I remember decades ago I had all the time in the world to do the hobbies I enjoyed.
I didn’t know it then since my mind had been bogged down with what I thought were “real problems” – am I studying enough, am I popular, have I seen the latest movies, I should play football more, does that girl really like me?
A negative answer to any one of these could have been world-ending.
But there was one hobby that was always there to bring stability to all these “problems”, a pillar when the weight became too crushing, an avenue to exhale after a hard day of preadolescent school. We all had that, right?
Now fast forward through career(s) and house(s) and bill(s) and child(s???) … children haha… it’s clear that the world had been a savannah of open space, especially on weekends. Now don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my son, my career is engaging, and paying bills are… well just as necessary as ever, but there still needs to be something to stabilize the mind.
Could it be possible to enjoy that old favourite hobby again?
Now You’re Playing with Power
The year was 1998. The month was December – Christmas.
When my brother Vonrick woke me up 12am, midnight, I had no idea what was happening.
“Huh,” I blinked groggily in the darkness, the whine of the fan in my ear.
“Let‘s go open our present,” he whispered. At the time I didn’t even know it was possible to open presents so early. But there it was, moms had accurately coordinated with Santa to bless us with the Nintendo Entertainment System, and we played it from that early 12am at the very brink of Christmas morning till midday, then 7 hours again, all the way to 7pm in the night. I can’t remember if we even paused for lunch, much less take a bath.
I didn’t know it at the time, but what my brother started that Christmas morning would turn into a hobby I still crave today, decades later, consoles later, from the Nintendo to the Super Nintendo, switching to PlayStation 1, and 2, dabbling in my own super rigged gaming computer, detouring back to Nintendo Wii, then over again to the PlayStation 4, and possibly to an Xbox Series X beyond.
Since then the gaming industry has really evolved from relatively non existent, through the crash of 1983 involving the infamously bad E.T., onto the rise of 8bit and 16bit awesomeness and growing into the billion-dollar industry that we love today. Truly, I gawk at what video games are capable of when compared to the blocky caricatures that I grew up with – graphics to shed tears over, stories that compete with Hollywood’s greatest, and now even virtual reality.
Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on the angle), there’s something else that evolved just as intense – my life.
With a pile of amazing video games releasing every year across three major consoles, each promising to take 100+ hours to complete, it’s simply impossible for someone like me to play them all.
Is there a way that I can be a good father, have a successful career, write terrible fantasy, exercise, and complete several personal projects – carpentry, volunteer for charity, play the drums – all while still enjoying these 100+ hours video games?
World of Longplays
When I first happened across a YouTube channel where some guy streamed himself playing video games while his facial expressions displayed in the lower right corner, I was totally disturbed. To think that someone would have the audacity to create a video like this? And was that 44 million views? Certainly YouTube was lying! Who was watching this garbage?
Little did I know one of those millions of viewers would be me, and it made sense. We do it for sports all the time, so why not for video games.
Growing up it had always been satisfying to watch my brother play games that were just too hard for me, and as I approached 30 I started to feel that I would be content watching my son play anything new and exciting while I solved the real problems of the world.
So it stands to reason that if I wanted to experience a game I had no time for, then I could simply watch someone on YouTube play the entire thing, and I could do it while I’m at work, while I exercise, while I write terrible fantasy, and while I’m doing any number of personal projects.
Now there are several types of these YouTubers, with some saying annoying things and some making annoying expressions, but the ones I’m interested in usually have the words “Longplay” or “No Commentary” in the title. This ensures no words, no faces.
Thank you, that’s all I need.
This also works for games I’ve always wanted to replay, especially retro games from my childhood where I just crave the nostalgia of seeing those ancient blocky graphics and hearing the bleeps and bloops of 8bit audio awesomeness again.
I only talked about video games, but I imagine you can use YouTubers for any number of relaxing hobbies you no longer have time for – fishing, hiking, cooking, gardening, woodworking, gym-ing.
Try it out. It might be your new favourite thing, and I’m sure that YouTuber definitely wouldn’t mind.