The first thing anyone says in Edith Wharton’s 1924 novella “New Year’s Day” is “she was bad…always.” Though nothing I do will intrigue as much as Lizzie Hazeldean appalling Wharton’s fictionalized New York high society with her affair, “running out of the Fifth Avenue Hotel on New Year’s day with all those dressed-up women,” I’ve taken the simplicity of that first appalled statement to heart—I see myself as bad, always, so I usually avoid making New Year’s resolutions.
But, you know, video games don’t make me feel nearly as existential, so I’ll make an exception.
Generally, in my winding path to emotional growth, I set myself a shifting standard and accept that I’ll always fall short of my highest expectations, as humans tend to do. New Year’s resolutions—deciding on major life changes mainly because it’s January—usually feel like living based on whim, it can be unstable and soon unenthusiastic. I don’t like boxing myself in with a new, strict exercise regime or unreasonable plan to completely invert my personality just because I’ve realized, during another ice-dusted winter, that we’re all dying.
Yeah. I get morose about winter because I’m Slavic. But video games, offering us infinite lives and worlds to inhabit, help me take resolutions less seriously. And my main video game resolution is to use them to help me take myself less seriously, too.
Defying all logic, common sense, and the will of God, probably, I will resolve to play more online multiplayer games with random people…using voice chat.
I know. But random people create my gaming Achilles heel. I love Dead by Daylight and fighting games like Guilty Gear Strive, but I rarely play them because I am thoroughly terrified of other people. Even without using any chat functions, I have paralyzing gamer stage fright—teabagging clips on YouTube do not help. Neither does having a very high-pitched girl voice, which, in online gaming, can frustratingly lead to gender-based harassment.
But recently, I’ve been asking myself why I care. Would a 15-year-old Warzone player giggling at me about “sandwiches” and “the kitchen” really shake and crush my core like a Coke can? No, I don’t think it would.
I don’t want to let momentary discomfort keep me from games I have fun playing anymore, so in 2023, I’ll try to scale the wall I’ve built around multiplayers. I’ll make an effort to talk and game with weirdos online and embrace the possibility that I’ll get flustered, or make a mistake, or need to block someone.
Kotaku staff writer Zack Zwiezen told me his gaming New Year’s resolution is the perennial one, “Stop buying games you don’t finish.” Staff writer Levi Winslow echoed this and added another I’d like to steal too—“play more indie games.” Famous fashion police officer and Kotaku senior editor Alyssa Mercante has also vowed, benevolently, to play Warzone with me and “terrorize the boys.”
More than I think about that first line of “New Year’s Day,” the final lines of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Archaic Torso of Apollo” pop into my head—“for here there is no place / that does not see you. You must change your life.” It’s so sudden and shocking, the immediacy of those lines. I thought we were talking about a statue, Rilke, and now you’re telling me I must change my life?
My desire for statuesque sameness often fights with my yearly impulse to start again. It feels like, for our whole lives, we’re chipping at stone waiting for the day its shape will start to make sense to us. It might never come—all we have is this immovable rock. But we can’t ignore the tools in our hands, either, can we?
So, tell me, do you like making New Year’s resolutions? What are some of your video game resolutions? Does this time of year make you feel existential, too? Let me know, and have a very happy New Year.