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Non-editorial: or, What I Did Instead

Jeffrey Cottrell

Recent times have seen the rise of the non-game, which retains the form (i.e. electronic interactive entertainment) but not the function (i.e. defeating the final boss) of traditional games. In like manner, this editorial is actually a non-editorial. It retains the form of a traditional RPGamer editorial (words, sentences, paragraphs), but not the function. This editorial has nothing to do with RPGs.

I started this experiment on Tuesday, and it continued until Saturday morning. The experiment was simple: I would play no games. No RPGs, no platformers, no puzzlers. I did this in an attempt to discover exactly what my lifestyle would be like without video games.

I fully expected that life would settle into a pattern, that I would soon grow accustomed to not playing games. After all, I rarely played at all during my college years. What I discovered instead was the exact opposite. As the experiment dragged on, I found myself more and more inclined to play games. I wanted to play something, anything. It didn't matter if it was Dragon Quest or Guitar Hero, Etrian Odyssey or Super Mario Brothers 3. I just wanted to play. If I'd had an Atari with Centipede, I'd have wanted to play that, I'm sure. And God, how I was tempted to play Pokémon.

Now, part of this continued desire for gaming may have been due to the fact that I was still surrounded by gaming. After all, my game shelf is right in my living room, and I do work for this site, so it's hard to escape reminders of what I'm missing out on. Maybe if I had taken all my gaming stuff and put it in a closet, out of sight, I might have been less tempted to play.

That said, the experience was a good one. I've read over 500 pages of a novel since Tuesday. I've spent more time with friends and family. I cooked a few gourmet meals, cleaned my apartment, and even found the time to get out and enjoy some nice weather. I think it's important to remember that gaming is a supplement to life, not a replacement. It's something to fill free hours, not something that you make time for.

Saturday morning, I got up at 8:30 (because I live in a crazy town where riverboats leaving from the dock feel the need to play annoyingly loud, themed calliope music for half an hour) and played for three straight hours. And you know what? It didn't feel right. I felt like I was avoiding doing something else, like I was indulging in a guilty pleasure. I doubt this experience will induce me to make any significant life-altering decisions. But on the other hand, on my way out the door, I'm now much more likely to grab a book instead of my DS.

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