I own a lot of video games. Enough that when people come over they compare me to a Blockbuster. (Note for reading this ten years from now: Does Blockbuster even exist anymore? Do we have hover cars?) I feel like I spent most of my childhood playing them and I can still recall specific moments in my gaming history. I think from the normal person’s view, video games were considered to be a waste of time, and maybe they still are. Yeah, I guess it is pretty much like vegging out and being an unproductive member of society. If anything though, playing them has become less of a nerdy thing to more of a thing that every adult male does. When the next Halo or Call of Duty comes out, we all line up rank and file to get our copy at the midnight release.
I have a few specific memories about video games, but there are four games that really started me down this path to playing and collecting them the way that I do now:
- Gran Turismo 2
I played the crap out of these games as a kid. With the exception of Gran Turismo 2, the other games were computer games and their objective was to shoot stuff. In Doom, you shot 2D things. In Quake, you shot 3D things. In Half-Life, you shot 3D things are there was a cohesive and interesting story. In Gran Turismo 2, well, you raced cars. I remember seeing Quake and thinking “Wow, how is this possible this technology exists?” This was the first game that I stole.
Alright, so how does this lead into thievery? As a broke kid who knew way too much about computers, I was able to track down and find all the games I wanted to play and get them for free. I feel like most of the people who were doing this were also broke kids. It taught me a lot about the internet and how computers work, something I should be thankful for because I ended up pursuing tech fields as income. That said, I no longer steal games because I can actually afford them. But, at the time, it was what I did, for better or worse. This means that when I actually did buy a game, it was serious stuff. I remember buying Half-Life at the store and not being able to see over the counter when I bought it. It was a mature game, of course, but that didn’t matter then. And, I remember getting it home and finding out that I couldn’t run it because my computer didn’t have a graphics card powerful enough. So, I had to buy that too, and 199 dollars is expensive for a kid. But, I got it and that launched me into a world of gaming I never turned back from…
Until now. I feel like even though I still buy and play video games, my patience for them has gone down the drain. I don’t want to die a ton and restart levels or checkpoints, I don’t want to sit online and progress though ranks to get a gun. I don’t want to deal with the people online, and I don’t have the time or energy to sit there and play them all day. Typically this changes for all the big releases and I’ll find myself in GameStop at their midnight release standing next to the largest people with even larger BO.
But this time, I was just too busy and I actually forgot about the release for a day and picked it up the next day instead. And I tried to play it tonight but I just can’t get into it. I’d rather be writing this article than playing it and this game is the next big thing everyone had been waiting for. It’s just not doing it for me. I feel like such a slug for even playing games, and all I do is get frustrated at the screaming twelve year old kids. I guess I used to be one. I think in college, and more so in high school, I had the freedom to just play whatever I wanted and do it all day because you don’t have anything meaningful going on as a kid. And by meaningful I don’t mean profound, I mean working to pay bills and dealing with all your other responsibilities. Speaking of which, I need to cut a check for student loans which are finally kicking in. Ugh.
I actually feel like even if I was just sitting around all day, I couldn’t let myself do it anymore. I just can’t get into video games like I used to. I still will have the occasional day where I will sit around, eat Butterfinger bars and drink (diet) Mountain Dew like a video game nerd is supposed to do. However, at this point, it’s more or less like the days where people sit around and watch movies — they end up feeling like they wasted their day and don’t do it again for a long time. I want to take the time to give a shout out to Dan, my roommate, for one of the stories I tell everyone about video games; I will note that he has since changed his ways. During our sophomore year of college, Halo 3 had just come out and Dan was constantly playing it to obtain the rank of a general or a 50 rating or something like that. So, at 8 AM I left for me 8:30 class so I could get some breakfast and coffee to try to stay awake. At about 9 PM or so I come back and Dan had literally not moved the entire time. He had been stationed in front of this crappy TV in the world’s worst folding chair for the entire day. How can anyone do that?
Well, I know how people can do that because I’ve done that during finals, playing Grand Theft Auto 4 from start to finish in one sitting. I’ve done that with Halo ODST and Halo Reach too. That’s how I tend to play games — short in one burst. Play for a couple of days or a week, then move on. I just get so tired of things so easily now. Maybe I’m just too tired in general and I let games frustrate me, or maybe games have just got so complicated that they’re becoming more of a chore than a good time. (The latest Call of Duty has so many options to customize things, but I got what I wanted within the first hour. Who has the time to sit around and change their icon in the game? I don’t get it.)
I’m really not quite sure what the exact reason is that I don’t feel the same connection, I guess the word is, that led me to spend so many hours in games, completely absorbed in their world and enjoying every moment. I can replay these games for the nostalgia factor and a few moments still shine, but it’s just not the same. Maybe it’s because I’m older and I’m different? I don’t have a good answer for this, though I do assume I’ll be playing games in the future, just in a limited capacity. I still certainly buy the games, so I don’t think the game publishers are worried by this phenomenon. I’ll even buy the map packs and try to get back into the game, but this only lasts a couple of days before I move on again
I think it comes down to the fact that I want to be connected like I used to be; I want to be drawn into a world and escape for a while. But I just don’t feel it like I used to. And that kind of sucks.