I won’t beat a dead horse or anything. If you know me, you know I’m gaming for charity this weekend. This is my donation page.
The important thing for me is all of the baggage that “gaming” has for me.
You see, when I was a kid, I played with GI Joe figures mostly. Bloody, militaristic battles took place on the floor, where the heroic group of underdogs battled the massive Cobra army, and only a select few would make it out alive. Those narratives were built on Old Testament stories, movies, comics, and the GI Joe cartoons themselves.
When my mom came home with our very fist Pong system, it was just another toy. My brother and I took the roles of sticks bouncing a block between us, trying to score points by getting it past the other one. Basic stuff.
The Atari upped the ante a little bit, and having no frame of reference for better graphics, it was awesome. My favorite game was definitely Pitfall, and after seeing my cousin get to the point where he actually ran out of time instead of getting eaten by an alligator (or were they crocodiles?), I was hooked.
The Nintendo was another game changer, as I got mine at the same time as my dad and stepmother got me a little television to go in my room. I played Galaga and Mike Tyson’s Punchout (as well as all of the Mario games I could get my hands on) all hours of the night.
When I was 15, I got my first job, and my first paycheck from Food Lion went to a Super Nintendo, and again, I played it so hard… It was a monumental point in my life to actually purchase something cool with my own money.
Right after I graduated, one of my best friends at the time got a Panasonic 3DO. CD-based gaming introduced a whole new level of complexity in the gaming narratives, and after he moved out, I used the money I had saved from working my fanny off at a carpet mill to buy a Playstation.
That’s when the trouble started.
My roommate and I played so much Tekken and Resident Evil that my brain shut off fairly frequently. I started sleeping through classes, and sometimes waking up to game *instead* of going to classes. When I got Final Fantasy VII, I was done.
I bought a PS2 as soon as I could afford it, and I was a gamer who did other stuff (as opposed to a student who gamed), and before I knew it, I had lost the ability for the government to loan me money to go to school. I moved away, and when I came back to town to visit my girlfriend, I would BRING MY PS2 WITH ME. To see my girlfriend…
Nevermind all of the other things that were going in my life at the time. Those things weren’t the cause of my downward spiral, just like games weren’t either. Gaming is a convenient scapegoat for people who are disenfranchised with “reality.” I had other problems going on in my brain, and gaming was just the best way to escape and avoid them.
But it represents a part of my past that I don’t like. I’ve slipped back into habitual playing a few times since then, especially when I just “tried out” Warcraft for a little bit. That little bit turned into 2 years of playing here and there and everywhere.
I would judge my friends for not living up to their full potentials, but I was just projecting my own self-loathing onto them (and being a little hard on myself in the process; I never fully fell into the pit. Of course, it never took a lot of beer to give me a buzz, so maybe it’s the same. I know people who can game a lot more than I can, and they have pretty darn successful lives and relationships. I also know people who can drink much more than the amount it takes me to make a complete ass of myself. So maybe it’s not the amount of gaming that’s the issue. Maybe it’s the frame of mind that we take into it.).
With that said, these days, it doesn’t really matter how much I want to game; I can’t because I’m too busy. Yeah, I still manage to squeeze some chunks here and there, but they’re mostly the last hour before bed, and they’re the kinds of games that put me to sleep… Games have become utilitarian a lot of the time… That’s sad, too, because I personally believe that they can be so much more socially and culturally positive than they are in their current form.
But for 24 hours this weekend, I’m going to go insane, dance with the devil, push myself, and at the end of it, I’ll have raised a few hundred dollars for charity ($293 as of the time of this post), and maybe, just maybe, I’ll put some of those demons from my past to sleep for good.
Or maybe I can get some epic loot… That would be nice, too.