The March Purges – No, I Didn’t Go Crazy.

Months ago, I wrote up a list of names.  With ruthless efficiency, those who bore those names were lined up, all in a neat row.  One by one, with ruthless efficiency, I brought their time in the world to an end.

The purges had begun.

The news instantly spread across the internet, of course.  Followers on Twitter, that famous microblogging force for radical change, could only stare at the ever-lengthening tally of the doomed.  The names flew by for nearly an hour. Each new chirp sounded the faint echo of a bullet’s report.

Well, not a bullet.  More of a mouse click.  That “remove” button doesn’t select itself, you know.

Today, about 20 gigs’ worth of games went into the void.  I tweeted for every single one — a megalomaniacal despot rejoicing as each little death heralded the revolutions that were soon to come under my iron fisted rule.

Here’s the list of victims:

  • Alien vs Predator (2000)
  • The Orange Box – Half-life 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2
  • Arcanum
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Braid
  • Dungeon Keeper
  • Dungeon Siege and the Ultima 5 total conversion
  • Fallout and Fallout 2
  • Freedom Force vs. 3rd Reich
  • Free Orion
  • Diablo and the Hellfire expansion pack
  • X-Wing Alliance
  • Mass Effect and Bring Down the Sky DLC
  • Patrician III
  • Spellforce Platinum
  • Worms Armageddon
  • World of Goo
  • Audiosurf
  • Peggle Deluxe

Each one I deleted and tweeted.  Most went without a whimper, but a few people lamented Team Fortress 2.  Diablo got a little love, but in the end the bytes went to the bin without mercy.  I loved the idea of gamers across the feed gritting their teeth as another loved one bit the dust in my unflinching campaign.

I saved a few back from the brink.  Yes, I haven’t gone totally game free.  Here are the survivors:

  • Crayon Physics Deluxe
  • Ghostbusters
  • Majesty 2
  • Osmos
  • Penumbra
  • Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
  • Psychonauts
  • Bard’s Tale (2005)

These games have one thing in common: I haven’t finished them, ever.

That’s it, really.

Everything I deleted, I was done with.  I’d either won it long ago, or I’d started it and lost interest.  And I’m kind of proud of the list of games I kept.  It’s a good list.  For the most part, these games are acclaimed, unique, and celebrated.  I want to finish them because they’re new to me.

Not that there aren’t some great contenders in the List of the Doomed.  Dungeon Keeper is always high on my nostalgia list.  But nostalgia and love can be burdens, too.  They can get in the way of seeing fresh things of their own worth.

Once I’m finished with the surviving games, what will I do?  Shall I weep, like Ozymandius, for there are no new worlds to conquer?

No.  There are lots of new worlds.  I just haven’t been looking for them.

And that’s what spurred today’s cullings.

Once upon a time, you see, I was at the cutting edge of gaming.  I had the new releases.  I read the literature.  I kept up on the buzz.

That hasn’t happened for a long time.  I’ve been pestered by the necessarily conservative orientation of this site: always looking toward the past’s successes, always celebrating the old way it was done, always digging into the past of our hobby to pry up some fossilized point of interest.

Meanwhile, the gaming industry evolves into something social and powerful and determined.  It mutates, schisms, and reforms into new schools of thought.  It races past entertainment value and takes on other qualities.  It teaches, it trains, it expands, it connects.  It modifies the minds of the players.

Some very formidible minds are working their magic in the field, too.  Consider as a prime example Dr. Mary McGonigal, who wants to use games to change the world, and is getting results.  Consider Alexander Galloway and his study of gaming and algorythmic culture.  Smart brains are thinking smart thoughts about what’s coming, and gaming is the vehicle of the revelation.

I had a brain like that once.  It ossified over a decade.  And now it’s restless.

Gaming is the modality of the hyper-connected future.  Hell, it’s how the mostly-connected present works.  Ratings, interactions, cybernetics, rules, and relationships are all part of what gaming is, and these fetures are built in to everything nowadays.  Social media is another word for a video game with crappy graphics and real-world payoffs.

This is all more philosophical than I’d inteded to get.  Suffice it to say, I’m dissatisfied with maintaining a purely past-looking orientation for my gaming.  I mean, the last review I posted was when, June 2009?  9 months ago?

Meanwhile, I’m desperate to break into a new gaming mode.  Instructional Technologies looks like a wide open field to me, and the world of academicsloves video games right now.

Loves them generatively, that is, as in, “loves what they’re doing and where they’re going.”  Present tense.  Not historically, not what theywere.  Thinking about this site, I feel like an amateur archeologist sometimes.  Very chique, circa 1700s Enlightenment Era.

In the face of what’s happening in gaming, I am spurred on toward something new.  Because the future, to quote the man, is where you and I are going to be spending the rest of our lives.

Be assured, friends and family:  Long Tail Gamer is not dying.  I’m still gaming, and yes, I do love me the classics.  There is still a lot yet to be said about what’s come before.  But things are turning around in my head, and if the site is going to survive, it has to turn with me.

(And, you know, 20 gigs freed is 20 gigs freed.  Enough room for some new installs, doncha think?)