There are times when I wonder if I squandered some of my potential for greatness away by spending hundreds of hours playing pretend in electronic playgrounds for nearly 30 years.
I had the thought just the other day, while looking through the cans of cat food I had in my pantry. I had purchased a total of 90 cans of various Fancy Feast* flavors for my cat - 15 cans each of the 4 flavors I knew he really liked, and 5 cans each of the 6 flavors I either knew he liked less or I wanted to experiment with. (Side note: in case you're wondering, this purchase also reflects the minor case of OCD I am currently living with)
While putting them away, I was inspired for a second to figure out the order in which I needed to serve my cat these cans of food so that, once initiated, I would go through every stack/flavor without ever deviating from the pattern. For example, if I were to serve 4 (1 of every flavor) can from the stacks of 15, then serve 2 cans from the stacks of 5, then repeat this pattern over and over, I would eventually run out of cans from the first group, and thus I would fail, and my cat would never look at me the same again.
Then, the math got a little too complicated for me and I just gave up. After I did though, I suddenly felt like I had let myself down. Like I was meant to solve that stupid math problem - and that somewhere, some alternate universe version of myself was laughing at my incompetence, having solved the problem in seconds.
That's another thought I often have - that there are versions of me, these 'alternative universe' Matt's that took the more difficult road (learn to Salsa Dance?) whenever I chose I take the easy one (play Mario Kart!). There's the version of me that decided to go to grad school. The version of me that didn't put down the guitar, the clarinet, and the piano*. And I suppose now, to add to the list: the version of me that loves (and is good at) solving random, self-imposed math problems. Then again, if he's laughing at me, then he's kind of an asshole, and I'm happy I didn't turn out like him.*
If I blame games for one thing - well, aside from the brain rotting and the chainsaw rage - its that they have created a false standard for greatness and accomplishment, one that the real world could never compete with. Why spend hours and hours learning how to play an instrument, when I can pick up a virtual one and play my favorite song in minutes? Same for saving princesses. I mean, when's the last time anyone saved a princess from a fire-breathing dragon?
Now, obviously I have no problems discerning one reality from the other, and everything done in 'RL'* intrinsically feels more valuable and rewarding than any game where, assuming you're not missing both hands, within about two-four weeks you're pretty much guaranteed to accomplish everything set out before you.
But sometimes, it doesn't matter. Sometimes you decide you'd just rather have some fun and lose yourself in another world, rather than deal with harsh, cold reality, where you're not really all that great at anything, and maybe you don't have all the hair you assumed you'd have at your age - especially since, karmacally speaking, you already got the shaft in the height department.
And then, before you know it - sometimes becomes every time.*
Honestly, though? I don't really regret all the games I've played. Because, hey, I've had a really good time playing all of them - more so than Joe Schmoe, who worked long, hard hours climbing the corporate ladder to become the senior Schmoe at Schmoejoe Associates out in Schmoeville, Massaschmoesetts*.
No, my only regret is not being born awesome enough to just be really good at everything without any effort.
Two months and two days. Man, I could really go for a game right now.
PS: All of this probably could have been said better by the version of me that chose to begin blogging at early age, and is now the world's most well known blogsmith.
PPS: I justify my choices in life by telling myself that all these other versions of me that exist in alternative universes are going to be killed in a horrible elevator accident on their 30th birthday, leaving only this version of me alive. Kind of like that Gweneth Paltrow movie, only a lot less sexy.
Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: Actually...I took 5 (ok, 10) minutes and figured out the math problem* - its a little bit wonkier than I thought it would be, but essentially I have to serve 4 cans from from the 15 can pile, then 2 cans from the 5 can pile, then 3 cans from the 15 can pile, then 2 cans again from the 5 can pile. And here's where it gets a little silly - every 8th time through this pattern, I have to serve 3 cans instead of two from the 5 can pile. This pattern goes through the entire stack with ever having to double up from either pile. I will eventually have one can left of each flavor, and I will finish off each flavor directly, one after another. Illogical problem solved! (If this is incorrect, I don't want to know)
*The kitten in him loves the Feast, but the cat in him loves the Fancy!
*To be fair though, the piano was very heavy.
*I suppose I find myself laughing at him whenever his character get killed in Halo, so maybe that's a consistent trait we all have.
*Real Life, you n00b.
*Cue the tiny violin.
*I grew up in the Smurf village.
*I made it into a game by dressing up in a hedgehog outfit and playing the "Green Hill Zone" music in the background!