When I was a teenager, my friends and I used to crowd around a black & white TV with dials on the front for tuning and trash talk each other while playing pong and breakout on an Atari 2600. We used to always look for games with multiplayer options. We moved on to Commodore 64’s, then Nintendo’s, Sega’s, Playstations and Xbox. It became a Saturday thing for us. Everyone would crowd around mine, have a few drinks, and bash the crap out of each other. Bloody lot cheaper than nights out in London.
The last console we actively played as a group was Sega’s Dreamcast in the 90’s. We had a few brief meets with the Nintendo Gamecube, but everyone was grown up by then. We went our separate ways.
Then came multiplayer online games. We met in those quite a bit and kept contact. Most of the guys kept playing. I drifted though. I met my missus, who is a gamer herself, and is currently beating me on games completed this year 300 – 1.
At some point I found and played Little Inferno. The first game in years I had actually played through. It’s not a long game, it looks childish, but it is oddly adult. It has themes running though out that you can’t go back, only forward. It ponders if you waste time staring at a screen (or fire) or if you had good times, and lived an enjoyable life looking at a screen. What’s more important? The meaning of the game is left ambiguous.
Recalling this game got me in a philosophical mood though. I am aware my working hours were getting longer and longer over time. I was not aware of how devastating that is on my life. I have tried to live my weekends, but week days have almost been exclusively work for 12 hours a day, and oh god that commute.
I used to enjoy gaming, socializing, reading and technology. I cannot remember the last time I read a new book cover to cover. I cannot remember the last time I followed technology news with excitement. I cannot remember the last time I went to the pub with mates. Where did my mates even go? I just lost contact with everyone over the years. I do not just miss gaming, I miss living.
Holy crap how much of a job has my job done on me?
I do need to work hard at being a freelancer, its tough going it alone. But do you know, everyone closes across the Christmas period. I do not see family across that week (I do not get on with them). So during my Christmas week, I am going to read a book, complete a game and go down the pub.