I’ve come to realize in my adult life that I don’t have the time like I used to for video games. Work, school, kids, wife, gym, dog, yard, car, bills, sleep and Netflix all get in the way of my beloved hobby that once dominated more hours than anything else. In the last year I’ve put on 25 pounds of good weight, gotten a better job and started working towards my degree. All that seems great, but in the back of my mind I wonder what will become of my gaming? This is something that has been a part of me since I was 5 or so, I've been a gamer longer than I've been anything else (Marine, Married, Father, Person with a job, person without a job-shit happens, guy who writes on website, guy who doesn't write on website because he does/doesn't have a job, and guy who does laundry-shit happens).
During the first week at my new job, I was introduced to a lot of people at once. Most of them I instantly forgot, but as I worked with folks more often I relearned names (thank you, security badges!) and got to know some of them a little better. I gleefully mentioned the E3 Kingdom Hearts 3 announcement as soon as I read it at my desk, and one co-worker looked at me funny. I explained to him it was a video game thing, and he said something that I don’t think I can forget:
“I played video games as a kid, but then I just grew up I guess.”
Grew…up…? Was he implying that growing up was a process I still needed to finish doing? Are video games something only for children? Of course not, I said to myself, why does almost every game have language and violence not suitable for kids if that was the intended audience? The average gamer age, I read somewhere, is in the 20’s. Hard to believe that my 20’s are about a year and some change from being over, but I don’t think that will affect my gamer status. To my co-worker, I asked what he did in his free time and he began a confusing, ninja-fast diatribe about how awesome anime is. I pegged him right as being like me, a nerd, just misjudged the type of nerd. As he inquired about my anime knowledge, I am not ashamed to reply that I only really know Princess Mononoke and most variations of Dragon Ball. He calls me a noob and begins to explain every anime he considers to be top quality, and I wonder how many of them he only likes because they show the obligatory Anime schoolgirl panty-flashing and boob-bouncing. I also wonder where it is I am going to move my desk to get away from this fucking nerd. It’s cool if you like anime, but you must realize that it isn’t for everyone and to shut the hell up about it.
The fact remained that I hadn’t been playing games nearly as often as I once had, and that didn’t sit well with me; I decided to investigate further. There is a severe difference between someone who drinks socially and an alcoholic, so why would it not be possible for me to consume in moderation and be more of a casual gamer? My question was answered by none other than…myself: Because, idiot, how could you possibly get really immersed in some game if you are always watching the clock to make sure you don’t miss fulfilling some other responsibility? Truer words are not oft spoken, Inner Monologue. It is hard to drink socially when all you really want to do is get completely tanked and wake up next to the Giana sisters. Escapism, not achievement, is the real purpose of my gaming hobby and I do find it difficult lately to really immerse myself in a game when there are so many other things on my plate.
The key, as some of you might have been screaming at your computers for the last 3 paragraphs, is proper time management. I found that if I wake up earlier, I get more stuff done and that allows for more time later. If I do my schoolwork at my job when I can, that leaves more time later. Maybe not that same day, mind you, but at least two nights a week I will find myself with no responsibilities and the opportunity to completely engulf myself in the deadly tropical paradise of Far Cry 3 or the always-on-the-brink-of-doom home base of the X-Com Project. Hell, if our schedules align I’ll even play some Black Ops II zombies with my brother. I’m not at the point where I can schedule my gaming and have people rely on me to be online for multiplayer or anything, but slowly I am building back what once was. I really want to dive into The Last of Us, I really want to play the Kingdom Hearts HD refresh that is coming to PS3, and there is nothing more than excitement that I feel when I think about the new X-Com shooter coming out. Gradually, I am getting back into gaming and all of its glory. I will see the sights, I will hear the sounds, and I will revisit all of the greats once again (Gonna play Borderlands 2, Baldur's Gate, and Fallout 3 when I'm out of town). Slowly, I am finding my Reasons for Replay.