The Spaces Between Us: What Gaming Means to Me Now

gaming platformsThere was a time not so long ago when I went through a bit of a crisis of faith. This wasn’t faith in god or some other higher being, or what kind of meaning my life now had. No, this was to do with faith in my love for video games. Did I still feel the same way I did years ago when I was a fresh-faced gurrier whose voice still squeaked, and any attempt at facial hair resulted in nothing more than wispy fluff? Did I still get excited enough by video games to dedicate hours every evening to playing them no matter what else was going on in my self-important teenage life? I was worried this was no longer the case. As I said: a crisis of faith.

So what brought all this on? I’m not sure if there was any one event that really made it all click in my head, but over the last year I’d begun noticing that my interest in video games seemed to be waning. I’d pick up a controller, turn on the console, flick through my games, and more often than not end up watching something on Netflix instead. Or I’d pick a game, play it for half an hour, and then invariably feel that worryingly familiar feeling of apathy and turn the whole thing off. It was a genuine fear I found myself with: was I actually getting bored of video games, after all these years? Could that even be possible? I’m a fickle person in general – trying to get me to stick with a long-running TV show, for example, is an exercise in futility at the best of times – but video games . . . surely not!

atari 2600 gamingI’ve owned a lot of consoles over the years. From the Atari 2600, to the NES and SNES, Mega Drive, N64, PS1, 2, 3 and 4, the various Xboxes and Wiis, I’ve been dedicated, to say the least. I’ve always been excited by video games, too. I have fond memories of renting out a SNES before I owned one from the local video shop, along with one of my favourite games, Aladdin, and just playing it through multiple times over a weekend. Or running down to my friends house to play Donkey Kong when I’d finally finished all of my homework. Or sneaking looks into my mother’s wardrobe in the run-up to Christmas to catch a glimpse at what I was certain was an N64 (I know, I’m very bold!). What I’m getting at here is this is a love that runs deep.

And yet, here I was, falling out of love with it all. I was sort of devastated. But what I slowly discovered was that it wasn’t as drastic a situation as I thought. There were games that I was loving, whether they were big AAA games or smaller indie ones, but once I’d finish them, there was nothing for a long time that grabbed me enough to give it my time and money. These gulfs of time were filled with the uncertain game-hopping and Netflix-watching evenings I described above, where I was left with games I felt I should be playing because they were there, simply to fill the spaces between games I was really interested in. This might not seem like such a big revelation (hell, it’s probably damn obvious), but when I was going through it, it felt like a real problem. What followed this was a further question, though: was gaming worthwhile that this was happening? Was it worth my time when there were huge waits in between games I actually wanted to play?

The answer was a resounding yes. I realised that gaming can mean different things to different people and at different times of your life. It’s like music; you might have loved cycling up the hill to school with ‘Blackened’ by Metallica blaring in your ears in your teens, but now that you’re in your thirties, you just want to kick back and listen to some Celine Dion. With video games, the extent of my love for them hadn’t dwindled, but the ferocious nature of that love certainly had. And that’s okay. If anything, it makes the games I want to play that much more special when I do get to play them. That might sound like I’m trying to justify myself, but you know what? I don’t care, buddy. It makes me feel good to get it all out.

So, while the spaces between us might be long and feel like they’ll affect my relationship with video games, that’s far from the truth; they’ll just strengthen that love. And with that, grab a railing and sing with me . . .

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