Word up Dealspwn peeps!
I’m sure you’ll all have noticed that I’ve not been around on Dealspwn lately, and have been knocking down Matt’s door to demand an explanation. Really? Not a single one of you? Ahem, well anyway the reason for my sabbatical over the past few months is that I needed to take a break from writing whilst I prepared for, and then took part in, a wedding.
Yep, dry your eyes ladies, there’s one more opinionated gamer off the market.
But apart from being the most amazing day of my life, my wedding to my beautiful wife – and in particular the busy run-up period before the big day – gave me cause to question the place that gaming has in my life today and what its place is in my future.
As a 30 year old (then), I began to take stock of my life, and gaming in particular. With everything going on at work and at home, I didn’t just stop writing for Dealspwn, I stopped gaming all together. And it was at that point I started questioning whether starting again once everything had quietened down was worth it or not. After all, there’s nothing like marriage to make you consider commitment, responsibility, maturity, and the future.
All of a sudden, the only things I could see were cons to continue gaming: I’m going to have to sort the house out, the garden needs attention, then there was actually spending time with my wife, and balancing all of that with making time for family and friends etc. And all that before the talk of kids and starting a family begins. I told myself to grow up – that a 30 year old man shouldn’t be playing games – a nod to the pseudo-shame I still carry when discussing gaming with others, like it’s this dirty habit I need to kick. Something I need to grow out of like everyone else did at the age of discovering alcohol.
And that was that. Decision made. Until the honeymoon bizarrely.
Now, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. My honeymoon in paradise was as close to perfection as a holiday is ever likely to get. I didn’t get bored and start longing for games. But what did happen was I had a completely empty mind, with no wedding stuff or work filling me head. My biggest quandary was what complimentary cocktail to have next, and as such I found myself naturally filling my mind with what it wanted to be filled with – rather than what it had needed to be filled with as had been the case during the previous three months.
And did it fill up with lawnmowers, carpet samples and baby names? No, I found myself itching onto Twitter to see what the latest gaming trend was. I did my own version of Homer’s Chilli Cook Off jig in frustration of the fact that when I’d read that Shulk was a character in the new Smash Bros. game, I couldn’t get the video of the trailer to load up using the Maldivian Wi-Fi. It was at this point that I began to question my decision to stop the hobby I’d enjoyed since the days of the ZX Spectrum in the late 80s.
I realised that you couldn’t just turn off nearly 25 years of passion, excitement and enthusiasm like it was a tap. But more than that, I realised I didn’t want to – because gaming is a part of who I am, not just some hobby I dabble in. And everyone who knows me knows this too – and accepts it as part of me.
To cite some examples, I had a video-game themed fancy dress party for my 30th birthday last year (check out the About The Team page for photo evidence) and everyone who came made the effort to embrace my hobby from Tetris blocks, to a Pikachu onesie, to someone making a giant Gameboy out of massive cardboard box which meant he couldn’t bend his knees all night (and the less said about the help he needed to go to the toilet the better!) My wife made me a Mario-themed birthday cake – the best cake I’ve ever seen, and people chatted and drank with Ken’s Stage from Street Fighter 2 or Bob Omb Battlefield from Super Mario 64 blasting out from Spotify in the background. I’ve since had a stag do with the lads from work where we’ve all hit the town dressed as Mario, with me having to spend the whole night with a Wii Wheel attached to my wrist no less. All in the name of gaming, all in the name of fun, and more importantly, all in the name of me and who I am.
Want more? How about a best man’s speech from my twin brother on the big day themed around me being Mario and Zoe being my Princess Peach. And whilst I can guarantee that he lost 99% of the guests when he did a play on words with “Your Princess Isn’t In Another Castle”, I knew he’d absolutely smashed the speech out of the park and I couldn’t have loved him more for it in that moment.
And so the signs were there, plain for all to see that this is something I can’t and probably shouldn’t give up just yet. It’s what makes me, well me. But the final confirmation of my honeymoon epiphany actually came from the most unlikely – but indeed the most perfect – of sources. My new wife. We were on a sunset cruise – one of the most romantic and iconic moments of our honeymoon – that would contain sparkling wine, and dolphin spotting before the sun finally sank below the horizon. So naturally, my thoughts were of my wife and the new life we were beginning to share together as we set off. So when my wife turned to me full of smiles and asked “Do you know what this reminds me of?” Naturally my thoughts turned to similar romantic moments we have shared together. So you’ll forgive me for being a little shocked when she answered her own question with “Wind Waker” and a knowing smile.
But right there and then, not only did I know that I’d married the one for me, my Princess Peach, but I knew that gaming was something that wasn’t the selfish, geeky hobby that I thought it was. It doesn’t burden other people thanks to a lack of understanding and empathy. In fact gaming has managed to shape some of the most important decisions in my life, including the person I am spending the rest of my life with – thanks to our joint passion for gaming, even if she’s slightly more laid back about it than me (Broken Sword notwithstanding).
So gaming for me is definitely here to stay. My friends and family know it’s a part of me, and embrace that part of my life rather than shy away and I am sure they will continue to do so moving forward. My wife cannot wait for the new Zelda to come out on Wii U, and she’s bugging me to play co-op with her on Hyrule Warriors as I write this article. She’s even bought me a PS4 for my 31st birthday so she’s definitely in this for the long-haul.
And me? Well I can’t help but look to the future right now – and how gaming links into it all. Yes, I’ve already given thought to how I’d love nothing more than to introduce my children to gaming so they can experience the wonders of the medium I experienced growing up – albeit with a ton of reflection and a smattering of good parenting thrown in. Will I, for example, be ensuring my child spends hours on end perfecting their time trials on whatever Mario Kart iteration we’ll be on by then? No, of course not, I’ll make sure they’re outside kicking a ball around, or doing something useful like the washing up. But I will definitely want to interact with them through gaming as a family and will want them to at least experience some of the wonder this hobby can throw up. Then if they decide they hate it, then that’s their call. They’d be wrong of course, but hey some life lessons are hard.
So things are back to normal in the Hyde household and I’m very much back to my gaming, and as you can see I’m back at Dealspwn too. It’s great to be back and I can’t wait to see what this wonderful industry throws up next, and how it impacts me and those around me as well. It’s something I’m happy to embrace, and something I’m proud of more than ever, now that I’ve come to realise that everyone else has embraced it as part of me for so long, I was just too blind to see it.
Now stop reading this and go and play something!