I’m in an incredibly privileged position, I know that. Sure, I was born in a country that speaks English, I have two parents who love me, I’m white, all that usual stuff. But also, I’m a games journalist. Video games are one of the most expensive pieces of media to buy regularly, and publishers email me every day with free games. Some big, some small, some medium sized. Good, bad, indie, triple-A, VR, RPG, FPS, TRPG, JRPG, CRPG, ARPG, all the letters. So I’m well placed to say to you - go find a game.
It’s not the full picture to say that video game journalists just laze around playing video games all day, but undeniably we have far more access to video games than the regular player. There are games I’ve only played because a publisher sent them my way - some big, some… look I’m not gonna do the whole list again, okay? However, I would argue the real privilege comes not from getting these games, but from discovering them.
I was thinking about my most anticipated games for the rest of the year, and I realised that were it not for my profession, I probably wouldn’t have heard of them. Spider-Man 2 is up there, but the rest are much smaller. Goodbye Volcano High has been in a few PlayStation State of Play updates, but after that we’re talking games I only know about because I’ve been sent emails about them or have otherwise discovered through the course of doing the parts of my job which aren’t lazing around playing video games.
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk, American Arcadia, Venba, This Bed We Made, Stray Gods… these are all games I might not have heard of, and certainly wouldn’t care about, if a big sign for them hadn’t been held up in my face. These games aren’t going to be expensive. I’m going to be able to play them all regardless of whether I’m part of TheGamer’s coverage plans for them or whether I have to fork out for them myself.
So, here is my challenge to you. Go onto Steam, or whatever platform you use to buy games. I can’t put all of them in the headline. Sorry, Apple Arcade. No hard feelings, Microsoft Store. Anyway, you go wherever you buy games, and set the price to something reasonable. Something you won’t miss. I’m not talking about $50 purchases here. If you’ve got Game Pass, you can even do it for free.
Once all that’s sorted, start looking for a game. Any game you haven’t heard of before. A game that stands out to you, for whatever reason. A screenshot that excites you. A trailer that makes you feel something. A character who reminds you of someone. The reason doesn’t matter, only that there is one.
Then, download it. Play it. Love it. Or hate it! That’s fine too. Then do it again. Don’t go wild now - if you’ve been looking forward to Starfield for years, don’t do this the day before Starfield. Big games are great too. But we all know the big games. They put them on buses. These small games that you only discover by looking can be some of the most personal, rewarding experiences out there, and we should seek them out.
Yeah, you could have done this at any time, but you didn’t. None of us do. I don’t even do this myself, it’s just the closest I can get to recreating for you the luck that comes with games falling into your laps. The Artful Escape, Citizen Sleeper, The Forgotten City, Neon White, Coffee Talk, Call of the Sea, Paranormasight, and Umurangi Generation are just a handful of games I’ve only played because publishers threw them at mine or my colleagues’ faces.
They’d all be contenders for my top ten games of the past few years, and I very easily could have missed them. In any other job, I would have. If you want to avoid the same problem, all you have to do is look.