Like most kids that grew up in Australia in the 80’s and 90’s, I was a very active kid. Sure, video games were there and I liked them, but you were more likely to find me kicking the footy around or having a knock or two of backyard cricket before dinner, than you were to find me sitting in front of the telly transfixed on whatever game was gripping the neighbourhood at the time. I loved my Game Boy, I loved my Amiga 500, and later on I loved my Playstation, but there’s always been a niggling little something in the back of my mind that made me think I could be spending my time more wisely, like time gaming was time wasted.
And that continued into my teenage years, where again games were there, but they were never at front and centre. While there were games that absolutely captured me, I made a conscious decision that they wouldn’t be what defined me, that it was the poorer cousin to the other things that made up who I was. Sure, there were the moments where we’d all get together and huddle around the old-arse telly, passing ’round the old Xbox Duke controller where we’d take turns striking each other down with light sabres Jedi Knight style, engaging in the great Australian pastime of sledging while doing so. But that was usually when the first signs of dehydration were starting to hit after hours upon hours of cricket at the school oval across the road in 40 degree weather. Games were almost always an afterthought, and quite frankly, we’d all much rather have been bowling the odd bouncer at each other’s heads or watching the ball sail back over the bowler, than engaging in a venerable frag-fest.
The fact is, while I’ve always played video games, I have always held a level of contempt toward the people that play them. While I have a perhaps inordinate level of respect for professional sportsmen and women who dedicate their lives to being the best in the nation, I find those that do the same in pursuit of being the best at ‘e-sports’ misguided. In my country sport is almost a cultural lynchpin, it is the thing that holds so much of our social fabric together, bringing people together in a way nothing else can. And the art of the analysis that follows is practically worthy of a nobel prize. While I sit here internally praising the greatest minds of the cricket world – the way Shane Warne analyses the game of cricket in such minute detail – I am simultaneously thinking about just how much of the analysis of the video game industry is either (1) personal selfishness being passed off as financial analysis, or (2) pointless ranting in the service of legitimising the medium. The internet has perhaps exacerbated my personal contempt for video game culture and is something that is increasingly impacting both how I play video games and how I choose to write about them. But really it’s this pervasive negativity about everything that is making me disengage from the internet altogether.
So where does that leave me? Well it leaves me in a position where I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to care about the video game industry. It leaves me in a position where I’m starting to disengage from any semblance of social media. But most importantly it’s taking away my drive to play video games the way I used to – and perhaps even more importantly driving me away from wanting to write about them. And that’s a hard thing to come to grips with. So as the summer of cricket in Australia comes to an end, and the Super Rugby season hits full swing, I find myself thinking about where video games fit in to it all. Whether they’re a main attraction or just a sideshow, a consolation prize, something to pass the hours during the odd month there is no sport on in the country. And then and only then I’ll be able to answer one very simple question. Is this the end?