jenn dahlke

jenn dahlke

I'm Jennifer Dahlke, I'm 26, and I live in Baltimore, Maryland. I guess I've been going back and forth with games a lot in my life. Usually because of situational things or environmental changes where I couldn't play because of work or I couldn't play because of lack of access to a system or something and forcibly could not play. Or what's happening more recently is I just don't feel like playing anymore. It's the weirdest thing because I used to love playing games. I would come home from work and play a videogame for hours and now I come home and I'm just like, "Eh, I'll just watch some TV." I don't even have the drive to pick up the controller and see what I could play and I have all these games and so much variety and yet none of them really spark me anymore, except for Final Fantasy X.

[Laughs.] I have that in my notes here, from our emails. I think it's probably hard to pinpoint a moment when you felt that desire fade, but how long ago was it, you think, and what do you remember that time when you hadn't yet lost interest?

The most recent stint of it has been I guess for the last month, maybe? I was playing Final Fantasy X. I bought the PlayStation 3, and I got to the point where I felt I had beaten the game because I couldn't progress any further without grinding and grinding and grinding. I was like, "You know what? I'm done with this now because I have done everything I wanted to do in the game and the only thing left to do is to beat the main boss, which I can't do unless I am a crazy higher level. And that's not gonna happen." So I'm just like, "I'm kinda done with Final Fantasy X now." 

I feel like that happens a lot, though. And not just with Final Fantasy X.

It happens to me a lot now. I get to a point where I'm just stuck and it gets too hard. For whatever reason. It gets boring if it gets too hard.

It's like it gets artificially hard. For me it was the original God of War, and I always play on hard, but it was like, "Yeah, I could beat that. But why?" 

[Laughs.] 

I could really, really practice and conquer that last boss, but I already know this is the last boss. I already know this is the end of the game. I wonder, like, are you saying -- is it just Final Fantasy X or did games just sort of stop surprising you? 

Just in general, honestly. I think the same thing happened with, like, Pokémon Y. I bought that, I played it for a good two weeks solid. I'd come home and play it every day. I carried my Gameboy with me so I could get the little coins. The Nintendo coins. So I could get walking points. So I could use them in-game and stuff. Like, Animal Crossing, things like that. I would play them for a good solid week or two. And then it gets to the point where it's like, "I'm bored. There's nothing holding my interest in the game." 

Because with Pokémon, you're wandering around a world and fighting things. And collecting monster things. 

Wait, are you talking about Final Fantasy X or Pokémon here?

[Laughs.] Pokémon.

I know. I'm making a subtle point. 

[Laughs.] It's very similar. And, like, Animal Crossing has no endgame, which is really frustrating, but I bought it anyway because I knew that, and wanted to play again. [Laughs.] I played it on the original Animal Crossing, on GameCube. I played it every day for, like, two months when I was a kid. It got to the point where it was like, "Well, I can't make my house any bigger. I owe that raccoon so many damn monies." 

All the bells.

All the bells.

No one ever really says it but Tom Nook is a huge slumlord and a creep.

He really is. 

I know you had mentioned people in your life who may have negatively impacted your relationship with games or your attitude about games. Would you mind sharing a bit about that, and do you think that has accumulated within you to make you more likely to lose interest because of those experiences? 

I think so, honestly. Based on my brother not letting me play when I was growing up because it was his system and his game and he didn't want me to break it. I was five years younger than him, so he thought that I was irresponsible and young and stupid. It was basically very disrespectful in my mind. He couldn't think any better of me that I wouldn't break his stuff. 

But also, I didn't get to play those games so I didn't get to grow up playing Zelda or Mario or things like that. I had Duck Hunt. That's all I got to play. He's like, "You could only play Duck Hunt." I was like, "Why? I wanna play Zelda." He's like, "No. I'm playing Zelda."

So everyone's waxing nostalgic about all these games and I'm just like, "Yeah, I know when that came out... and I couldn't play it." And then I feel bad because it's a negative connotation. Like, I would've loved to have played those games, but now in my adult life -- they're not nearly as engaging as they would've been back then. Because I guess when you have a younger mind, you're more easily engaged by flashing lights and no storyline. [Laughs.]

Wait, are you talking about Final Fantasy X here, or...

[Laughs.]

I'm kidding. That's a whole other thing with story in games. Games were different earlier when they didn't really try to tell a story and put it in your face. But I don't know if you agree or disagree on that. 

Kind of both? 

We can both be right. It's not like there's one truth about videogames.

I guess it depends on how it's built. I like having a story if it's interesting and actually engaging and I feel like I'm doing something that impacts the story. When there's multiple endings to a game. Like for Kingdom Hearts, you have multiple endings based on how you played the game. I forget how many there are, and I haven't gotten that far into Kingdom Hearts to know, but I've seen things that say "multiple endings." I play Kingdom Hearts and I get bored because I'm just walking around and I can't figure out what to do next and I go, "Meh. Stopping playing." 

Insert

But in the games that are really simple and don't have a story, like Animal Crossing, they can be fun too. It's just like -- it's a concept, not a story. So you're just exploring a concept and living a fake life. Like The Sims. I always loved The Sims because I would make myself and live my life the way I wanted to live my life in real life and couldn't. [Laughs.] I built this extravagant house and all these things. It was fun to imagine all these fun things, and then as The Sims progressed they put in story stuff. Like, you can have a baby. You can have multiple jobs. You can have multiple husbands or something. I don't even know. [Laughs.] It just got to be ridiculous, the amount of stuff you could do in The Sims, but it still didn't feel like you were getting to any endgame. I don't think there's ever going to be an endgame for The Sims, which is disappointing. I guess you could die. You could get old and die. 

Where's that DLC? The Sims: Hospice Pack.

[Laughs.]

I don't think that would do well, but I would play it. 
Well, so, one of the things I wanted to ask you was what changed about games that made you cut back, and it sounds like you're saying games started to become a lot more open-ended or not meant to be a small, single experience.

Yeah. I guess so. It's really open-ended and if you're wandering around doing God knows what forever, it gets boring. But if there's a story in it, that's also boring, then that's not gonna work either. The storyline for Final Fantasy X. [Laughs.]

[Laughs.] Yes, I would love to hear the storyline of a Final Fantasy game explained.

[Laughs.] It was my first Final Fantasy game, basically. I think it was for a lot of people around my age and younger. The story was kind of nonsensical for a while there and then they threw you the twist of, "Oh, you're not alive." Spoiler alert! The game is 12 years old. Spoiler alert!

I was sitting down.

[Laughs.] You're not actually alive and it got all crazy and I'm like, "What is going on in this game? All right, so if I finish the game, then I die? Let's not finish the game so Tidus can stay alive." 

In your copy, he lives on. 

Right.

Insert

What are these things, then. Open-endedness and attempts to tell stories; what do you think that is games trying to do?

I think they're trying to make it so you play the game longer and you're not just bang-bang-bang-bang-done because they want to have you have DLC and buy expansion packs and buy the cool extra costumes and stuff like that and they want you to continue playing. Like, with Halo, I used to play a lot of Halo. I was never good at Halo, but all my friends loved the game, so I played. It just got ridiculous because they kept bringing out new Halo games. 

Eventually I just stopped. "No. I'm done with Halo." I think I stopped at 3 or Reach or something. I don't know. It was another, to me, open-ended, because while there is a story, it actually is a very good game. There is a storyline that didn't really matter because you could just play through and breeze through the whole thing without knowing what the story was. Or you play online and just kill noobs all day. Usually I was the noob that was getting killed, so it wasn't really fun for me that way. 

With that, there's things you could unlock and badges and achievements and trophies and all those kinda things in all these games now that keep you playing and have replay value because you want to play to get all the achievements or something. I'm guilty of trying to be a completionist and failing all the time. [Laughs.] Because I was like, "I want all the achievements for this game but they're like, ridiculously impossible to achieve and I don't know why I'm even bothering." So then I give up. 

Have you platinumed any game?

I don't think so.

I know I haven't. I've never even tried. It's not a judgment at all, but I think it's when a sea change in games happened. It's like, no longer about the experience but the game acknowledging that you had an experience in a very certain way. And yet we all like getting them even if we think they're silly.

Yeah. We have this running joke in my group of friends that it's "all about the cheevos, dawg." It really is sometimes because my friends are like, "Oh, my Gamerscore is over 40,000." I'm like, "Ugh, I don't care. Mine's like 12,000. Shut your face." [Laughs.] I remember when I was excited that I got over 9,000. That was a cool thing for me. 

