It’s been a long Christmas break filled with sleeping, gaming, and feasting. Cut any member of the PCGamesN team and they’ll bleed cheese and wine. But that’s all behind us now. It’s 2019, a whole new year, and one full of new games. Upcoming titles include squad shooters like Anthem, grisly horror games like the Resident Evil 2 remake, strategy games like Conan Unconquered, and doubtless many more games we’re yet to find out about.
Still, the start of a new year isn’t just for thinking about the games to come in the year ahead, but also for making promises to ourselves about how we’ll play them. It could be a vow to chip away at the our Steam libraries, finally playing all those games we bought in the winter sale. Or perhaps it’s to try out new genres and broaden our horizons. Maybe, it’s to play less… nah, that’s not it.
Below you can find the 2019 gaming resolutions that we at PCGamesN are going to try and stick to. Let us know in the comments what your own gaming resolutions for 2019 are.
Play less self-consciously – Jeremy
We were playing PC games like we were being watched long before Twitch arrived on the scene. Don’t believe me? Just look at the history of hour counters. They used to largely be the preserve of MMOs, sure, but a 1,000+ total of play time still offered bragging rights or the catalyst for an existential crisis many years ago. There’s nothing new about people being able to see your gaming habits and openly mocking or celebrating them with you – it’s just that now there are Twitch emotes to do it with.
It was when Steam introduced the ‘You’ve played’ stat that everything changed. By default, friends and strangers could see exactly what we were playing, and for how long. Not only did we have to work out what we wanted to play – a difficult enough task in a modern age where a library can quickly be filled with cheap games – but we were invited to think about what we should be playing.
Is Doom cerebral enough? Could Frostpunk be overly niche and peculiar? Is Orcs Must Die! too old and irrelevant, even if it’s my happy place? Steam’s social media elements have encouraged us to look at our playtime as a judgemental outsider might. Those nagging thoughts are only compounded by those particular to being a game journalist – the sense that you ought to be keeping up, trying new things, mastering a MOBA while learning Artifact using your remaining free toes.
The hour counter turned out to be a cold, unflattering light. In the old days, you’d pick the band t-shirt you wanted to represent you out in the world. Steam became like the annoying little brother who’d point out that you actually spent far more time listening to Imagine Dragons than Iron Maiden.
Here’s the thing: nobody actually cares. It only takes a moment’s reflection to realise that nobody has the time or inclination to look up each other’s playtimes. Knowing that intellectually is different to believing, of course, so the easiest way to play like nobody’s watching is to ensure that they’re not. If you share my neuroses, set your Steam profile to private in 2019.
Play with friends more than enemies – Ben
I have a very busy schedule – a website to run, a son to keep alive, and another four-and-a-half series of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown to polish off. Time is short. The unfortunate upshot of this is that I’ve stopped dedicating myself to online sessions with friends and family as much as I used to, instead tending to ignore those friendly invite pings and settling for being matched with randoms in the likes of Rainbow Six Siege, Fortnite, and Dying Light.
It enables me to play these games on a surface-deep level, avoiding commitment in the knowledge that I can chip off whenever I want without feeling like I’ve let anyone important down. Randoms aren’t important, right? But I’ve started to realise how much I miss those evenings spent with my brothers, dad, and other social-circle ne’er-do-wells, holed up in objective rooms, building sprawling castles, or kicking zombies to a bloody pulp. Y’know, proper family time.
This longing has been further underscored by my five-year-old son’s sudden pivot from destructive to creative play in Minecraft over the Christmas holidays. Up until recently, he was hugely entertained – and subsequently panicked – by digging the deepest hole he could. Now we have the start of our own village and a bumper watermelon crop.
Everybody pledges to be more organised when January 1 comes around each year. I’m no different, it’s just that my version is predicated on being part of more effective, marginally less abusive fireteams. Better dust off those headphones, then.
Play more games for me – Rachel
Being able to express my love for games through writing is something I take great pride and enjoyment in. But when you first make that transition from passion project to earning a living from what you love doing, something can get lost in the process. When I feel like I’ve had a particularly special experience with a game I slip into a certain mindset and a thought creeps into my head – my first instinct is to write about it for work.
When I was freelancing, this happened with every game I played. What was the best angle I could get out of it? Playing in this mindset completely changes the way I experience games and I feel like I can sabotage my own enjoyment. I understand how fortunate I am that I get to write about what I love for a living, but it’s important to remind myself that I can play games just for me, and only me.
Play more games like Dusk – Jordan
Between killing sprees in Blackout and the occasional ace in Rainbow Six Siege, the lone other highlight of my 2018 in gaming was Dusk, a brilliant FPS that channels the look and feel of ‘90s favourites like Quake, Doom, and Half-Life. Dusk is great, and I’d very much like to play more games like it in 2019.
I’ll start with Amid Evil, a blatant throwback to Heretic from the same publisher as Dusk. After that I think I’ll play the two Hexen games. Then I’ll play Blood, Strife, and practically anything else with a whiff of the Build engine or id Tech 1 about it. It’s a pretty straightforward resolution, which means I may actually stick to it.
Open my mind to new genres – Rich
When I was a kid I would play any game you put in front of me, but during my teenage years my tastes crystallised into shooters, RPGs, and strategy games. This has its advantages – I’ve played a lot of games in those genres over the years, which is handy when writing about them – but 2018 has shown me what I’ve been missing by staying in my comfort zone.
