When life gives you lemons, sometimes it squirts the juice in your eyes. No lemonade, just an irritating stinging sensation coupled with confusion. That’s kind of how things have been on my end for a while. It’s also why I haven’t uploaded anything in the past couple-er,-five months.
I’ve had curveballs thrown at me one after another for while. Housing/lease confusion, medical and insurance drama, etc, etc., leading up to moving six years worth of stuff halfway across the country in less than a week… only to find out that my new intended living space is temporarily unavailable due to water and mold damage. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty mentally and emotionally drained. I’ve managed to keep appearances pretty normal on Facebook and Twitter, but I had more or less dropped gaming (among other things) from my life for a few months and that made writing about them rather difficult. I’ve wanted to write more for Retroware, but I just can’t write like that when I can’t get my head in the game. (I also apologize for the head in the game pun. I know, it’s bad.) Even though I wanted to, I just couldn’t bring myself to get into any games.
At least Henry didn’t have to use a filtered shop mask in HIS apartment in Silent Hill.
It didn’t make sense, but it got me thinking. I love video games. I really, really, really do. They keep my ADHD tendencies at bay, they pass time in (mostly) non-neurotic ways, and God dammit, there’s a special satisfaction one gets from high scores, combo chains, and special rare item drops. Just writing this now makes me want to unpack my Dreamcast to play some Power Stone 2, so why did I deprive myself of all of that? I don’t really know. But I do know I’m not the only one who gets like this, I know a lot of other people that drop some of their favorite activities and fall into a cycle of “meh.” when they are overwhelmed.
When I finally went through my pile of boxes, dug out my Saturn, and heard the little jingle as I started it up, I felt relaxed. After a few rounds of NiGHTS into Dreams, I felt like I was waking up and I gradually started getting my crap together. Spending some time throughout the week immersed in gaming really helped me work harder and pull myself out of the rut I had fallen into. It got things moving again, and they kept moving fast.
The sounds that go with this… music to my earholes
I’m still not sure I understand the cycles of stress and depression that well, but I think I understand the function and importance of hobbies better now. Normally it’s fun to indulge some time and energy in video games here and there at the end of the day. Pounding on the A button, the bright colors, the melodic bleeps and bloops, it’s pleasant. Gamers can gain a strong sense of accomplishment from new tasks or exploring new worlds. It’s a good feeling, but at the end of the day these achievements aren’t really affecting life in the real world.
This doesn’t bother most gamers most of the time, and that’s good. Sometimes however, as the real world piles heaps of things into our life’s To-Do Box and stressors like deadlines complicate things, people sometimes question what they are doing and how their time is spent. The idea of spending time, energy, and emotion on a game can seem foolish when there are bigger things to be done. Some people put hobbies on hold to motivate themselves to get through harder tasks, and some lose sight of things that make them happy when they are afraid to widen there view in times of chaos. I know lots of people who follow patterns like this. I have a friend who is an industrial designer, and when a job is big or a contract is running up, there is nothing else. No crazy cooking projects, no drunken outings, just work. By the end of it, she’s moody and exhausted. That’s how I’ve felt, but after examining it all from a distance, I’ve asked myself, Is this worth it?
I don’t think it is. It all comes down to your feelings on time and how it is spent. If you need that burst of personal enjoyment sometimes, that push to propel you through the day, then you deserve it. That is time well spent. If the pick me ups you get from gaming, or any other hobby, make you more resilient, it’s power that you should use. If grinding Terra and Locke to perfection in Final Fantasy VI inspires you to try harder tomorrow, don’t deprive yourself. If the manic energy and sheer goofiness of Space Channel 5 makes you smile and laugh through the rest of the day, then isn’t the 15 minutes it takes to get through a level worth it? Why wouldn’t it be?
Finally making up my mind to go to MAGfest 8.5 with the Retroware crew not too long ago was a pretty big leap for me, but it helped immensely. Spending time surrounded by friends and games that made me happy was a very good decision. It may seem like a no brainer, but stress can alter your perception in crazy ways. I mean, look at the Virtual Boy. Seriously.
See you all again at MAGfest 13 in January!
Hobbies are important to their respective hobbyists for a reason. When something clicks, it should be acknowledged. Use it. If hobbies like, singing, sketching, or regularly visiting quality websites dedicated to obsolete and discontinued electronic gaming, go for it. As long as you don’t lose track of the world outside the screen, have fun, dammit. And next time life gives you lemons, don’t be afraid to take those stupid things and give them to Megaman to shoot back at the jerk until life chills out again.