Why I Stopped Playing Video Games
That was definitely a title I never thought I would write. I have been a gamer from the first time I laid my hands on that little red plastic gun that could kill 8-bit ducks bouncing around against the borders of my cousin's TV screen. Duck Hunt was my first love. I didn't have much coordination back then, so the best I could do was put the muzzle of the gun against the TV screen, congratulating myself for being so clever.
Gaming grew with me.
At age 11, I convinced my parents that spending their frequent renter points from the Warehouse video store on a Sega Genesis was exactly the right choice. I remember feeling the disappointment after realizing that the Vectorman 3D holographic green cartridge cost $60, and my elation at finding it in my stocking a few weeks later. In middle school I cried when Aerith died. In high school I combed the crevices of Liberty City, searching for levitating white packages. I remember LAN parties in family living rooms. Cords and wires would snake through the house, over the couch, making a suspension bridge in the hallway, and streaking upstairs to the bedroom. In college, all night Halo games hid flirtation with that cute girl from the senior class.
But after getting a job, things began to change.
I moved across the country for work and was facing a steep learning curve, both in and out of the office. It was an exciting time, the beginning of the internet as we know it today; fast, cheap, social, and infinite. Life got complicated.
But, what was the final nail in my gaming life's coffin?
Maybe it was the transience. I never planned on living so far from home for so long. Who wants to move a flat screen every year?
Maybe it was the money. I had other ideas for the small fortune I could save not buying a next gen console, accessories, games, subscriptions, and a decent TV to play on.
Maybe it was the job. I worked night and day. I had less time to dream or less desire to add additional challenge to my life. I was too busy to carry my desire for a new game like I once did. After a few months, my interest would evaporate.
Maybe it was the frequent disappointment. The games could never live up to the fantasy I had created. I could never do as much in their world as I wanted to do, even when I could do nearly anything.
Maybe it was the loss of value. I remember how excited I felt when I downloaded my first seven Humble Bundle games. I remember how excessive it felt downloading my thirtieth Humble Bundle game and realizing I hadn't yet played the first. I'm guilty of game hoarding.
Maybe it was all of the above.
For whatever reason, I realized that I was missing out on the best video game ever: real life. Seeking heroic challenges, meeting interesting people, solving complicated problems, traveling the world, and writing down my deeds are my games now. And it feels really good.
I still love games. I always will. One day my children will laugh at me for blowing into that palm-sized grey plastic cartridge. But, at least for now, my thumbs will spend most of their time at the spacebar.Originally Published Jun. 6th 2013