I am really off gaming on my Xbox at the moment.
I’ve been downloading the free Xbox Gold games since the scheme launched but have barely played any of them to any extent of note. It’s an odd feeling – for as long as I can remember I’ve always had something on the go, but the urge to pick up my controller has been almost none existent.
It’s even stranger because the Free games with Gold are the type of games that are traditionally been right up my street. I’ve long been a sandbox fan for example, and Fable 3, Assassin’s Creed 2, and Dead Rising 2 are all examples of good sandbox gaming on the 360. In fact – I played the predecessors to quite some length.
My changing personal circumstances may have something to do with it I suppose – having a young family certainly changes your attitude towards gaming. In the early days of my eldest being a baba my Xbox got me through a few sleepless nights, but as she got older I found myself booting up less & less. I had something else far more entertaining to play with and by the time she switched off & gone to bed i’m too tired for anything as active as Xboxing. Most certainly 2 yr olds start the day early, which has all but killed off any all night Gears of War sessions with a few beers and my pals online like I used to, unless I’m willing to pay a high price the next day.
I actually also find myself wondering if, after 25 years or so of console gaming (over 10 years of which is with Xbox in one form or another), I’ve now reached a saturation point and got a bit bored of gaming. Let’s face it, other than improved graphics and speed of gameplay, there really hasn’t been that much in the way of innovative gameplay going on for about 18 months/2 years, certainly nothing that has piqued my interest anyway, or hasn’t been a novelty that has worn off. Pop a FPS (probably a franchise sequel) in the drive and I am all over it – in seconds my muscle memory kicks in and I’m intuitively making my way into the game. It’s not engaging or challenging anymore.
A recent nostalgic feeling for a a Mario style platformer has felt a like a bit of a confirmation of my suspicions of boredom – I’ve not played a game like that since my GameCube was retired for the first Xbox maybe 10 years ago now, and gave me cause to ponder how much repetition has existed in my Xbox life; my numbers might not be completely accurate but some big ticket names spring to mind – I’ve played 6 Halos, 7 Battlefields, 5 GTAs, 4 Gears of War, 5 Guitar Heros, maybe 10 Lego games (I’ll always remain a big kid at heart.), and a partridge in a pear tree. Then throw in the mix the number of DLC expansions, the abundance of thematically similar games (I’ve played an unholy amount of sandbox games who’s root can firmly be found in GTA – Saints Row, Crackdown, Sleeping Dogs etc), and a handful of large, repetitive RPGs (Bethesda Studio games, Borderlands, Fables etc) and I’m sure you’ll agree – there’s not much variety going on there.
I don’t think it’s just me either – the small-ish community of gamers on my friends list have been around less & less too. We’re all moving onto to new things in life and have grown bored of our Xbox’s. I see the “last logged in” stat on my cyber-buddie’s profiles and the hours logged gaming throughout us all is clearly hugely diminished.
I’ve stopped even caring about my Gamerscore – at one time it would have bothered me immensely to have uncompleted games with small Gamerscore numbers, but now I couldn’t really care less.
It’s most definitely give me pause for thought about how much of rush I am in to pick up an Xbox One. At the price point it’s set at, and with the amount of hours gaming I’m putting in nowadays, I don’t think I can justify it. What I can see is that as my children grow up, if they show an interest in console gaming, I’ll be making a move back to the more family friendly shores of Nintendo. Maybe I’ll find a renaissance in that child friendly platform as I enjoy stuff with Little Miss Six & Mini Mr Six. I did say I was hankering for some old-school Mario style platforming.
In any case – I’ll keep the Gold freebies on the hard-drive just in case I get the urge to explore them again in more depth one day, maybe when the kids are older and enough time has passed that they might feel a bit fresher.
Although, by that time, it’ll be too late – the letters to Santa will start requesting the latest DS or Wii and I’ll be squashing mushrooms, collecting coins, vacuuming ghosts, racing go-carts, and chopping up grass for gems in no time.
Poor Xbox – she’ll be looking for a new sugar daddy…