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Why We Game

It’s 10pm on a Thursday night. The map highlights the outstanding missions and all I need is 60 more credits to unlock that coveted sniper rifle. The knock on the door is barely heard within my closed cup headphones, as the sound of bullets fill the air. The light in the study comes on and a faint mumbling can be heard…..it’s the 5 minute warning from my better half that it’s almost time to power down for the day. It is a work night after all. I shoot a sidelong glance in the general direction of the voice and say “yup yup, almost done, just need to take down these guys and head back to base for upgrades. 30 minutes max!”. The light is extinguished from the room with the exception of the soft illumination of my monitor and the occasional flashes of white and yellow from the flashbangs to my left and right.

Not much later the streets are cleared, and with my new shiny sniper rifle equipped, I figure I’ll take it for a quick test to see how it stacks up……”Player has joined your game” crackles over the in-game notifications, “Dude, have you done the new mission yet?” What feels like 15 minutes later, I power down for the night and notice the time….1:30am, the house is silent, the lights are out and it’s a tenuous tip toe to get from the games room to the bedroom without alerting the entire house, if I could just remember where that coffee table is I’ll make it…..

Many of us share a passion and love for gaming of all kinds. Sometimes it is difficult for other family, partners or non-gamers to understand. It’s not just the simple joy of gaming, but also the bonds and relationships it breeds. For me personally, some of my best friends and strongest relationships have been forged in the heat of online battles, or over long chats about a shared love for a particular game.

I still remember (and take a deep breath here people, I’m going to use the ‘D’ word) the first time I ran the Vault of Glass raid in Destiny. Most of the team I had never met before, but by the time we had managed to complete the raid for the first time many hours later, there was an unmistakable bond between me and these brave soldiers who had given everything to achieve a shared goal. The same can be said for the launch weekend of Borderlands 2, where three mates and I locked ourselves in for almost 48 hours straight for a marathon LAN session…..by the end we truly were four vault hunters scouring Pandora in the search of loot and badassery. Still to this day we are close friends, and I’m sure part of that is because of our shared love of gaming.

I’ll be honest, it’s difficult to juggle my need for gaming, a ‘social’ life and some semblance of a work life all at the same time. Luckily I have a very supportive partner who acknowledges my love of gaming even if she does not share the same passion. I also have a close band of gaming brothers who would lay down their digital lives to get me to the checkpoint, and I would do the same for them.

It’s this bond with friends and the passion for games that has seen me through most of my life – in the good times, the bad times and everything in between.

There can be a silent, unspoken comfort within oneself in the simplest of games or the most elaborate of sagas. The sharing of epic tales of loot, conquests and experiences is what binds us together in ways that traditional ‘social’ settings always seem to fall short of for me. I sometimes feel as though there is so much people are missing by not experiencing just a fraction of the freedom gaming affords. Gaming provides the chance to express myself in ways that would normally be too difficult, or more often than not, too embarrassing. This level of interaction is appreciated, accepted and even celebrated amongst my gaming brethren. Please don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with finding other forms of comfort, excitement and friendship in life, but for me there is no substitute for the experience provided by a great game, a good set of headphones and a solid internet connection.

More often than not, as a somewhat reluctant ‘adult’, I find myself having to weigh up the chance to game over a party, something I should be doing with my partner, a work commitment or a family event that I really should be attending. In almost every case I find myself wheeling and dealing with the ‘boss’ over which wins, usually resulting in my weekend being bartered away for some precious hours of game time. As I get older, time seems to slip away more and more, the deals become more expensive, and the game time less and less. Which makes every minute of gaming a precious commodity which I cherish and enjoy, and will fight for as often as I can.

So whether you have to beg, borrow, steal, grovel, plead or pray, follow your love of gaming. Try a small indie game you would never normally play, be brave and join that PvP server you never jump on, grab a humble bundle and try EVERY game in the pack! Play for the fun of it, play for those that don’t have the time to, and play for those who never have or never will.

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