When growing up, chances are there came a time when you realized that you were categorically superior to your parents in at least one regard: computer stuff. For me, that moment came when my dear father couldn’t switch the RF adapter for my NES from “game mode” back to cable in time for a Twins game. I was seven at the time.
One late night in the summer of 2009, I sat bleary-eyed and jittery over a rickety card table in my parents’ basement. I’d been there for what felt like days. A completely disassembled Xbox 360 lay strewn in pieces before me, each component resting gently on its own six-inch square of newspaper. A clap of thunder rattled the window as I steadied the screwdriver in my hand.
Playing Journey is a bit like sliding through an exotic dream. It’s exhilarating one moment, sad the next, and, inherently, the experience is solely yours, the dreamer’s. The intensity of such things, for better or worse, will always fade when you leave the bed or put down the controller. The sights and sounds evaporate in daylight, and the experience boils away to lingering, naked emotion. When someone asks if you had any dreams last night, you’re at a loss for words. But you have no lack of feelings, difficult though they are to convey.
Sometime near the end of yesterday, Nintendo released its annual summary of the last fiscal year. Video game financials? Boring, I know. But the day’s most interesting event lies beyond the numbers.
For most of human history, artistic expression was a one-time action. Ancient sculptors couldn’t take back a stroke of their chisel, and paint didn’t come off when it hit the canvas. There was a simple but beautiful synergy between the weight of those brief artistic moments and the focused, passionate energy that inspired them.
At just two and a half hours into my first honest playthrough of The Legend of Zelda, I’ve died 26 times. I know because the game keeps track. That’s more deaths, I’m sure, than I’ve suffered in 10 runs through Ocarina of Time. When I boot up the game tomorrow, that number will be the first thing I see, a reminder to swallow my pride and strap myself in. (A good use for home gaming’s first save battery, to be sure.)
I recently spent the better part of 1,000 words explaining why, after no small amount of personal distress, I decided to let go of my obsession with experiencing Mass Effect 3 in the “best way possible—if there is such a thing—and just play through the damn game on its own terms, come what may. After 15 hours back on the Normandy with my crew, you might call me hypocritical for coming back with a column explaining the ideal way to play Mass Effect 3.