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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Chess, Not Soccer

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Slowing down our addiction to bite-sized gaming

I've been a baseball fan my entire life. I grew up as a Red Sox fan (and a Red Sox fan in the '90s, mind you, so I deserve all of your pity), and I learned over the course of time to appreciate the pacing of America's pastime. There's a chess-like battle between pitcher and batter, the subtle yet poignant heartbeats between the selection and delivery of the pitch. There's a tension in each at-bat that is unrivaled in any other sport out there.

However, as I listen to 92.9 in the morning and get my morning Sportscenter fix, I find that flashier, faster sports get a lot more of the attention. Any and all NBA and NFL news dwarfs most baseball reports. The end of the MLB season is clouded by drafts, analysis on said picks and training camps. I understand the need for competition and variety, but some days it feels like people have moved on from baseball simply because it's not flashy enough, not bombastic enough, not fast enough.

In a lot of ways, the gaming community has that same addiction to speed and flash that sports fans do. If a first person shooter doesn't have MODERN EFFIN WARFARE with a deluge of guns that all kill in .3 seconds, then that FPS is CRAP. If an RPG doesn't have ACTIVE REALTIME PEWPEWPEW and OMGFIYARANDLIGHTNING, then it's an ancient piece of crap. We feed on speed and consume anything that cures our ADD for the next few moments.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that games aren't padding their lengths with endless collectibles anymore, and I also enjoy games that push the instant gratification button over and over again. But every once in awhile, I'd like to sit down to play a game and know that I'm going to need to think over things and plan a few moves ahead. Sometimes, I just want to stare at the screen and fully hatch a plan over the course of a few minutes. Oddly enough, I want to agonize over my next few moves, building the tension to a fevered degree, knowing that with one misplaced move, everything I've done for the past few hours will be for naught.

Ah, listen to me go on and on about the good ol' days. There's still plenty of games that fly the slow-burn flag. The latest 'XCOM' revival is a throwback to more thoughtful days gone by without making you feel like you're never going to get to the end of your current mission. 'Civilization V' has stolen a day or so from my life, endlessly pummelling the end turn button, waiting to see decades of planning and research come to fruition. While still real-time, 'Sins of Solar Empire' has a very thoughtfully-paced time frame, where you can watch three hours of work either pay off or destroy you utterly. Even 'Dark Souls,' even though it's technically an action RPG, forces you to walk carefully, look five times before you leap, plan your moves in advance - and even then you're not remotely guaranteed success.
It's not that my reflexes are too slow to keep up with the cyborg-reflexed youth of today, it's just that I'd rather have a three-course meal with some pacing than a pile of fast-food with just twitch-based flavor. Sometimes you just need a game to savor rather than consume.

Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Aaron Waite, please catch me!


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