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Dark Souls is game that masters fully grown men. My conflicted juvinile state makes me far too easy a subject to dominate, maybe I just need to turn it off and do something more grownup instead.
There's this door, it's not a big door, it looks like it's made of charred, mossy oak and it sits in the corner of a stone-walled room. I'm looking at it rubbing my cracked and blood-shot eyes, and I really don't want to open it. The controller is on a pile of books I use as a coffee table and I don't intend picking it up for the time being.
My conscious slips from the screen and my thumbs begin to browse the news feeds on Facebook. I'm not usually afraid of progress in videogames, nor am I afraid of a rise in difficulty; but Dark Souls has got me stumped.
I'd never class myself as a good gamer. I used to play for long times quite frequently when I didn't have too many other going concerns cluttering up my brain. Now I've got work constraints, a fairly vivacious social life, housework to do and a novel that, rather stubbornly, doesn't seem to want to write itself. Gaming should be a cooling down exercise to be accompanied by a glass of Claret and Dark Side of the Moon.
Today, however, it's two in the morning, the bitter taste of black coffee resides on the back of my tongue and I start work in less than five hours. The door is calling me, egging me to open it and progress, but progress is a fare paid in hours and minutes, and that's a currency that I'm running short of.
The life of a modern man is not designed for videogames. Although I don't like to admit it I spend most of my gaming life on my iPhone, tapping away at inconsequential and bland micro-games solely because of its portability.
In many ways I have come to loath my modern life. Although it gives me the scope and flexibility to juggle work, home and social existences, it prevents me from languishing fruitlessly in a pit of my own creation; perhaps then I could open this bloody door and get on with it. If only I could catch some debilitating illness, that would give me unlimited alone time. But I guess that would be unbecoming for a modern man though wouldn't it?
I'm conflicted about my gaming addiction.
I'm conflicted about my gaming addiction, it resides dormant just below the surface as I progress though my life. On occasion bubbling up and intoxicating my dreams and better judgement. I feel overcome by swells of irrational notions of finishing something that no man with a life outside of his games room should comfortably finish. I get the completion shivers, and break out in cold sweats. I'm a man wishing he was a boy again, or maybe a boy who is unsure about moving on to more grownup things.
Either way I wish I was over this desire to achieve the insurmountable by now. My childhood was mainly spent in front of a console, constantly reminding myself that I need to cram in as much gaming as I could when I was young, because grown-ups don't do computer games. If only I was wise enough to become a fully fledged grown-up; not this mockery of a modern man who is panicking about a digital door and what lies beyond it.
Dark Souls has its tendrils latched onto me and won't let go. But I like it. It re-kindles a sensation I've not felt in some time, like falling in love with someone you know is no good for you; someone who reminds you of being young and free and living life without circumstance or consequence. Destructive and yet so utterly, utterly beautiful that turning your back is not an option. It has the illusion of being a grown up persuit but is actually more about keeping the hedonism of my childhood alive.
Logically, I should be off to bed. Logically, I should claim a moral victory and leave what lies behind the door for another evening. I should have more important concerns, promotions and putting up shelves and things like that. Unfortunately, logic does not rule my relationship with Dark Souls, and almost subconciously I'm though the door.
I'll grow up and become the ideal employee/husband/father another day.
I tell myself that I'll grow up and become the ideal employee/husband/father another day. One day I'll leave videogames behind and create something impressive and tangible with my time; something that will be the making of my adult self.
I need to break the curse of my juvinile videogame addiction, I need to reach that door and wonder why I'm fretting over trivialities; I need to learn how to turn it off and get on with the rest of my life. Procrastination is a very modern curse, and procrastination comes in no more a refined state than in Dark Souls.
Whether grown or juvinile, approach with caution my friends.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: