What gaming means to me now

At some point in my life, quite unexpectedly I turned 30 years old.  Then 35.  Now, I am 38 and as I am jet skiing towards 40 I sometimes reflect on my life, my hobbies, and the way they have changed.

It is no secret that from the tender age of seven years old gaming has been my “primary” hobby.  It’s been with me through elementary school in the 80s, junior high and high school in the 90s, through my own LAN center in the 2000s and now into my convention, the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo in the 2010s.  Over the course of this long journey I’ve seen the mind blowing “best graphics ever” of the SNES, the advent of 3D gaming, the rise of HD and the not so popular “I have to wait 90 minutes to play my new game I just bought because there is a 40GB patch.”

Do I see or play games the way I used to?  Surely my approach has to have changed since I am not seven years old anymore.  It is no secret that most gamers my age have “eyes bigger than their stomachs” in regards to games and thus always have a tremendous backlog, often resulting in the sale of games that have never even been opened due to lack of time.

I can say personally that while in the midst of my heaviest gaming related projects (the store and the convention) my playing definitely decreased, sometimes to the point of non-existence.  The convention has been a little better since there is some type of “off-season” (though that window has been getting shorter and shorter).  There is also the undeniable personal truth that for a while there games were boring.  I wasn’t excited for anything anymore.

Then came the Nintendo Switch.

As many gamers my age I will be the first to admit I am a sizable Nintendo fan.  Even during the Gamecube days I stuck with them.  I bought a Wii U in 2015 and barely touched it.  I knew the games were good but it just didn’t excite me.  When the Switch came out however, something clicked for me, and I think it clicked for a lot of other people as well.  The games on it weren’t just fun, but the unit itself was fun to play on.  The fact that it was extremely small, powerful, and portable definitely did not hurt either.

While some people criticized the early launch library I found it liberating,  Going back to why people have backlogs – in my mind if there is at least one more game I want to play on a system what does it matter if the system has 2 or 200 games?  If there is always one more game I want to play then I am good.  And from day one, that has been the case.  Zelda to Shovel Knight, to Blaster Master, to Mario Rabbids, to Mario Oddysey and so on and so forth.

Does this line of thinking work for everyone?  Of course not, no line of thinking does.  But for me, it’s perfect.  Because in reality, even though I am involved in so many gaming themed projects, and I have lots of exposure to the gaming world, in truth I am not much of a gamer anymore.  That doesn’t mean I don’t love the time I have playing games, but in my modern landscape I am also a guy with a full time job, multiple side projects, a convention head, and I’m someone’s fiance to boot (and boy is she understanding!)  I am also always interested in improving myself and learning things, which is a hobby in of itself.

So obviously gaming is much different to me than it was, and it’s true you can never truly go home again.  It is impossible to capture that same feeling of playing Chrono Trigger for the first time because there were so many factors involved in creating those special memories (your age, the world at the time, infancy of the internet, etc) that can never be replicated, especially if you attempt to do so.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find the new games, appreciate them for what they are and have a blast when you are able to.  You just also have to be comfortable with the fact that you may play 1/10th the amount of games you want to, and that is a-ok!