For the past several years, it’s happened without fail. April comes round and BAM! life kicks again into high gear after a slow, cold winter. In and among all the wonderful chaos that takes up my springs, summers, and autumns, gaming goes waaaay down on the priority list. And even though I know this change comes every year, it’s not one to which I look forward, especially when Spring usually brings round a crop of new and exciting games. Here’s a post I wrote for Geek Force Network in which I further pondered this yearly event, as well as my possible future with games.
Another year, another birthday – that’s life. There’s no avoiding it; it just happens. A certain day goes by and poof!, suddenly you’re one whole year older than the day before. My birthday is still several months away, but it’s an unsettling one with terrible thoughts of MID-LIFE CRISIS AHEAD looming in the back of my mind. But throwing personal messes aside, this year has really had me questioning my future with video games. Not questioning their perceptual existence in my life but questioning the role that they will fulfill in the future.
Here’s the thing: I’m not as singularly-focus, strong-willed, or mindfully dexterous now as I was in my twenties. Back then, when I was playing games nearly every day for an hour or two, that’s ALL I was doing during those hours. I was fully absorbed in the games because I didn’t need to think of much else. As long as the rent was paid and I had enough money to by food, life was good. Things weren’t complicated. Games gave me a chance to really delve into a story or time to really learn a special set of moves. When I was playing games then, everything else in life fell away. I used games to craft my ability to focus on getting a task or group of tasks done. Games helped me become goal-oriented and shifted my mindset toward the here and now rather than the far off future.
Life today is nowhere near as simple.
Now-a-days, life is very fragmented and my focus is frequently torn in many directions all at once. I can’t multitask to save my life, and when I’m trying to hone in on finishing a single task, other needs constantly poke at my sides. I’d call games my “escape” if that were really true, but there’s no escaping the distractions. And if anything, games now are little more than another diversion, albeit the fun kind. I use games now to take my mind off of everything else, which, admittedly, sometimes comes at the price of putting off things that absolutely need to get done.
But wait!, you decry. Everyone deserves their entertainments! There’s no more crime in playing two hours of South Park: The Stick of Truth than there is in watching a two hour movie! And you are correct. We all not only deserve but require downtime in life to help recharge. Unfortunately, when the daily grind turns into utter exhaustion, more often than not these days, I find that I want to spend my downtime sleeping rather than doing something productive like
playing a video game cleaning out the garage. Honestly, playing a game for more than an hour lately feels so incredibly indulgent that I can’t help but feel guilty afterwards. I mean, there’s a little bit of accomplishment in there, but mostly just guilt. That’s not to say I’m going to stop, because the life of a noble monk is not a life for plebeian me, but I am very aware that the role of games in my life has changed quite vividly in recent years.
Which brings me to the future thinking alluded to in the title of this blog post. Games then were my grounding force. Games now are mostly pleasant diversions from life’s toils. Games in the future will be…? If only I knew. I’d like to honestly think that they’ll come back round to being fundamental, but I’ve really no idea. Undoubtedly and in far-away times, I plan to join the ranks of senior citizens who play video games, and maybe they’ll help me stay spry and lucid. Maybe they’ll propel activity and new interests. Or maybe, just maybe, with extra time on my hands and fewer cares in the world (or so I’d like to think), I’ll be playing video games just for fun.