But all my friends have like 30,000, 40,000, 50,000. It's nuts, because they play so many games and complete them. I feel like I'm being left out of those experiences because I don't get to finish those games, so I don't get the achievements, I don't have that completed closure in games. I wanna go back and finish all these things I started, but I just don't have the time or the motivation sometimes when I do have the time. 

What would it take for games to be worth your time again or for you to reinvest your time more actively? 

There needs to be more games that have an easy setting. Like a "casual gamer" setting so -- explicitly different from the normal gameplay so that when you go through, maybe it knows that you haven't played in two weeks and probably have forgotten what you're doing, so let me remind you what you were doing. Hardcore gamers would be playing all the time, and they know what's up, but if I pick up every once in a while I'm like, "Where am I? I don't know what's going on. Now I have to start the whole game over." I feel like there should be a more guided setting for some people. 

I've talked about this in some of these talks, and I feel there's this real pomposity in a lot of big games where they act like they are the only game you are playing.

Right.

When you were at your height of playing most actively, what types of games did you play and what did you like about them? 

There were a lot of RPGs in general. I know I got really into Borderlands. That was a big deal for me. I played the first one for quite a bit when I was living with that guy who wouldn't let me play. So I'd play when he wasn't home. [Laughs.] Yeah, he was a jerk. 

Why are people such assholes to women who play games? Not that you're answering on the behalf of all of them, but that's something I only have second hand perspective on. 

I learned recently that Gamergate is still a thing. 

Oh yeah, it's still goin' on. 

It's still happening and people are still being jerks and I don't understand why women aren't allowed to play games or be involved with games or things like that. It's completely misogynistic and stupid. I find that they -- they being men, and not against you at all.

I figured. Thank you.

[Laughs.] These men want us to do all these things like make our own money and take care of the children and all these things like take care of their lives and be their mothers. But we don't get paid as much as them, and yet they want us to be equal at the same time. It was like, "Well, we have all these responsibilities as men. You should have those, too. But you can't do what we can do. You can't play games. You can't play sports. You can't drive cars. You can't drive manual." It's one of those things like, "What? You drive a manual? That's ridiculous. You're a girl."

I can't drive manual.

I can drive manual, in theory.

So could I. In theory. [Laughs.]

[Laughs.] I know how. I just haven't done it. 

So like, I'm not asking you to defend your relationship at all. But what was his rationale for why he wouldn't let you play anything? 

He was just a jerk.

[Laughs.]

[Laughs.] 

Well yeah. 

Yeah, he was just a jerk. 

Sorry, I shouldn't be laughing. 

No, it's totally fine. It's funny. It is funny. My relationship with him was an offshoot from a different relationship, and it was my escape from relationship A into relationship B because I'm bad at breaking up with people if there isn't a good reason. [Laughs.] And the reason was I found someone new. 

Which makes me a bad person maybe, but at the same time I emotionally need to have someone in my life at all times because I'm co-dependent. [Laughs.]

I mean, I don't want to pry into your personal life. 

It's fine. I talk about my life to people all the time and they're just like, "Wow. You're ridiculous." 

I don't think you're ridiculous. It sounds silly in the scheme of things,  but I'm curious in this context: Why was he forbidding you from doing activities like that?

Well, they were his systems in his house on his TV, so it was again, like my brother with all the, "It's mine, you're gonna break it" kind of thing. Also just the possessiveness that he had over all of his stuff. He was also a big brother. He had a younger sister. I feel like they all have this mentality of "it's mine, don't touch it, younger sister." 

Do you think that's something that comes from the way games are marketed or something from within the industry or is it just our culture in general? 

I think it's just culture in general.

Yeah.

Yeah. It's like, the older brother is expected to take care of the younger sister and look out for them and stuff like that, but they don't wanna do that necessarily. Some do, but some don't. I have different friends who are in different situations. Like, my best friend. He's an older brother, but he gets along with his sister. But they also live three hours apart, so they don't put up with each other all day. 

But then a lot of my situations have been -- the guys I have dated, a lot of them are older brothers, and a lot of them have had the same mentality of, "No, it's mine. No, you're a girl. You shouldn't be playing videogames. You should be playing with pretty ponies." Stuff like that. 

Which, while I do have My Little Ponies, that's beside the point. 

I mean, I noticed your Skype icon and I remember your Twitter icon, but I wasn't going to say anything. 

[Laughs.]

That's fine. Like, both those things can be true. It doesn't mean one is true because of the other.

Right. If they brought out a My Little Pony RPG on a console, I would play the shit out of that.

