How a night in Prague reignited my gaming passion – Reader's Feature

A reader explains how he almost became a lapsed gamer but was saved by XCOM, Bloodborne, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

I wrote to GC a few years back bemoaning the possibility that I had fallen out of love with gaming. Nothing was floating my boat anymore. I tried to rationalise what was happening: tiredness, job related stress, added responsibilities, the growing demands of family life, etc. Either way, my interest in the medium was slowly beginning to wane.

This bothered me. Gaming had played a significant role in my life, never an obsession but certainly a meaningful companion. When I wrote the letter, I was eagerly anticipating the release of Super Mario Odyssey. If any game could reignite my passion, surely it was the latest mainline entry in the Mario series. After all, I still get goosebumps thinking about how Super Mario 64 made feel all those years ago: excitement at what was now possible, and the potential of video games finally being realised.

But no. Sure, Odyssey was fine, I liked it. Everything was right, occasional misstep aside (Yes, snow-themed level, I’m looking at your generic, uninspired face…). But the connection wasn’t there. I admired it objectively, but it didn’t resonate.

Truth is, the issue lay with me. I’d changed. My frame of reference was different. I was expecting to feel the same way I did at 12, that giddy excitement. In essence, I was looking for something that no longer existed. This isn’t a comment on or validation of the lazy and, in my opinion, quite erroneous suggestion that the Mario series is inherently childish or something you grow out of.

Nevertheless, my maturing sensibilities were suddenly longing for adult gaming experiences with moody, conflicted characters and ambitious storylines. I had to acknowledge that I was a different person now and, perhaps not unreasonably, I was looking for something different in the games I played.

Step forward, XCOM 2, Inside, Bloodborne and, slightly sheepishly, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

Although the other titles I’ve mentioned are arguably superior and contributed equally to my gaming renaissance, I wanted to focus on Mankind Divided, as it seems sadly neglected and undervalued. Sometimes the source that sparks your reconnection can come from the most unassuming and unexpected place.

I’d tried the game a couple of times previously, having enjoyed the other entries in the series, but gave up early on; a stodgy tutorial and clunky controls too much to bear as I entered my fourth decade. But something drew me back, the nagging feeling that there was something worthwhile lurking beneath the uninviting exterior. And I was right.

The game slowly got its hooks into me: the complexity of its environments, the freedom in how you could approach missions and perhaps most important to me, the world that housed these elements. Prague felt like a living, breathing, slightly grubby, place. Moreover, I wanted to spend time in it; really breathe in its atmosphere.

Before I knew it, I’d got the bug again. Not the same feeling, no, but just as valid, just as real. So, if you ever feel that gaming is losing its pull, maybe take a step back, reassess the situation and look at what’s really going on. Gaming keeps moving, you keep moving. Maybe the love has not gone, it just needs a romantic weekend spent in the sewers of a futuristic European city looking for accessible air vents. It worked for me.

By reader Mark Fitz

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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