Since I got my first computer I’ve always loved games. For a number of years I had stopped playing though. I hadn’t lost interest, or found a more entertaining pursuit. Rather, I had fallen victim to something which we all have to face throughout our lives. I began giving in to the pressure to conform. Many times I heard the phrases “games are for kids”, “games wont help you build a future for yourself”, “wouldn’t it be better if you focus your energies on your career?”, etc, etc. While I didn’t consciously give in to these pressures, over time it had an effect. It latched on to me like a weed and started growing and spreading throughout my psyche like a crippling disease. Eventually I came to a point were games didn’t feature in my life anymore. I had conformed! I had become another mindless troll, plodding through life and doing what was “expected” of a man my age.
For a while it seemed OK, it seemed that I was on the right path and I was following the perceived norm. However, over time, a hunger began growing in me, a restlessness, a frustration. This void, this emptiness, just wouldn’t go away. My subconscious was trying to tell me something but I just couldn’t figure out what that was.
Then I met the woman who was to become my wife. She has many of the same interests I have and she encouraged me to enjoy the things I really love. Thanks to her that restlessness in me abated somewhat, but it wasn’t completely gone. It was still there, slowly eating away at me. Many times I lamented how I used to enjoy games and she would encourage me to get back into gaming. I would dismiss the idea with typical run-of-the-mill excuses – “not enough time”, “that’s for kids”, etc, etc.
Then, a couple of years ago, she convinced me to buy an Xbox 360 console. At first I didn’t like the idea and was certain I was wasting my hard earned Euros. Despite my protesting, something deep down encouraged me to get it anyway, and in December 2010 I became the proud owner of an Xbox.
It was the best decision I had made in a long while! As soon as I picked up that controller and started playing I felt the real me coming back. This was a major step in re-discovering myself, and it was a revelation!
That revelation was that by conforming, by giving up games, I had denied myself one of the major stimuli for triggering my imagination. I had effectively switched myself off and had turned myself into a zombie. We all need our imagination, even as adults. Without it we are nothing but machines, going through the motions of life without actually enjoying it. We are pressured to conform, to follow the trend, to do what is expected of us. My advice – don’t give in, be yourself, work your imagination. For me that means playing games, for you that may be reading, painting or building models!
Don’t become an anonymous cog in the machine, be an individual – work your imagination!
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein