Head Cannon #2: The Game-Over Hangover

I just spent the last forty-five minutes writing about the Nintendo Switch, which led to three separate paragraphs of poop jokes (don’t ask). Scalebound was canceled this week, and I probably would have cared more had I remembered what it was in the first place. Maybe if they had slapped a “Final Fantasy” in front of it we would have gotten the game in five more years. Even better, they should have slapped “Panzer Dragoon” on the front, start a Kickstarter and watch the money roll in for a game that definitely won’t make this release cycle.

I’m looking at you, Shenmue.

If I sound bitter it’s because my idea of Taco Tuesday this week was to make it rain at my local Taco Bell. No amount of chalupas or specialty Mountain Dew beverages can replace a margarita on the rocks and crunchy tortillas stuffed with actual ground beef. I’m now convinced that Taco Bell’s menu is the result of a fever dream had by the CEO’s twelve-year-old grandson after he tried one of his mom’s “special” brownies. Those were for the board meeting, Timmy.

But I’m not here to talk about my poor dietary choices or backdoor brownie boardroom meetings. I’m here to talk about January, and why January sucks for video games.

Clarification: I’m not saying that nothing good comes out in January. This month has a new, proper Resident Evil, a new Gravity Rush and a new Dragon Quest for the 3DS. OK, it’s an old Dragon Quest, but it’s like new. The problem with January is that I am not even close to having finished all of the games from the last three months.

Every year starting in September, video games get lined up like shots at a bachelorette party. Exciting at first, your head starts to swim as you get closer to the end. By the time you get to December, you’ve passed out with chunks of Final Fantasy XV stuck to your shirt. Where did it all go wrong? Who took Titanfall 2 home? Why does Call of Duty keep texting me? Then you show up to the family Christmas party the next day, nursing your hangover with a game of Picross when your aunt says, “Hey, doesn’t Resident Evil 7 come out next month?” Now, you’re no longer invited to family functions because the cat refused to get out of the way of your projectile vomiting. Aren’t drinking metaphors fun?

January tries to be the hangover cure by offering more of the same. And while some may swear by the mathematical malarkey that is two negatives cancelling each other out, others like myself try everything in vain just to stop the room from spinning. In the span of a week I went back to The Witcher, binged on Dragon Quest Builders for a weekend and finally got around to playing the new Phoenix Wright on 3DS. I started to play the new Diablo anniversary event and thought it was pretty cool until I realized it’s just Diablo 3 with an Instagram filter. Any urgency to chip away at my backlog or stick it out for one more damned seasonal event is quickly diminished by a feeling of restlessness and a nothing-is-working attitude. It’s like eating a bacon sandwich, drinking a sports team’s amount of Gatorade and taking your mom’s migraine medicine only to find you’re still dry-heaving through How I Met Your Mother reruns.

If I’m leaning too hard on the hangover metaphor it’s because I spent just as much time in my twenties drinking as I did playing video games. Both have a tendency to keep you up late into the night and leave you with the sinking feeling that you could be doing more with your life. And if you start to get that sinking feeling, with drinking or with video games, that’s when your friends will tell you that you just haven’t had enough yet.

So I sit here now, more easily able to talk about how fast food tacos are ravaging my insides than any feeling of excitement I may have for Nintendo’s Switch shenanigans. And If I have any desire to see Resident Evil 7 be a much-needed return to form, I have a much greater desire to talk to the Taco Bell manager about the likelihood of food poisoning. It’s not that the excitement isn’t there. It’s just dulled by the overwhelming number of games I tried to play last year. A real video game hangover.

P.S. Yes, I realize my video game drinking metaphor went from video games as alcoholic beverages to video games as drunken mistake-making adults and back again. I blame the inappropriate amount of high fructose corn syrup I consumed in a last minute bid to stay awake. Stay away from the sugars, kids.