Gaming has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember.
My earliest gaming memories are of the ZX Spectrum at the age of five or so. Cassette tapes, bought from Boots of all places, that would fail to load on over 2/3rds of all attempts. A Batman game that was beyond impossible (even for my Dad), and what I swear was Kirby or some close equivalent (either a cheap knock-off or a 8-bit muse for Nintendo).
Then came the SNES (the greatest ever Christmas present) and Mario, and Star Fox and Contra and International Superstar Soccer (goal, goal, goalllll). Not long after came the PS1 (a reward for passing exams) and a ridiculous step up in terms of what is possible – Abe’s Oddysee, Rage Racer, that game that made Song 2 famous, Time Crisis and the light gun, and of course the incomparable Final Fantasy series – 7, 8 and 9 (I’ll explain at a later date why 8 most captured my heart).
In the background, my love for PC gaming grew – starting with the original Championship Manager games (now Football Manager) and Ultimate Soccer Manager (which still stands out as having some of the greatest gameplay exploits of all time). And beyond them developed a passion for numerous other genres; FPSs (Half Life > Counter Strike > Day of Defeat; a game I’d go on to represent the UK playing), RPGs (Baldur’s Gate 1&2), strategy games (Civ and C&C), simulation games (Theme Hospital, Rollercoaster Tycoon) and many more.
Life was good, and my time was endlessly, and happily filled enjoying these.
On to university, and retirement from (semi) pro-competitive gaming. But gaming certainly didn’t stop – hours of Football Manager, FIFA/Pro Evo, Call of Duty and any single-player games I could torrent (sorry Bethesda…). Graduation, employment, marriage and children and things are now very different. Gaming time is a luxury – a couple of hours an evening max once the wife and kids have gone to bed, and rarely any time other than that. As I no longer commute, handheld or mobile gaming just doesn’t feature anymore (so I really don’t need the Steam Deck that I initially registered for).
And this is fine – life moves on, priorities change and time gets cut short, but there’s one big thing I’m really struggling with:
I just don’t seem to get anything from gaming anymore
A relatively recent revelation; I noticed I was no longer having fun when I played. I was getting bored and frustrated, checking to see how long was left to play until I could move on, struggling to find the motivation to even start playing anything. I distinctly remember saying to myself, not that many years ago, that I would be playing video games until the very end, but that prospect feels so very unlikely at this stage.
This blog is an attempt to make sense of that – explore the reasons I feel this way and hopefully try and find some solutions. Yes I’ll be moaning about modern games – their design, development, monetisation – but it’s not really about that. Gaming has certainly changed, but I have even more.
My hope is that I can push myself to love playing games again – this is not a hobby I want to have to phase out. But unless I can rediscover that love of gaming, and stop finding games boring and a drain on my time rather than a good use of it, it’s something I’ll have to do.
I hope you enjoy reading about my journey.