We've all moved on by noon to breakfast and we regale each other with tales from the previous night, while The Soup is on in the background. None of this will stop me from checking Joystiq during the conversation. I also go to another website to see what gaming podcasts I can listen to at work on Monday. My girlfriend gets a call from her brother telling her he won a Wii at a Men's Journal promotional party. She puts me on the phone with her brother, and my excitement overcomes me as I start bombarding him with the best Virtual Console selections, if would he like to borrow Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and how the Wi-Fi was a pain to set up. But I sense I have gone too far; he is just acknowledging my enthusiasm out of politeness, and I rein it back in, the exuberance for videogames still too much for more mainstream interests.
When I graduated from college, the way I socialized with people became at once more formalized and interesting. The pick-up games of Halo in a house with four other guys were supplanted by drinks after work at sports bars. While there has certainly been a resurgence in communal gaming, Guitar Hero in particular having worked its way into water cooler conversation, I have never had the appetite for social games. If I am with a group of people I find videogames to be an exclusionary activity, with social interaction revolving around waiting in line for my turn. As I have grown older and social networking has become an integral part of my working life, I find there is no room for videogames in conversation, nor do people want to hear about them. At this point in my life, a deep interest in the intricacies of a game signifies a kind of unhealthy preoccupation; it brings forth an image of the wild-eyed fanatic.
I have experienced the ecstasy that fuels so many gamers on their quest for the 100 percent completion marker in a game. And yet every year since I devoted 60 some hours toward Final Fantasy VI in junior high, my will to engage in such wholehearted devotion diminishes. Collecting every item, seeing every ending and uncovering every secret just isn't the badge of honor it once was, much as I might want it to be. More than that, half the fun of such thoroughness was in discussing it with your friends, in helping each other achieve perfection. On occasion I bow to nostalgia and purchase a game like Pokémon Pearl, in hopes that I might awake my dormant need to collect things, virtual or real. But I find I have no place for it in my life anymore, and what was once a social catalyst is now a hindrance. Obsession, which seems to walk hand-in-hand with every videogame anecdote I have, is not an attractive personal quality.