It’s that time of year, folks—the time when my mother wants me to make her a Christmas list. I’m 23 years old, and I’m making a Christmas list. I like it, mostly because my lists rarely change. A few movies, some records, a video game or twenty, guitar stuff, and boom—a Christmas list.
NOTE: Please save any of your “Christmas is so materialistic blah blah blah” garbage for some other post. I understand why people celebrate Christmas, and I also understand that it would break my mother’s heart if I told her not to get me anything. She’s not getting anyone gifts to “buy their love”—she’s doing it because she enjoys watching her kids have fun. Deal with it.
This year, since I’m now what I’d call an active blogger, I’ve decided to share with you a bit of the process that goes into making my list, specifically the video game section. Dorky, I know, but I felt like writing about a process that will probably take me at least two hours. Enjoy.
Part I: Eye Candy
When I think about which video games I want on my Christmas list, I use my eyes first. I walk into Wal-Mart, Gamestop, or the local video game/comic store, and I eyeball the Wii cases. The stores will display new releases more prominently, and the rest of their catalog is usually in alphabetical order (which pleases a bookworm like me). If I see something I know I’ll want to read about (more on that later) I write it on my handy dandy index card—you know, one of the index cards that I always take with me, so I can make notes when I need to? Very handy.
If I see a game that could be interesting, I’ll ask to see the game so I can read the info on the back. On most games, there’s a blurb and gameplay photos. If the game holds my interest or makes me say, “Hm, that could be cool,” I’ll write it down for consideration.
Part II: Berserker Researcher
Once I have my “rough draft” made, I head to my computer. What looks pretty in stores doesn’t always translate to great gaming, so I read online reviews. My favorite site for this is IGN.com—they consistently provide quality and, in my opinion, accurate video game reviews (props should also go to EGM Magazine, but I don’t always have the cash to shell out for an issue that can only review so many games in so many pages).
If the games I have written down aren’t up to snuff with the IGN standard, I usually axe them from my list. Only in rare cases would I go against their rating; for example, I’m putting Sonic Unleashed on my list this year, even though the reviewer wasn’t completely happy with it. As I read the review, it sounded more and more like the reviewer was in love with the Sonic of old, and didn’t want to embrace the new avenue the game is trying out. In other words, the game doesn’t have any soundtrack, framerate, or story problems that would deter one from buying it, but the game is being scrutinized by a fan of the series. When this happens, I tend to try out games for myself. I’m not always right, but I’m not always wrong, either.
Part III: The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth
The last part of my video game test is a simple one; I just ask my friends what they think. This is valuable in two ways—I know the person reviewing the game, so I more or less know what they’d want from a game, and they’re right in front of me, which can be more valuable than a written review from a stranger in some cases. My friends know what games I like, so they can relate by making references to past gaming experiences (short aside: one of the best discoveries of my gaming life was realizing how good Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was, and it might not have happened had I not randomly played the game with a friend one evening). In short, they know me, I know them—it works.
And that’s it, kids, that’s how I decide what games to put on my list. I know I won’t get all of the games I write down; frankly, I wouldn’t want to, because that would mean that Mom and Dad spent way too much money. I write down a lot of games because I know Mom would freak out if I only put down two games and she couldn’t find either of them. That being said, I don’t want to fill my list with junk, as buying me a “bad game” would bother Mom as well. So, I do my homework and select plenty of quality games. This ensures that I’ll be happy with whatever Mom chooses to get me, which in turn will make her happy that she didn’t “screw up.”
A NOTE TO THE READER: Tune in on Thursday for a special guest post by someone who isn’t me! More details then.