Last year I went to see Dirt Rally 2.0 and Soul Calibur VI on the same day, took up my first digital card game with Artifact, and topped it off with a bit of Beat Saber. I’ve mostly enjoyed these experiments, partly because some of them scratch familiar itches: shaving seconds off your lap time in Dirt Rally 2.0 has a compulsiveness that’s a bit like a Dark Souls boss fight, while navigating Artifact’s layers of depth is reminiscent of the cleverest strategy games.
This has got me thinking about whether a game’s genre is an overstated distinction and whether games of all kinds, from Dwarf Fortress to Candy Crush, are just windows on something more universal, but those thoughts are too nascent (and pretentious) to put to paper yet. Besides, Beat Saber is much more its own thing – and it’s already been such pure and joyous fun that I considered asking Jules if I could change my Game of the Year nomination.
Put simply, 2018 was the most open-minded I’ve been in a long time when considering the next game to play, and I enjoyed it enough to formalise this attitude as a resolution for 2019. There’s plenty more to discover: after gorging myself on the glut of platformers in the ‘90s and early 2000s, I’m ready to give them another try. What’s more, there are self-imposed barriers to break down – I decided that 60 minutes of PUBG was enough to put me off battle royales for good, when that’s plainly not fair. I’ve resisted playing games on mobile, too – even PC games with good ports – for no reason other than sheer stubbornness.
I also think this new, open-minded attitude to my favourite hobby will improve me as a person. Perhaps I’ll make less fun of Ali for his basic tastes, for instance. Or perhaps that’s a resolution for 2020. Baby steps.
Go off the beaten track – Jules
I’ve a bad habit of getting campaign tunnel vision, particularly in sprawling open-world games. All thoughts of side-quests and exploration drop by the wayside as I push to get through the main story. I blame Oblivion and Dragon Age. It took me years to complete them, not because I was playing constantly but because I would play for a while, move onto another game, and come back to find I’d forgotten what I was up to when I left. Rather than reorient myself, I’d restart the campaign. I’ve seen every one of Dragon Age’s multiple openings, but its credits only once. In time, pushing through to the end became the only way I’d play open-world games.
It’s also stupid. By the time I completed Oblivion and Dragon Age, I didn’t enjoy either game. Everything that got in the way of seeing the end credits frustrated me because I saw it as a blocker. I was getting annoyed with the games, not because of bugs or design flaws, but simply for continuing.
This year I want to get back to enjoying exploration, enjoying side-quests. Maybe that will mean I don’t complete campaigns, but I should make peace with that and simply enjoy playing a game without chasing the compulsion to complete it.
Know when to walk away – Jack
If your bread and butter is competitive games, you’ll undoubtedly know the sour taste of defeat all too well. We all have those moments where the bitter sting feels unearned and, sometimes, downright unfair. In my case, this often leads to a stubborn determination to turn my fortunes around, which inevitably sends me down the dark path of frustration and even disillusionment as my play becomes increasingly sloppy.
When this happens, I enter into a twisted vendetta with the game, wherein I feel compelled to prove my competence and perhaps justify the hours I spend competing against strangers on the internet. While this can lead to some amusing exchanges in team chat, it’s most often a vicious cycle of vexation that results in losing sight of what makes gaming a wonderful escape from real life.
In the rare instances that I have taken a deep breath, walked away, and taken a healthy break from whichever game is the source of my current ire, I have most often returned refreshed, composed and, curiously, more capable.
Rather than getting burned out on my favourite multiplayer games, in 2019 I’m going to try and take more pit stops and just enjoy the ride.
I’ll also try to use fewer driving metaphors.
Broaden my horizons – Jess
As an esports writer, I’ve got a particularly bad habit of playing the same old games day in, day out. I keep an eye on pretty much every competitive FPS scene for work, and my love for those types of games – especially PUBG and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – means they’re always my go-to when I’ve got a moment to myself.
These games to me are comfortable. I know how they work, and I can always get a decent footing on the leaderboard regardless of the latest patch or how long I’ve been away from my PC. But, admittedly, I’ve lost myself to that comfortability, missing out on experiences with new games that people have been raving about.
Waste less money on sales – Harry
I’m never more optimistic about future Harry’s time than during a Steam sale. I wait patiently while the favourable reviews of Return of the Obra Dinn and Artifact come flooding in, biding my time until a juicy slice of the RRP is lopped off. Then, when the seasonal sales start, my thriftiness crumbles in a shower of tears and cut-up bank cards.
That’s because, all of a sudden, my schedule magically opens up. Or so it appears. Never mind that I barely managed to finish Celeste alongside settling the entire Peloponnesian War in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in 2018. I can’t even keep up with games coming out now, let alone begin to make a dent in my burgeoning pile of shame – as high as anything Madeline scaled last year. But, yeah, I’ve obviously got a spare hundred hours for Dragon Quest XI and the Banner Saga trilogy.
I haven’t even touched three quarters of my collection, and that’s a conservative estimate. My Steam library has become so overstuffed that I’m going to need to build even more virtual shelving. Valve’s digital flat-pack furniture people should’ve cut me off long ago.
So, in 2019, I’m going to turn over a new financial leaf. When discount bonanzas kick off, I’m only going to buy games I’ll certainly play in the near future and use the money I save to better keep up with the latest releases. However, before my long-suffering girlfriend gets her hopes up, she should know I’m still going to spend all my money on videogames – I’m just going to be smarter about it.