To That-Player-I-Didn’t-Know-Was Coincidentally-Also-Playing-A-9-Year-Old-Game-That-Day
(Subheading: On An Even Older System)
Betsy is a faithful old companion of mine, and has been now for years. Christened so by someone who cherished her very much, she chugs away, green and yellow lights flashing in a version of that car light gag I’ve somehow never seen reproduced on screen. Many people have moved on from those of Betsy’s generation, but I hold on, in a probably unsurprising move given that I refer to my PlayStation 3 the same way I think is weird when people talk about their boats. When I meet people who have boats. Er, when I met them. People.
Even back when I met people, very few of them were regularly in possession of any boats (as far as I knew).
Meeting new people is not something I do very often. I teach a new class every so often, but I don’t really count that so much. Not because it takes place online or because the people involved are often quite young, but because with teaching in general it’s more like me presenting a palatable, entertaining version of myself to a person who has, after all, paid money to be taught a life skill by a person they want to be able to trust. Or to teach a life skill to a person they care for.
I’m not terribly keen on actually meeting new people ‘for real’. I know enough people, and one of them is my dog. Even less so online, where a lot of my carefully curated social skills don’t seem to apply quite so easily. Or perhaps have atrophied from disuse. That I spent a lot of my teen years terrified of forging a connection with — well, with anyone, but especially with someone who might turn out to be some sort of malicious impostor, that might be a factor too.
It might be something of a joke that one of the only novel online interactions I’ve engaged with recently has been (a)a complete surprise, to the point that I wasn’t sure it was happening and (b)devoid of any sort of complex interaction beyond a single sound
I loved it.
‘Journey’ is neat. No, better. It’s Neat. It’s short, or supposed to be, which is the main reason I picked it up the other day. I knew nothing about it, though within a second of picking up the box I realised (or rerealised, as I must have seen it before) that it had some BAFTAs. Which is neat. I’m not big on awards, but it’s neat enough that I can see why that went on a sticker. It’s pretty. It involves a lot of aimless wandering, which I didn’t realise I missed, though I’m not volunteering to go hiking anytime soon. We haven’t reached that stage of desperation. Not yet.
It also, at whatever point the stars and wifi signals align, will give you a buddy. I want to apologise to [NAME REDACTED FOR PRIVACY] for thinking you were an unusually useful and sweet AI companion that randomly appeared near the end of my…time with the game that is called Journey. I really didn’t know very much going in.
I liked Journey for its visuals, for its unique storytelling in the gaming sphere as far as I can make out, because sometimes all you need are some pretty pictures and some good tunes. I liked the way it handled and the non-invasive way it taught me how to play. I like that there’s replay value and yet I’m not compelled to play again and again until my thumbs bleed, because I love you SMT, Persona, but YHVH, give me a break.
But there was something soft and sweet about realising I’d been playing with another person, who knows where, not saying anything to each other because we couldn’t, and not needing to. Only a little symbol in the air that let us keep each other warm. Also it let us fly a bit sometimes, but that’s not as sappy to say.
I’ve never been big on co-op. I was just reading a great article in which an author talked about playing JRPGs with others, as a social event even though they’re mostly single player, but that was a rare event for me even when I had nerdy siblings around. For me, gaming is mostly a solitary thing, cause I’m grumpy and self-conscious and easily distracted. Fighting games are social, yes, but also competitive rather than cooperative, and I don’t play games like Journey that way. Also I’m crap at most fighting games, but that’s neither here nor there. This was nice, in its simplicity and its serendipity.
What I mean to say is thanks, random person. I had fun playing with you. Maybe we can do it again some day.