About everything. And nothing.

I have a problem with “being present,” and it’s an issue that’s seeped into several different aspects of my life, usually not for the better. In large part I blame my current career. Don’t get me wrong, I do love it, but it’s not without its downsides. My job primarily involves the past and the future. On a daily basis I work with the past, writing about it, answering questions about it, and reviewing documents from it. On a daily basis I also work with the future, planning for upcoming projects, budgeting for future needs, and thinking about how to best serve people who’ve yet to cross my path. Living this dichotomy every day for several years has led to me being unable to focus in the here and now. Even as I sit and write this post, I’m thinking about the next one, and how I still haven’t fixed that typo in that post I wrote a month ago. My brain always feels like it’s being pulled backwards and forwards; it’s hardly ever still enough to savor what’s right in front of me. It’s a poor way to live, and I don’t recommend it.

If there’s one thing that used to help me focus on the moment, it was gaming, but that too has become colored by my ill-functioning neurons. Fuckall if I didn’t sit down for a little Xenoblade Chronicles not long ago only to kill any enjoyment I might have had by constantly worrying about switching out team members. Will it affect the game if I don’t?, I kept asking myself while I was getting lost on Valek Mountain.

What if someone suddenly leaves the team and I never see them again??

What if I give them a special item and they suddenly disappear and I never see that item again??

What if…? What if…? WHAT THE HELL IF…???

Needless to say, I was quite upset at myself and at loosing and hour to worrying and not being present enough for the game.

But here’s the funny thing…as it concerns this situation and gaming, that is. I’ve somehow gotten myself into the strange predicament of being in the midst of two pretty major RPGs: Dragon Age: Inquisition and Xenoblade Chronicles (not to mention Chrono Trigger, and a possibly ill-timed choice to start Saints Row IV. And christ, am I ever going to finish Stacking?!) And deciding on which to play in the moment has become damn near impossible because each requires tons of time, focus, and effort in order to progress.

I’m usually pretty good about juggling games. At any given time, I like to have at least a few different games in progress on different systems; that way I don’t have to worry about the “what to play?” question. I play whatever I have going on whatever system is available to me at the moment. And it’s usually worked out that the my selection of handy games spans a couple genres – maybe an RPG on one system, a puzzler on another, a Metroidvania thing on a third, and so on. It keeps things interesting, and helps prevent any possible burnout on one genre or another. It just so happens that the gaming fates have turned away from my usual set up to bring me to this point. (Had I not dicked around with a bad initial playthrough of Inquisition, I probably wouldn’t be baring my soul as such here.)

But here’s the even bigger problem with this scenario. Whenever I do get a couple spare hours to play either Dragon Age: Inquisition and Xenoblade Chronicles, all I want to do is play. Like…until I reach the end. I don’t want to reach a suitable save point. I don’t want to give the poor console a break. I don’t want to stop and smell the goddamn roses. I simply want to play until the game is over. And I can’t. I can’t because bigger responsibilities loom like storm clouds. And at any moment, should my concentration on the game break of even a second, the rain will start pouring.

Did you remember to pay the mortgage this month?

Don’t forget that you have that thing this weekend with your folks!

The upstairs really needs vacuuming. Like…really, really needs it…

Didja… Don’t forget… Gotta remember…

OMFG, SHUT THE HELL UP.

And we’re back to the beginning of this post.

It’s a wretched cycle that forces me into a strange and unpleasant state. Because in that moment of confusion, it’s like I can see myself in three forms: the past form worrying about how I probably won’t get to game any time soon because of more pressing obligations; the present form trying to focus on a complex game with complex characters and a complex story; and the future form that can’t come to terms with the fact that it’s been a month since she picked up a controller (this despite that month having been no less fulfilling). The fact that my present form wants nothing more than the finish a game doesn’t help matters any. I can’t remember the last time I had a day to game; one where I wake up, have breakfast, and play a game with minimal breaks until bedtime. That’s simply an unfathomable luxury, and frankly, one that I truly envy.

But this whole “living in the present” problem isn’t relegated to worrying about life while gaming. It’s directly affecting my ability to game with purpose. As an example, let me take last…no, two weekends ago. That was the last time I played Dragon Age: Inquisition. (I’ve been generally alternating my weekend gaming sessions between Inquisition and XC.) At that point, it had been several weeks since I played the game, and it required an update. While waiting for the update, I seriously questioned whether I should be playing Inquisition at all. I was in the middle of the “Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts” mission, which was full of politics and drama, two things that often cause me to snore loudly while gaming. Ugh. If you really want me to lose interest in something, just pump it full of lengthy discussions concerning “political intrigue.” Ugh, again.

In any event, when I last left that mission, I didn’t like the way things were going. I couldn’t remember who the hell was doing what to whom and for what cause. And I think my character had unintentionally pissed off a number of VIPs. Did I want to start it over? was the question that then came to mind. And as I sat there watching the update roll through, I couldn’t stomach the thought of having to start that damned mission over. I simply didn’t care. And it paralyzed me. It made wonder (once again) if I really cared about the game at all. And then I started thinking about all the other games I could and should play. I got completely lost in the “what if’s” and “what could be’s” that I not only missed the end of the update but then lost nearly another thirty minutes contemplating nothing that mattered right then and there.

I think my brain has lost the ability to separate the bullshit from the bull.

I wish I could say why I’ve sloshed on for over a thousand words about nothing. But I appreciate you taking the time to wade this far through these words. What’s come to the forefront of my mind is that I want to stop all this RPG madness for a bit and simply drive around and shoot people in GTA V again or fly through the skyscrapers of Gotham as I wait for Arkham Knight (which just arrived in the mail). I sincerely want to play The Witcher 3, but damn if I don’t already know its fate if I tried to shoehorn it into my “schedule” now.

I also think I need a vacation. Maybe to game. Also from gaming.

SIGH.

12 thoughts on “About everything. And nothing.”

  1. I have the same problem with being present in my own personal life, except it has more to do with worrying about the future. What will happen or won’t happen. It’s a bad head space to be in, like you said, and I really hate it when I’m aware I need to focus on this moment and block out all the noise. When I do have leisure time, I do struggle with figuring out what I want to do with my time. Sometimes when I figure out what I want to focus on, I often find my mind wandering to the other stuff I could be doing instead. It’s frustrating as hell! I wish I had some advice to give you on how to handle this better, but I’m nowhere near the right person to provide any input on the matter when I haven’t quite figured it out myself. I guess this comment is more like you’re not alone? Solidarity, yay!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thanks! There’s sooooo much tugging at our attention these days, isn’t there? There are days when focusing on one task is simply a challenge. And you know you don’t have time to worry about what’s coming next, but your brain can’t help it. It’s the price we have to pay for being adults. Sure, we gain the freedom to make our own choices, but no one ever said making those choices was going to be easy.

      Alas, it’s nice to know we’re all in this mess together. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate to this too. I often find myself getting anxious whenever I try to play anything long-winded like an RPG. With game time being limited, I want to make the most of it. So playing something like Fallout: New Vegas (which I absolutely love) which doesn’t have an immediate sense of progress often feels like a waste of that precious game time. So I default to “Destiny”, a game that actually is a time waster, but one that makes you feel like you’re doing a lot (you can finish a lot of activities in an hour). It’s quite annoying, especially when Fallout is what I actually want to play. It’s kind of a strange (and annoying) disconnect between what I want to do with game time and what I think should be done with game time. Shouldn’t those be the same thing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Y’know, I never really though about it that way, but yeah, you’d think those two paths would run parallel if not right into each other. But like you said, it really depends on the game, because having fun and making progress are often, especially in large RPGs, two different things. Is having fun in New Vegas more important than making progress in Destiny? Guess it depends on how you feel when you sit down to play. I’m facing the same question only it’s “is having fun in Xenoblade Chronicle more important that making progress in Dragon Age: Inquisition?” Frankly, the answer is yes, but I’m so desperate to get through Inquisition that I’m willing to set XC aside in order to finish it. Can’t say gamers are much the sacrificial lot, but we know what it’s like to make the hard choices. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can definitely sympathise, even if my gaming time is not as limited. RPGs are especially bad when it comes to being a time sink and I can’t play several RPGs in a row, let alone at the same time because that genre in particular is so demanding. And you have blogging on top of actually playing games, so it all piles up rather quickly! I’ve had some demanding deadlines recently which have kept me from gaming anything too ambitious, hence why most of my playtime and blog output recently has been with lightgun games – quite possibly as far away from an RPG as you can get.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’ve got the right idea there in going with more mindless (no offense and not literally) games when life gets busy. If I were playing Time Crisis or House of the Dead, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. What I really should have done is turned down Xenoblade when it was offered to me, but I just couldn’t keep my big gaming mouth shut. And I’m way too far into XC give up now. As I mentioned in another response, I’m gonna try to blast through Inquisition to get it out of the way. As I’m feeling right now, it’s far less the game than Xenoblade.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So frankly I just gave up on DA because it felt like such a chore every time I did fire it up. And like you my gaming time is pretty limited now. XC I’m still playing and I really enjoy though. But I finally ponied up for witcher 3 and I have to say, this is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s an rpg that is totally massive but never a chore. Everything is fun, violent, intriguing, challenging and, oh yeah violent. Anyway, just wanted to say that it’s a great rpg for adult gamers who want their brief gaming sessions to really rock. I may only have an hour but it never feels wasted. Very rewarding. Hope you get some serious time to game soon:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really looking forward to The Witcher 3. It’s gonna be a few months still before I really get to sink my teeth into it (XC is such the priority right now, and then Arkham Knight), but I can’t wait for the experience. It’s good to know that there are games out there that don’t punish players for not being able to play all the time — not everyone can sit down for 8 hours of gaming a day, after all, no matter how much they might want to. 🙂

      Like

  5. I’ll keep this one short: you’re not alone. All I ever seem to want to do is play SW:TOR-especially the group content stuff. I may not play all the games most people play, but I have a hardcore SW:TOR addiction. Like Chuck and Brian of the Bad Feeling Podcast say, it’s “this stupid game that sucks up every little moment of your life.” And it is. I seem to never be sated.

    I work full time and currently am working on a BA part time (these roles will be switching soon as part time studies are taking WAAAAAAAAY too long), so like you, I am left with precious little time to game.

    Well, it seems my little comment has become a large one. Sorry about that. I tend to ramble. Anyway, thanks for reading mine and I look forward to future posts from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re in good company with rambly comments, so no worries! 🙂

      As my blog has veered away a bit from my original mission to offer up nostalgic stories of games and gaming, I’ve try hard to keep it from becoming a sounding block for my complaints about how real life always gets in the way of the fun stuff. But every now and then, I just have to vent because it really does suck. And I honestly think it’s true of any adult with any hobbies — you always have to get the really important stuff done first in order to gain the means to support those hobbies. But then, you’ve sunk so much time into the important stuff that you don’t have any time for those hobbies! It’s a wacky catch-22 that just comes with the territory.

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    1. My suggestion: don’t stack ’em. I’ve decided to quit Xenoblade for awhile in order to complete Inquisition (I kinda think I’m getting near the end of it anyway, so all the better!) Once that’s done, no more big RPGs until Xenoblade is in the bag. (She said with oh so much certainty *now.*)

      Liked by 1 person

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