Can I still call myself a gamer?

Can you even stop being a gamer? I’ve had this thought for awhile and it’s not one I can answer or really need answering, I just need to air it and see it in harsh light of day!

So I’ve been playing video games for a long time, board/table-top games for even longer. I believe the first console I got to play was the genesis (Megadrive 2 for us British!) and I remember playing the hell out of Sonic, World of Illusion and Zombies ate my Neighbours. I was the first of my friends to play on the SNES, namely because my dad imported one from Japan (my dad was a gamer too).

I was given the playstation for my birthday and spending almost all my time playing Crash Bandicot, Final Fantasy and V-Rally. Whilst this was going on, I was also learning strategies with Warcraft 2, Starcraft and Red Alert. When I was about Fourteen, I moved into my dads place (parents separate years before) and I was introduced to MMO’s and Beta testing. My dad had been beta testing games on the net for a while (since the 56k days) had been playing a game called “Legend of Mir”.

Well kids, lets say I was hooked and spent the next two/three years playing Legend of Mir and beta testing games on the side. I got to be one of the first to try Eve (woo, was not ready for that) and Star Wars Galaxies. But I didn’t ignore my consoles. I got a PS2 but I never really enjoyed playing it. By then, I had hit my growth spurt and the controllers always felt too small and breakable. But then I given an xbox and I knew what I was missing. Duke Controllers! They were big and heavy; And were perfect for me!

And as any xbox owner at the time will tell you, the game to play was Halo, and I was hooked from the first minute. I played that all the way through secondary school and into college. I was first in line to get Halo 2 in my town (which at the time wasn’t a big thing) and play that with my friends for almost two years… then the 360 arrived and I finally got Xbox LIVE. From then on, I was playing online every night. Either I was playing Halo with friends or pwning some noobs; or I was grinding away on World of Warcraft. RTS has slipped a little for me as both Warcraft 3 and Starcraft had become dated and the online player swere so much more skilled than me.

Now I will admit, in the second year of college, my gaming had started to impact my concentration with my studies but I think almost any gamer can say that has happened to him/her sometime in their life. When I look back, I do not blame the games, I blame my poor choice of choosing a course that bored the crap out of me. I was being taught stuff either I’d never use or already knew. Games allowed me to use that knowledge to my advantage and to teach me new things.

Shortly after starting a new college course (year three) I decided to take a break from Video Games. I still played Warhammer 40,000 but that was more of a job as I was working in a store that sold it at the time. I don’t know why I quit. Most of my gamer friends had started to move on in their lives and I maybe felt a little betrayed. We were gamers and not to be playing felt wrong. But I didn’t play for a whole summer. Didn’t play Halo, closed my World of Warcraft account. Spent my time watching movies, working and making models.

Then one day, I got challenged to some Halo and couldn’t resist getting back to showing who was boss. And damn, did it feel good to be back. I went on a spree of wins for almost a month, I was on fire! It felt good to be back into gaming. I stayed away from World of Warcraft and every other MMO as I knew how much of a time sink they were and didn’t want anything distracting me from College and Halo.

In 2008, my father passed away. It drove me back to World of Warcraft, it was more than a game to me, it was carrying on the torch my dad left behind. He had spent so long playing it that playing it myself was like keeping a part of him close. I finally stopped playing in 2011 and only go back to try the expansions. I never really got back into playing MMO’s after I quit World of Warcraft the first time. I could never grasp the social side of it. Playing with a group or guild is fine when you’re hacking away at mobs but they soon end up being shouting boards for personal feeling and troubles and I just want to play. So I went back to my 360 and the hate filled, target reach environment that is Xbox LIVE. There was no need to talk and keep everyone happy. It was a kill or be killed environment and I liked that just fine.

After I lost my part-time job (Was laid off as the store was no longer making money and went bankrupt a year later) I stop being able to afford to buy the figures for Warhammer and most of my friends who did play, had moved away. So I packed it up and it still sits in my room waiting for the day I pull it out, brush it off, give it a new coat of paint and start playing it again.

Everything was going fine until about a year and half ago. I had been given a copy of Minecraft and had dove headlong into it. Spending so many hours building things only to wipe them away and build something new (or in my case, bigger. I like big castles!). I didn’t realise two months almost go by. I had finished my college course and didn’t want to go back. Due to my mental difficulties I couldn’t work full time and there were so many other higher qualified people to hire, I ended up on income support. I have no work, no real need to worry about money as income support covered my rent and food; and I stopped playing everything but minecraft.

For last few months, I’ve not really played much. I clocked in a few hours on Diablo 3 but nothing compared to what I use to do. I might play a match or two of Halo a week. But now I’d rather sit down and watch a movie, read a book or surfing the net. Its weird, I feel like playing but I can not be bothered to put in the energy to play. Is this what getting old feels like cos if it is, I don’t like it!

Written September 2012 – Follow-up to come!!

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