Nearly three decades of gaming, and I’m still not considered one of the best gamers out there. There was a time when I was unaware of highly skilled gamers who speedrun and compete professionally causing me to believe that I was a top tier gamer. This was pre-internet age. I was in my pre-teen years. I only played video games with my circle of friends in my neighborhood. My for gaming was growing, and I spent a great amount of my time indoors trying to play the few video games my parents allowed me to play. Conversely, my obsession with video games lead to arrogance, and a decent amount of skill which also resulted in frequent wins over my highly limited choice of opponents, my friends. I was the best among this group and I was proud. They were out playing sports and socializing while I was playing video games and leveling up. This pride in me did not hold for long once I started venturing outside my social circle of inept gamers.
Once I hit thirteen years of age my friends wanted to start going out to the mall and hitting on girls. Not me. I spent most of my time in the mall at the arcade. One game that stood out to me was Marvel vs. Capcom 2. I thought this game was awesome so surely I would spend a good amount of time with the fighter and become the best gamer there is. It certainly did not turn out that way. I tried my luck against this Asian twenty year old that I’ll never forget. This was the moment I realized that there are gamers out there that are much better than I am.
As I approached the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 arcade cabinet there was a line on the 2nd player side. People did not even bother lining up behind the Asian man because he was that good. I took my place in line, and for some reason I still thought I’d had a chance at beating this guy. “No one plays video games as much as I do,” I thought, and I will at least give this guy a challenge.
Eventually it was my turn. I inserted my quarter, and I selected the characters I knew most about based on the comics I read and the video games I played. So, I chose Cyclops, Ryu, and Wolverine He selected Sentinel, Magneto, and Ryu. The match commenced. I shot out a projectile, he leapt over it with Magneto, and landed a hit, and then another after another until the match was over. I was shocked at how helpless I was. The match ended quickly. I decided not to play again for the night, left the arcade in frustration, and joined my friends in walking around staring at prepubescent girls. I couldn’t focus on that. I was still in the state of shock at the ass whooping I just took.
Skipping ahead a decade from then, I was near graduation from college, and I spent most of my gaming time in the world of Vanadiel in Final Fantasy XI. Spending hundreds of hours playing this game I felt I was one of the best black mages on the server. I was better than most than even those with more expensive gear. My superior skills were shown in the tough battles my party had to encounter. I made my way up to a high level linkshell which I was kicked out of for trying to steal a piece of equipment. Due that attempt, I gained a bad reputation on the server. Then I knew my Final Fantasy XI career was coming to an end.
I had quit Final Fantasy XI so I could focus on school more. Because of that I was able to graduate, and enter the “real world”. I got a part time job right out of college. It wasn’t full time, but I was still living with my parents, and I had a decent amount of disposable income even though I still had to pay them rent. I started buying more video games. I had a lot of time on my hands and was able to get through many of the games I was buying. But, that all changed when I finally landed my first full time job.
With my newly attained position in the workforce I had a newly attained way of life. Working nearly every day of the week, and sometimes every day of the week, I started to realize I don’t have a lot of energy to put towards video games when I come home from work. I needed something to do that was more relaxing in my spare time. I remembered a hobby I use to take more seriously back when I was in school, and that was reading. I took it a lot more seriously now since I’m no longer in school, and I felt the need to exercise my mind still.
Now here I am at the age of thirty with very little free time. I have been going to fighting game tournaments, and I can’t compete with these sponsored professional players. They play these video games like a job. Had I found out about this fighting game community when I was college I might have dropped out, and started taking fighting games more seriously. I was young and dumb, and certainly would have. Good thing I was ignorant of this community at the time.
I’ve come to the realization that I have passed my prime of video game skills back in my early twenties. Back then I had the time to invest dozens of hours a week in video games. Today, I’m glad if I can get five hours of gaming in a week. I will continue to play video games till the day I die. It’s something I love, and I wish I could do more with it, but as of right now I have to focus on other aspects in my life.