Last Saturday, Robo♥Beat owner and GFN writer and Ashley Hagood posted a wonderful article about finding time to game – I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t already. Oddly enough, that same day, the notion she discussed about time and gaming manifested itself in reality — my reality. Shortly after reading her post, my husband and I started a discussion about our plans for rest of the weekend. During that talk, I mentioned (in passing, I thought) that I wanted to squeeze in some GTA V. Without missing a beat, my husband perked up with a half-sarcastic, half-serious comment along the lines of have you always been such a gamer? I paused for a moment and replied with an enthusiastic and slightly exaggerated uhhh…YEAH! We ended our conversation, but I could stop thinking have I been talking about GTA V that much recently? And yes, I probably had been. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that I’d probably mentioned it (and any number of other soon-to-be-released games) in our daily discussions for the past several weeks. Considering just how much is on our plates at the moment, I started to feel rather guilty. And since I haven’t been able to shrug off that guilt, I started writing about it.
The thing is, no, I haven’t always been a such a gamer. I’ve definitely had extended periods of time during which playing games was my primary and preferred form of entertainment. During those high periods, I played regularly, at least a couple hours every day, and I was perfectly happy. But I’ve also had plenty of low periods, months upon months without games, and I was also perfectly happy. When I met my husband, it was during a time when I wasn’t that into games. He was, however, and so began my slow turn back towards gaming. It really wasn’t until I started playing Mass Effect that the gaming crave took hold again. I had the luxury then, again, of being able to devote a couple hours a day to gaming, and it was a luxury that I took for granted.
I commented on Ashley’s post with mention of how things change, whether they have to or you want them to, when you become significantly attached to another person. For me, now, free time (and/or “me time”) happens in scattered fits and spurts. On occasion, and without really knowing how to best put it in words, I simply get anxious to game. I long to spend just an hour or two immersed in a virtual adventure. Add onto that my penchant for solitary gaming and the situation becomes less than pleasant. In those moments, it’s not my love for gaming I’m expressing, but rather selfishness, avoidance, and distance. So yes, it’s one thing when I say that I want a couple hours on a Saturday to play GTA V; it’s another when I say I want the same repeatedly, every single day.
Video games have played an extremely important role in our relationship over the years. They’ve bonded us together as much as they’ve proved problematic. The fact of the matter is that I knew I would start heading towards another low gaming period when I got engaged. I knew that my life would profoundly change and that compromises would have to be made. Since getting married and buying a house, life has become more wonderful than I could possibly imagine. Gaming has not just taken a backseat, it’s a few cars behind trying to figure out how to change lanes. Why then do I still wrestle with gaming cravings? Why does the fact that it’s been ten whole days since I played GTA V bother me and make me feel ridiculous all at once? Change is never easy, whether it’s change that happens over the course of a few seconds or a few years. When things get busy and stressful, all I want to do is revert back to a simpler time when I could fill my free time with what I wanted to do. But see, the I is now we. I’m still growing into my roles at home, at work, within society generally which sees me as a “grown-up” even though internally, I still have a long way to go in that regard.
So there are still going to be days when I proclaim play ALL the video games! And maybe I’ll play, and maybe I won’t. Gaming is a brilliant pastime, one that will wait for you no matter how many days, weeks, or months have passed since you picked up a controller. Being in a relationship is a fantastic part of humanity, no matter how many perks or pitfalls might come with it. But the relationship has to come first. Video games, if they’re part of that relationship, will follow in time.