So would I. So, wait. You said you're back playing games now for about a month. I'm just trying to get a sense of: How much have you fallen off with playing games, basically?

My phases probably go a few weeks to a few months. I'll come home and play probably four or five days a week and maybe a day or two on the weekends. Or if I don't get to play all week, then I'll play all weekend. And then I'll get to a point in whatever game that I'm playing where I'm like, "I'm bored with this now. I can change games, or I can stop playing." 

I tend to go with stop playing because picking up a new game, learning new controls, figuring out what's going on in this new game, feels like a lot of work. When I'm trying to just have some fun. 

Or, I would say also another big deterrent is games take a fucking long time to install now. 

Yeah. They take a long time and they take a lot of space now.

So they gotta install. And then they gotta be patched, of course. If you have a kid and you're married and you have a job and you're trying to still game -- like, some of my friends have told me their free evening to be able to play a game is spent installing and patching. Then on top of that you gotta press start and you gotta get the story and then you gotta get set up and then you gotta create the character and then you start. 

Yeah.

How does that sound enticing to anyone? 

I started playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. I got it for Christmas. I took probably 45 minutes making a character, getting through all the startup stuff. Downloading all the extra stuff I gotta download and I was like, "I only really wanted to play for an hour." Now I play for 15 minutes and I'm like, "Okay, now I'm done and I'm already tired of this because I've been sitting here for an hour doing almost nothing. 

You mentioned you have other friends who have way more achievements than you. Are they as deterred by this? 

I don't think so. Those friends -- well, now they're all playing Destiny. Which, I don't like Destiny, so it's kinda this big point of contention between us. [Laughs.] They're like, "Come play Destiny, you'll spend time with us more!" I'm like, "No, I want to see your face. In person. Get off the console and come get coffee with me." 

I can't wait for your friends to read this. [Laughs.] They sound really nice. No, they do. I'm just kidding. 

Mainly the contention is the boyfriend right now. He plays a lot of Destiny and he will come home and play everyday from 6:30 or something, whenever he gets home, until 2 in the morning. Because he's got friends on it to play with. And so they're all talking and having a good time and beating things up together and that's a good, fun thing to do. It gets old eventually, but they keep bringing out new stuff and new patches and new DLC and stuff like that and it's like, "Oh, there's new stuff for the strange coin guy! I gotta go check that out." 

I know way too much about this game to not have played it. I'm like, "What is their fascination with this game and how is it so big when I just can't get into something like that?"

Why can't you get into something like that? Not saying you have to, but -- 

I'm just not good at shooters in general. I played Halo but I wasn't good at it. But it was fun to play with friends. I played Borderlands, but I wasn't good at shooting. But it was fun to play with friends. I know if I picked up Destiny, it would be fun for a little while playing with my friends. But they're all such high level -- in Destiny there's actually levels. There's really not a lot of that in Halo. In Borderlands, there was a certain level, but you could do all the missions no matter what level you were and help your friends out if you're a higher level. 

But in Destiny, they'd be all level 31, 32, and I would just never move on from, like, 5. [Laughs.] Because I played the beta, and I didn't really like it. Because it was a lot of shooting and a lot of open-world things where I didn't know where I was supposed to go and no amount of wandering helped me because I'm on this huge map, there's a little ping on my map saying "go this direction, but then I go this direction and there's like this big mountain in the way. I'm like, "How do I get around this thing?" [Laughs.]

It's literally putting a mountain in front of me and telling me, "Go through it." Games keep doing that to me. Those kind of games, they say, "Hey, there's a waypoint over here." But it's impossible to get to unless you know this intricate, crazy route around it that you can only find if you go online and Google it. Which I feel is ridiculous that you have to look up things on the Internet now in order to beat a game or even progress in a game.

I started playing Kingdom Hearts 2.5. I got that recently for the PlayStation 3 and I played it for maybe an hour but I kept getting to points in that, even, where I'm like, "What do I do? What am I supposed to do here? It's telling me I need to make all these monies and I can't because these things are impossible to complete to get the money." And then you can apparently keep going in the game and it tells you, "Oh, you have enough money. Magically." I didn't know that. 

Does it feel like -- well, this doesn't have to just be about shooters. But let's start with shooters because you brought them up. Do you feel like shooters are not as inclusive to people who don't play shooters as they could be? 

Yes. [Laughs.]

