Gaming, growing up, and time

Finishing the whole Demon’s Souls business (in however elliptical a form) this past summer was as relieving as exorcising an actual demon. Now I appear to have started the cycle again with a series on Splinter Cell, but I am less emotionally invested in it and I have no illusions that it may involve a wait of months between instalments.

Since I was quite young, video games and writing have been my constant companions. Until late in high school I had nothing resembling a social life. I played hockey but didn’t enjoy it. For a few years I had a web programming phase, but I eventually put away such foolishly practical skills and became a musician. All the while I continued to enjoy video games, and I wrote more as a way of exorcising demons than realistically preparing anything for publication.

Going to university changed that. It was the first time I really exerted myself in an academic setting. In my first year I would get home no sooner than 5 or 6 PM, which at the time seemed shockingly late. By third year I was routinely at school for twelve or more hours at a stretch, with a few hours of work to do once I got home. I’m in classes full time and working three jobs in the off-hours.

All this means that leisure activities are sidelined. I’m lucky if I can get fifteen minutes to read a book before bed, let alone time to play a video game. In the time I’ve been employed by the Manitoban (for which employment I am extremely grateful; don’t get me wrong) it has constituted almost the entirety of my writing output.

The sad fact is that when you’re a staff writer for a publication you sometimes have to write about things you’d rather not and you often can’t do what you’d like to. I can’t recall the last time I tried my hand at fiction, not to mention completing something and submitting it for publication. The kind of non-fiction I prefer to write goes here, but only when I have a large enough stretch of leisure time (articles need room to breathe, I’ve always felt).

A holiday used to mean an unfathomably long period of uninterrupted gaming (probably it was two hours at a time, but these things are perceived differently when you’re younger). Now it just means I get to choose in what order to do the million things I have to do. I play console games in short, infrequent spurts on some weekends. It occurred to me today when dealing with some computer problems that I cannot remember the last time I played a computer game (even my beloved Half-Life series).

Every so often I get nostalgic for those days—the games were better then, too. I hope against hope that when I finally finish school it will give me a little more leisure time, but I think what I miss most of all is a certain kind of innocent conception of time that is wholly lost to me no matter what I do.

I feel like there’s been an oddly shaped divot in my soul since I finished Dark Souls. I reach out to my readers, if they exist: what should I play next?

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