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finch’s GamePlay Blog: Week 6

GamePlay Blog – Week 6
October 16th – October 22th 2017
finch

Following last week’s trend of deviating from the normal gameplay routine, this week I’ve ignored my habitual foregone my usual games in favour of some new ones. I’m going through some difficult times in my personal life in terms of depression and willpower, and playing something new and exciting and captivating has greatly helped me to cope with my situation. This week has been centred around Borderlands, and the importance of both variety and familiarity in games.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

My Animal Crossing (Animal Crossing: New Leaf) play time has definitely decreased compared to previous weeks. It’s become more of a quick activity to do while eating breakfast or having a cup of coffee: a short session of checking in, doing the daily routine, and completing any other tasks I may have in mind. I don’t play it nearly as much as I used to, in part because my free time has been eaten up by other things, and in part because I’m just not as invested in it as I was. That isn’t to say that I dislike it, though. It’s really more that I’m comfortable letting it take up a small part of my day instead of a larger part.

This week, I took notice of a few key things in regards to how playing Animal Crossing impacted me:

  • Though some days I didn’t feel much like checking in at all, I still had fun when I did load up my save and do my daily routine. I enjoy the fact that the game is sort of there when I need it—it’s comforting and relaxing to play it at my own pace. Although things are likely to change because of the way the in-game clock aligns with the real-world clock, I can rest assured that my village will be largely the same if and when I take a break from it.
  • I’ve been enjoying just collecting items in-game, as of late. Given the relationship that millennials often have with consumerism (that is to say, we typically can’t afford to splurge on random things) it’s exceptionally freeing to be able to spend a lot of in-game currency without worrying about it. Buying items in-game doesn’t offer quite the same satisfaction as it does in real life, of course, but it is a similar feeling.
  • With my playtime decreasing, my partner and I haven’t visited each other as much as before. With that said, though, we still really enjoy exchanging gifts when we do come across something that the other would like. As with my previous comment about real-world money and in-game money, Animal Crossing allows us to shower each other with thoughtful presents without the financial stress of spending actual money.
Borderlands 2

My partner and actually ended up beating the main game this week. We spent the rest of our time going through the downloadable content and completing extra quests. Due to there being two of us, it is a bit easier to speed through certain objectives, but the enemies are programmed to become harder in relation to the number of players in the campaign. That said, the game was an excellent experience and just challenging enough to keep us from breezing through it.

This week, I took notice of a few key things in regards to how playing Borderlands 2 (Borderlands 2) impacted me:

  • As we finished the main story, I noticed myself feeling a bit sad: the fact that we had come all this way and spent all this time levelling up and collecting gear for our characters only to have it come to an end was ultimately bittersweet. Nevertheless, completing the final quest together was quite a satisfying experience. I greatly enjoyed my playthrough of the game, specifically after I was so quick to assume I wouldn’t have fun with it.
  • Although I have beaten the game before, I have never played the DLC story-lines, and so I was very enthusiastic to experience something new. We moved through them in chronological order, and though we had favorites (and one that we greatly disliked due to its enemies, quests, and some culturally questionable details) they were altogether great fun. I left almost every session feeling excited, happy, and looking forward to more.
  • As a whole, the game has been a wonderful change of pace for me. I find myself feeling much more excited to play than I do with my other usual games, and in part I think that’s due to newness and novelty of letting myself do something out of the norm. I’m sad to be finished with the game, but I know I will definitely return to it again.
Borderlands the Pre-Sequel

Borderlands the Pre-Sequel (Borderlands the Pre-Sequel) is, as the name gives away, a pre-sequel to Borderlands 2 (taking place between the original Borderlands game and Borderlands 2). It uses the same interface and nearly identical mechanics as the other game, but takes place in a different environment with largely new characters (or characters who have only been briefly seen in the other games). The playable characters are largely more interesting, in my opinion, than in previous games, and the story does a good job of explaining how things came to be later on in the timeline.

This game is entirely new to me, and is something that my partner as I decided to play after we finished Borderlands 2. It’s nearly a carbon copy of the previous game in terms of actual gameplay—with some new ideas here and there to keep things just fresh enough—but in the case of the Borderlands franchise, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve grown to really enjoy this series.

This week, I took notice of a few key things in regards to how playing Borderlands the Pre-Sequel impacted me:

  • While I was initially very keen on playing, the game did feel a little strange at first. It is essentially the same game as Borderlands 2, but with different characters, enemies, environments, etc., and so it was a bit jarring to shift so dramatically. I had a bit of trouble getting used to it, but I did eventually warm up to things. As with Borderlands 2, I consistently look forward to playing it.
  • Since, unlike Borderlands 2, I’ve never played the Pre-Sequel and I know almost nothing about it, I am cautiously enthusiastic to go through the game. In a way, it’s a bit like wading through dark water: I’m not sure exactly what I’ll find. I have high hopes for the game, but I have heard some criticisms of it even before playing. Nevertheless, exploring a game that is essentially brand-new to me is really refreshing.
  • At this point in playing, I feel quite invested. Because the game is so new to me and, unlike in Borderlands 2, I don’t know what’s going to happen or who I’m going to meet in the game, I really grow attached to new characters and I feel compelled to explore a lot more than I would normally. As of writing this, the story has killed off my favorite character, and I was so upset after the confrontation that I needed a break. In that sense, I think the game is very effective at getting me to feel a sense of responsibility and inclusion to the conflict.
Conclusion

Looking back at my gameplay habits, I can safely say that variety is important to happiness. Perhaps a bit of a broad and heavy-handed statement, I know, but I can’t really argue with my findings and my feelings. As with any aspect of life, I feel as though one can grow to be too content. In entertainment, especially, sameness begins to equate to safeness, and eventually becomes tired. Trying something new has really helped me to be okay this week. It’s let me look forward to things. It’s let me feel excited and eager and invested. I no longer idly multitask because, for once, I am almost entirely focused on the game and the experience.

At the same time, the games I’ve been playing have been the right amount of familiar. There are surprises, certainly, but I am not left having to learn an entirely new set of mechanics in order to have fun. This week has been about trying and enjoying variety.

Works Cited

Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Nintendo. December 8, 2016. Video game.

Borderlands 2. Gearbox Software. September 18, 2012. Video game.

Borderlands the Pre-Sequel. Gearbox Software. October 14, 2014. Video game.

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