I love video games (well, at least I love some video games) and think they can be a legitimate passion around which someone can build their life. [It is always sad to me when I see people put others down for their interests, as if their own are somehow inherently superior. Explain to me how spending hours watching sports is any better than spending hours playing/watching video games.] Some people wish to make a career out of them, and for those individuals spending all day with video games may in fact be a very adult thing to do. But not for me.
A couple weeks ago I had an epiphany—an actual real-life epiphany, something I’m not sure I’ve ever really had before. I had just purchased the audio version of a book called Love Does by Bob Goff, and was listening to the Introduction when for some reason something he said slapped me across the face with the full force of a proverbial ton of fish. Eyes wide, I sat straight up in my old wooden rocking-chair.
“Holy crap. Video games have made me incredibly selfish.”
I could not and still cannot believe I had never noticed it before. Video games had been sucking the empathy right out of me. For whatever reason, whenever I gamed it was always a self-absorbed experience. Even with MMORPG’s, which are specifically designed to be played with others, it was always about me. I was always focused on myself and how to advance and better my own in-game character. Even when I intentionally set out to socialize with other players, I would come to several hours later realizing I hadn’t spoken more than a word to anyone. I just could not do it.
I want to live a life in service to others. I want to be the kind of guy people can count on to always be willing and eager to help out. I want to be the sort of person who finds my meaning in those moments, who always seems to be scheming up new ways to bring joy to the people around me. Video games had made me the opposite, and slowly sucked that desire and drive from my life. Whenever someone needed a favor, I would internally groan and think, “Fine, I’ll do it. But let’s get it over with quickly so I can get back to doing what I want to do.” Those things I meant to live for, which were supposed to be life, had become the interruptions. It was a sickening, yet liberating revelation.
I also realized something else, about the reason I played video games. Now at this point, you may be picturing me as something akin to an addict, or someone who did nothing but sit on his butt all day and play games, but I assure you that is not the case. It was more along the lines of I’ve had a lot of free time outside of work and spent a large chunk of it playing video games because what else am I going to do? I never considered myself a “gamer,” mostly because there are very few games I actually enjoy, and because I knew I wasn’t interested in a life built around them. But one of the main reasons I spent so much time playing them, I realized, was that I was so stubborn about “growing up.” I hated the expectations people had about what a grown-up should be and do, so I wanted to prove it could look different. Why can’t a grown man spend several hours a day playing video games? The problem, of course, was that while a grown man (or woman) can in fact do so if it fits into their own dreams and aspirations, it had no place in who I wanted to be or where I wanted to go.
And so I’ve decided I want to grow up. When I was a kid I could be perfectly content passing the days hanging out and playing games, because I was a kid and had nothing to worry about. But now I have dreams. I want to live a life that matters. I have a vision (though admittedly it is still wonderfully obscure) of what I want my life to be, and those things just don’t fit into it anymore.
A couple weeks back I put my video games away. I’m not saying I’ll never play them again, and I’m certainly not saying I think the characters and worlds of my childhood are any less epic (Pokémon is and will always be awesome). My forum avatar is Tirion Fordring and will likely remain Tirion Fordring because he is the man, but there is a difference between being a child and preserving your inner child. I doubt it will be a noticeable change for those who know me, but I know I’ve been much happier and more positive lately, and it seems likely such a shift will end up positively impacting the lives of those around me. That is the hope, at least.
You've made it to the end! :cheers: (or were smart enough to just skip the whole dang thing)