Developer Update #3

What Do Games Have To Teach Us About Me?

I worry all the time, and sometimes what I worry about is that my friends and family are worried about me. What’s {{{}}} up to? What is he thinking about? Have you read his weird little things? Something that I worry worries others is the time I spend playing games. Let’s be clear: I spend a lot of time playing games. I play games on my computer, I play games on my phone, I puzzle through newspapers and magazines, I go to game night with friends. I love talking about games, I love watching other people play games, I love designing games, I love writing about games, I love thinking about games. Games are monumental to me and always have been and shoot, I dare say always will be.

I assure you, you all have no cause to worry. I’m well taken care of. Games and I make a great team. It’s a passion that I find rewarding and challenging, and that reveals things about myself and how I think, plan, and interact with others.

My relationship with games has changed a lot recently, and I think it comes from a widening of my perspective on my life, and a better understanding of who I am. Because of games’ ability to teach me about myself, I am able to look back at how I played games before and which games I prefered and say, “I’ve come a long way and I don’t regret it.”

This year, I beat Dark Souls for the first time. That’s a game that I started playing maybe seven or eight years ago. It’s a notoriously difficult and demanding game in which you fight enemies big and small, all dangerous, as you work your way through an expansive and sad world. Progress is painstaking and punishment is swift. When I first jumped in, I got to Miserable Blighttown in fits and spurts and eventually gave up and moved on. I revisited it a few times and didn’t even get that far on the next playthroughs. Only in the most recent playthrough was I able to not only push through Miserable Blighttown but beat the game.

What I love is how that win is a representation of both material differences in my life and how I play games, and also a representation of how I’ve grown. In terms of material changes in my ability to play, my life situation is very different from when I first played it than now. I first booted it up on my home PC, in the kitchen sitting on the family booth. I played it with mouse and keyboard, and had to get off if my mom needed the computer for her scrapbooking software, or to take a call from one of her social work clients. I’d dig in after school and before my parents thought to ask if I had done my homework. The Games for Windows Live bullshit that it came with didn’t work, and I ended up pirating the game so I could play it, even though I owned it already. This meant I couldn’t use any of the online features. It was just me, with a mouse and keyboard, getting interrupted and distracted all the time.

I most recently played Dark Souls on the Nintendo Switch projected uponto the wall of my apartment living room. My roommate got the game and graciously let me play when he wasn’t. I got sucked in and blasted through the game, far past where I had previously been, and then further and further. I didn’t have any homework to do, so I had all the time I needed to play the game and get lost in the world. I also had access to the online layer of the game, and was able to be bejoined by invaders and helpers who guided me and attacked me and left me messages.

This is all important and relevant, and a big part of why I was able to finally see the end of the game, but the most important element to me was how much I had changed in the years since starting my journey. I was only able to beat Dark Souls because I had become more organized, less scared, and generally a more capable and thoughtful person. It was incredible to revisit the game with a much more heightened sense of my ability to manage resources, explore even when it terrified me, and set goals that I worked to achieve. I used items when I needed to, not fearing running out, and I pushed forward through areas that held unknown traps with determination and a curious spirit.

This isn’t an article about Dark Souls. Heaven above knows we have enough. This is an article about Thief ’14, which is to say it’s an article about me, which is to say it’s not about Thief ’14 at all. That’s true of this whole project in fact. It’s about Thief.14, as in me, as in not Thief.14 at all.

So that’s what I’m promising more of in this project going forward. This signals my 80th piece in the Thief project. I have lots more to say about the game, mind you, and I have plenty more to say about myself. That’s why you can expect more pieces about other games. That means pieces about Batman: Arkham Asylum, and The Swindle, and Pajama Sam, and Thief: The Dark Project, and Lego Star Wars, and Splinter Cell: Conviction, and EVE Online, and Dungeons and Dragons, and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, and CLUE, and Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, and Hide and Seek, and — heaven above — Dark Souls.

Thank you so much for reading this and my other writing. I’m excited to explore the back alleys and rooftops of Thief.’14 with your company. Only 1934 more pieces to go!