The secret is to learn to be content.
I was recently listening to The Reformed Gamers latest podcast (which you can listen to here) and a thought hit me: Man, there are really a lot of video games out there that I really want to play. During the past few weeks the hashtag #BacklogBeatdown has become a very popular trend in the the TRG Facebook group and I decided to join in on the fray and dig into the games I had bought last year during the Steam Summer Sale that I had just not had the chance to get to.
Just last night I finished playing Limbo, a game I have been waiting eagerly to play since its release on Xbox 360 in 2010 (that was almost six years ago!). It was a very unique game in which the player would play as a young boy traveling through what seems like the realm of Purgatory to be reunited with a loved one. The gameplay itself is a gorgeous black and white display of 2D side-scrolling. Nothing is ever truly explained story-wise, but the game makes allusions to the fact that your character has been pretty much doomed to repeat his fate over and over again through environmental death and as the player it is your job to help the young boy reach the endgame (think of the film Edge of Tomorrow but if David Lynch were to have directed it).
It was a satisfying experience, but somehow I felt like I wanted more. I began to scour Steam for my next gaming fix. I have been patiently waiting for Rise of the Tomb Raider for the PC to hit a sale, but no luck (I ended up buying the Deadpool game for $20). I then decided to continue looking into my Steam backlog and realized that I had yet to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Director’s Cut). It was about 1:00 AM when I decided to start it up and played about a decent hour and a half of the game. Not bad, I thought. Yet, I wanted more.
The next morning, again, as I was listening to the podcast I went back into the Steam store to look for any new sales. It was at this point that I began to hear our very own Logan Sharp talk about being content with the things that we have. I do have to say, I began to feel a bit convicted and began to re-evaluate my situation at that point.
What was it that was making me go back and forth to buy games, especially those of the newest variety? The simple answer was the fact that I just wanted to be relevant, hip, cool, trendy, up to date with the gaming community. I have always been that gamer that has always wanted to play it all just to be caught up in the discussions and to feel like the the cool kid on the block having just experienced the latest and greatest from the industry. But as I began to look at all of the games that I own that have yet to be touched, I began to take a step back and take a serious examination at not just my gaming hobby, but also my time, money, and heart.
Case in point, last year: I spent countless hours and money last fall to buy and play games like Star Wars Battlefront, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Just Cause 3, Fallout 4, Halo 5: Guardians and maybe a few others.
Aside from Halo 5, I have yet to finish or even go back to complete any one of those games I just mentioned.
It was a bit of a crisis and wake-up call to me. When I was once young, I had time to spend weekends and even weeknights to pile though that annoying General RAAM boss in Gears of War, collect that rare piece of loot in Borderlands 2 with my friends, and even spend countless hours trying to hit that level in Halo 2‘s legendary multiplayer mode. However, as I have gotten older, new responsibilities have (sadly) overtaken my life and I now find myself spending more time working, playing bills, watching YouTube videos, reading, writing my novel (and pieces for TRG), spending time with my future wife, and maybe sneaking a quick nap in between it all.
Truth is that I had to admit to myself the fact that I just do not have as much time to play as many video games as I would like anymore.
And yet, I do.
During my weekends and even brief times off, I will turn on my PS4 or PC and sneak in a game of whatever game I might have lying around at the moment. However I find that most of the time these games tend to be multiplayer in nature or one-and-done experiences. Games like The Witness and Firewatch have been the talk of the town in the past weeks because of their ease of accessibility (and affordable prices) for most gamers. The former goes for $39.99 and the latter for $19.99 as opposed to the standard $59.99 (and in some cases even more) in retail and online stores. We are slowly moving into an age and society where people demand instant satisfaction from their products, and if the beginning of 2016 has proven anything, it is that people have a growing hunger for games that will be easy on their schedules and wallets. It’s also proven that you don’t need to spend an exuberant amount of cash and time on a triple-A game release to have a great time.
Recently developer Double Fine announced a sequel to their cult hit game, Psychonauts, a game that when first released garnered much critical praise, but barely any sales. Throughout the past few years due to the magic of the internet, Psychonauts has slowly become more of a well-known game that delivers a great gaming experience even till this day, and it’s also just $10. Even sites like GamesRadar+ has a written piece on why they consider Psychonauts as one of the greatest games ever made.
So the point I am trying to make here: Why do we, as human beings feel the need to have the latest and greatest? This topic undoubtedly extends itself to anything else in life we can even remotely consider materialistic. The issue, in my opinion, is not so much our gaming habits, but rather the priority and overemphasis it may have on our lives.
Let’s be honest here, we have become a culture longing for instant satisfaction and little gratification. We always want more, it is the consumerist mentality that has taken over our nature. It is why we blow hundreds of dollars on gaming and the reason why we thought of watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens 14 times.
Paul writes to the church at Philippi in Philippians 4:11-13 (English Standard Version) saying:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
As Logan dropped that piece of scripture on the podcast, I couldn’t help but to realize to myself that in my own life and as well as in other’s, we all have different needs we need to meet to accommodate our own lives and of those we love. The Apostle Paul was given a small gift by the Philippians due to the work and time he spent with the congregation there when, in reality, they owed him so much more. Yet, the attitude Paul displayed was one of utmost gratitude and humility.
Sometimes as Christians we forget what it means to live humbly and how rich and plentiful God’s provision is. We also get caught up in an elitist mentality, where we feel like that cool kid on the block for having played Tom Clancy’s The Division Beta before anyone else and how everyone else who hasn’t played it is inferior in their gaming culture than you are.
Not everyone can afford what some others can afford and not everyone has the free time that others have. What $60 is to video games to some people means a week’s supply of groceries to others. What some may consider free time, others call that a “double shift at work”. We are all living different life circumstances, and sometimes those life circumstances forces us to put aside ourselves to serve others.
However, that doesn’t mean that one should completely remove themselves from enjoying some time for themselves.
As the bills continue to pile up as I get older and assume more responsibilities, I have to cut back on my gaming pretty drastically. Having built a PC last year, I now look forward to the Steam Summer Sales and building my library for the following year (s). I also am looking forward to playing Tom Clancy’s The Division on launch day next month (currently under the review process). See, the difference now that I am trying to make is that I don’t just blindly spend money on games just because they are relevant, but I also would like to see if the games themselves are any good. The list of games that I mentioned a few paragraphs ago that I never completed? The reason why I did not complete them is because I just simply felt some of those games on my list just didn’t hold my interest as much as I thought they would (simply put, they were all victims of the sad trend of over-hype).
Games like the Final Fantasy series are still being played and passed down to other generations even today. There are many games out there that I’m sure you and I have never played in our lives and some of those games still hold up till this day because of the unforgettable experiences that they continue to offer. Sometimes it does pay off to go back to the old stuff, to experience the roots of gaming and have a better appreciation for the hobby we love so very much.
We need to realize that a simple diamond in the rough can sometimes be worth more than a chest full of gold.