I played a heap of them when the kids were younger, and still think of GTA IV as one of the greatest narratives I’ve ever enjoyed.
We had three consoles in the house back then. I somehow slipped them in on the back end of the renovation, but at some point I found I couldn’t justify the 200 hours needed to properly complete a big open world game like Grand Theft Auto. Probably when I started tracking my writing time and realised the first draft of a novel took only 160 hours by comparison.
It felt wrong blowing that sort of time on a game. But, I dunno. I dipped back into Edge magazine the other day for the first time in years and it reminded me of just how good some of the writing about games can be. It was something I tried to do a couple of times at the Herald, and I think I pulled it off. But again, hundreds of hours.
I don’t even know when I’d have time to play a couple of easy tutorial levels now. I can’t justify day time play, and most nights of the week I’m busy with other stuff, one way or another.
This letter in Edge, from a tired, frustrated gamer dad, really spoke to me. It’s about how much better Assassin’s Creed is for tired, frustrated gamer dads, than the infuriating hotness of Elden Ring.
Instead of bizarre and oblique lore that sounds like the mad mutterings of an opium addict, you get a clear story, good voice acting, and a world that draws credibly on real historical sources. Instead of gloomy rain-soaked landscapes, you get sumptuous, inviting vistas of lush oases and sprawling beautiful cities teeming with life. As you walk around, you are enveloped by the sights and sounds of ancient Greece or Egypt. Instead of an almost unusable UI, Byzantine levelling and a baffling crafting system, you get clear, user-friendly menus and well-thought-out level progression. Elden Ring says, “You see that mountain over there? You can climb it and then immediately get one-shot killed by an angry demon the size of a house 86 times until your thumbs bleed.” Assassin’s Creed says, “Hey, tired dads, we know you might no longer have the reactions of a fighter pilot. Take a stroll up that mountain, watch the sun go down over olive groves, take out a bunch of bandits and feel good, for just 15 minutes in your tired dad life. You’ve earned it.” So, let me put a metaphorical, non-tentacled arm around you, and let’s walk together into that bright, new 4K dawn. Here’s to the future. Here’s to Assassin’s Creed.
I played some of the earlier ACs and do recall it was restful to simply hang out the world. A bit like riding your horse through Red Dead Redemption, or indulging in a little pointless vehicular homicide in GTA. There is an Xbox in the house, a new one too. But that’s in Thomas’s room and I don’t want to brave that pit of horrors. So I’d have to get a new one for the TV room if I was going try playing again.
Or, you know, I could get back to work.
Yep, and then I discovered GOG and thought I could go back to the episode/mission-based games of the 90s I used to love, crappy VGA graphics and all, but I am still too busy...
I have a 12 year old and 10 year old and literally just started playing my first assassins creed game today and loved it for all the reasons you say above. I have been playing slay the spire which is a card game on Xbox and also allows quicker games. It’s very satisfying ambling around on a horse in Ancient Greece.
The Nintendo Switch has been a lifeline for this tired dad. Pick it up, have a game load in seconds, just where you left off, and I can take it into another room so the kids don’t hear me slaughtering freaks in Bioshock.
The whole point of pointless vehicular homicide was to get the cops chasing you so you could try and outrun them, therefore not pointless.
Have spent way too much time playing Halo. Sniping a Brute with a head shot?
I still make time for gaming every week. It is house lore / law here. 'Twas so before the great union and 'tis so now. But I do make sure to hold up the rest of the domestic bargain.
Seriously, gaming has been of great solace to me over the years, particularly during the last couple.
Get that pomodoro out - 30 minutes of game time a day. That's how I ended up beating Elden Ring - just chip away every day.
I'm about to show my age but I got into gaming via my older brother via the Sierra Quest games (Police Quest was my favourite), and then got older and forgot about gaming for a bit until I found, you guessed it, Assassin's Creed. That franchise has probably done more for turning history nerds into gamers than anything else.
I've diligently worked my way through the entire franchise until Syndicate, at which point I had to wait for Origins, and then, like you, found myself too busy to game, and THEN discovered that my beloved gaming laptop was too old and too slow to run Origins, and now I'm stuck in a limbo of saying to myself that I must really invest in a new desktop gaming rig, while not having the time to go shopping for one, let alone actually do any gaming. And then pandemic shortages etc etc etc. But one day, soon, I will get back into gaming, I promise myself.
When I started my current job literally weeks before the pandemic hit, I deeply impressed a little squad of gamers that I was assigned to sit with, who had noticed my Assassin's Creed phone case and wanted to know if I was an XBox or PS gamer, since we had 2 of each in our pod of desks and were looking for a tie breaker to decide the superior console.
"PC..." I informed them smugly.
If you want to get back into gaming, AC Origins has an "education" function where you can literally just wander around ancient Egypt checking out the sights without worrying about getting murdered or being restricted because you have to complete a quest. For a time poor history nerd I feel that would be incredibly soothing and satisfying.