You’ll have noticed that I don’t actually play as many games as a gaming blogger probably should.
But that’s okay. Really. I’m not really here to play videogames, much as I’d like to, I’m here because…
Well, that’s a good question isn’t it?
What are videogames then, and specifically what are they to me?
Videogames are escape, they’re a way to be somewhere, something, someone else for a while. That’s true of books, films and TV too, of course, but it’s also true of talking, thinking or writing about those things.
Videogames are reminders of simpler times, when actually all that I had to worry about was a particularly thorny room in Jet Set Willy – even if I didn’t fully realise that at the time. Discussing this stuff connects me back to my younger self, the portrait of the gamer as a young man.
Videogames are release. When life just gets too much, and all you want to do is punch something, hurt someone or just generally let go. Well, isn’t it better to let those feelings out on a digital fire-breathing imp than an actual living, breathing, human?
Videogames are fun. And there’s precious little of that in life sometimes. And thinking of fun things is almost as much fun as doing fun things.
Videogames are mental exercise, they’re certainly less soporific than binge-watching Buffy. I’m a programmer by trade, and the skills I learnt in Pac Man, Tetris and Civilisation are with me every day, even when I’m solving much less interesting puzzles involving fiscal futures.
Videogames are friendships forged through a shared experience. Honestly, some of my best friends are those I’ve met through a mutual appreciation of Robotron, Manic Miner or Zelda – although, oddly perhaps, we rarely play games when we’re together. We’re too busy getting on with the general business of friendship.
And of course, there are the friends who are no longer with us. The ghosts in my replay data and friend lists. High scores that can never be improved on and idiot AI replications of dead friends endlessly interrupting live sessions, a combination of sweet memories and bitter sense of loss.
So, you see, videogames and the conversations, friendships, occasional rivalries and general shenanigans that surround them are a major, perhaps THE major, constancy in my life. They are me, and I them.
Videogames? Just for kids? Yeah, right.