Geeklings, there was a time where video games were a much bigger part of my life. I used to love playing video games. Part of it was the fact that I’m a story junkie and it was just another way to consume stories, but it was more interactive then say a movie or a television show. The story progressed based on my ability to progress it. I always enjoyed that fact. If you wanted to know how this thing was going to end you were going to have to put the work in. Some games were harder then others but that just meant the story conclusion was a bigger payoff (you would hope, there was nothing worse then a tough game with a crappy ending). I recently saw a presentation where a video game spokesperson said that video games were the only entertainment medium that punished it’s users for not being good. Movies, books, and music never excluded you from their experience but if you couldn’t beat a big boss or solve the riddle you weren’t going to finish a game. It’s kind of brutal when you think of it that way. There’s something rewarding about beating a video game that you don’t get when you say, finish binge watching a series. Unless that series is Breaking Bad I suppose.
The other part of my love for video games was I’m a Nintendo kid. I grew up during the time the original Nintendo system was released. Games like Mario, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Battle Toads, and Zelda are a part of my geek DNA. I consumed those kids as a game. As I got older I progressed to better, more challenging games and my skills adapted. I would never consider myself a world class video game player, but I was good. I was good enough to beat most games and solve most riddles and that was good enough for me. I was able to build my skills based on the challenge the game was presenting. Being able to beat games like Final Fantasy X (I don’t want to get into how many man hours I put into that game) were not just personal victories but badges of honor.
Five years ago I was going through a divorce, something I’ve touched upon here before, and moved in with my sister and her husband (who are now starting season four of Game of Thrones for those who are keeping up with that). During that time I tried to stay out of their way and let them feel that they still had their house to themselves, so I would spend a good amount of time in my room at night. I’ve talked in the past how I allowed myself to be consumed by Breaking Bad and Community, but I haven’t talked about how video games played a big part of me keeping my sanity. I would spend hours playing Batman: Arkham City or Asylum (yes I played them out of order) or Telltale’s Walking Dead game (which is still one of my favorite video game experiences) or Madden. These games came as a much needed distraction.
After nine months I moved into this crappy basement apartment that I found on Craigslist, the one and only time I have used Craigslist for anything, and it was less then ideal. The home owners were crazy, the living environment was not so good, and I had no real internet connection. Picture that. Me, without a steady internet connection. It was brutal. During this time I picked up Bioshock Infinite and the Last of Us to kind of take my mind off the crappy living situation. The problem was with the lack of internet I couldn’t even download the games so I had to take my PS3 to my parents house just to get them on my system so I could play them. The struggle was real.
I buried myself in those games. I beat Bioshock while I was still in my basement dungeon, and played Last of Us for hours leading up to my moving to the Fortress of Nerditude. In fact my PS3 was the very last thing I packed up because up until the morning I moved out I was up late playing the game. When I was all settled in the Fortress one of the first things I did was beat the Last of Us and that ending left me an emotional mess in my new dwellings.It was brilliant and I was riding some of my very best video game playing ever. Then tragedy struck.
One night I was trying to play or download something on my PS3 and I couldn’t get it to start. The start screen wouldn’t advance and no amount of trouble shooting or resetting would bring it back. Cold sweat rose on the back of my neck and a nausea settled in my stomach as I started to face the harsh reality of what was about to happen. I called Sony customer service for assistance and eventually they lead me to the only conclusion left. I had to reset the system, crash the hard drive, and lose all the progress on all the games I had played. It was devastating. This was right around the time Telltale’s Walking Dead Season Two was being released, and I was crushed because all the decisions from the first game were wiped out. I would have to start from scratch, and all I wanted was to see how the rest of Clementine’s story played out.
And I tried to get back into gaming, I really did, but the wind had been sucked out of my proverbial video game sail. I tried to force myself back into games, like Alien Isolation, but nothing stuck, which is a shame because I hear that game is awesome. The loss of my hard drive had erased all the joy from playing video games (no pun intended), and slowly I just stopped playing. The most I would gaming I would do was with my buddy and his son when we would try Call of Duty or one of the WWE wrestling games. Outside of that it seemed my life as a video game player was over. It was sad but I quickly picked up new hobbies, or more like, I quickly advanced my passions into existing hobbies like reading and binge watching.
Lately though, I find myself missing video games. I feel this itch to get back into playing. At first I tried to suppress that urge by talking myself out of it. I do not own a PS4 mostly because I don’t feel like it’s a wise investment considering how infrequently I play games now. Plus those things are crazy expensive. But that urge kept coming and I kept watching for the prices of the system to drop.
Today though I decided I want to start playing again. I think it was the release of Square’s Avengers game trailer that kind of sealed the deal. I need to play that! On top of that the trailer for the Last of Us 2 gave me so many feels that I was considering just camping out at my buddies house when it was released so I could borrow his PS4. That was a serious thought I had. There are other games though. There’s Batman: Arkham Knight, the upcoming Injustice 2, and the third season of Telltales’ Walking Dead calling out to me, and Star Wars: Battlfield, almost begging me to return to gaming. Finish the stories it says. Open new stories it tells me. And I want to listen. I really do. I miss playing video games.
Now I find myself in a position where I’m seriously considering looking into getting a PS4. Maybe it’s about time to pick up a controller again and spend some nights after work trying to reward myself with the progression of stories. Maybe I can take time from binge watching and reading to get back into something that I loved doing. For the first time since the purging of my hard drive, video games seem like something I can do again.
But first I think I’ll go back and play some of my older games. Just to see if it feels the same. To shake off the rust. To get back into the rhythm. Maybe play the Last of Us again or finally get a chance to play the second season of the Walking Dead or actually give Alien Isolation a chance. I’ve been away so long.