Sick of the Screen – The Lockdown Effect
Games, it is why we are here, why we write, why we podcast, why we continue to grow and evolve Player 2. I am of course using the royal “we” here, but I feel safe speaking on this topic on behalf of my fellow P2ers. Games are fantastic, we get so much joy from them, we create content around them and we eagerly anticipate them. Games are such a huge part of my life and I have no idea what I would do in my spare time without them. So why do I all of a sudden feel like I am in desperate need of a break from the fun?
The last couple of years have been a trial, there is no doubt. 2020 started with the insanity of the summer bushfires, leading to a forced stay indoors. In my area, some days the smoke was so thick you couldn’t drive in it and we were 90kms from the nearest bushfire. Following on from that we were hit with the bombshell that was Covid. Since that point it has been in and out of lockdown and even when lockdowns were let up, there was a feeling that staying at home was probably the wisest thing to do. Basically, I have seen a lot of my four walls in the last two years.
As we, here in country NSW, start to come out of lockdown, I realise that for the past 8 or 9 weeks I have been pretty much sitting in one position, in front of my computer. Working from home is fine and all, but when your side hustle is more computer work, be it gaming or typing, the hours in front of the screen rack up quickly. I would sit there, doing my day job until knock-off and then dive straight into Player 2 work, reviewing a game or writing an article (just like this one funnily enough.) My computer desk saw more of me than my bed did and the only thing I had to break it up was my prescribed hour of walking to the shops and back.
On top of all this, all socialisation for so long has been screen-based. Instead of going to the pub or restaurant with family and friends, it has been Zoom call dinners, Instead of catching up with other parents at kids sports it has been texts and instant messages, instead of conversations in the workplace it has been teams meetings. The computer (or phone) screen has gone from a work tool and source of entertainment to the single most important piece of tech in our lives thanks to Covid and the endless series of lockdowns.
So where does that leave me? Well for starters I am finding less joy in what I am doing. This, I know, is temporary and is as a result of extraordinary circumstances, not some lasting hate for the medium of video games. But I am worried that it may become a more permanent feeling should things continue as they are. I have made small changes to try and break things up like trying to review games on my console in front of the tv as opposed to on my PC where possible, trying as much as I can to find tech-free time on weekends and spending as many hours in my backyard as I can. These things help, but as long as I am stuck at home it is almost impossible to get away from those screens… hell even my book is a screen these days.
For the first time in the longest time, I am looking forward to something that isn’t related to tech at all. Over the last few years, my family has gotten into camping. We keep things pretty simple, some swags, a campfire and eskies. With that in mind, we have booked a camping trip with friends near Thredbo in November, tempting the Covid gods in the process. But the risk of disappointment is worth it, I need that break, those few days where the only screen I look at is my Kobo as I read in my camp chair, slowly cooking something in the camp oven. I fear if I don’t get away, if I don’t take that space from games, screens and tech then I may lose the joy forever and that is something I don’t want to happen.
Christmas time is going to be another big break for me. Hopefully, I can visit my family in Wollongong and spend my time fishing, swimming and just generally having a good long break, away from work, away from Player 2 commitments and away from screens. In my youth, the thought of a two-week break from games would have annoyed the hell out of me, but now it seems to be just what the doctor ordered because at the moment, games can sometimes feel like a chore and not an escape.
So why am I writing this? Well, consider it a cautionary tale. If someone who loves games so much that he started a website out of his own money just so he could write about them can feel burnt out thanks to these last two years, then anyone can. Games should bring joy, should bring laughter and should bring fun. They shouldn’t feel like work, like an obligation even when you run a website about them. I am making the assumption that if you are reading this and you aren’t my mum, then you probably love games just like me, so I am going to ask you to do something for me. Take a moment, reflect, search your feelings just like Vader did, are you still enjoying games or are you just playing them because that’s all there is? If it is the latter I implore you, as soon as you are able, to take a break, to spend a weekend away from tech, to put the games down and give yourself some space and distance.
Covid has ruined a lot of things for a lot of people, but I never would have predicted it would affect my love for games, even if it is only temporarily. Don’t let it get to you, put the screen down, because if you do you will love it even more when you come back. Absence makes the heart grow fonder as the saying goes and sadly in recent times there has been no chance for absence. So when that chance comes (and it will) don’t miss it, you won’t regret it I am sure.