Awesome! You just got that new game that everyone is talking about and all the sites and blogs are praising as the game of the year (so far) and you can't wait to start playing. Two weeks have passed and you finish the game and realized you completed it without so much as stopping to truly appreciate the atmosphere and environment the narrative of the game tries to convey.
As time goes on I've realized video games have become more of an expectation of what I must do in my daily life, rather than the amazing outlet of creativity and fun that it once was in my youth. When did the days of happily taking weeks to beat a game like Metroid, or Megaman, eagerly awaiting every moment of exploration and advancement towards the satisfying conclusion turn into a hunt for achievements and the instant gratification of knowing you beat a game faster than everyone else?
If you're like me you have gone through these phases where playing games doesn't interest you anymore, and I believe its a natural reaction as someone matures and other aspects of life become more pressing. This is not an article to bitch about outgrowing video games and becoming an adult, because as I have aged I have learned one thing, no one wants to grow up and become the hapless, boring, typical adult we all glorify in our minds. As responsibilities pile up, less time is allotted for hobbies between work, relationships, and family but I think its important for people that are in the same situation that I was in to remember its not the actions that you remember but the journey that led you there that you truly cherish. This is a concept that applies to everything and accordingly is something I believe has renewed my love of games to a level that is only rivaled by the pure unadulterated wonder that comes from being a child and enjoying a simple game.
Nothing in life is worth your time if you can mindlessly clear through it without your conscious mind being present. Enjoy not only life but also games in a way that fully appreciates every detail that has been painstakingly worked on to bring you the ambiance and atmosphere that is so attuned to its goal that it is almost unnoticeable because of how well it fits in to its setting. Don't just go in to anything in life with the tunnel vision of achieving a goal but realize that learning and experiencing everything that the journey has to offer along the way is just as important, if not more so than achieving a short term goal that will be replaced and forgotten soon after.
*I hope this entry is not seen as just a generic life lesson I have shoehorned into a video game theme because I have actually learned to have fun and enjoy myself again while playing games. Just the mere effort of putting yourself in a characters shoes actively as you play a game, something that is so basic but easy to forget, helps you enjoy the experience of playing a game so much more. I have recently played Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite and had a great time playing both because I suspended my disbelief and stopped judging and comparing the merits of the game to every game I have ever come across, and started experiencing it for its relevance to the plot at hand. This not only helps better immerse yourself in a world that becomes interesting and captivating, but like a good book gives you a bittersweet sensation that leaves you devastated as the experience ends, but happy with the resolution and journey that led you there.*