The last week of the year comes to an end. People make New Year’s resolutions, prepare year-end lists of best games, and celebrate the hope that something’s going to change for the better next year. My last blogpost in 2022 will touch on just two games—the game I started this year with and the one I’m playing now. The former is Dark Souls II, and the latter is Fate. There’s no better metaphor for summing up the passing year.
I’ve struggled with Dark Souls II for the whole quarter of 2022. I was highly motivated to face every challenge this game threw at me. Finally, I beat the game in April and immediately jumped into Dark Souls III.
My gaming struggle with Dark Souls II coincided with my real-life struggle with the new job position. It was more challenging, engaging, and independent (at least, this was the impression). I succeeded—both at the job and at beating the game. But there is one thing bosses often do when their employees get good at their jobs—they throw in more work to do. My job responsibilities multiplied each month, while my pay grade unsurprisingly remained roughly the same.
After thirty or so hours of play, I dropped Dark Souls III and shifted my gaming attention elsewhere. When you return home after work completely exhausted, you don’t want to waste additional energy on inessential struggles. Point-and-click adventures, walking simulators, and RTS skirmishes against anemic AI have been my safe digital heaven.
One can’t live under constant stress and exhaustion for a long time. Eventually, I cracked and quit. Gave a notice couple of weeks ago. Two more weeks and I’ll be jobless—highly doubtful that I’ll find something soon. But it’s okay; I can afford to rest for a few months. I need this so much, and I can’t wait to hibernate for a bit.
In 2005, I broke under the pressure of the high-school final exams. It was a period I barely remember due to the pure misery that routinely filled my days back then. I only remember that I was exhausted, powerless, and depressed. Parents were worrying but helpless. Hours, days, and weeks fused into one giant ball of alcohol, anonymous imageboards, and black metal.
The rough period eventually ended, and the first moments of clarity came. One of the most vivid memories I have from my mental resurrection is, of course, the gaming one. I was playing WildTangent’s Fate. The game is a distilled Diabloesque experience: a little town, a bottomless, infinite dungeon, and tons of procedurally generated loot. It was utterly intoxicating, and I’ve played it non-stop for weeks.
The spiral of time has made another turn, and here I am again—exhausted, broken, and scared shitless of the future. And here is Fate again—intoxicating, infinite, and straightforward. It’s a good sign that I felt the need to play this game after so many years, precisely at this moment. It means that everything will be okay in the end. A year is just an arbitrary sub-division of the constant time-flow people invented to make their lives more organized and manageable. It’s not a being in itself. Nevertheless, I feel that the next year will be better. It can even turn out to be one of the best years of my life. I’ll have to wait and see.
But for now, I have a dungeon to crawl and lots of celebrating to do.
Happy New Year!