Wednesday, 13 May 2015

So why do I still love Dust 514?

I honestly couldn't tell you in a simple sentence.

Perhaps a personal history lesson might be the best way, detailing via increasingly tedious minutia the  personal changes in my gaming life? But the simple truth about such details is that their peak level of interest is usually only shared with a demographic of one.

Maybe an examination of the games more singular mechanics, unique in the FPS market could offer illumination to the uninitiated... but that is likely to be an emotionally bereft composition to read through.

Or possibly an overarching essay on the games history could present to you, the reader, an understanding as to the vice like grip the game still holds over me?

However, any one of these approaches, singular or in combination, are only ever going to succeed in getting no further than the surface gloss.

And none would give you a straight answer to the question posed in the title of todays missive, why do I still love Dust 514?

It's a question that I've asked myself a lot in recent months. Not because I need to find a justification as to the time and energy I spend on it, my enjoyment of doing so is more than enough recompense for that kind of expenditure.

No, Ive asked myself that question because after two years of performing my self imposed role as an instructor for the game, my personal sense of fulfilment in the helping of others understand the game remains as strong now as it has ever been, perhaps even more so.

Yesterdays batch of new players joining DUST University wasn't noticeably different from the thousands of others that I've processed. They were still the usual mix of brand new Merc's with no employment history, freshly created that same day, returning players having had a break from the game and wanting to brush up on their skills or find out about new features that have arrived since they left.

There are even many vets of the game just wishing to pop in for a few weeks or days wanting to set up a few squads and help out for a while.

But while going through the applicants, sorting them out alphabetically and sending them the 40 emails I send to all new members detailing the game I had an epiphany. I must've send by now close to 300,000 emails to players over the past two years. It's a process that is now muscle memory, practised to level of precision that only that particular quirk of human physiology can provide. And yet my personal sense of satisfaction in helping these people through the simple action of imparting knowledge, remains as strong now as it has ever been.

And there perhaps is the key to my still loving this game. It is the human connection that those that play it share both in the game directly and in the community that has sprung up around it. It's a connection to the game that no amount of marketing budget can provide and no amount of quirky bugs within it can diminish.

It's a connection that other games attempt to claim they have with their player base but these are simply fans of a product in comparison to the bond shared by those playing Dust 514, a bond unique in the tidal mass of FPS games out there.

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