Writing about videogames. What's the point? I've found myself asking this question more and more in the last few weeks, and as any frequent visitors to this blog would have noticed (yes, all two of you, etc etc), I don't as yet appear to have any great desire to go about overcoming my personal issues with what, increasingly, has come to feel like a bit of a chore. Writing about videogames - it's not quite dancing about architecture, but these days, for me, it doesn't feel far off. I think the problem is I barely have time to play videogames, let alone have the clear head space to sit at my laptop long enough to try and communicate what makes them so brilliant/maddening/relevant/pointless. No doubt this will pass. The first six months of 2011 have largely - but not entirely - disappeared in a hazy, faintly depressed, fog of noise and isolation. The only videogaming experience that jumps out at me in all this time - but then, my memory is often awful - has been the weekend in June I spent with Child Of Eden; an incredible, sensory experience, it's exactly the sort of dizzying game that would re-ignite my love for the medium if it wasn't already so buoyant. See, I LOVE videogaming, as much as I ever have. The problem isn't that I'm getting jaded and old. Nor is it that the games being released are rubbish (though they largely are). It's just that I, personally, still find myself wanting to play videogames as much as I want to write about them, but not having the desire to make the time to do either, or both. That might sound a tad like an oxymoron (and a whining self-pitying one at that), but I realise that. At least I hope I do. I think this blog entry, even more than the others throughout Moon Witch Cartridge, has been a mini-catharsis, written purely for my benefit. Halfway through the year then, is as apt a time as any to reflect. To think about all the things there is to do, like writing about videogames (instead of, well, actually going off and writing about videogames). To think about whether Child Of Eden is really my only standout videogaming highlight of the year thus far (a list of assumed highlights of the year, with the likes of L.A Noire and Portal 2, is also incidentally the same as my list of games bought that I haven't got around to playing yet). To think about what the year ahead will bring. As a reasonably flippant response to the opening question would be: what's the point to anything?.
Here then, off the top of my head, are my gaming highlights of 2011 thus far. Not in any particular order, apart from number one. I will probably regret this list, and in all likelihood this blog post, tomorrow.
1. Child Of Eden.
2. The Nintendo 3DS's StreetPass mode, and all the attendant addiction to progressing through the Quest, collecting Play Coins, finding new Pokemon..., it creates.
3. L.A. Noire's pitch-perfect poster art, especially the gorgeous large-scale ones seen across the Underground.
4. The PSN hacking debacle. Not a nice highlight of course, but notable nonetheless.
5. Nintendo's E3 conference. Rarely has a new piece of hardware been as strangely, frustratingly, introduced as the Wii U.
6. The EDGE magazine redesign. Writing about videogames may induce a little shrug, but reading about them can still be illuminating.
7. Selling a promotional Mortal Kombat t-shirt on a popular internet auction site for more money then it would cost to buy one and a half copies of the actual game.
8. Cory Arcangel's bowling videogame audio-visual installation (and delightful tribute to gaming history) at the Barbican, Beat The Champ.
9. Duke Nukem Forever reviews.
10. Adam Buxton's Song Wars entry 'Party Pom Pom', about his children playing videogames. Sample lyric:
How are you enjoying all the humiliation? / Would you like some more on your Daddy’s Playstation? / Hold up a second cos your Mummy’s coming in / Save the level and wait for the speech to begin...
I'm off to play Super Mario Galaxy 2 now. EVERYTHING IS OKAY.