the first time, and it just fails to spark interest.

Is it a case of straight out seeing too much and being jaded? I honestly don't know. It could be a cause, considering that I'm now 22 and this would mark my 5th year as a seriously active RPG player, and about 9th as a casual. Being around for so long would have exposed me to so much... except the fact that unlike many people I have spoken with, I still 'feel' those moments I enjoyed five or six years ago. I still keep a stock of depleting games, both new and old to play, which I go through whenever time permits.

I still giggle when I see moments which just for one reason or another, strike me as funny, even though I can't put my finger on it. Seeing a pirate holding a teddy bear shouting "Love and Peace!" was one of those moments. I still cry when I see a villain just kill someone and you can't help but scream "But you just CAN'T DO THAT DAMNIT!", and I'll have a very confused face when I see the main character of the game being set up in a false marriage going "What the heck is going on here?" There's still games out there where I'll just literally stroll in, look at, and waltz out like a gaming maniac, probably skipping a little on the way home. For someone who should have been jaded so long ago, I somehow don't act like it.

I remember the first RPG I ever saw, which was Final Fantasy III US. You'd think I'd be poking at this for being guilty of being a mass sequel, except that for some reason, it interested me because of the fact that it somehow felt like there was a completely new world unfolding in front of my eyes. I was led to believe it was a sequel (Wouldn't the name imply that?) but it felt like it wasn't.

I remember then going charging in on a RPG gaming spree throughout my gaming life, wandering through world upon world... and still at it, in one form or another.

Breath of Fire I, II and III are all sequels, and all based in the same world, and you'd think I'd have a nice big complaint about them, except... well I don't. Why don't I? It may be the fact that even though you learn each game is in fact a direct sequel in terms of timeline (An example being in Breath of Fire II, Nina's trial where you have to play with her alone.) each game felt like its own separate world. It has plenty of history, but it has a present that I can wander around and understand and explore.

Does this mean that I have only played much older games? Neverwinter Nights for me crafted numerous worlds through the very many modules out there, each with their own little worlds. Hell, even Diablo 2 had that effect, where the world which Diablo was entrenched suddenly blew wide open, suddenly expanding from a town and an abandoned cathedral to a wide and varied world.

I remember wandering through the world of Ragnarok Online, and actually enjoying it, because it established a world in its own right, even though the game itself is fairly dated compared to many of its now numerous contemporaries, many which are considered much superior gameplay wise. Final Fantasy XI also offered a new world, even though it has many ties with the series.

Do I question why all of this is being done? Not really, because as I learnt, there is a huge web with why actions are taken within the industry; it does have to make money out of us. But I do wonder if this is a reason why I sit here now, trying to understand why I seem to lack enthusiasm for all the developments, but at the same time haven't experienced the jadedness of so many of the others I associate with, the ones who 'got over' it all, and still will walk out every so often, and cherry-pick a game or two to start waltzing through whenever I get a spare moment? Is it just the fact that the games I know and love are becoming too familiar to me, even though I may have never heard of them?

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