I have a problem. I’m scared of RPGs.
Like seriously, I’m fucking scared of them.
Ever since I was young, I’ve had this aversion to Role Playing Games, which over the years has grown to an almost irrational fear of this genre. It might even be some weird phobia. Whenever I’m asked if I play RPGs, my automatic response is an almost smug assertion that “I simply don’t have the time to play those games.”, as if I were passing judgment on those who choose to spend time crafting complex characters and interact in these fully-realized worlds. It’s kind of a problem, and I don’t even know where or how it began.
Over the years, I’ve missed out on potentially amazing experiences because of this genre bias. I avoided Elder Scrolls, Dragon Ages, Mass Effects and Alpha Protocols. I never experienced the Fables or Witchers that my friends did. I detested Dark and Demon Souls, and I’ve only dabbled in Diablos. My prejudice went pretty deep.
I actually tend to get ‘scared’ of games, which is an embarrassing phenomenon that I’m not even sure others experience. Not ‘scared’ in a jump-scare horror movie way – it’s more like a gripping sense of dread and anxiety that sees me fixated on the futility of attempting to complete a difficult or overly long game. Growing up playing soul-crushing games like BattleToads and the original TMNT on the NES likely contributed to this fear, and no amount of modern gaming comforts like regenerating health and unlimited lives allay my fears.
And yes, I tried to play some of these games, to no avail. I was starting to enjoy Mass Effect on the Xbox 360, until it dawned on me that I was only scratching the surface of the universe, and began to be overwhelmed by what I had to do to get from the start until the end of the game. I was beginning to get hooked on Diablo’s loot drops, until the prospect of the grind stopped me in my tracks. So I convinced myself that it was a stupid game anyway, where all you do is click on things ad nauseum.
I think I need an intervention.
The original Fallout was the last RPG I finished; although come to think of it, it may have also been the first (unless you count Metroidvania type games, which I don’t). Fallout captivated me with its amazing retro-futuristic aesthetic and engaging turn-based combat, and I spent late nights and early mornings exploring this incredible future wasteland. I overlooked my prejudice, and was rewarded with an incredible journey. So you’d think that when Fallout 2 was released, I’d be all up on that. Except I wasn’t, and I look back with a bit of sadness that I never continued to explore this wonderful world. Years later, I would also skip out on Fallout 3, with a twinge of regret.
Recently, another vault opened and Bethesda unleashed Fallout 4 on the world. You might have heard or seen the collective nerdgasm that erupted when the trailer hit the web (it was kind of a big deal). I saw the trailer while at work, meekly staring at the small window on the corner of my desktop as this amazing, fully-realized, post-apocalyptic world unfolded in front of my eyes. And while I sat in my cubicle watching and listening through a ratty pair of headphones, something within me stirred – a feeling of nostalgia, and a fear of missing out.
So here we go… I’m going to kick my shoes off and dip my toes in the cold, deep, hopefully refreshing waters of RPGs. I can’t promise that I’ll fully take the plunge, but it’s been a while, and I need to start somewhere.
This may be my chance at redemption. I can overcome this problem.
Bethesda finished their showcase earlier this evening, and, well… It looks like I’m going to be spending a lot of time on the couch.
Fallout 4 comes out in November, 2015.