During the past After about 15 months, video games have emerged as a sanctuary for many people. In the middle of the Covid-19 lockdowns — and in the absence of mental and emotional outbursts like hanging out indoors with friends — games have made people go through many stressful times. But now, in many parts of the world, vaccines are spreading and time changes, which means it could be time for a new recovery: put the controller in and out.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to be any essay on how Covid ended up and everyone had to laugh without a mask on the streets. Not everyone is vaccinated, and the world is still very much in the throes of a pandemic. But if you’re among the growing number of people who feel ready to find some appearance of a normal life adapted to the pandemic, you should feel good about moving away from your PlayStation 5. (Or computer. Or Xbox Series X.)
Often in this column, I write about the many benefits of playing video games, from the calming effect of Stardew Valley to how the game of nostalgia can be fantastic for your mental health. If these benefits remain present and necessary to you, we will continue to do so by all means. My goal is always to encourage people to play video games on their own terms, and there’s no need to walk away if you don’t want to. But if you feel the pull of the open air, and the button-grinding is not as smooth as before, pay attention to this call. The console will always be there when you are ready to return.
Ultimately, and I feel like here, it all comes down to productivity. If you’re like me, then you’re probably the type of person who needs to feel productive even when it comes to your hobbies. Once you invest your time in something, you feel an obligation. Stop what. It’s not a “waste” to do something else with your time. (As a side note, if you identify with this mentality and you often find yourself bruised because you approach any hobby like work, please read on Laziness does not exist, by Devon Price. It can only change your life.)
It may seem trivial, but your rest time should be relaxing — that’s it. If you want to play video games, and if that’s what you want, then do it. My call to disarm is not to embarrass players for playing too much or to say it’s safer to back down. There are abundance of essays out to make people feel guilty about their screen time, and this won’t be one of them. If you’re not ready enough to go out — or the low vaccination rates in your area always make you feel uncomfortable failing – by all means, stay put. If games are also relieving your stress, keep playing. It’s nobody’s business.
But if the thing that keeps you from putting the controller in and out of the house is some kind of deformed mindset that has evolved because you has been playing video games and feeling the need to continue to do so, then I will talk to you. It’s time to step back from the screen. No matter where, no matter how — just understand what you really want to do and make that happen. If video games aren’t your thing for a while, fine – you’re still a gamer, even if you don’t play them every day. Or every week. Or even every month. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go out with my kid and forget about it Stardew Valley never existed.
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