Gaming at 32

Another year, another reflection

Gaming at 32
Photo by ryan birk / Unsplash

I turned 32 on July 8, and since then I've done only one stream. I'm still meditating with Playne and looking at games that have come out on Steam.

What did I choose for my birthday stream? I went with the last bit of Shindig, and that will be the subject of another article. It felt like a fitting game, given it's about arranging a party for animals that have come together to celebrate new lives.

I also did a lot of thinking. That weekend was chaotic, with most of my birthday being a disaster. When that happens, my mentor asks me to visualize the life that I want, and how I can make it a reality. I closed my eyes and did so.

When I visualized, a lot came to mind. Writing more books, and contributing more to SUPERJUMP, and gaming, obviously. I know that gaming is an important part of my life.

Forgiving Yourself for Being Imperfect

Gaming after 30 helps a person release expectations while reinforcing a need for kindness. No one has to be a perfect player or even a perfect person. We just have to try to be decent human beings.

I talked with some of my friends who are approaching thirty, and how they feel about gaming. One named Silas, who is younger than me, brought this perspective:

"The basement dweller stereotype has instead gotten relegated to the capital G GamerBro™️, a more niche competitive subset of 'gamer = person who plays video games as a hobby or passion for the art form and experience'. They're now treated as the elitists that they've always been, rather than the norm of all gamers. It's like saying the art snob stereotype of art museum-goers in TV and media is indicative of literally every artist, instead of also including an incredibly broad diversity of people, from kids with crayons to more practiced professional graphic designers."

Hearing this was very cathartic because it's how I feel. Anyone can be a gamer. You also don't have to emulate the worst aspects of the gaming world, like the individuals that used social media for their Gamergate harassment campaigns. Instead, a player can have a positive impact on their friends and creators. We choose who we want to be and how we want to behave in a transformative medium.  

Other friends have also discussed that they like how games promote permission to fail. You don't have to master a game all at once, and there are no consequences for dying on the first level, or even in the first few seconds. That made me think of how long it took to master Super Mario Bros. 3, both when I was a kid and when I recently worked to relearn it. Heck, Spelunky took about three years to beat, and that was just the first game.

Catharsis is also a factor: my friend Risa has mentioned that "there's a lot of healthy relief from stress to be had from a good game, whether it's a serene game like Spiritfarer or Stellaris, or a hack-em-up like Diablo 3." Players find their catharsis in different genres, and I admit as hard as Spelunky was, it was sometimes satisfying to jump on a yeti or a cave person. I returned to the mines and high death count for a reason. Cuphead provides the same adrenaline after days of fighting a boss.

Fixing Streams

One thing I want to do is fix the lag and blur in my streams. While I mainly stream for my friends and started because an ex wanted to watch me play Undertale, I also enjoy logging onto Twitch and sharing reactions to different stories. It gives me joy and an emotional connection. More importantly, I can share that joy with people that I know in real life, and whom I care about deeply. Then I can return the favor by watching their streams.

When a lag happens, I have to wait for the stream to catch up with my gameplay. With a blur, viewers can't see the pixels. I've upgraded my equipment with Ethernet cables and USB port holders, so the blur and lag have gotten better. Some friends who are tech-savvier than I am have provided input. Even so, it's a work in progress.

32 and Onward

What am I going to do this year, gaming-wise? Continue contributing to SUPERJUMP and other gaming publishers. I interviewed a developer and hope to edit my transcript. Other projects are on the horizon.

I will also give myself permission to enjoy myself when playing, rather than overthinking. Games are a part of my life, and they have meaning. From story to visuals, I can dive into one installment and analyze my joy. But I can also step back, and savor the moment when walking in another world.


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