Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Why won't the resolution change??

I’m not that great at video games. I’ve hardly finished most of the games that I’ve started due to frustration at my own lack of skill, and taking a Post Grad degree while working part time leaves me with little spare time where I’m not exhausted or wound up tighter than a pocket watch. When I do make the time to sit down and enjoy a game I like to be pulled into it straight away. I’m not impatient by any means but, as I said, I’m not that great at them, and after you’ve got lost three times on a seemingly obvious path, it’s hard not to turn the console off and wander off to start building a fort out of the sofa and your bed linen.

A perfect example of my infuriating gaming ineptitude can be seen in my attempt at playing the first Assassin’s Creed. After working my way through the basic scene setting and tutorials I set off in search of the first location, only to accidentally knock someone down with my over-sized clumsy horse (yes, I maintain that it was the horse’s fault). In a panicked attempt to escape the angry people who were now chasing me for my horse’s honest mistake, I galloped off in a random direction, not paying any attention to where I was going. Once the heat was off, I started to head back to my original destination only to find that I was impossibly lost.

I know I left my hay cart around here somewhere. Perhaps if I throw myself off this ledge it'll miraculously appear below?

After wandering around like a sight-seeing tourist for fifteen minutes I gave up and did the one thing I hate doing most in the world: I asked my friend for help. He gave me that patronising look that made me feel like a dribbling fool, gently took the controller from my hands and set out to get me back on to the right path. A few minutes later, he started to look a little flustered. Wow I thought. I must have been really lost for it to take this long to get me back. Another few minutes passed and he threw the controller onto the bed and declared that he was “incredibly impressed” that I could get so “fantastically lost”. That was several years ago, and since then the disk has not left the box; and yet it still sits on my shelf at the top of my meagre stack of games. Assassin’s Creed is not the only culprit.

Sneering collection. Not actual size.

Here we have my dilemma. Do I keep these games and allow them to sneer at me from their lofty resting place, or do I give up and trade them in for something a little more ‘easy’? I’m not normally the kind of person to back down from a challenge, but once I’ve gotten stuck on a game I find it difficult to go back to it and storm on through. Games such as Portal drive me insane, and anything that has a large map or labyrinth levels get little more than a few hours of game play before they’re banished to “The Shelf”. I know very well that once the game is shelved, it’s not coming down for a while, if ever, and that it’s just going to gather dust. Yet I can’t bring myself to let it go.

When I find myself running low on funds I often trade in my DVDs and DS games for cash, and yet these exiled 360 games remain on my shelf. Now, I’ll admit that I won’t get much for them on their own and a trade probably isn’t worth it, but when I add together all the games that have driven me to boiling point I’d probably get a fair amount. There is something inside of me that just can’t let them go. Not yet anyway. A part of me needs them to sit on my shelf and mock me just a little longer. While they remind me that I’m not the best gamer, they also give me an unfinished project. I always have something that I can go back to and finish later. Like a half-built model, they gaze at me from the shelf.  Most of them now have multiple sequels that require me to at least have some understanding of the original. I’ve nearly finished Portal 2 and, as of yet, there hasn’t been a temper tantrum that’s made a tornado look tame, but I will always have that niggling feeling that I gave up on its predecessor. I’m sure there are plenty of in-jokes that have whizzed over my head due to my lack of Portal experience.

Cake? What's all this about cake??

A part of me feels very selfish. Somewhere out there, someone is bound to want to try this game that I am clinging on to, and it’s not fair on the disk. It only wants to be loved and the best I can offer it is a mild dislike and intrigue. These games deserve better than me, and yet I cling to them. I hope to one day pluck up the courage to take one action or the other. I like to think that I’ll attempt to get at least halfway through all the games but, in all honestly, they will probably sit on my shelf for a long time to come.

Last five articles by Jo



  1. Adam Adam says:

    When you find the time to go back to ‘the shelf’, you really do get a massive buzz from playing something that both you and the gaming society has forgotten about. I played Assassins Creed at launch for a good few weeks but got tired of it and left it. I went back to it well over two years later and it became a one week obsession for me and I hammered the heck out of it and really enjoyed it, probably more than if I would have if I’d stuck with it first time.

    I’m so like you in those respects Jo. I have both a ‘shelf’ and a Steam library of games I’ve booted up, played, got frustrated at *because the time I had to offer to the game wasn’t met with an equally valued reward) and then never gave it a second look.

    I say keep those games, don’t beat yourself up over it and don’t let anyone else make you feel bad for it either. Games are there for your enjoyment and if the game has that little spark there that attracted you in the first place, it will only be brighter when you eventually go back to it :)

    Really cool read :)

  2. Richie Rich says:

    Hopefully you’ll get the chance to play these games again. Not Endwar though as that’s a load of old cock.

    When I get overwhelmed by huge, sprawly epics I tend to look for a nice quick game. Something you can beat in a day or two. Short, linear games for when you can’t face another sandbox epic.

  3. Mr McGash says:

    To be honest, the majority of my games now are so called “Shelved” lol
    I am a sucker for a new release, and i play it for a day or 2 and then go back to something i have already played, or go on to a new release. More often than not they sit there looking at me mournfully longing to be touched again but i seem to ignore them.
    Being a scorewhore doesn’t help either because i then need a break to play games for fun and remember what it was all about… and that’s me sat on the dashboard for 3 hours scratching my head wondering what to play

  4. Edward Edward says:

    I can completely understand where you’re coming from, as I currently have about 42 games sitting in my “to be completed” pile, and most of those are now purchases from years ago that haunt me daily. I don’t trade in games anymore, but I could probably make a small fortune from the ones I’ve stopped playing but yearn to go back to…

  5. Chris Toffer says:

    My ‘to be completed’ pile has enough volume to scuttle a large submarine if launched in a depth charged shaped payload.

  6. Samuel Samuel says:

    I have loads of “those games”. Not necessarily for the same reasons, I actually really enjoy big open game worlds that I can root about in and make my own fun from, but there are still a hell of a lot of games on my shelf that have gone unfinished for various reasons, and currently mock me every time I go past. Alan Wake is doing it right now – I can see it there, eyeing me up in disgust. Always watching.

    I won’t get rid of it though. I never do. Some day I will beat the bugger. But not today. Or tomorrow. Just… some day.

  7. Lee says:

    My “shelf” is a drawer and a spare hole thingy in my entertainment unit. I’m like Mr McGash though I just feel the need to always be playing the new game of the week and the older ones just get forgotten. I complete most of them I’m just not satisfied that I’ve finished them.
    I intend on going back to them, really I do.

  8. Thomas Mullin says:

    I used to by games by their droves, but my wife has made me see sense. Perserverance and a nasty addiction to achievement hunting, has led me down the path of one campaign at a time, broken up with the obligitory spate of multiplayer frenzy and a dash of arcade gaming. I say trade them all. I did, and I’ve never felt better.

  9. Rook says:

    I have games that I have maxed out and they sit on a shelf as well but I have no desire to trade them in as they are part of my game collection. SOme day when I am done with the 360 I may get rid of them but for now they remain, same for game I have beaten but not maxed or games I started but not beaten or are still to be played. I don’t trade my DVDs in when I have watched them so I don’t do it with games either.

    If it’s a money thing, then you do what you do to get by but other than that I would say keep them.

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