Some kids went to college. I went to Britannia. Then, I went to Italy. Then, I went to Iraq. Then, I went to bed.
I was one of those kids who took a year off after high school, which is to say I spent a year working crappy retail jobs, drinking like a townie and playing videogames with a vengeance. I was bad. I woke up to Team Fortress Classic. I went to work at a videogame store and played demo units with the customers. I lived and breathed gamer. If that gross Zelda cereal were still around, I'd have eaten gamer, too. It was a wonderful time to sate my gamer appetite, and I gobbled up anything offered, a glutton for all things interactive.
But, like all ages of enlightenment, my year-long gaming marathon had to end. School came calling, and what comes with school, but girls? My gaming budget took a back seat to gas, condoms and insurance. Even if I had the cash, my time was consumed by required reading, girls and chasing girls. I still kept up with the latest gaming news, however. I even wrote extensively about games between term papers, and occasionally incorporated my hobbies into essays for school.
Somewhere along the line, though, I missed a few computer upgrades. I didn't pick up an Xbox Live! subscription. I didn't buy into the GBA until months after the SP debuted. I started referring to my Xbox as a DVD player. I quit my job at the videogame store in favor of - gasp - regular retail.
What happened to me? Had I just run out of money? Chicks and school have caused many a gaming career to suffer. Was it burnout? Maybe I'd temporarily run out of steam; time to read a book, maybe get a degree. No, this was a deeper problem. I just outgrew gaming, or at least the gaming I knew.
That's not to say I got older, or gaming is childish, though. I just moved on. It's happened to me before - drifting, really. From friends, from different sports, from collections. I just can't stay still long enough to get hooked to much of anything. I get in, I get intense for a while, and I get out. What's most interesting is, I'm still around at all.
I'm still not plugged in directly to the culture; my days of arguing on message boards are long over. But I can still appreciate good entertainment. The funny thing is, it usually doesn't come in the forms hardcore gamers pay attention to. I tend to skew a bit lighter; chocolate will do when fudge is too heavy. I'd rather dabble than delve, nowadays. I've become what I used to laugh at. That's right, I'm a casual gamer. But you won't find me playing Yahoo! Chess (at least not often).
I'm my own genre. I'm the hardcore casual gamer.
I think mobile games are cool. I think 10 hours is more than enough time to invest in a game. I laugh at your $700 video card, because I'm playing a three-year-old game you've never heard of, while you wait for a driver update to be able to play Half-Life 2. I buy non-collector's edition versions of games, because that oh-so-pretty art book isn't worth the extra $30 to me. I play - hold onto your hats - browser games that amount to parodies of my former lifestyle. And guess what. I'm not the only one.