I wanted to try something different. I don't think I succeeded, but there are bits where I felt like I was onto something.
A lot of the PC gaming questions I’m asked aren't questions, but frustrated statements that begin with “so” to indicate that the answer is decided and immutable. So, is every game going to be multiplayer-only now? Are we just going to play sequels forever? Is everything becoming consolized trash? Is this really the best PC gaming has to offer?
I say “no” and cite examples (not that it often helps), because no matter what niche we love or how badly we feel it’s underserved, none of us should be throwing our hands up in the air and declaring ourselves screwed. PC gaming is the best it's ever been.
SimCity was disappointing. It left a gap between what we wanted from a modern city builder and what we had. But we didn't throw our hands up. Instead, our great hobby started to fill that gap with Banished, a new Tropico, and a young computer science student who’s making the moddable simulation he wanted.
More broadly, when our shoulders started drooping as games put checkpoints every five steps and refused to challenge us, we got a surge of indie roguelikes, we got DayZ and Rust, we got Dark Souls and Dark Souls II on PC.
It’s in the best interest of game creators to make games we want to play. They won’t always succeed, and sometimes they’ll mar good ideas with bad ones—restrictive DRM, for instance—but when they do we have the power to respond. Not with cynicism, but by praising what we like, respectfully criticizing what we don’t, and cheering on those who strive to do better—or by doing it ourselves.
We’re all responsible for the kinds of PC games we’ll be playing in five years—not just EA, or Valve, or Ubisoft, or Blizzard. We make the future by participating. That can be a huge undertaking, such as creating the Dark Mod to recapture and improve on the original Thief, or it might just be telling a modder they did a great job or helping a new player in a game we love.
Is this really the best PC gaming has to offer? Nope, because we can make something better. You, me, a big developer, a small developer, a student with no studio except her studio apartment. We all have that power—more than ever before—and that's why I love PC gaming, and love covering it at PC Gamer.
Working on a new freelance illustration project. :)
Garfield revealed his claws and clasped Jon’s mug. It was half-empty, sloshing with oily, lukewarm coffee. “Blech,” thought Garfield. “How does Arsebuckle drink this?”
Garfield had been half-awake when Jon hurriedly swiped his coat and shouted from the door about a big date with Liz. The newspaper on the table was open to the film section. “Big date,” thought Garfield.
Jon was at one of those big suburban cineplexes, the kind with a fountain out front for children to wet their filthy fingers in before a showing of Did I Do That? (the Family Matters reunion movie) or whatever animated garbage was playing. Jon would be alone in an aisle seat—in case he needed to “piddle”—watching some pathetic romcom, glancing to the empty seat next to him and smiling at “Liz” during the mushy parts. He’d invented her years ago.
“Every Sunday,” thought Garfield. "It never ends." He turned the paper over to the comics section—the only section worth reading—and scanned the page. The crossword had been started, two conflicting words scrawled in, both wrong. “For Christ’s sake.”
Garfield leaped from the table. His rotund midsection flattened at first, then bounced off his hind quarters and rippled into his chest—a midair spurt of momentum which landed him on the kitchen counter. He pawed open the junk drawer and pierced a cardboard matchbox with his index claw.
Odie, his faithful companion, watched from the beige linoleum floor. He rolled back his tongue and clamped his usually slack, drool bucket of a jaw. “Look Odie,” thought Garfield. Odie tilted his head. “Jon is in a rut.”
“Not just any rut, Odie. He’s at the bottom of a fucking fracking pipe. He’s contaminating our water.”
Garfield struck the match and took a whiff of sulfur smoke. “Smell that, Odie?” Odie tilted his head to the other side. “Smells like change. Smells like fucking life, doesn't it?"
Odie barked as Garfield held the match to an edge of the kitchen's peeling flower wallpaper. “Get out now, Odie.” Odie barked again, louder. “This isn’t just for Jon, old friend.”
Odie leaped to the edge of the counter, paddling at the cabinets with his hind legs. He caught the top of a drawer and pushed his oversized head onto the tiles. Garfield faced the burning wall, hypnotized by the crackling, bubbling wallpaper. “Just go, Odie. Shoo.”
Odie bit down on Garfield’s scruff, but as he yanked at the overweight cat, his paws only slipped and slid over the smooth counter. Garfield sat, immovable, as the flames now licked at the upper cabinets. “Go.”
Then, with all the saliva he could squeeze from his glands, Odie unfurled his tongue.
The impressive pink muscle seared and blistered like a pan steak as Odie ran it up the wall to where it met the sooty cabinets. Black smoke engulfed them.
“Boys!” yelled Jon as he unlocked the front door. “What’s that smell?”
As the smoke rose and glowing particulates dimmed and settled, Garfield turned his head. Odie was sprawled over the counter, twitching and whimpering, his hind legs draped over the lip of the sink. “Oh my God!” said Jon.Garfield turned to his owner. "Good thing I found the fire ex-tongue-guisher!"
My favorite phrase is "my passion and my pleasure." I think I heard it said by Jón Gnarr, mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland while I was there, and I love how it identifies passion and pleasure as distinct concepts. That it's worth noting when they pair.
I'm passionate about writing, for instance, but it's not pleasurable at all. It's hard.
My pleasures, however, include drinking beer, watching sitcoms, and reading books about people in spaceships. I wouldn't say I'm passionate about those things, but they are goddamn pleasurable. I guess I'm saying that there's more passion in creation and more pleasure in consumption.
And where passion and pleasure overlap, I guess we get "love"—usually, I think, in the romantic sense—which is an incompetent word. Try on “you are my passion and my pleasure.” It fits the feeling more precisely. It's still not the right shape, but it’s more flattering.
Oh shit, I just realized I misremembered the quote. Goddamnit.
Jón was talking about building armies in Heroes of Might and Magic, but he didn’t say "my passion and my pleasure.” He said "my goal and pleasure."
It was actually Jamaican-American poet Claude McKay who wrote the phrase in his poem, "Poetry." Thanks Google.
Sometimes I tremble like a storm-swept flower,
And seek to hide my tortured soul from thee,
Bowing my head in deep humility
Before the silent thunder of thy power.
Sometimes I flee before thy blazing light,
As from the specter of pursuing death;
Intimidated lest thy might breath,
Windways, will sweep me into utter night.
For oh, I fear they will be swallowed up—
The loves which are to me of vital worth,
My passion and my pleasure in the earth—
And lost forever in thy magic cup!
I fear, I fear my truly human heart
Will perish on the altar-stone of art!
But I don't think I've read that poem before now. So maybe I heard it in Teena Marie’s “I Got You (feat. Rick James).”
You were my passion and my pleasure
And you were my pain
I tried to school you
And to rule you and make you tame
I tried to teach you
But you didn't wanna play the game
Or I've never heard it, or written it, until now, which would be very disappointing. Either way, it's interesting how passion and pleasure are linked with death and pain in these examples, and so often elsewhere. And by interesting I mean "oh well" followed by a sideways-mouthed emoticon.