New Year's Resolutions, 2008

Time to make a change.

So that's it. Another year over. And what have you done? If you're reading (or, indeed, writing) this, the chances are you'll have spent most of it arguing with strangers on the internet about games you haven't played yet. Just like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. So in the spirit of the New Year, perhaps it's time to make a change? Perhaps it's time to, I dunno, stop arguing with strangers on the internet about games you haven't played yet. A daunting prospect for anybody, I know, but here to help you are some ready-made resolutions for you to follow, to help make 2008 an even better year than 2007.

1. I will spend less time arguing on the internet about review scores.

Sure, arguing about review scores is one of the most entertaining things about videogames short of actually playing the things. But it's also one of the most pointless things, too. It's like arguing with the ref: you are not going to be able to change a review score by simply complaining about it (topical gag: unless you're a site advertiser, of course, boom boom!). And in any case, it doesn't actually matter whether you're able to change a review score. Because whatever review score someone else has decided to give a game, it's not going to affect your enjoyment of that game, unless you let it. So, next time you think about arguing with strangers about an arbitrary number that someone else has plucked out of the air to go at the end of their latest videogame review, try the following mental exercise: instead of slamming down your keyboard till the keys fall off, and then firing off a hastily composed forum post threatening real-life violence, simply take a deep breath and imagine that the number in question is a different one - and it can be any number you like. There. Isn't the world a better place already?

2. I will spend less time arguing on the internet full stop.

Sure, arguing on the internet is... Actually, no. Arguing on the internet is not entertaining at all. It's just dispiriting and pointless, generating an unhappy cycle of bitterness and disappointment. So stop it. You can't expect people on the internet to listen to balanced or rational argument, and you can't expect trolls not to troll. So instead of fuelling this unhappy festival of cynicism and grief, try saying something nice about a game you like, instead of saying something bad, about a game you don't like. I'm not going to argue with you about this, because you know I'm right.

3. I won't care what console is best.

Instead, I'm just going to buy all of them. Or buy one of them and be happy with it. Because really, when you think about it, they're all brilliant, aren't they? Whether it's Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii, or Uncharted on the PS3, or Halo 3 on the Xbox 360 (or whatever your favourite game is, on whatever platform it's on), they've all got something going for them, haven't they? So who cares which one's sold more units according to whichever set of numbers the console manufacturers are currently lying about? Why care about which one's got the most Blu-ray, or biggest gestural technology, or the largest internet? Just play the games and enjoy them, because they're fun.

4. I will make my mum play a videogame.

In fact, they're so much fun, why not share the love? Why not make your mum, or your dad, or your sister, or your teacher, play a game? Imagine what it would be like if everyone could make just one person who hasn't played a game play a game. The world would be a better place. There'd be fewer wars, less famine, and everyone would stop blaming everything on games. Or not. But they might enjoy it at least, so, y'know, what the heck, eh?

5. I will play a board game.

And not on Xbox Live, or my computer. I will take a board out of a box, and put all the pieces on it, and learn the rules, and play it with real-life people in a real-life room. Because, you might be surprised to learn, boardgames can be just as much fun as videogames. And if you're struggling to know where to start, start with games like Catan, or Pit, or Rapidough.

6. I will play a game I don't think I'll like.

Because, hey, you never know, you might like it. If you don't like RPGs, try to play one. If you don't like first-person shooters, try to play one. If you don't like games developed in Japan, or in America, or in Lewisham, or wherever, try one. If you've got an abiding antipathy towards games in which you repeatedly press buttons to smash things up, try to play a game in which you smash things up. Except, for this to work, you need to suspend your disbelief. Instead of spending the first hour telling yourself that you don't like the game, try telling yourself that you do. Another mental exercise to help make the world a better place.

7. I will play the games that I buy.

And not let them stack up, still in their cellophane wrapping, taking up yet more space that I don't have, because I'm too busy arguing on the internet.

8. I will walk away when a game gets difficult.

Instead of contributing to the videogame violence debate by smashing up my controllers whenever things get a little tough, I will take a deep breath and walk away. Because, yes, videogame developers are idiot know-nothings, who want to ruin my life, but I'm not going to let them. I'm not going to put any more holes in my wall, or controllers into remission. Instead I'm going to walk away, calm down, and then return and try again. Or not, actually. If a game's too difficult to enjoy, I'm not going to let it beat me. I'm going to beat it, by putting it back in its box and playing the next one. Because, really, seriously, there isn't any shame in that.

So there you are. Follow those simple resolutions and the world will be a better place next year, and your life will be a better one. Or you could just ignore all of these and carry on as you were. In which case, see you here next year, after another year of arguing with strangers about games you haven't played!

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