I used to be a gamer like you…
At 30 years old, I’ve been playing video games for most of my life. It started when I was barely out of diapers with the ColecoVision, and has evolved over the years with increasingly advanced and immersive consoles. I’ve gone through periods of deep obsession (World of Warcraft: 2007-2011) and shorter, more intense love affairs (Skyrim: 150 hours cumulative).
Since 2008, I’ve worked in several jobs that have required video gaming as part of the job description. But as anyone who has worked in the gaming industry as a reviewer or critic, or even as a talking head for a company (as I was for part of that time) can attest, playing games for work can cause them to eventually lose some of their luster. You start hearing the same pitches for different titles (Action-packed first person experience! Open-world sandbox adventure!) and the release schedules and pressure to have the first reviews or interviews with that hot new developer take their toll.
I was kind of tired of video games. I felt like I couldn’t keep up anymore with the news and updates, so instead of trying to I just put it all on the backburner.
It wasn’t a conscious thought or decision. I started to play games less. I began reading more, or catching up on missed TV episodes when I had an hour free instead of jumping on Steam. I got Assassin’s Creed 3 for my birthday last year in July and didn’t open it until April (I still haven’t gotten more than 20% completion). Recently, I was so emotionally disturbed by a scene in the new Tomb Raider that I put the game down and haven’t even bothered to pick it up again, in spite of great reviews from friends.
Have I changed? Am I old? Are games boring now? Am I boring now?
This past week, a friend sent me some expansion packs for the Sims 3, including the Pets and Nightlife addons. I hadn’t pulled up the Sims in months, but I decided to test out the expansions for the heck of it. Six hours later, I came out of my Sims trance confused and disoriented. Where had the time gone? It made me start to wonder what I’m looking for in a game these days. Do I want a game that can help numb my thoughts and let me live in a completely different world for a time (albeit one where I’m still washing dishes and making sure I get to work at a resonable hour)? Is a title with a high-stress environment and deep emotional connection too much for my fragile psyche to take? Maybe so.
I still love video games. They can be expansive works of art, or design-by-committee fun fests with little to intellectually chew on. I’m just not sure what kind of gamer I am, or what I’m looking for. For now,maybe playing games is just something I do… not something I am.