With games and then without: some musings

“I’m getting grumpy without my games,” my husband said to me during a recent quiet evening of TV.

“Huh?  Oh…no PS3, right.” I’d been so caught up in ME3 on the 360 of late that I had kinda forgotten about the empty space where the old console used to be.

I paused.  “I thought you were okay with waiting to get the Assassin’s Creed 3 bundle – it comes out at the end of the month.”

“Well…yeah…” he trailed off. “Maybe I’ll just get that treadmill.”

“Hmm, that’s been on our to-get list for awhile now, right?”

He didn’t reply and turned back to the TV.  But I know he was not thinking about a treadmill.

Later that night, I brought up his initial comment about him missing “his games” in the context of living with video games for one’s whole life, then suddenly doing without.  Video games are something we’ve both blended into our lives over long periods of time, him longer than me.  When the PS3 first broke, he thought it might have been a sign of moving on. Maybe his time with games was over.  But as he’s discovered over the past few weeks, he can’t not escape video games.  (That, and I think he REALLY wants to play Resident Evil 6….and Skate 3…and Assassin’s Creed 3…and…Dishonored…and…)

But what of that notion of suddenly living without a particular form of technology – in this case, video games – that’s become just a natural part of life?  We’re both old enough to remember the days before home gaming consoles, when video games were relegated to neon-colored, quarter-guzzling arcades in malls, amusement parks, batting cages, and the like.  And we had plenty to do and led fine young lives.  By the time consoles such as the Intellivision, Colecovision, and Atari hit the scene, he was well into his arcade-going days, so the transition from arcade gaming to home gaming was a natural progression.  My gaming experience happened solely at home with the introduction to home computing through the TRS-80 and gaming through the Atari. His family was not so supportive of new technologies, so he had to seek such adventures on his own.  My parents, luckily I guess, were early adopters of games and computers, so my introduction came through an internal support structure.  From young ages, through different means, we each came to accept and integrate gaming into our lives.

Don’t be distracted by the short shorts because TRON is all that matters. (source)

Going back to our conversation, we didn’t quite get to that juicy question of could we abandon gaming altogether? My short answer is probably not, especially since I still have to get to that ME3 ending!  Okay, but after that.  Say our 360 and Wii both decided to crap out tomorrow, what then?  Major convulsions?  Hours of weeping?  Or run right out to the nearest Best Buy thinking, oh we can skip just one mortgage payment.  Very unlikely.  I imagine we’d make financial plans to squeeze new systems into our budget over the next few months and bide our time doing other stuff relevant to life.  But I think we’d both get a little grumpy after awhile.

The interactivity of games makes them so much more enjoyable than staring at a TV screen wondering what the motorcycle is going to look like or how Sheldon and Leonard even became friends in the first place.  Great games, or rather, the games we love, are like companion animals.  Sometimes we want to hurl them or things at them because they do bad things, but we love them because they are steadfast and loyal.  Games carry with them the spectrum of emotions and cavalcades of questions and answers. To suddenly not have access to them or purposely cut them out of a life after so many years of devotion seems cruel and unthinkable.

In my case, I’ve had years without (much) gaming, but I never completely broke off my relationship with games.  If I had, maybe I’d be a historical scholar, director of a great museum, or head of Broadway costume shop.  If I quit now, maybe I’d become a better gardener, remember to dust more often, or more quickly excel at my current job.  Who knows really.  Life is what you make of it, and my life is partly made of video games, memories and experiences had and yet to have.  I may not play them till the end of my days, but I figure when the time to stop comes, I’ll know.  For now, though, my husband’s gonna get that treadmill and I’m going to chip in for the PS3.  Because that’s the way it is.

For some compelling thoughts on losing a game system, click here and here for posts from Game, Complain, Repeat.

Some extra perks do come along with being a video game player. (source)

6 thoughts on “With games and then without: some musings”

  1. I’ve had video games around my whole life, but I’ve been playing them nearly everyday for a little over 10 years. Maybe 12 years, actually. I just can’t imagine life without them. I was moving once, and my stuff was in storage for two months, and it drove me nuts. I never intended on buying an XBox, but a month into having no games, I bought one so I could play again.

    Video games are much more to me than just things (as I’m sure they are to most gamers). The real people and memories in our lives are important, and in a way, so are the people we meet and the experiences that we go through in video games. I get attached to the characters in games and the beautiful, new locations that I’ll never go to in the real world. I am a part of the story in a way I’ll never be in movies or books, and I laugh and cry along with the characters. And you get a chance to be a hero and save the world and feel important. Video games are an experience that I feel my life would be empty without. It’s all fake, but it feels very real. They inspired me to write and draw and even to play music, and without them, there is so much I think I may never have done. I hope you get your new PS3 soon. I feel your pain.

    By the way, I saw you mentioned “Dishonored”. I saw the commercial for that. It looked awesome.

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    1. Your sentiments are so perfectly expressed, and seriously, I’m not worthy of your experience! Playing daily for so many years is simply amazing and I hope your love of gaming continues for many more years. 🙂 I connect to video games so much more personally than I do TV and movies, and even some books. They really do give you the chance to be someone else, to experience “life” in a whole different way. They are a great way to endow perspective and offer plenty of opportunities for self-reflection – no matter if your playing a Mario game or Mass Effect.

      And yes, Dishonored looks fantastic! We’re getting a new PS3 at the end of the month (YAY!), but it’ll be awhile until we get to that game.

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  2. I’ve heard the life advice to make sure you spend money on experiences and not things. But when you game with someone you love, that’s exactly what it is: an experience, not just multiple thing purchases that happen to be working in tandem. Anyway, I used to think a lot about how much money I had “wasted” on video games but I’ve realized that gaming brings a lot of joy into my life, and everyone has hobbies, this just happens to be mine. I’m glad you guys haven’t given it up, because if you love it, and it harms no one else, then you should get to do it as often as possible! Long live gaming, and long live the new PS3 that you will get in the near future! 😉

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    1. Thanks! We’ve got the new PS3 on pre-order, so we’ll get back into the swing of things soon. Gaming is certainly as valid a pastime as collecting model trains or going to the movies. I think a lot of gamers get to a “what the heck am I doing with my life/money/time?” point and make a “final” decision from there on whether or not to continue gaming. I know a couple people that have truly moved on for various reasons. I, for one, am happy to keep gaming until arthritis sets in!

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  3. I got into gaming quite late while a lot of my other friends and cousin have been huge gamers from the very beginning. I almost regret getting into gaming. It really does suck a good chunk of your life. Now, I try to squeeze as much gaming as I can in between life’s responsibilities and having a social life. I think if one of my consoles broke, especially if I were in the middle of a great game, I would be pissed. Not only do you have to wait until you have money to buy a new console, you also have to cope with not having that console in your room. Something does feel like it’s missing as you have said.

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    1. Our PS3 called it quits right in the middle of Sleeping Dogs. It was a rough night. Gaming is an investment, and it’s tough to see those hard-earned consoles gathering dust while life happens around them. But we each make it work somehow, whether we game a little or a lot. It certainly does eat up time, but usually (hopefully) it’s time well spent.

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