I haven't written a Destructoid Community Blog in over two years. Two whole years. In that span of time, I've changed jobs twice. I've moved twice. I've become a father to a beautiful (and demanding) baby girl. And I have found myself with way less time to play games as a result of all of it.
I used to be the kind of person who would buy a game a week, maybe every two weeks. I'd burn them out as fast as possible, trade in the ones I didn't want to keep, and keep the ones I wanted to archive. Financial difficulties forced me into a situation where I had to sell 90% of my game collection, including merchandise, collectibles, consoles, games...you name it. I had a fire sale where the only fire was the one under my ass to keep my daughter in diapers. I got rid of almost all of it, and it was nothing short of painful to watch all but the most treasured pieces go sauntering off into the world, destined for hands that I could not guarantee would take as good care of them as I had done.
I was not aware of it at the time, as we are always unaware of the future and its events - but that moment was the most positive, transformatively profound event I had ever experienced as a gamer when looking back in hindsight.
There were things I didn't want to let go of - Tengen Tetris on NES, the original Final Fantasy (box/book/map), Chrono Trigger (box/book/map), my Megaman games, my Street Fighter collection, my Saturn imports, other assorted you'll-never-see-this-again-and-if-you-do-it'll-cost-you-a-fucking-fortune-to-reacquire treasures, but after letting go of everything that wasn't those things (both in the sense of monetary worth and emotional ties - my dearly departed aunt's copies of Puzznic, The Guardian Legend and Kickle Cubicle, for instance), I found myself not only lightened, but enlightened.
I had become the thing I believe no gamer should ever become. I can only say this because I've seen the other side of some chasm, some divide where which you cannot see through your own need to collect and hoard all things digitally delightful. You wish to save them from a fate of a used rack in a mom 'n' pop game store, priced far below where they should be, and given to a dirty child to use as a frisbee because they couldn't get the complexity of Grim Grimoire. I had become the video game enthusiast equivalent of a crazy cat lady.
I had promotional standees over ten years old. I had figures from pre-order bonuses still in the packaging from the Saturn days. I had all, and I mean ALL of my system boxes, from the NES up to the PlayStation 3, and that was every Nintendo home system, every Sega home system, every Sony home system, every Microsoft home system. And, I had the systems. And the controllers. And the games. And the boxes for the games. And on, and on, and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
I got rid of it all. Well, as I said before, almost all. A good, vast majority - let's put it like that.
I stepped back from games in a big way. I still play, but I play less than I used to. I still buy games, but I buy one every three to four months, rather than every one to two weeks. I choose my purchases very carefully, play the ever living dog shit out of them, then archive it, just as I used to do. And this practice, this stepping down from a mountaintop made of peripherals and plastic monuments to what nobody but myself and those like you and I will consider time well spent, it saved me. It allowed me to enjoy games again. It allowed me to be more patient, to savor the experiences they gave and to not feel the need to "catch 'em all," so to speak. It allowed me to pursue a career doing something meaningful, it allowed me to pursue a life outside of my digital domain, and while her daddy's Spartan Rank currently sits at a hearty SR-96 (130 is so very close now), my daughter gets more quality time with me than she ever would have had I not done this.
This was not a situation I was forced into - this was an undertaking based on a choice, a choice built on thousands, millions of sequential choices undertaken earlier, both conscious and unconscious. But I chose to spend my life playing less and owning less in order to play more and have more, and the "more" that I have now is far less tangible but so much more real to me.
I have no idea why I decided to write a rambling confessional as the first thing I decided to slap on this digital parchment in two years. But I needed to. And I appreciate you taking the time to read it, whoever you may be.
P.S. - I don't recommend parenthood for everyone, but for those who want to take the journey someday, it's the most infinitely rewarding, infinitely terrifying, sublimely beautiful thing you'll ever experience. My daughter changed me for the better, and while I can still clean your teeth with a DMR on Halo 4 or FADC into Ultra 2 in SSF4:AE, the achievements I'm hunting these days feel way better when you get them, and the sound of your child's laughter is the unlock noise.
Okay, you're free to shit on me for getting sentimental.