We’ve got about two months to go and then the Silly Season starts – and by that I don’t mean the retail Silly Season. No, I mean the brief window of time in which every games publisher in existence kicks out it’s high-end, top of the line, big budget world conquering video games for us to review ahead of the retail Silly Season. Call it the Silly Season prequel.
This is probably the busiest time I have all year. Not that I’m complaining. A video game journalist who complains about the amount of work piling up their inbox is deserving of little sympathy – and should expect even less than that. To anyone who isn’t working as games hack, we live charmed existences. After all, our jobs involve international travel, interviews with developers, visits to game developer studios, attending gaming conventions – oh yes, and playing lots and lots and lots of video games. To be honest, it rarely feels like hard work – even though it is – because the genuine love I have for this medium turns down the volume on a lot the gripes I have with it (and I’m not going to bother listing them here).
Still, the Silly Season is a different story. The Silly Season means a raft of titles being sent down the pipeline and all of them need to be reviewed. The Silly Season means coming home to a pile of video games sitting next to the TV and hearing the words of their developers (whom I interviewed earlier in the year) echoing through my head;
“Yeah there’s about 20 hours of gameplay right there, boy!”**
The Silly Season also means having to stay up until the wee hours of the morning because A) I have to review some of these titles in my own time and B) I have a better half, and she rightly contends that my job shouldn’t mean that she misses The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. Once again, this is not a complaint; she’s more supportive to me than I would be to her in this instance. She’s sat through me playing hours and hours of games for work – although she draws the line at sports games (because she finds them as boring to watch as the sports they’re based on) and Dead Space, which freaked her out.
(Oh, by the way, EA, thanks for Dead Space 2 in October this year. I’m sure it will be superb. I’m sure it will be utterly terrifying. I just don’t relish the prospect of playing through it the first time – not knowing where all the scary bits are – in dark, on my own and with the headphones on so my other half doesn’t have nightmares. It’s just great for my nerves.)
It wouldn’t be so bad except that every single publisher with a lengthy top tier title gets in on the act. Activision alone is bringing out eight games between September and December and between them you’re looking at least 50 or so hours worth of playing time. Oh, and around that time Blizzard’s dropping World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm which has about that much playing time and then some – on its own.
It would be nice to have some breathing room between games, but this isn’t possible, really.
In a way, though, the masochist in me is looking forward to it. I really truly love this job and love the art form I get to write about on a daily basis. I wouldn’t want to give it up at any price.
So what’s my point? Er… I guess some more hours in the day to play these games would be good? If someone could make the time mechanic from Braid a reality, that’d be good. Otherwise, are you listening, Lord? Well start taking notes…
**Before anyone asks, yes I have to play all of these games right the way to the end. I don’t have to complete every side-quest or hunt down every Easter Egg, but I do have to see the end credits before I write my review. I know a lot of other journalists don’t bother doing this. They’re probably right and I’m probably stupid, but I believe that if you should at least finish a game before you telling anyone else whether it’s worth their time and money in an article. It’s a long story, but the one time I broke this rule, it burned me. This sad tale of woe may be the subject of another blog at a later date.