Lessons Learned from 20 Years of Gaming
It’s amazing how much time we had as kids to play games. I could easily play eight hours of video games in a single night. Today is much different. We have jobs, lives and commitments that have reduced our free time to just a small fraction of what it once was. Time is sacred now, and we must choose how we spend it wisely. I’ve been a gamer for over 20 years and I’ve learned a lot about video games in that time. But the most important things I’ve learned are three simple ways to enjoy games without sacrificing everything else.
You don’t need to strive for 100%.
When I was a kid I wanted to beat every single game I played, and at the time, it was a great mentality to have. I played Kingdom Hearts for hours on end not only to watch the credits roll, but because I couldn’t afford more than a handful of games at one time. There were times that I would slave away for hours toward an unsatisfactory ending only because I felt I needed to get my money’s worth. Yet, there was something exciting about being a completionist. There’s an immense amount of pride in 100% completing a game, but time is more precious now than it was then. I’ve learned that it is OK to not finish, but it is also OK to play incessantly. Today, if a game doesn’t grab my attention in a couple of hours, I move on. And that’s OK. Sometimes you just have to ask yourself: are these hours memorable or forgettable?
You don’t have to play them all.
When I was 11, Halo: Combat Evolved released on the Xbox. When I was 12, Battlefield 1942 released on PC. All of my friends played Halo. I couldn’t afford an Xbox, so I played Battlefield 1942. And that’s OK. I had to be selective with what I played because, at the time, I couldn’t play everything. There are times I wonder what it would’ve been like to play Super Mario Bros. in the 80s and BattleToads in the 90s. How about all of the games I missed out on on the Nintendo Wii, the Wii U and on the Genesis, Saturn and Dreamcast? There’s a pretty big chance I will never play any of those games. And that’s OK. You can’t play them all, even the classics. What’s most important is understanding the game’s impact. You don’t have to play a game to come to those conclusions. So long as you learn to appreciate the quality of your time versus the quantity, not playing it all comes easy.
You don’t want to forget the moments.
I’ll never forget the moment I saw my first Tank in Left 4 Dead. One minute we were here, and the next, we were fighting for our lives, clawing our way into a safe room. Those moments in Left 4 Dead were some of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had and I’ll never forget them. I’ll never forget the intense firefights of Battlefield 2 and running through the streets of Karkand with my friends. I’ll never forget leaping over a wall, glitching and dying. I’ll never forget being escorted through the rugged streets of City 17. But most of all, I will never forget the incredible victories I’ve had with my friends. Escorting payloads, capturing flags, even holding out for that elusive chicken dinner. Video games allow people to share experiences with one another that few other mediums can. These experiences will last a lifetime.
I’ve learned a lot in my two decades of gaming, but the most important thing I’ve learned is to spend your time with the experiences and people that matter to you. Don’t let time go to waste. We have a seemingly infinite number of things to enjoy these days, but through them all, one thing is for certain: you have to savor the moment.