I play a lot of video games. It is not at all an understatement to write, among my various circles and outside of those who have been paid to write about them, I play the most video games during any given year of anyone I know. And since I have been recording data about the games I complete, the total number has been growing each year too.
I started back in 2011. Every time I completed a game, I would record its name, system, and the date of completion. In a single text file, one that has survived several computer crashes and been moved across many hard drives, I have been typing this data for several years now. (Yeah, I still often prefer flat files for personal databases.)
Back in 2011, I completed 19 video games. It was a year split between PC and Xbox 360, primarily. But I also managed to squeeze in a GBA game (The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap) and and a PS2 game (Final Fantasy X-2).
2012 played out in a similar way to 2011. I was still alternating between the Xbox 360 and PC as platforms. Since it was also the first year I had an iPhone, I played a great deal of Canabalt, Super Hexagon, and Robot Unicorn Attack too, but I never “completed” any of them. No, the only iOS game I actually finished was Plants vs. Zombies. It was one of the 24 games total I completed that year.
This year, though, was different in a number of ways for me, most of which had to do with me finally embracing the label “indie developer” for myself and thus purposely spending more time playing video games created by and, yes, sometimes for indie developers. Some of my earliest completed games (Home, Dear Esther, Waking Mars, Primordia, and Antichamber) matched this new emphasize for what I looked for in the next game to play. It was a trend that also took me through Christine Love’s games (Digital: A Love Story, Analogue: A Hate Story, and don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story), as well as Dominique Pamplemousse, when it came out, and finally getting through Katawa Shoujo too.
The other major change was me saving up for and then finally getting a PlayStation 3. It has become, since about mid-April, a major influence on what games I play next. Since I’ve had a PSP for years now, I was able to move my PSN account over and, much to my surprise, re-download games like Final Fantasy VII I bought back in 2008. In fact, it was the back-catalog I’ve enjoyed the most on the system, going back to play Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy IX, Breath of Fire IV, Chrono Cross, and Persona 3.
Plus membership, and to a much lesser degree Xbox’s equivalent, have also played major roles. Because I don’t usually have a great deal of money to spend on games, I have really been enjoying those games released as free to members on those services. I probably would not have tried let alone finished The Cave, Sleeping Dogs, Vanquish, Saints Row: The Third, or Binary Domain without Plus membership.
Looking across all 50 games I completed this year, I can see two main themes: indie and role-playing games. As I wrote earlier, I’ve been dedicating much more time to indie titles and will often turn to those first over AAA ones. (It also doesn’t hurt that they are often significantly cheaper too.) But, more than the indie trend, which was rather predictable, it was the return to role-playing games I actually find more surprising — sort of.
Several years ago, it was cost prohibitive for me to even think about buying new games. I had mostly been playing used copies of PlayStation 1 or 2 RPGs on the cheap and would invest a couple nights a week to these fantasy-themed and science-fiction-tinged worlds. I played the Xenosage trilogy, various Final Fantasy games, and occasionally something like a God of War.
Yet, when I got a Xbox 360, that stopped. The console doesn’t really have much of a line-up for RPGs — well, not a long as one, anyway. Other than Oblivion and then Fallout 3, both of which I’ve played multiple times and written a considerable amount about, I didn’t really play RPGs. And I had mostly forgotten about my love for jRPGs too, having moved away from Nintendo’s systems and the PlayStation ecosystem.
With the PlayStation 3, that has come back with a vengeance though. I played through five Final Fantasy games, both Chrono Cross and Trigger, and, having liked Persona 3, went back to the PS2 to play through Persona 4 in a week too this year. Recently, I even got Persona 2: Eternal Punishment and, when there was a sale a couple weeks ago, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch as well. The RPG trend of 2013 will definitely flow into early 2014.
So, what about 2014, then? What do I predict I will play this coming year?
The answer to both is simple: I don’t know. Looking at all three lists (2011, 2012, and 2013) this morning, I was confronted with the fact that it is hard to predict what I will play more than a few weeks in advance. Like, I know that Bioshock Infinite and Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch are currently planned as two games I’ll probably play next month. But, past those two, I don’t really know. It depends on what is free, what my own fiscal situation looks like, and what sales I happen to see at any given time.
Both non- and commercial indie titles, including hopefully at least one of my own, will be in there though. I’m still committed to supporting the community through paying for and probably recording more video of indie titles. And assuming I can get everything together, I have two games planned to put out myself too, as well as the possibility of something for the OUYA if some other conditions are met. It should be another great year for indie titles.