The Gaming Generation - Part 2

Game Over ButtonMy name is Paul Eastwood and I used to write for this site. Not only did I write, I hosted and produced the one and only official First Hour Podcast (accept no substitutes!) Where have I been for the past however-many-months? Well, I’ll explain a little of that in this post, the follow-up to my last post, in which I discussed adults who grew up with video games.

To put it simply, I don’t play games any more. In fact the date of the last podcast closely coincides with the last time I played a video game. Now I know what you’re thinking: “What in the zarking fardwarks?” I suppose it is hard to imagine. Me, who spent so much effort to carve out time to play video games. Me, whose childhood and high-school years are largely dominated by what games I was playing at the time. Me, whose normal conversation incorporates similes involving obscure video game characters.

First of all, as for the reason I stopped playing: I’m not going to tell you. At least not right out, lest you think “Well, if that hadn’t happened, he’d still be playing.” All I’m going to say is that “something” happened, which I will refer to as The Incident. Within days of The Incident, I had sold most of my games. Within a couple more months I had given most of the rest of them to my younger brothers. The only things I’ve played since then was one level of Donkey Kong Country Returns that my brother got for Christmas and a little bit on his 3DS right after he got it. As far as playing games at home for recreation or any other purpose, it doesn’t exist.

“Gee, you must be miserable,” you say. “You must really miss games.” Not really. My life has become less stressful and far more enjoyable since then. I used to worry about finishing games, how I was going to keep up with all the games I wanted to play, how I was going to write about all the games I played, how much the new systems were going to cost, not to mention paying for games, plus I had to keep up with the latest breaking news and trailers.... It was as if I was a slave to the very thing I loved.

Now I barely notice any of that. E3 passed last week. I watched a couple of trailers, read a couple of articles. Skyward Sword looks cool, I’ll give you that. Zelda was always my favorite series. The Wii U, PS Vita... meh. (Of course a lot of other people feel that way too, so maybe that doesn’t mean anything).

So what do I do instead? I spend time with my wife and kids. My relationship with my wife has improved indescribably. We used to split up in the evenings and she’d read and I’d play something, or else we’d watch TV together and I’d wish I was playing a game. Now we talk a lot more, and we’ve started to go on dates again. Last week we went to see Eisley at the House of Blues, and it was the best time I’d had in as long as I can remember. In the past I probably would have declined because I wanted to stay home and play a game. Just being in love with her is amazing, and it makes me feel stupid that I wasted several years of our relationship trying to make time to play video games.

I used to get annoyed at my kids because I wanted to play games but they were bothering me or whatever. Now I actually play with them, talk to them, enjoy being their dad, and it’s so much more fulfilling than a video game. One of the factors in the decision was, do I want my kids growing up and remembering that their dad was always around, but playing video games? No, of course not. I want them to remember fondly the times we wrestled on the floor together, the times we went to the park or the zoo together. The fun little things I did for them, like how I take them for rides around the yard on the front of my motorcycle when I get home from work. I never had time for that kind of stuff, and even if I did, I was far to focused on myself and my hobby to see the joy that was right in front of me.

Am I saying that video games are evil? Of course not. I have lots of fond memories of playing, from childhood on, and some games are nothing short of a work of art (Shadow of the Colossus, anyone?) Also, my conversation still carries weight with its video game references. I have learned a lot from playing video games, and they’ve inspired me to greater things. Only now those greater things have left no room for playing around. Real life requires engagement, and I’ve chosen to engage.

Comments

This should be mandatory

This should be mandatory reading for any gamer with a wife and kid(s). There can still be a balance, however. I still enjoy squeezing in some game time in moderation, though playing an RPG is difficult after not playing for awhile after I started the game, and they generally take many hours to complete. I look forward to when my son is old enough so we can play video games together. I hope he likes them the same way I did since a young child. It will be a very different experience now compared to when I was hooked after playing Pitfall on the Atari 2600.

Nice! Now I know what to do,

Nice! Now I know what to do, thank you! And as this information is educational so this site has been added to my RSS feed for later browsing.

Good for you!

This is a great story. I'm very glad to hear it. I've had a similar situation at my house. I have two children and a third on the way. My wife is in the morning sickness stage and she has zero energy. Where I used to stay up late, after she went to bed and play something, now I'm picking up the house and doing the garbage or dishes or whatever so she can have a better morning, coming downstairs and seeing the house put back together (a 1yo and a 3yo can destroy a house in a matter of minutes).

I've also picked up a hobby I had abandoned over a decade ago, D&D. It was a love equal to that of video games as an early teen. However, video games eventually became more socially acceptable and so I let them back into my life (after having abandoned both in High School and College due to my interest in not having girls run away screaming). D&D never really made that leap in the mass market of acceptance so it was always on the back burner of my interests.

As life got busier, video gaming got harder. D&D seemed a better option since it didn't require the "keeping up" that gaming did and one night a week was the largest conceivable commitment. Whereas video games called to me nightly, D&D waits patiently for me each weekend (or every other weekend). Also, its much less expensive of a hobby. With 3 small children and the expenses they create, justification for gaming purchases was getting steadily more difficult at home.

I still have all my video games and systems. I still watched all the pressers at E3. I can't wait for the WiiU to come out and I'll probably stand in line to buy it. But I know I won't ever play it as much, or purchase as many games, as I would have a few years ago. Thankfully, I never found myself in a situation where I would push away my wife or my children to game. I can absolutely see how it could happen though and I judge no one. I was just lucky to be a person who was up late at night naturally. Because of this, I had a ready made hour per day for gaming. Now that hour is mostly dedicated to doing the things my stay-at-home wife was unable to accomplish during the day due to having two small children to care for. Do I regret it? Not at all? Do I miss it? Sometimes. But you're absolutely right that life gets so engaging, its hard to have room for things like gaming. Its nice not to worry about whether I"ve played an "epic important" game. Or whether or not I know about what Activision is up to these days. I was like you and had become a bit of a slave to the hobby. Its easy to do. To be brutally honest, my biggest regret is not having content to offer up for inclusion on this site. :(

I hope you have continued success in your life, it sounds like things are going great for you.

So, what was "the event"?

Yeah...

My father did something similar. Truth is, he had to stop playing games for a long time. You'll play games again. (That is not a challenge.) Some of my most awesome memories are ones playing Quake, Unreal Tournament, Counterstrike: Source and Battlefield: Bad company 2 with my dad. But I do understand what you're saying and I hope you're enjoying your time. Make sure to drop a note once in awhile. You'll find your time, again, eventually. But any family man will have times (weeks/months/years) where playing games is simply not fathomable.

So

Tell us how you really feel about gamers!

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