Hey Guys, solemn greetings this Monday evening, but my 31/31 is obviously faded away to nothing. I couldn't quite make the daily routine work, as ultimately real life got in the way. However, not all is done and lost. For my writing appetite has returned in full force, I'd just rather not be confined to a daily routine. So let's reflect on reflections, and a 31/31 that didn't quite make it through the end.

The first goal was to get back into a writing habit, and for that I was successful. I've managed to refocus my energies toward writing, and well it's been fruitful. Secondly what I learned is that writing an opinion piece everyday is extremely difficult. Call me close minded, or even unwilling to experiment with ideas, but I find video games to be a very limiting topic to discuss on a daily basis. The industry itself is extremely young in comparison to every other topic there is, and writing something that feels fresh and poignant on a daily basis was something that I wasn't quite prepared for.

Surely I was able to get some good ideas out there, I even got some great criticism from eyros2k, which is a welcome sign, but at some point in my writing I realized that the topics of video games are surprisingly lacking in depth of topics. In my 208 blogs I've covered morality in games, psychology, ethics in business, politics, and even more, and yet I couldn't wrap my head around a way to write something fresh. It seems like writing on a topic of interest would have been backsliding into previous blogs, and while some, if not most, wouldn't have noticed, the man in the mirror would have.

This is far from saying that video games are a boring topic, no they are fantastic to discuss, it's just that from a completely honest stand point I find their existence lacking in what I tend to enjoy talking about. This is worded awkwardly, but when I start to look at many opinion pieces on any site, here or elsewhere I start to see a trend, and one that just feels shallow. How many times a day have you seen the following headline " x Reasons Why Y is ___" Or "X Games That ___" This is due to the fact that video games are terrible conversation starters on anything remotely relevant on today's society.

Save for the occasional video game violence posts, or anything else along the lines of morality and ethical treatment of people within (without as context), video games tend to just be devoid of an ability to truly speak on the nature of man. I recall a conversation I had with Braden on his podcast regarding The Walking Dead, where Telltale had thought the split in player choices would be 50/50, and when in actuality it was somewhere around 70/30. We had mentioned how you couldn't assume what people would do because people are completely different then statistics.

I then recall conversations around the Mass Effect 3 launch, where people mentioned separate Paragon and separate Renegade playthroughs. While this seems entirely off base, bear with this thought, what is the purpose of a morality system in a game, if the only thing that changes is how events play out? Seems confusing, and it is, because it's written awkwardly, but bear with me once again as I dissect that statement.

Morality, our compass or guideline to right and wrong, is the defining factor for how we choose to react in events. In video games this scale is often used to choose which ending you get, or which options are present to you in dialog trees and further actions. When you tie these into video games you would naturally expect gamers to be split down the middle relatively evenly, because that's the way you are inclined to think about two choices. Heck it even seems that in the case of games like Mass Effect this has supposedly happened with every single player as conversations have pointed to me, from eavesdropping, that two separate moral playthroughs were completed per player.

So instead of getting some kind of insight on our nature as human, we instead have a situation where people will pretend to be one way or the other, in the sake of reward. Hmm. Is there something we can say about the human condition? Are we inherently evil? Or are we inherently driven towards reward?

Reward? Evil? Reward? Evil? And where does the distinction between the two lie? Am I a bad person because I turned Tali's dad in in Mass Effect 2? Am I good person because I saved the galaxy when no one else could or would? What makes me human? Is it the choices I make? Or is it the lessons learned?

Ultimately I failed the 31/31 not because life got overly stressful or because I couldn't handle it, I failed my 31/31 because I wanted to experience more than trying to decide what way I could stretch video games beyond their expected level of creation. I've said my share on what they offer me. But ultimately in a world where the medium has become stagnant on new ideas of late, and news becoming incredibly more and more sterilized to avoid controversy of any kind, I'd say that I failed to understand that a hobby sometimes is just that. It's fun to write about, it's fun to talk about, and I enjoy following it, but trying to come up with some grand poetic piece that is both poignant and astute is absurd on a daily basis.

I applaud everyone who has finished a 31/31 but I'm sorry to say the writing is as they say "on the wall" and video games need to mature like a fine wine. Because I keep finding myself reading the same thing over and over again, just add some new paint, slop in some newer games, and pray that no one else notices.

Good Night GIO, And Good Luck. I'll be Reading and Posting When The Time Is Right.

Nick Schneider