And believe me, it's not my job to tell anyone with this that people need to be playing more shooters. But what do you think is that disconnect? I think you said part of it, but in a bigger picture sense, what's missing where you don't feel you have a way in? 

I guess for me it's lack of ability to use the controls properly to shoot something. Like, if I was to use a mouse on a computer, I'd be much more accurate because you point at the guy in the head and then shoot them. But with the dual sticks, it's like you're going all over creation, just going weebly-wobbly everywhere, and you can't get a headshot. [Laughs.]

We're definitely talking about videogames here.

[Laughs.] 

I think this is called an empathy deficit in games. I think a lot of the reason we feel this way is because nobody making Destiny says, "Hey, what if Destiny was someone's first shooter ever?"

Yeah.

I'm making assumptions, but I also know way too much about this game for someone who's never played it. I watched a friend just -- it's very intricate. It's very, very intricate. And there's all these different things you can do. I don't know. It's a real bummer because you would think companies would want to have as many onramps into their multi-million dollar game as possible rather than, "How do we just strike at people who already like stuff like this?" Because what there's more of? People who don't like stuff like that. 

Right. I feel like they need to have more things -- with shooters, it needs to be more of a situation where you can pick it up, play it, shoot some stuff, and advance in the game without there being all these bells and whistles, all this craziness, all these different worlds you can go to, all these different ports and moons and planets and I don't even know what. I don't even know. You've got all these different things you're supposed to do and all these different ships that don't even do anything besides look different and you've got, like, motorcycles and bikes or whatever you call them. They're hovercraft motorcycles. And all these different guns that do all these different things and you have all these different stats and you have to know all of this crap in order to advance in the game properly.

You know what? One of my favorite games that I played was De Blob 2.

For the Wii?

For the Xbox. 

What'd you like so much about it? 

I loved it because you just hop around the world completing missions. But they're really simple missions. Like, "Oh, color these things red. Make these blue. Avoid these things." As you go through the game, it gets harder. You have more things to avoid, more things to do. More complicated maneuvers you have to make in order to hit the right spots with the right color. It's a very low learning curve because it's a slow build-up. It starts off very simple and it just lets you go from there. And then you gradually learn things and how to do stuff and it was a great game for me. I got -- for me, I got pretty far into it, as far as I know. I probably got a lot of achievements throughout, I think. But I never beat the game because I think that game I was playing in between moving out of that guy's house and moving into my own place. And I just kinda stopped playing because there was too much going on so I just stopped playing games again. So. 

That's happened, too. Like, I didn't have Internet in my room. I was living with someone else in a townhouse and there wasn't Internet upstairs because he didn't have wireless Internet, which was stupid. So I couldn't play games that were Internet-connected. It sucked.

Wait, though. It sounds like you really want to like games but they keep letting you down in some way. 

Yeah. Basically. 

How does the games media -- or do they at all -- affect your being interested in games? Or do you totally ignore them? Or are you somewhere in between? 

I'm kinda in between. If it weren't for social media and Facebook and Twitter and the Internet in general I would not have known about Battleborn coming out. I am very interested in Battleborn because it looks really pretty. Like I don't even care about the mechanics right now. I'll get to that later. But the initial interest was how pretty the trailer was. I'm just like, "This looks really fun because it looks really cool and the graphics look amazing. It's so innovative and there's plant-things happening and nature-stuff. It's cool." 

What seems innovative about it to you? 

I haven't looked into it for a while, but isn't it like Borderlands but more RPG-ish? Because I like the RPG elements of Borderlands and I like having the different characters that you can play, like archer or sniper. That kind of thing. Heavy. Like, a heavy machinist. Explosive dudes. [Laughs.] There's those kind of different people. I like having the choice instead of it being, "Oh. Hey. You're a guy playing this game and you're gonna have guns, and you're just gonna shoot things. And that's it." I like being able to snipe, or you can explode things, or you can be sneaky and set traps, or if you wanna just hit stuff with a mallet you can do that. [Laughs.] Kinda like Diablo. Yeah, Diablo I really enjoy. The boyfriend and I were playing it -- I got it for Christmas. We were playing it together, and now I can't play it if it's not here. Because if he's not here, then I'll level like crazy and then he'll be far behind. 

But when it comes to games media, you said you pay attention to social media at least. What trends do you notice in the things they cover or don't cover? 

Initially, they don't seem to cover the actual mechanics of the game.

How do you mean? 

