When I wrapped up the 50 Book Challenge at the end of 2008(!), I blamed my decline in reading over the previous few years partly on video games. That may or may not have been true, but in the many years since then, I’ve definitely rehabilitated my reading habits, getting through 50 novels a year and (because part of reading is honing the craft) having over a dozen short stories published. But at the same time I’ve come to see reading as something to be quantified – so-and-so number of books a year, classic and literary icons struck off the list, even a bad book read to the finish because I know it has worth to me as a review; a practice of writing.
As I approach my late twenties I begin to feel more and more guilty about time not spent attempting to better my lot in life: jobhunting for a better career, writing fiction, reading to polish those fiction skills, or (more recently) trying to tap into the freelance writer’s market. I miss those days in my late teens and early twenties when like any young man I assumed that modest success, at the very least, was a birthright and would happen as a matter of course. I miss, therefore, being able to happily entrance myself in a game for hours or days.
I played and loved a few well-acclaimed games over the past couple of years – Skyrim, Dishonored, The Walking Dead – but never wrote anything about them. Grub Street is a literary blog which almost solely serves to host my book reviews with a sideline into political opinions, fiction writing and my meandering life, but video games are worthy of discussion and criticism and evaluation as well. I’m just not in the habit of talking about them the same way I am about books. That’s a habit I want to develop.
Steam does an annual winter sale which run for about two weeks over Christmas and New Year, during which time it’s possible to snap up games for insanely cheap prices. (I wish I’d known about this last year, as I began a four month sabbatical expressly aimed at chilling out, but what can you do?) I bought over a dozen of them, old and new, indie-developed or major titles, across all kinds of different genres. Stuff I was interested in, stuff I was going to buy anyway, but also stuff that happened to be on sale and caught my interest. So I’m going to review all of them, for better or worse.