I have been telling people for years that I am not a gamer. They say “Yes, you are. You play all the time!” But, I don’t know, I feel like being called a gamer is a badge I didn’t earn. Sure, I play Star Wars: The Old Republic like it’s the key to the afterlife, but other than that, I got nothin’, nada, zip, zilch. I have tried to earn my gamer badge, really I have. I gave World of Warcraft a whirl, I tried Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2, Wildstar, to name a few. They all have their merits and some are quite good at what they do, but for me, only SWTOR stuck. And before you say, well that’s just because it’s Star Wars, I have also tried LEGO Star Wars, Star Wars Battlefront, TIE Fighter, The Force Unleashed, Galaxy of Heroes, Star Wars Uprising, and more. SWTOR has pretty much been the only game in town for me for me since the moment I saw it. Maybe because it was my first love, and no one else could measure up. Maybe because it’s all I needed for a while.
But recently I’ve found that I am slowly starting to warm up to some other games. Maybe trying all those titles eventually rubbed off, who knows? It started with an innocent foray into Sims 4, then Mass Effect, then Tomb Raider and now I have a growing library on Origin and Steam and I am as hyped and as gamer-ready for Andromeda as anyone on my Twitter feed. And it’s kinda fun.
I’m still playing a lot of SWTOR, oh, heavens yes -it’s the BEST- but it’s really neat to have options for different moods. When I am feeling like zoning out and using the region of my brain usually engaged only by the outfit designer in The Old Republic, I can play Sims. If I want to do some good solo story and feel like a BAMF Sigourney Weaver, it’s Mass Effect time. The Indiana Jones wannabe in me is super into Tomb Raider, and so on.
I also think that playing other games is helping me understand what goes into making SWTOR the perfect game for me:
- Characters crafted in such a way as to create in me a sense of investment and connection
- Complex, quality storylines with NPC characters I can sink my teeth into
- Relationships with companions and other story characters
- Voice-acted cutscenes with an immersive cinematic experience
- Good dialogue and believable character motivation
- Outcomes at least partly based on my own decisions, with some branching story
- Lore that builds and enhances an interesting, complex world
- Pleasing graphics and lushly rendered environments
- Interesting and visually striking combat animations
- Original and varied boss mechanics requiring organized team effort and strategy
- A variety of mission types and different paths to progression
- Fun achievements and titles
- A sense of humor
- A good range of customization options to make my character unique
- Easy-to-learn mechanics with increasing difficulty as I master the basics
- An intuitive user interface, helpful maps and tooltips
- The ability to play with others or on my own as mood suits
- Well-maintained to minimize technical issues, downtimes, etc.
- A community of players to interact with and form friendships among both inside and outside the game
- Romance, adventure, and a sense of a time and place that either makes me feel happily nostalgic or leads me to new and exciting frontiers
No game is going to nail every single one of those 10/10 but SWTOR is perfect in many and very high in most of the features I listed. I’m not saying that these are everyone’s priorities but they are mine, so SWTOR will probably always be my favorite.
There is a quote that really resonated with me from the first time I heard it: “I’m not a gamer because I don’t have a life, I’m a gamer because I choose to have many.” SWTOR has made me feel like this for five years. And now, thanks to my growing appreciation of other game titles, old and new, I can have even more lives. So, now that I think about it, maybe I am a gamer, after all.