These are overwhelming times. Steam sales, Humble Bundles, Playstation Plus, and a bunch of other ways to cram our hardware full of games have made our lives as much about acquiring games as it is about playing them. Though I’m proud to say I’ve moved far beyond collecting achievements, I’m scratching that same itch by collecting games instead.
We’re all building our own Netflix-esque library of games for on demand playing, a slew of titles that we can pick up and play when the mood hits us. Buying a game these days is less an unequivocal vote of confidence as it is an opportunity for risk-analysis. “What if I someday get the urge to aim a flashlight at monsters and shoot them while being fed tidbits of a story that I kind of liked? Yes, yes, I had better go ahead and snatch up Alan Wake’s American Nightmare now while it’s cheaper than usual.” (By the way, Steam tells me that I’ve played American Nightmare for exactly 0.7 hours since I bought it seven months ago, and that’s a better than usual case scenario.)
When the Black Friday tidal wave hit, I was flooded with opportunities to fill my brand new PS Vita with a ton of new games. I took that opportunity with gusto. I’ve been enamored for a while with the Vita and the idea of playing some of my favorite games from the comfort of my bed or couch or favorite chair or from the church pew (no, not really from the church pew). I bought six games I already own in some other form (one I had already bought twice before – darn you Spelunky!) just so I could play them on the Vita wherever I want. Or, more accurately, just in case I wanted to play them wherever I want.
Now that the Steam sale is over and I’ve bought out the Playstation store’s Vita section, I’m left asking a hard question. With nothing more to purchase, and no more funds to spend, what am I supposed to do with myself now?
I decided to observe Advent more proactively this year partially because I want to counteract this greedy impulse. My life is filled with so much stuff that I don’t even have the time to use it. My devices are filled with so many games that I don’t even have time to play them. My mind is full of so much busyness and aspiration that I don’t even have time to be thankful. This advent, I want to set aside time to appreciate, to give thanks, and yes, to play.
So almost every day this month, I’m going to read a bit of the story of Christmas. I’m going to thank God for his many profound gifts. I’m going to embrace that that seasonal concept of coping and appreciating the small blessings I’ve been given, just as Mary and Joseph gave thanks for a stable in which to give birth; some hay to rest in; animals to keep them company; humble gifts from those who visited. What I have is enough.
And I’m going to play. I’ll play a bit of Persona 4: Golden each day, allowing myself to become deeply invested in the lives of these high-schoolers moonlighting as fantasy heroes. I’ll immerse myself regularly in Tearaway, delighting in a game that delights in its player. In the nights I’ll wind down playing Knytt Underground, and maybe by Christmas I can finish that game. I doubt it, though, it’s huge.
Finally, I’ll put the games away, give thanks yet again, and sleep in heavenly peace.