I was thinking about starting this post by talking about the fact that I don't really play video games any more, alluding to the tedium of modern games or suchlike, and going on a boring tangent about the lack of progress this generation. But I don't have the writing talent or brain power to make any observations that haven't been written before, and moreover, I can't be bothered. I can't be bothered because Dark Souls has beaten me. It has punched me, kicked me, crushed me, decapitated me, thrown me off a cliff, and burned me. It has left me sitting on my sofa, staring at the floor and wondering what I am doing wasting hour upon hour on this game, and generally feeling depressed about my entire existence. And at this point, I pick up the controller again, move my character, Wee-Bay, away from the bonfire at which he has just awoken after his last death and trudge off towards the next inevitable death to complete another cycle of this entire sad process.

Generally, I don't play games anymore because each time I do, I feel acutely aware of my age, and find myself unable to shake the empty feeling that I am wasting precious moments of my life and should be doing something more productive. I just don't have a carefree, fun experience playing games anymore. So when the PS3 gets started up, it's usually turned off again within 20 minutes. But not Dark Souls. I am 80 hours in and the end is in sight. But I'm broken.

In the past, when I have played a game which allows moral choices (i.e. seemingly every modern game), or an open world game which allows wanton destruction, I inevitably end up playing the role of the good guy, going on stupid errands to make complete strangers happy and altruistically saving the universe while hurting as few completely fake video game people as possible. But last night Dark Souls made me snap. After about four hours of generally positive progress, I seemed to enter some sociopathic state for no particular reason. Any NPC character that I came across ended up chopped into little bits by my katana and getting their loot jacked. There was no mercy for anyone, not even for the characters who had helped me out on my journey.



I can't even say what caused this particular meltdown. There was no rage or animosity involved.  I hadn't died any more than usual and I would have thought that nearing the end of the game would have substantially brightened my mood. Maybe it was cathartic. Maybe I needed to put an end to my belligerent involvement in this grim, joyless world that has so far stolen 80 hours of my life, so there would be no inclination to try out New Game +. Whatever the reason, my actions mean that the game will take that much longer to complete - there are bonfires that I can't use and spells that I can no longer buy.

And maybe I subliminally wanted that to happen; maybe I don't want to escape the dreariness and bleakness. And that is possibly the magic of Dark Souls. Maybe I can have fun with games despite being an old man in video game terms. Maybe it is just that the games aren't as good or imaginative as they used to be. Maybe Dark Souls is one of the top games of the current generation, and being captured by it is no less a legitimate use of time than a good book. I think I’m off to finish Dark Souls – I wonder how long New Game + takes to complete…?
 


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