It's usually a trailer with pretty graphics and not actual in-game footage. So you might buy a game without ever actually seeing in-game footage and not knowing how it plays and not knowing how you're supposed to play it and how you get around and progress in the game. There's no explanation of anything. It's just: "Here's some pretty graphics." Which is good for media because it's all about the hype. It's all hype, hype, hype. I feel like that's great and all but I want information. I don't want hype. I want information about what goes on in the game. Explicitly.

It's almost like -- I've never heard of anyone getting into videogames who didn't grow up with them. Have you? 

Hmm. Well, my parents like videogames but they play, like, Bejeweled

Those are videogames. 

Yeah, they're very casual-puzzle gamers. So my mom plays Bejeweled all the time. My dad plays, like, the slots game. He plays, like, find the hidden object games. We used to play them together, which was fun. [Laughs.] It was a bonding experience. It was nice. Like, "It's over there!" He plays simple games like that on his computer and he didn't grow up with them. He didn't get into them until probably the last few years when he got a new computer. And he always, I think, wanted to play.

He got a Wii for Christmas one year, and we tried to get him to play the golf game. Wii Sports. He liked it. But then he forgot how to use the system because there's no, like, explicit directions for him saying, "Hit this button, then turn this on, then turn this on. And then use this controller and do these things." There's no directions every time. It's only directions the first time. 

Well, it sorta becomes just another box on a shelf.

Right. It's sitting under his TV doing nothing right now. 

Here's the DVR. Here's the DVD player. And like, to us, we'll be able to tell which is the which. But I can totally understand, even if it's a white color, because the Wii is white -- you would think that'd be easy to remember, but to someone not into games, it's just another box with a light on it. So I totally get that.

I think he forgets it's there. I think he forgets he has a Wii he can play. Mine has not been touched since I moved in here and I moved in here three years ago.

But what you're saying is true. There's this assumption that you understand what everything is. Granted it's a little bit easier to understand what everything is because the games coming out are so similar to what's been out the year before. But there's very little explaining how these things work. You're absolutely right.

Yeah. Well, I know with my dad, he recently got an iPhone. Because I said, "Hey, you need a phone. Let's get you an iPhone." And he said, "Okay." [Laughs.] So that's how that went. And he's like, "Oh, so I can play games on this thing?" And I said, "Yeah, you can!" So I downloaded him a few of the free games and a few of the paid games like Cut the Rope and Where's My Water? and Minion Rush and Temple Run and stuff like that. He played Cut the Rope like crazy because he likes puzzles and he played Where's My Water? a little bit.

There's a game called Little Things that I got him into that he really enjoys on the iPad. And basically in that you have to find the hidden objects, kind of, amongst many objects. He really enjoys that. So I've slowly gotten him into games, but, again, he'll stop playing for a while and go back to it and then not know what he's doing. He doesn't remember the controls. He has to do the whole tutorial again. At least there's a tutorial in some of them so he can do that. But sometimes the tutorial is just the first load-up of the game, and then you don't get to do it anymore. That's it. I feel like there should be a tutorial for every game in case you forget. I don't know.

What do you feel like we seldom hear discussed about what it means to be a person who plays videogames?

I used to have an OKCupid profile and I put on there that I'm a gamer, but the first question guys would ask me is, "What kind of games do you play?" And I'm like, "I played Borderlands and RPGs and Halo and games on my iPad and stuff like that. Skyrim." I have to search for game names that might be impressive because if I don't play the right kind of games, I'm not a true gamer.

Well, fuck that. 

Yeah. Or there are people who are like, "Oh, if you play RPGs you're not a real gamer" or "If you play puzzle games you're not a real gamer." And there was a time that all I did was play iPad games. I would come home and I would reach for my iPad and I would catch up on all the games that have the daily rewards and stuff, and I'd do all those and it'd keep me busy for a while. Then my day is shot. [Laughs.] But I was playing. I consider myself a gamer even though I was only doing that. But if I talk to anyone else, they're like, "That's not being a gamer." You have to be into all these things to be a gamer. I feel like when someone says "I'm a gamer," they mean "I play shooters."

I feel like overall in society when someone who does not play games hears that someone is a gamer, they initially think, "Oh, they play those shooting games." So it's kinda pigeonholed that gaming means FPS and anything else isn't gaming. It's "casual gaming." Or some other form of gaming that isn't "true gaming." Which is nonsense.

[Laughs.]

I don't know. I can't words. [Laughs.]

No. I get you. It's just laughable and so childish and it's so dumb. The only thing I can think of that's close to this is people who read Shakespeare, they talk the same way.

Yes. Yes. People who read are the same way. Well, the only thing that I've read recently has been comic books and, like, young-adult fiction and 50 Shades of Grey because I was curious. I was getting rid of a bunch of books that I had gotten for free that were, like, random authors I had never heard of. But they're all novels in the last five years. My friend said, "If it's not more than 50 years old or have a Nobel Prize or some sort of prize on the cover, then I don't want to read it."

I thought that was so book snob of her. I'm like, "I read comic books and Shakespeare." [Laughs.] Like I play shooters and RPGs and puzzle games. I will read -- with the comic books, there's a whole 'nother portion of our culture about comic books just like gaming, how if you read comics, it means you read Marvel and DC. So you know everything that's going on with Batman and Spider-Man and Captain America and all those people. But I read indie. I read things that are like Grimm's Fairy Tales and Alice in Wonderland. Things like that that are completely not superheroes. So people who are into comic books are like, "You don't read real comic books. You read offshoot comic books that are not comic books. They're just books." 

It's almost like they don't listen to themselves. After you drop that verb, the rest of that sentence is irrelevant. "I play ________." "Oh really? I play ________." It doesn't matter what the rest of the sentence is. It's already true from that point. It's dumb. 

It's dumb. Our culture is just dumb. [Laughs.] Honestly.

I'm aware. 

[Laughs.]

So if it's just dumb, then why does this stuff matter? Is it hurting anyone if games are less creative and it's hard to find other, more interesting things? 

I think it's hurting the next generation. Because the way that we grew up, we had all these games that were completely innovative and ahead of their time and all brand-y new things. Like, Duck Hunt. There was no game like Duck Hunt. But now there's tons of games like Duck Hunt. Like Time Crisis. Light-gun games in the arcades. They have all these kinda things now, so it's no longer, "Ooh, I played this game and it's so cool and it's fun and I learned so much and it was like a life-changing experience to play this game." But now the kids are just like, "Oh, I have an iPad and I can play all these games on it and I'll just play, like, puzzle games or I'll just sit here and play Candy Crush because I can." 

But then they don't get exposed to, like, Final Fantasy. But they have 4 and 5 and 6 on iPad now, which is nice. But I feel like there's a huge chunk of gaming culture that the youngsters are not gonna be exposed to. 

It's just the nature of time. 

Right.

I'm a few years older than you, so be aware you will sound more "shaking your fist at a cloud" as you age, but you're talking about nostalgia here. It's an easy thing to have in this conversation. It's so subjective. I don't think we can ever say games were actually better when we were young. It's just as you said: When you're young you are more easily dazzled. But we putting nostalgia aside, what types of things are missing in games today from that period, you think? 

It's hard to pinpoint, really. 

I interviewed someone else who works at Nintendo. He said the problem is that games are no longer honest. They're not the games the people making them want to make. They're not honest with players about how good they are at playing them with things like achievements or save points. That was his answer.
I don't have an answer for this. That's why I ask everyone else. 

I agree with the Nintendo guy. Games used to take thought and creativity to navigate and beat the game. And then when you beat it, you felt so accomplished just because you beat it. Just because under your own power, you completed this task without any help because there wasn't really Internet stuff to help you back then. There weren't game guides. 

But now they've made them so complicated because -- it's kinda a Catch-22. They have game guides because games got more complicated and more difficult, but games got more difficult and more creative and harder to play because there's game guides for them. I feel like the people who are just getting into games now are not being able to use their imagination and use their own inborn creativity to solve problems and get through levels in a game because it's just, "Oh, let me just check the book. Let me just check the Internet. Oh, that's the answer? Cool." 

I wanna come back to Final Fantasy X again. 

I knew it was coming. 

The cloister of trials was absolutely impossible if you didn't have a game guide later on in the game. Because there was the one with the flashy light hallway thing and you're sliding down a hallway and have to hit the flashy arrows to slide different directions, that I never would've solved if I didn't have the Internet because it was impossible. There woulda been so much -- I woulda spent 30 hours just on that. I tried to do it on my own and it wasn't working, so I had to go to the Internet. But at least I tried. I feel like they don't even try because they just initially know that it's gonna be too hard. I don't know. 

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