There’s a parody of Dark Souls 2 on YouTube called “Happy Souls”.
I watch it when I dip into really bad depressive episodes for a cheer up. But one of the characters says “Remember when video games used to be fun?” Everyone I show the video to is stumped when they hear this question and, in an effort to avoid thinking about the ever-present air of protracted, breathless death, I began to wonder why.
Personally, I’m not into games like Dark Souls; I prefer to have my hard work rewarded without having to min/max something. Pro-tip: “min-max” is Gam3R$p33k for hacking the system (mostly). I want to experience the game and have it respect both my time and my coin. They’re precious commodities and have sadly come to define people these days.
I also tried to get into Baldur’s Gate 3 since I remain a huge fan of Larian Studios and the Divinity: Original Sin series. But the rigidity, glacial speed of combat, and general asshole-ishness of everyone from D&D is inescapable. Why make characters dicks when they can be hard-shelled cinnamon rolls with an affinity for felted birds wearing various hats? Why make bosses evil myconids when, instead, they could be cheerful, clog wearing toadstools who love throwing axes, but only at people who mistake them for food?
Everyone else spits obscenities at Assassin’s Creed Valhalla bugs or laments the loss of their most favorite weapon that Bungie vaulted for no reason other than they’re too lazy to do the work to migrate everything over. Just like when I say The Last Jedi is a horrible movie, everyone seems to jump down my throat when I naysay games like Destiny. The only difference is that I get anti-feminist or a feminazi respectively.
So scratch it all. Strike it and start again. Play Chrono Trigger for the 15th time because your copy of Xenogears got scratched on disk 2 and another copy costs like $75. If October was about finding refuge in video games, then November is about spraining your ankle on a routine coffee run to the cafe up the block. Or that’s what it became about for me.
Hop in my spaceship I named “Anvil of the Void” and find a new star system controlled by the Korvax. Think about their mass genocide at the hands of the Gek…the species you chose to play as before you knew about the bloodthirsty campaigns of the First Spawn.
No Man’s Sky is an endless nothing full of shades of the colors that parents paint a “gender neutral” baby room. It’s a cartoon wafting swirl that smells like Christmas morning. But when you come down the stairs, it’s just an empty kitchen and a sink full of last night’s dishes you didn’t have the energy to do. It is building bases you don’t inhabit long on the never ending quest to find a better ship for that is what feels most like home.
You eat peanuts to stave off a hunger headache. A timer goes off to remind you to use the bathroom or to drink water, use lip balm, or simply take a few steps. Bear the weight your shoulders have slumped away from and your eyelids are failing to maintain. Hop in your ship and find a new system to explore.
Perhaps December’s waypoints, while insular still, will show you a rainbow, a smiling face, or a curb that won’t get the best of your dainty feet.
Juliet Childers graduated from University of Houston and writes for a number of outlets including TheGamer and Edgy.app. After a long hiatus from poetry, she is breaking back into the industry with renewed fervor and unflinching identity. She loves video games, South Korean dog Instagrams, and the occasional Dr. Pepper.