I’ve been dreading to write this post because it makes the thoughts swirling around in my head real. I don’t want to do this because it will be uncomfortable. It will be difficult. But I need to embrace those feelings.
I want to go an entire year without playing video games.
Ok, so what?
I’ve been playing video games since the Super Nintendo came out in the early 90s. I vividly remember playing through Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country as a kid. When the Nintendo 64 came out, my dad waited in line outside of Target all night in the freezing cold just to make sure I got one for Christmas.
I’d even take the Nintendo on camping trips with me. I famously told my parents one time that “I get headaches if I don’t play Nintendo”.
In the early 2000s I got into online video games. I was lucky enough to have cable internet at the time which unlocked a whole new world to me. My first game of choice was Tribes 2, a team-based shooter game where you flew around with jetpacks killing the other team. Players tried to shoot each other in mid-air with blue laser discs shot from a gun called the Spinfuzor.
Tribes 2 Box, ign.com
I eventually joined a clan called Warrior Nation, which was just a group of people who played the game together. Warrior Nation was also my first introduction to online voice chat. We used a program called TeamSpeak to talk to each other while we played.
As a pre-pubescent boy I was very self conscious of my high pitched voice. It was scary talking to people with your real voice. Previously I only talked to them over text chat, and I was afraid they would make fun of me and see me differently. They did make fun of me, and did see me differently. But I stopped caring about it eventually.
I eventually moved onto other games, but I’d always prefer online shooters. I loved the thrill of competing against other people. Single player games bore me.
My longtime gamer tag, NoLimit, I took from Tribes 2. I played against someone with that name and they would wipe the floor with me. Time and time again. I couldn’t beat them. So I started idolizing them. I thought by taking their name it would make me better.
It didn’t, but the name stuck. I’ve been NoLimit in many different games ever since.
I also started making friends with the people I played with online. We’d exchange AIM screen names and keep in touch as we grew up. We’d move from game to game together. I’ve met many of them in person, back when To Catch A Predator was airing. Meeting strangers from the internet was not normal. I even flew to Canada one summer to visit 2 of my internet friends.
In high school I spent entire summers playing Counter-Strike, another tactical shooter, with my online friends. We’d gather together in IRC channels to find a team of 5 other players to scrimmage against. We played in official leagues against other teams to try and move up the standings.
I was never any good. But I had a ton of fun and made strong friendships in the process.
I played before there was big money in video games. Before people like Ninja could make $500,000/month playing Fortnite. I’m sure his income has only increased since that article came out in 2018.
This year I got really into World of Warcraft(WoW), a game known for its legendary addictive powers. Blizzard released WoW Classic, which was a version of the game exactly how it was back in 2007. The game had completely changed since then, and gamers around the world had been clamoring for Blizzard to release the old, unchanged version.
I got hyped for WoW classic. I was so excited to relive my days in high school of adventuring around Azeroth. And this time I’d have a dedicated partner in my wife. I literally fantasized for months about how we would play together, what classes we would pick, and all the online adventures we would have.
We played for 2 months. During that time we logged over 10 days of playing time.
Those are 24 hour days.
We played for over 240 hours across 2 months.
That’s an insane amount of time to commit to something in such a short period. Looking back, I don’t regret a single moment. I had a blast, and it was everything I wanted it do be.
But that feeling was temporary. Deep down I always knew it would be. I was literally chasing a high. It wasn’t sustainable.
We get it, you play a lot of video games
Quitting video games for a year is a big deal for me.
I’ve never stopped playing for this long of time ever since I started playing.
Writing this post makes all of this real. By getting this idea out of my head and onto the internet where 10 people will read it, if I’m lucky, commits me to this idea.
Why am I quitting for an entire year?
Lately I haven’t gotten as much joy from playing games. They’ve gone from something I do to have fun, to just something I do because I’ve always done it. Playing games is an easy way to escape. I can forget whatever is bothering me and get lost competing with other people.
I’m going through a transition in my life. I want to consume less and create more. Video games are a major driver of consumption for me.
What if I invested that time playing video games into creating? What could I put out into the world?
Writing more is my first major goal. If I replaced my game time with writing time I’d instantly become a prolific writer. That isn’t to say I’ll be a good writer. Certainly not as good a writer as I am a gamer. But I’ve put thousands of hours into games. I’ve hardly put a hundred hours into writing.
I also want to get outside more. Go hiking, camping, and skateboarding. I want to go on adventures with my wife.
I want to quit video games for an entire year just to see if I can do it. I know I can, but I want to prove it to myself.