Life, The Universe, And Gaming: Core Gamer Retirement
Or: The Whims And Woes Of A Core Gamer.
Why do we hate the ones we love? Why do we treat them with animosity and disdain, then turn around and claim to cherish them? What is it about us as humans that makes us act this way? When we would profess adoration of the same people we cannot go a day without showering in contempt. Is it because we associate them so closely with ourselves that our base insecurities become attached to them, and our self-hatred is reflected onto them as a result? Perhaps we are so comfortable around them that we stop caring about how they feel, the way we don’t care about how we feel unless external forces act on us. Maybe that’s why we can remain entirely silent right next to a loved one and then wonder what they are talking about when they say we treat them as if they’re not even there. We are a hurtful species.
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I’ve recently been doing a lot of thinking about my gaming. Which is to say, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my gaming once was, and what it is now. I think it was a few columns back when I mentioned it in passing, but of late I have not been able to get in a lot of gaming time, at all, whatsoever. Last year, around this time, I averaged two to four hours of gaming per night on week-nights, with a fair bit more over the weekend. That amounts to some twenty-plus hours a week of gaming. There were various factors in play, including university, eGamer of course, and social interaction (although having just come out of, let’s call it a commitment, I did find far more time to myself than I otherwise would have) but for the most part I managed to get an adequate number of hours of gaming in and survive all other exertions without much headache. Except for actual headaches.
This year it’s basically the same factors in play, however it’s the amounts of each that have really affected my gaming. I now spend more time at university, owing to a different travelling routine. This affords me far less time at home, some of which must be dedicated to eGamer and some of which must go to university work which has increased this year. The result of these extra exertions means that some days leave me with barely a half hour to myself, and that’s really not enough time for games. I don’t know how the working class manages it.
Most recently, I had the most jarringly shocking thought since that time I imagined myself in a threesome with Jim Sterling and Claudia Black (I joke… it wasn’t that shocking). I considered the possibility that I was over games, that I could go the rest of the year (and subsequent follow-up years) playing barely anything and I would be fine; after all, I was so busy doing other things that it made logical sense to skim on something, and why not my most expensive hobby, which consumes the most time of anything I do, with arguably the least reward for me at this point in my life?
And then I slapped myself.
Right now I like to think that I do quite a bit. Too much, some might argue. My university, eGamer and travelling exertions aside, in terms of media consumption, I also partake in many television series (I can count five off the top of my head), YouTube video series, movies, music, podcasts, actual books, ebooks and finally, comics. This is over and above gaming, which has taken a drastic hit this year in favour of the aforementioned other forms of media. But then, at the beginning of this year when I had a glance at the games that would be releasing… DmC: Devil May Cry, BioShock: Infinite, Grand Theft Auto V. Those were the only games which tickled my nether regions and made me gleeful with delight. The rest of the games, Dead Space 3, Crysis 3, Tomb Raider and so on, I figured I could quite happily pass on and pick up much later at a discounted price and be none the worse for it. And so far, that mindset has worked out exactly as expected, where I have played and thoroughly enjoyed two of the three titles I’ve anticipated for this year, opting to play random things from previous years in between. However for the most part it’s been more of all that other media I mentioned above, which has consumed what time I do have to myself.
The thing is, it’s just difficult sometimes for a completionist such as myself to even start with a new game, knowing that I’m only going to get X amount of time in a week to play, currently sitting at around half an hour per weekday if at all, with up to eight hours on Saturdays if I utilise my time efficiently. What if I’m playing a game that takes more than ten hours to complete? It’s going to require more than just a week, at my current rate. Whereas I could consume other media in smaller chunks. I read a chapter of a book and an issue of a comic each night before bed, for example. Far easier to stop and then pick up where I left off, the following night, compared to erratic gaming sessions that sometimes take twenty minutes and other times take two hours plus. So in that respect, it’s actually easier to forgo gaming in favour of either a little more rest (sleep is invaluable) or some other form of media.
Now anyone who knows me will tell you that as far as hardcore gamers go, I rank right up there. While I lack the obnoxious nature of most puritans, I do possess the fervent desire to ‘play ALL the things’, as I have put it so many times before. And as far as pure gaming consumption goes, at least according to my past, not many can keep up with me. So it’s not to say that I am not usually your typical core gamer equivalent, who gets in far more hours of gaming than is healthy each week. Except I am not, any more. In fact, although I still crave it, still desire it, I sometimes actively ignore gaming either in favour of other activities which require less investment on my part, or sleep.
Have I, with this mindset, then, inadvertently retired from core gaming?
Is that even a thing?
I remember Jake once saying in a column how he no longer plays everything and opts to play casual games instead, only picking up those titles his heart truly desires. Unfortunately I don’t really like most casual games, nor do I have the time for them in any case, so it’s not exactly the same. But I think that the most blatant ‘tell’ in front of me right now is the fact that I have had the option of doing something or playing games, and I chose the thing that wasn’t playing games.
Surely I can’t be the only person in this situation and if you are too, then feel free to relate your own stories in the comments, but I have to admit that this is distressing. Not just because I am technically a gaming writer who happens to also edit a gaming podcast and surrounds himself with so much gaming (seriously, you should see my room… and my tattoos) that it is impossible to be anything but a core gamer, but because I am supposed to have this fervent desire, this ostensible lust for gaming, this insatiable passion that would cause me to, ten times out of ten, forgo social interaction of all egregious forms in favour of a night spent gaming.
And here I am, turning it down in favour of other things.
I love gaming, some have claimed unhealthily. And yet I neglect it so. How is this even a thing? Why am I not forgoing other activities in favour of gaming every time, like I should be? I mean, I can’t seriously purport to loving either film, literature or music as much as I love gaming, a venerable amalgamation of all of those, with the added benefit of interactivity. I understand what it means to be a gamer and I am proud to call myself one. I hold it up as an admirable trait, a training in so many handy skills including quick reaction, tactical thinking and artistic appreciation, and yet I cannot make myself play games because… well, why bother if it’s just for a few hours in a week?
Whether this is ‘all or nothing’ syndrome or a gross mishandling of my greatest affection, I am still trying to figure it out. Maybe this is my primitive male conditioning which is manifesting in a lack of desire to play games so that I might eventually be encouraged to go out there and procreate, instead. I can’t quite place what it is, but I can say that more and more of late, I am questioning what it means to call myself a gamer, considering how much of gaming I actually do. What does it mean to play just a few hours of games a day, or stick to just a few games a year, or be like I usually am, and ‘play ALL the things’? All of this introspection and I have no answers besides, “Who knows…”
I don’t want to quit gaming but right now, I have to say, it seems like an easy decision to make.
There, a far more personal column for you all. Comment away.
Postscript: I started and completed this column in one go, last week Saturday. Since then, I have experienced something of a resurgence in my desire to play games, unfortunately still kept somewhat under relevant restriction because of workloads and everything else I mentioned. However I believe the resurgence to have been caused directly by this column, call it a catharsis of sorts, as well as the recent acquisition of some new games. So, game on for now. Assuming I find the time for it…