“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.
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.