How My Daughter Made Me a Better RPG Gamer
At my heart I am an RPG gamer. As far back as I can remember my favorite time in front of a console was plugging into the most immersive and literary titles I could find. Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, Chrono Trigger... Give me 40+ hours of turn-based combat and Tolkien references and I was a happy kid.
Photo by Velia Almazan My daughter, seen here upgrading her helm.
Some of that was escapism. I was an odd child who grew into an even odder adult. Being a goth in East Houston led to little more than being ostracized and the ability to tell apart different bullies by their wedgie techniques. So I let little big-headed avatars fight for good and right for days at a time, and it made the world seem a little brighter.
As I've grown up, gaming has grown-up with me, and frankly most modern RPGs make me feel slightly stupid until I've gotten a considerable distance into them. It's not that something like Xenoblade is particularly complicated, it's just that somewhere in the back of my find is the template of a very simple progression and skill set from the days of 16 bit.
For instance... I've restarted Final Fantasy XIII three times and never beaten it. Never even gotten close really. The game isn't hard. If it were anymore linear it would be in 2D, and even the mildest of level-grinding makes you a force to be reckoned with quickly. No, it's leveling up your damn weapons.
See, in FFXIII you don't win money from defeating monsters, you win things like horns and teeth. I'm fine with that, it makes way more sense, but you're supposed to utilize these components in a synthesis system to upgrade your weapons.
I constantly, constantly find myself bewildered by this, charging down a wrong path and then just hitting the reset button hoping that eventually I will do the "right" path as far as acquiring the best equipment at the best level for the fewest amount of pointless farm battles.
Yes, it's OCD as hell, and it makes it real hard for me to enjoy my favorite genre. I do this with every single RPG I've played in the last decade.
Now, I have a three-year-old daughter, and I love that kid more than anything. She's bright, too. Already she's reading some words, can do basic arithmetic, is socially well-adapted, and can name all 11 incarnations of Doctor Who. I feel very proud as a parent.
Yet I have already screwed up her stats development. I just know it.