I’m not one to take long breaks from gaming. Even when I’m busy I find time to play a couple of nights a week and that doesn’t include my random bouts of mobile gaming. I game to escape. I game to be social. I game to have fun. I game to relax. There’s always a reason to play even if I don’t always have the time. This summer was unique for a variety of reasons, but for the first time in a half-dozen years I found myself with zero motivation to play video games.
It started out normal enough as my schedule picked up and we took in a 2nd puppy so I flat out didn’t have time to play games. That type of break is to be expected, but usually when a full week goes by without a serious gaming session I make time by sacrificing some sleep here and there. That just wasn’t possible, and before I knew it over a month had gone by.
This is different
There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from games or any interest/hobby for that matter. Taking a break is probably even healthier than I’d care to admit. Truth be told, I hardly noticed the break. I was living my life hour-by-hour and nothing else really mattered. Eventually I considered making time for games again, and I found myself confused by how little I missed gaming. Some of my earliest memories are of video games, they have always been a major part of my life, yet I quit cold turkey without even noticing.
It turns out that my mind was just so preoccupied that I never gave myself a chance to miss my old friend. To my very core, I was exhausted. Once I did what I had to do that day and took care of the things that were important to me and relying on me I had nothing left. Playing a game sounded like the worst idea imaginable. It wasn’t just games either. I stopped allowing myself to get distracted. I dreaded the distractions because I knew they were temporary and I’d be overwhelmed the second the it was over. Instead of trapping myself in that cycle, I just blocked games out and didn’t think about them.
Play for me
Luckily, my good friend Coop woke me up. He had priorities of his own and was going to be out of town the entire weekend of the Alpha for Destiny. He offered his access code to me and I happily took it. After all, Destiny was a major reason why I bought a next generation console in the first place. I woke up a bit from life without gaming and it got me thinking about whether or not I had missed any other game releases during my absence.
There was no time to worry other games, though, because I went home and immediately started downloading the Alpha. A few chores later and the download was done. For the first time too long, I put my headphones on and blocked out all my stress to settle in with my old pal, video games. I was completely at peace. The kind of peace that only comes with a game session that doesn’t have a definite end. I had no obligations that would pull me away. I could sit back and lose myself completely in a game, and boy Destiny deliver.
I had no idea what to expect from Destiny. My assumptions were that it would feel like Halo meets Borderlands. After getting acclimated the world and my character’s abilities, a rare feeling came over me that only a few games have touched on in my life. I was filled with a sense of wonder and a deep need to explore the landscape in front of me. Then, a Devil Tank landed in front of us and a bunch of strangers and I teamed up to destroy it. It was awesome and I had to have more. The fine polish of Destiny combined with the known limits of the alpha triggered something inside of me – I needed to see every last piece of this Alpha and there was no reason to stop until I did.
That type of hunger is the most satisfying motivation a hobby can bring a person. I’ve experienced it a handful of times with the things I’m most passionate about. With video games specifically I can only relate it to my initial sessions with some of my favorite games of all time – Symphony of the Night, BioShock, Mass Effect, and World of Warcraft.
Once I came to, after a successful weekend of co-op adventures with some of my closest gaming friends, I had this dumb grin on my face for days. I was so euphoric that I didn’t even care that the Alpha was over. I was just happy that I knew in a few short months I’d get to go back to gaming nirvana. It was comforting.
Don’t get me wrong, the verdict is still out on Destiny as a whole, and I can only imagine what is happening in the full release that just launched as I finished writing this article. This isn’t about the critical qualities of Destiny. For me, the Alpha was everything I needed to appreciate games again. It helped remind me of how much I enjoy being absorbed in a game world and how those simple emotions can affect how I view the world outside of games.
When you are trapped in a cycle of constantly dealing with the roadblocks immediately in front of you, you stop looking beyond those problems. Before I realized I was in a rut, the Destiny Alpha gave me a weekend of unadulterated joy and something off in the distance to look forward to. That bliss and anticipation changed the rest of my summer and I’m still riding that wave of positivity today. You’re a better friend than I, video games.