You can always reload, until you can't
Most games don’t matter. The actions you play out within most games don’t have any long term impact on you as a player. Some narrative games imply that the choices you make have an impact on the world but given that the world is imaginary, does it really matter? Some RPGs force you into making decisions that change the world or your characters but… You can always press F8 and reload.
I hate to break it to you but you can’t reload in your real life. The decisions you make have consequences on the life you’ll lead and you can’t go back in time. Sometimes, I want to play games that mimic this reality.
You guessed it, I’m talking about Blood Bowl 2 again. I’ve been participating in the Reddit Blood Bowl league (REBBL) for about two years now. I’ve been coaching my necromantic team “Grr Patrol”, a bunch of undead with werewolves and Frankenstein monsters, since the beginning. They have been a force to be reckoned with for most of their existence but this season has been challenging. They ended the season with a disappointing record of one win, four draws and eight losses. I’ve decided to retire the team because I can’t compete against the other teams and coaches in my division.
The decisions that I made years ago are still having an impact on me today. I moved out of my parent’s place. I can’t complain about my family too much but I was getting a little tired of living with them and the mental health benefits of moving out were substantial. I burned out of my career in the video game industry. I changed industries and now I’m much happier not working in video games. After a years long hiatus, I got back into strength training (do you even lift bro?). It has increased my quality of life a ton by reducing the chronic pain associated to my repetitive stress injuries.
Looking back, it turns out that most of the choices I made were for the better. I can’t say the same for my Blood Bowl life. I made some questionable player development choices. My best player is dead. I have no ghouls, which are critical to any necromantic team due to their ability to carry or sack the ball, because… You guessed it, they’re all dead and it’s all my fault.
In real life, your actions have consequences, they’re not always matters of life or death, like they are in Blood Bowl, but they can be. You have the ability to make meaningful change in your life and have an impact on the world which is of your own doing. It’s disappointing to me that most games don’t reflect that. Your health regenerates, you can reload your last save, you can quit the game and play something else.
Sometimes, that’s OK. Video games are a means of escaping from real life for a lot of people. Having tough decisions to make with long term consequences in a game is counter productive for these players. But most games are made for them. This is why when I find a game that’s made for me I’m really happy about it and I can’t stop talking about it.
In Blood Bowl 2 league play, there’s no way for me to “reload my save”. If I would like to coach a new team I have to permanently retire the one I’m coaching now. I have to sit down and face the facts. This team, that I’ve spent at least a hundred hours coaching, is going away forever.
Famous game designer Sid Meier, believes that interesting games provide the player with interesting decisions to make in the moment-to-moment gameplay. Blood Bowl 2 provides the player with interesting decisions all the time because these decisions are likely to permanently impact the team and your experience coaching them. You will be stuck reaping what you sowed (the good and the bad) week after week. This is why Blood Bowl 2 is one of my favorite video games of all time.
I’m in the midst of making more interesting decisions in my own life. I’m moving out of my apartment and getting my own place. It’s scary, it’s stressful but it’s the right time for it (I’m writing this as exterminators are preparing to raid my apartment building for the day). Only time will tell if I’ve made a terrible decision… But probably not. The dice are in my favor.
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