How Gaming Became Knitting

Gaming has meant — and been — different things to me over the years.

There have been times where it’s been less of a hobby and more of a social space. An excuse to hang out with friends on Skype or Discord and shoot the shit. A breeding ground for in-jokes and a place to occupy with friends when you can’t physically hang out.

There have been other times where gaming has been an escape. A decompression after work or a way to reset my mind between study sessions. A mental relief valve offsetting the stress of other things in my life. Nothing quite gets your mind off a bad day at work like a few rounds of Overwatch or a particularly engrossing action RPG like Dragon Age or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

For a long time, games have also been like movies for me. A hobby that I follow along with. I’d glomp along from major release to major release. Read the reviews, listen to the podcasts, watch the live-streams and contribute my own thoughts through whatever medium I thought might lead to people seeing them.

When I was younger, gaming was consumable. A finite experience that always left me craving for more. I’d devour everything I could. My appetite for content was insatiable, and the lodging of the phrase ‘content vampire’ in my mind all but inevitable.

And for a good while there, gaming was work. More than a chore, less than a calling. The pressure to write something —anything — about each major release brings to the hobby writ large quickly drained most games of their entertainment value to me. They were a thing to be judged rather than enjoyed. A cultural artifact to be dissected and a vessel for critique. A commercial interest that blurred the lines between business and leisure.

Nowadays, the notion of understanding games as something closer to knitting is something I find unexpected solace in. Like a crossword puzzle or a rubix cube, gaming has become something I do with my hands. The act of play itself is what I’m drawn to more-so to any narrative or progression hooks.

If I want a movie, I’ll just watch a movie. If I want a book, I’ll just read. I have no shortage of either. If I want to tap into the part of my brain that desires play, I’ll pick up a game.

If there’s any clear takeaway I can offer from these myriad metamorphoses that gaming has undergone for me over the years, it’s that this hobby is not a monolith. It has become deeply and irreconcilably fragmented as it has grown in magnitude. In 2008, just 183 games released on Steam. By 2018, that number had grown to over 9000. This volume is not a bad thing, mind you.

The expansion of gaming has led to a more diverse cohort of people playing games than ever before. There are those who stick to the AAA diet. Those who dig deep on Itch. Those who invest all their time into a single MMORPG or competitive multiplayer title. At different times, I’ve been all of these people.

Right now though, I’m someone who just wants something to do with their hands and their time. Like knitting, gaming is proving an apt cure to such an ailment.

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