The Empty Race

The year was 1995. OJ Simpson received a decision of not guilty to the case that swept the nation, the first planet outside of our solar system was located, the horrible Oklahoma City Bombing occurred, and Final Fantasy VI was beginning to earn sweeping accolades for the impact it had on the video game industry. Even though the game was released in 1994, I personally did not sit down at the SNES to play FFVI until 95 to finally understand what the hype was all about. At the time, I was a dorky little 10-year old boy who spent the majority of his day ducking dodge balls being whipped at his head during gym class and staring at a map of our globe in geography class. After the school day ended, I raced home and embraced what I was truly meant for: playing video games. Girls were still pretty icky.

For the better part of the year, I inhaled everything from the FFVI game universe. Each day brought something unique that I pondered before putting my head down on the pillow for the night. Why is an octopus dropping anvils on an opera? How does that octopus fly simultaneously with a ship? But I also had to ask myself some tougher questions as well. Did all of my group survive the apocalypse? Is that octopus still around here somewhere? The game had a lasting impact on me in many ways. When I finally completed the journey, I could not start it over fast enough to uncover things that I missed the first time around. The other amazing thing about that experience was that I shared it with my best friend. We would often spend long periods of time discussing FFVI, what to do next, and how to take down a certain boss. He became the master of Sabin’s blitz commands, so much so that he had a water cup by his side to keep his damn thumb lubricated for the inputs. FFVI is all we thought about and wanted to play for a long time.

In 2018, everything seems to have flipped upside down. The concept of taking time in life to slow down and “enjoy the little things” has gone away. Our nature evolved (or devolved) into needing to solve everything immediately without understanding how or why we got to that answer. The video game industry has followed suit with that idea of rushing. On the very SAME DAY that games are released, you can go out to YouTube and find a full and complete walkthrough of the game finished. And in a lot of these videos, the people racing through the game to be the first to the finish line have nothing but a mechanical nature. The very nature of earning subscribers and revenue has stunted the way we enjoy video games.

The concept of reviewing games has also impacted our ability to slow down and enjoy a certain game. Every day, a new game is released and scores are being thrown at us left and right. The gamer is absolutely inundated with potential possibilities, and it is really hard to settle into a certain genre when more and more 9.0 scores are released, whether or not they deserve it. For people like myself who struggle with indecision and OCD, I cannot seem to settle into a game without seeing something “better” released 2 days later. Through no fault of the industry, the sheer amount of choices we have increases that need to rush through a game to move on to the next one.

In order to stop the endless wheel to nowhere, this gamer suggests picking up a game, turning off YouTube or other online walkthroughs, ignoring future releases for a while, and enjoying what you have in front of you. Don’t race through what you have to get to something else. The next “soup of the day” will always be available to you whenever you are ready. Even though the industry will never be the same, you can step back and relive 1995 again like me.

Stop, relax, and enjoy the ride.

A 30-something dude who enjoys gaming when he’s not being an adult.

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