Video games are an impossibility. Subverted by and tied to arbitrarily twisting technological pathways dictated by demand, perceived demand, and a false narrative of progression, video game objects are difficult enough to discern, even given otherwise clear conditions.
While not often enough to be considered frequent, my Vita had decided to require a hard system reset enough times to make me wary of using it. This was compounded by the fact that it is a system that I designated largely for large-scale games, especially considering that my beloved PSP Go is currently without a working charger. My most recent (arduous, punishing) complete playthrough of Final Fantasy X was on my Vita and I had made earnest attempts at Final Fantasy X-2, Persona 4 Golden, World of Final Fantasy, and a number of others before the system stopped recognizing the software.
Internet research led me to believe that disabling the Vita’s wireless capabilities (except when downloading software) would help this issue. So far it has held true. After my most recent hard reset, I only downloaded two pieces of software and I am currently the furthest into a Persona 4 Golden playthrough than I have ever been before.
Video games are not unique when it comes to the aforementioned clear conditions required to ideally consume them although perhaps they are unique when it comes to breadth. Time, mental alertness, and a relative lack of distractions are preferred when reading a book. Picture size and quality, sound volume and quality, and quality of company are important factors for consuming a film. Money is necessary as well.
When I have played games that would become my long-standing favourites, often – but not always – aligning with the games I would come to most respect, I had unreasonably favourable conditions. While extremely hesitant to allow video games in our house, once they broke through the borders and I proved I still otherwise played outside and with my siblings, my Mother imposed very few restrictions on my play sessions. My brothers would either leave me be or watch in a supportive and engaging way. My sister read books in the basement. Once living on my own, for years I had the ability, the time, and the lack of other responsibilities to go into my room after work and recreate the conditions of my youth.
Now that my Vita’s lust for total breakdown appears to be satiated (knock on wood), I am doing my best to once again find that quality in approach.
So much of a video game’s story-telling (at least in the Japanese video game story-telling tradition) is how it looks as a complete work and from a distance. So much more is its ability as an interactive medium to gave back to a player what she puts into it as a remarkable extension of story. Making mistakes and not finding every secret, not yielding to backseat gaming, or doing thing or spending time in areas just because it feels right, the best games are built to meet its players halfway. The most effective parts of the games that have stuck longest with me are not the minutia of each battle in a RPG, they are not the rigorous exploration of a certain areas, they are not a single cutscene, but they are how all these things feel from a distance. Time and experience cast new lights on complicated emotional objects.
Even if we lived in a vastly rearranged society, there would not be enough time to properly give to each game. Shorthand must be applied with aesthetic preferences (visually, narratively, sonically, mechanically) to sort out which games should be given a chance in a busy schedule. This is a practical necessity. This necessity, however, has begun to tie itself to the process of relating to judgment of the quality of a game when they are ultimately unrelated.
For me it has been a relief to allow myself the freedom to not have to play every game, it has also been a relief to not have to complete every game I begin, but perhaps the biggest relief has been to strip myself the need to have formed a judgment of any game I have not given the time I know it takes to actually get to know a game. Otherwise, I feel, how can I claim to respect the form? How can I claim to love the games I love? It is a relief to let go and I feel like my appreciation, respect, and love for video games as a form is stronger than it has been in a long time.
I am grateful that my Vita has held strong this long through my Persona 4 Golden playthrough (sixty hours and counting). I am grateful that I have been able to set aside time to play it both in terms of frequency and length. I am enjoying my time with the game. I love being able to talk about my feelings about it and reactions to it with others who have played it. I feel happily and peacefully far away from feeling like I know and can judge its true form.