Why I decided to change my outlook on gaming

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 3.04.39 PMA few months ago, I’d been so pumped about the new Final Fantasy game coming out; I’ve rewatched some of the trailers so many times that I could probably quote them line by line. There was a huge nostalgia factor in my excitement for the game, since I’d been waiting for the game’s release for a good 10 years. (Yes, I waited over half my lifetime for a video game.)

So when winter break started, and I finally got the opportunity to just sit down in front of my TV at home to play Final Fantasy XV, you bet I did. I logged in a good dozen hours or so over a few days. However, my interest kind of just fizzled out after those first few days. Between sessions of gameplay, I found myself browsing through Final Fantasy forums and videos.

I couldn’t stop myself from reading through and watching other people’s experiences with the game. Before I knew it, I was probably spending more hours doing that than actually playing the game myself.

It was the same trap that I’ve gotten caught in with so many other mediums out there. One big example is TV shows. In the past few years, it’s actually become difficult for me to binge watch anything anymore. For example, if I’m catching up on a super hyped-up series, I like to pretend I’m experiencing the episodes live like past viewers. I’ll even pause in the middle of an intense Game of Thrones scene to see what other people’s reactions were at the time. (Yes, I did this with the Red Wedding.)

This unfortunate habit even applies to the other end of the genre spectrum. When I’m watching an episode of Teen Wolf, and there’s one of those “oh God yesss YESSS they’re finally getting together” scenes, I can very easily pause right at that moment and just lose myself in some fanfiction based off the same scene for a few hours.

In this case, though, instead of show discussion forums I would just browse Final Fantasy-related material for ages on my laptop while having the game open on my TV right in front of me. Something like that would never have happened to me as a kid.

I spent eight consecutive hours playing MapleStory once, and I wouldn’t have batted an eye at doing the same with a Final Fantasy game. Nonetheless, nowadays it’s a struggle to even get eight hours of gameplay in over multiple days. My attention span just isn’t cut out for the grandiose but slow burn of console games anymore. That’s why I actually ended up playing a different game more than Final Fantasy XV over break, the also newly released 3DS Pokémon games.

Just like Final Fantasy XV, for me Pokémon Moon had a big nostalgia factor hyping it up. More importantly, there was one big advantage the game had going for it over Final Fantasy XV, its simplicity.

It was a lot simpler than Final Fantasy XV in many ways. There wasn’t much of a story to it, there was barely any danger of dying in-game and the 3DS system itself was something I could just carry around anywhere in the house. Pokémon Moon was something I could casually open up and close at any time.

Of course, because I’ve started to appreciate keeping things simple, that also meant I favored Pokémon Moon because it is so easy to cheat in a 3DS game as opposed to a PS4 game.

If I had to sum it up, my priorities in life have just changed as I’ve grown older. A good example to showcase this is my experiences with a virtual pet raising site called Neopets. I’ve basically been on and off this site since the third grade. It’s notorious for having ban-happy moderators and admins who seemingly want to reduce the user base for trivial things.

In the old days, I would get banned from Neopets because I called another user’s mother fat. Nowadays, I get banned for installing web browser scripts to become a ‘Neomillionaire’ in a day.

Anyway, a few hours into Pokémon Moon, I’d already hacked myself a full team of rare and overpowered Pokémon. It’s not that easy with Final Fantasy XV; The hacking process would take me a lot longer, and I’d probably mess up somewhere along the way.

After all this reflection about the new ways I like to experience my favorite games to play, I’ve realized that I’ve made a pretty major life decision the same way. I’ve basically wanted to be a surgeon my whole life because of the career’s general prestige and salary, so I was thrilled to enroll at Hopkins as a pre-med.

I’ve realized now that you can be successful and start making plenty of cash with a job right after graduation. It’s like hacking the game of life but totally legal. Being the person I am now, I’d take that shortcut over the long way without any hesitation.

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