An Introduction: How To Write About Shelves (Or Why I Don't Play Video Games)

Being an adult is fucking awesome.  Many of us pine for the days when we were children and had fewer responsibilities and all the time in the world to imagine, play, and create.  Not me.  Sure, there are times when I wish I didn’t have to go to work, pay my bills, or make logical decisions, but the pros of being an adult far outweigh the cons.  In this modern sci-fi wonderland, I can order candy on my phone and have it shipped to my house.  That alone would blow the mind of six year old me.  I don’t have to worry about bullies.  Or cliques.  The one great secret that adults keep from children is that nothing in high school is important.  (Aside from education.  That’s kind of important.)  The fads, the gossip, the assholes who locked you in the bathroom.  Once you’ve graduated you realize that there’s this massive other world out there that doesn’t care about your past life.  There’s only one thing that makes me jealous of my younger self.  That kid played an absurd number of video games.

Having a full time job and consistently working overtime dramatically reduces the time I have to game.  I just can’t keep up and I feel like I’m being left behind.  I also don’t write as much as I should.  Smashing those two problems together in the Large Hadron Collider of my mind, I came up with Shelved Games.  This website is a new and exciting endeavour for myself, one that has been gestating at the back of my mind for months.  It is an experiment that will hopefully serve two purposes:  the first, as an outlet to get me writing more and to hopefully develop the skills necessary to make myself a competent writer, and the second, but probably the most important of all, is to get me playing more terrific games that I’ve missed over the last few years.  Video games have been a constant in my life since the age of six.  They’re a great form of entertainment and a way to escape the responsibilities and pressures of the real world, but they’re also a medium to discover new and exciting types of storytelling.  That’s what keeps me coming back: the stories.  How does a game go about telling its story?  What other mediums does it borrow from?  Does it hit you over the head with it?  Or is it more subtle?  Lying underneath the polygons, systems, and mechanics.  Just waiting to be discovered.

None of my backlog of games are actually on any sort of physical shelf.  I’m not a dinosaur.  The name ‘Shelved Games’ serves the purpose of getting across a mental image.  The shelf we all used to have.  Either tucked into our old entertainment cabinets underneath an abnormally large CRT TV or near the bottom of a bookcase that our parents allowed us to use as long as we didn’t mix up the encyclopedias.  An assortment of old Nintendo, Game Boy, and Sega cartridges meticulously ordered and reordered.

Some gamers still have this shelf today.  It’s probably mixed in with your Sopranos DVD’s and your LaserDisc copy of Highlander.  Most, though, have replaced it with a digital shelf.  Steam Library.  Xbox Live Arcade.  Playstation Plus.  It seems that every few weeks we have another way to access our favourite games and collections as technologies evolve.  I recently took my first crack at building a gaming PC, which was exciting and nerve wracking in its own right, so the majority of the titles that I’ll be exploring will be on PC.  Valve’s digital gaming platform and storefront, Steam, has caused a resurgence in gaming on the PC, but at the same time its frequent sales of premium software is the exact reason I now have a “pile of shame”.  I suppose having access to a multitude of great games and at great prices is an amazing problem to have.  Even if it means missing out on some true gems.  That won’t stop me from trying to play them all, though.

The writing that I intend to put up on the site (hopefully in a timely manner), won’t specifically focus on game reviews or news or rumours, but on my own experiences with the games I play and how these interactions affect me personally.  There won’t be any scores.  Sorry to disappoint, but you’re going to have to read the entirety of a post to discern for yourself whether you agree with my opinions.  

I hope to stay on top of this project and will strive to post to Shelved Games as frequently as possible, aiming for deadlines every week or two.  No promises though.  Unfortunately video games don’t pay the bills.  Along with written pieces, I aim to be active on my Twitch live-stream channel so that you can experience some of these great games with me as I gather my thoughts about them.  

Most importantly, I want to hear from you.  If you have questions, critiques, comments, or ideas please feel free to share them with me.  The more feedback that I receive about this endeavour, the better the site will become, so don’t hesitate to chime in.  Do you want to see longer and more in depth opinions?  Or maybe more frequent but shorter snippets examining what I’m playing?  More live streaming on Twitch? Check out the About section to find all the ways to get in touch.  You can follow me and Shelved Games on Twitter to find out when new content is going up and when I’ll be live-streaming.

So, if you’re ready, let’s go take a look at what’s on the shelf.