by Chris Castro
If you’re 35 or younger, it’s more than likely that video games have been a part of your childhood. For me, I’ve been into video games since I was about 12 years old. I’ve noticed, however, as i’ve gotten older, it’s become more difficult to stay in the fold. Life is such a time consumer. For me and my friends, we find ourselves with less and less free time. It’s funny. As you get older, you obtain more privileges, but lose out on the simplicity of life. You gain more responsibilities. Work, school, and everything in between starts to come to a head. Growing up is a natural part of life, but I still don’t think it’s necessary to abandon videogames to do it. They are an art form. A way for us to interact with a malleable piece of media. They allow us to explore new worlds and see things that we never thought were possible. But it’s difficult as we are only trying to please one thing: our nostalgia.
We all remember the first video games we’ve played. There’s a certain magic about them that can bring most of us back to a good time in our life. Maybe you played Grand Theft Auto on the PS2 with your Dad, or Wii Bowling during one of your old family nights. Games can give us the opportunity to be reminded of these great memories. I feel a major number of us want to reach that happiness in our older age. We want to be reminded of the easier times in our lives. To capture our youth. Yet, it’s a mountain we can’t reach. We simply cannot create the same magic that made the game special to us in the past. I wouldn’t compare it to reaching an old high, more so like hearing an old song. A piece of entertainment that is forever immortalized as one part of our lives. We want to go back when we know we can’t. This leads to us constantly bashing on the newer games we play, just fueling our anger. We give newer games unjustified expectations. We want the games following the same beloved series we grew up with to still have that magic. Assassins Creed and Call of Duty are prime examples, both having so many evolutions to change with the market and be fresh to the consumer. It’s simply not possible to ever match up with our memories. Our memories that we experienced can never be replicated, duplicated, or altered. It simply is what it is. But there’s more to nostalgia than just the games themselves, it’s the people we played them with.
My friends that I play games with have had the same difficulty trying to capture the past. We all want to go back to our gaming high school sessions of 8 hours at a time. Go back to our late fast food binges that would last until the wee hours of the morning. We want the ease of not worrying about needing a job and paying for our education. Living like that was a privilege.Yet, it simply isn’t possible to turn back the clock. Our lives are starting to individually blossom. We have significant others, we’ve moved, found work, and have changed as people. Even in a short time, much can change a person. It’s a funny thing, how quickly life moves. Videogames are just a means to end. It is one form of happiness that we enjoy. No matter how hard we try, we can’t reach that same world again. That same magic in a bottle. We have to accept that it’s okay. There’s beauty in it. The change in what we like to do and who we are as people. We must grow. Growth is life. It’s difficult, but it’s beautiful.
Even as my time playing with friends has decreased, I still play certain games alone. In particular, they tend to be single player and story centric, like Days Gone and Spider-ManMiles Morales. These games don’t require me to keep up with pages of new information every week about changes in the game. There is just one story that is set for me to experience. I like that. Being able to play for 30 mins to an hour is sometimes all I’m able to scrape together. Even as video games have become more difficult to initiate, there is something about them that keeps me from fully letting go. They give me a little time to relax and deal with other people’s problems for a change. I put the responsibilities in my life aside for a short while. I think it’s important we all can learn to let go from time to time and truly relax. For me, video games still provide that same comfort.
Life is a series of moving pieces. Things change and evolve. I feel that in this convoluted world that videogames offer a certain comfort. It isn’t something you smoke or drink, but a way for you to experience something else for a while. A way to make friends and sometimes lose them. Videogames are a beautiful thing that can last a lifetime. The magic isn’t in trying to capture a lightning bolt of the past, but in exploring future stories. Videogames serve that for me, and I know they always will.