On Video Games and Getting Older

When I was a teenager, I played a lot of different video games. I wouldn't say I spent a long time playing video games, but I enjoyed trying new ones. I wanted to be up to date with games, both popular and obscure, and there was a concrete part of who I was wrapped up in that idea. It's been a long time since I was a teenager, but I think that part of my personality was still fighting for its existence until recently.

These days I still play video games. The difference today is I have time for fewer new ones. Life gets busy, and the time I spent reading about new games and trying them out is available less and less. That part of me used to fight hard to exist. As a result, I would become anxious that I was missing out and was less like the 'real me' every day. I'd buy games and never play them. Installing them, then giving myself a reality check, uninstalling them and repeating the process a month later. I became aware of the absurdity of it all and set myself on the task of changing.

What I came to realise is that what I worried about wasn't video games but stagnation. A fear that I would become trapped in routine and feel the years slip by without notice. Keeping on top of everything new meant new experiences, new memories and slowing down the clock. My path to change was coupling acceptance and swapping breadth for depth.

The first step to just about any change is accepting reality. Understanding what was driving my worry meant I could get past it. Much like in The Tail End, there were really only so many games left that I could commit to if I wanted to see them to the end. Realising that helped me realise that seeing them to the end, or at least until they stopped being fun was more important than playing dozens of new games each year.

Depth became a more important focus. My criteria became "if I had to play this to the end and couldn't expend until I did, would I start?". For many games I had or was looking to buy, the answer was no. It was one question that made all decisions simpler.

If I look at the rest of my life, this pattern exists in many places. I enjoy going deep. I enjoy talking to people who know a tonne of things about single topics. There is just as much to be discovered in-depth and just as much potential to slow down the clock.

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