These days I find myself pressing ‘start’ near the midnight hour. The reality of being in my late 30s with a family plus working a night-time job is that the window for my gaming is fairly narrow. Most days I’m awake when everyone else is sleeping, or sleeping when everyone is up and about. Between running errands and enjoying the small slice of quality time I have with my family, games fit into the remainder.
It is the middle of summer now. I have crawled into the weekend and I finally have time to breath. After the house falls silent and the neighborhood is still and the fireflies finish their display, I settle in with my dog and choose the world I will escape into next. Dragon Age: Inquisition is behind me now. Journey and Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture are downloading from a PSN sale. Games that appear to parallel my current environment. Silent. Introspective. Searching. I discover things about myself through the prism of pixels in motion and waves of code. These self-contained environments offer a beginning, middle, and end. Whereas I was something before the game and will be something beyond the game. A fluid and undetermined life.
The lamp to my right gives off its soft, warm glow. My dog sleeps soundly while I adjust the sound in my headset. RPG? Puzzler? Action? The choices are vast. I randomly choose from my library and let the game take me where it will.
I turn my head when I catch a flash in the corner of my eye. A thunderstorm rolls in just in time to intrude upon my quiet night. The rumble across the ground is in contrast with the peaceful jungle in my headphones. The rain follows but my dog is too relaxed to stir. I take in the storm for a little while before turning my attention back to my hobby.
Gaming in solitude allows me to focus on my escape. My non-gaming life is fine. It is healthy and largely happy. But there is something different about these fantasy worlds. They have given me comfort since a young age and have continued to this day. They are something I can fall back on when I need them. Now I reach out to them when the world is asleep and I am awake. I cannot see the moon because the clouds won’t go. I often put the controller down just before the sun comes up.
This time I see the light climbing over the top of the trees. My dog gives me a nudge and she wonders why I have not closed my eyes. I pat the top of her head and tell her:
“No, not yet. Just a few minutes more.”