3 min read

Game Off

Game Off
All credit to Propaganda films. Look at that glorious chin

Today, instead of a normal blog post consisting of headers, puns, a point and some sort of recognisable structure, what you're going to get is a stream of consciousness.

This is not the first time that I've written a filler post and it certainly won't be the last.

Adjust your expectations appropriately.

The topic at hand is video games. Specifically, my desire to play them past the point where I should be asleep and the ramifications that has on my ability to function as a human being.

Now, I play a lot of video games.

Well, maybe that's not true. I've played a lot of video games in my life. The first console that I owned was a Super Nintendo with Super Mario All Stars and Super Mario World and it only got more Super from that point forward.

These days is I get maybe an hour or two of gaming each day during the week and then probably 10-12 hours total over the weekend, depending on what else I've got on my plate (I like to hike while listening to podcasts for example).

Is that a lot?

Its probably a lot.

I think games have always been something of an escape for me. A world where the rules are documented and learnable. Where success is easily measurable and the rewards are clear, though they might not be easy to obtain. A challenge that is beatable, because its designed that way.

But I don't know if games are actually a positive experience anymore, or if I just have so much momentum built up on the concept that I keep doing it anyway. Like, I'm not sure if they actually make me happier or reduce my total amount of stress. But then again, maybe they never did?

Recently I've been playing a lot of Destiny 2. Its a first person shooter with RPG aspects and a loot based power progression system. Also a pretty interesting setting and story.

If I look objectively at how I feel after playing, its usually some form of unfulfilled. I want more. I want to do :allthethings:, and I literally can't invest the time the game expects from me in order to accomplish that.

But is that merely a prioritization problem or is it an effort/investment problem?

So it almost feels like work in that way, because there are always more things to do than time to do them in.

Its not supposed to feel like work.

Its supposed to be an escape from that sort of thing.

Of course, there are times when I feel good. Like when I surmount a challenge of some sort, but even those memories are bittersweet, because sometimes I just smash my head up against something until I beat it through sheer stubbornness and then get sad because it took me so long, instead of happy that I finally triumphed.

Lets ignore the work parallels for a moment and go back to the escape part.

I think that sometimes when I seek escape in games its hard for me to leave. When I submit to that desire, I fail to adhere to the patterns that help keep me functioning. Like sleeping, getting up at a reasonable time, exercising and writing this blog.

But where does the cycle start? Do I seek escape because I'm already struggling? Or do I accidentally spend too long escaping and then I need more escape because I start struggling.

This week is a great example:

  • On Saturday night I stayed up past midnight playing games
  • I got up late on Sunday, which meant I didn't go for a hike
  • I didn't feel bad about this for once, and enjoyed my Sunday
  • But I played too late on Sunday night as well
  • And got up later on Monday
  • Which meant I didn't start writing my blog post
  • Which meant I felt bad because of a looming deadline
  • So I stayed up late on Monday night escaping that thought
  • And so on

Eventually I broke the pattern by just not playing games on Tuesday night, thus not tempting myself to fall into the escape hole. But I really want to, so I had to expend willpower to make that choice and then enforce it

And I'm good again, mostly. Though there are ramifications to my actions.

Case in point: this filler post.

So I'm left with the thought: Should I just not play games?

But I like games.

Or do I like the idea of games?

I don't really know anymore.

But hey, I wrote a blog post (technically), I still did all my weights training this week, I haven't been fired yet and I'm not eating mountains of junk food.

You know, I don't think I've ever seen Caddyshack