It’s been a while since I claimed I’d be writing more about games again. The truth is, I’ve been busy moving and socializing lately, as well as working on my book, so I haven’t been doing as much gaming or blogging. That being said, gaming a bit less, and a bit more intensely, has allowed me to learn how to enjoy video games again. Now that I’m moved into my apartment, and started to feel a little less anxiety about the pressures and responsibilities of having fixed expenses and a fixed life, I’ve been taking the time to learn how to enjoy video games again.
The first thing is actually having all of my systems (including my gaming PC) in one place. I can hop on a quick game of Overwatch at any time, and not feel the emotional investment in it that I used to. I don’t play to win anymore; I play to have fun. But more importantly, I’ve been able to go back to my roots as a gamer, playing the types of games, like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and Super Smash Bros Ultimate, that I typically have associated with gaming. For me to learn how to enjoy video games again, I’ve learned to not care about the outcome, and to just enjoy the overall experience more.
Winning, or even just feeling like you’re the best among the people you know, was always important to me when growing up. When playing the original Mario Party, I was so cutthroat that I talked my babysitter into not buying the Star once. But since gamers have decided they are an oppressed ideological group, I’ve shied away from the experience a bit. When traveling, I wasn’t gaming as much, and not having access to my consoles and gaming PC made gaming get lost in the shuffle a bit.
That’s not to say gaming is inherently toxic. It’s a great hobby, but it’s just that – a hobby. It’s an identity, but not one that needs to come with any sort of baggage. The point of games is to play, but the point of video games is to experience. Video games are not just one for competition – it’s one where you can immerse yourself in new worlds, and experience stories in a way that no other medium can muster.
Even online games have their own narrative. When you learn to enjoy video games again, you’re learning that that narrative supersedes competitive play. It’s not just about your kill-death ratio, or the feats you can perform with your technical skill. It’s about what happens. If you’re playing Overwatch, for example, and a you break your team out of the gridlock of a stalled cart with a combination of luck and strategy, then that’s a narrative you’re creating right there.
Learn How to Enjoy Video Games Again with Friends
There’s no ‘I’ in video games (except for, you know, that one ‘I’). But the experience of playing video games is not done in a vacuum. Even if you’re playing a single-player narrative based game, you are a part of a broader culture conversation about that particular game. Nobody plays Dark Souls thinking they are going to have an easy time, or plays The Witcher 3 without expecting a masterpiece. Even if you’re not physically playing with your friends, your experience with the game is a part of your relationship with them — that is if you’re playing the same games.
To learn how to enjoy games again, you need people to enjoy it with people you like spending time with. It’s not just a matter of queuing up a six stack in order to dominate in Overwatch. It’s enjoying the experience of playing with, or adjacent to the people in your life. Not everyone who games has friends like this, of course. But for me, having close friends who love the games I love has really helped me to immerse myself back into gaming.
To learn how to enjoy video games again, I’ve found that I needed to let go of some of my anger. Even though Yoda didn’t help Anakin avoid the Dark Side, he was still right.
You need to train yourself to let go and enjoy the game again.