The Delights of Drowning in Digital

For the sake of extreme clarity, let's begin here: I write to you from a place of immense good fortune and privilege.

Many gamers in the world are young and lacking in funds. Some are students struggling to make book payments, others come from big families with small bank accounts. Others still are faced with debt, tough decisions, or part-time jobs. Medical bills and marriages. All of them, despite their circumstances, still throw their efforts into gaming. I love them for that. I respect them for that. And I empathize with them to whatever degree I can.

I wasn't always in this position. I once had to save up allowances for months just to afford a single used game. I was a student who could barely afford a new controller, let alone the latest release. I was a new hire fresh out of college, with the crushing weight of Bay Area rent payments bleeding away my earnings. And even still, those problems were worlds away from the challenges that others face when food and shelter are their uncertainties -- not falling behind on leaderboards.

 Azure Dreams. Many old memories.

A great deal of the credit goes to my mother and father, who fought their way into higher education despite economic and social stumbling blocks that would have overcome the best of us. They pushed, dragged, and crawled through their early 20's and built a life for me. Without their efforts, who's to say where I'd be? 

But now, I have an incredible job and a supportive partner. With our combined incomes, we can not only live comfortably, but also afford fun purchases. I needn't writhe in guilt when I download something off PSN or Steam. Through these many blessings, my gaming library has grown exponentially since it's meager beginnings.

These turns of fate have emphasized a bittersweet problem with digital media today -- one that I've mentioned many times before. There's too much. There's simply too much of everything for one person to appreciate. 

It's a wonderful problem to have, to be sure, but it's sobering. There a games, films, books, and albums out there that I might very well claim are my "favorites of all time" -- and I will never know them. Our world is too vast, and our lives too small to experience all the things we might love. Many that have lived before me have been greeted by this same problem. "Life's too short," they all said. As I've grown older, I've seen the truth in it. 

Consider how much time you can spend with some games. I have a friend that's spent more than 800 hours in Guild Wars 2. A colossal investment! And that's just one  game in the hundreds, the thousands, that she could have selected. And that's just in the realm of games! Think of all the films and books that debut every day that we'll never enjoy.

It's exciting. It's horrifying. 

 Guild Wars 2.

And as we age, our free time slips away. We must dedicate our lives to our careers, our loved ones, and our children. How long ago it seems, those weekends when I'd seal myself in our basement gaming room and emerge bleary eyed and hungry after sweeping marathons and unbroken quests. For those of you gamers still enjoying such unbridled freedom in your gaming habits: savor it. It worms out of your grasp so quickly. 

I remind myself, almost every day, of how fortunate I am to live this life. I have food, shelter, and abundant love from my family and friends. I have drawers full of movies, hard drives brimming with games, and a metric ton of unopened Magic cards I should really organize. And there's so much more out there that will go unplayed, unwatched, unused. And yet still that catalogue of possibilities grows by the second.

Our only solace, one that I have insisted on repeating throughout my time as a writer and purveyor of gaming critique: cherish everything. Even if you can only play one game this year, let it invade your heart. Savor its highs and lows, both. Celebrate it. You cannot possibly entertain everything this life has to offer you, so enjoy what you can.

In despair there are the most intense enjoyments, especially when one is very acutely conscious of the hopelessness of one’s position.
— Fedor Dostoevsky, 1821-81