I haven't properly played a video game in about two years. Sure, I dibble with apps on my phone like Neko Atsume or Flow every now and then, but I haven't sat in front of a TV with a controller on my hand and had a video game experience.
It didn't use to be that way. Like every boy my age, I grew up with video games. Living in Mexico, I played The Legend of Zelda without knowing any English and without knowing what the hell the game was about. I didn't realize the green dinosaur I'd ride on Super Mario World was called Yoshi until later in life when I got to the U.S. Video games are great like that; you can play and still enjoy them even if you don't know what's going on. At least they were.
I got into video games even more once I got to the U.S. and learned English. Playing Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill are two of my favorite memories. People use the word "immersion" to describe a game that's got you hooked because of how realistic it looks, plays or feels. "You are fully immersed in the world." I was immersed for a different reason; for the first time I understood what the game was about. I understood the horrors of Silent Hill were manifestations of a little girl suffering. I understood when Snake's frustration as Colonel Campbell kept lying to him in Metal Gear Solid.
It was games like those that turned me into what people call nowadays "a hardcore gamer." I played all the newest triple-A titles, the PS2 was my best friend, I kicked my friend's butt in Super Smash Bros. Melee every day and he'd kick mine in Mario Kart. I had a shelf full of video game boxes, some I had only played once and never pick up again, others I would revisit all the time.
GTA V for the PS3/360 era was the last video game I sat down to play with the same enthusiasm as when I was younger. Even then I was already barely turning on my console and when I did, it was only to play for about and hour or two a week. People might accuse me of not being a "true gamer" because I don't play games as I used to. That age does not stop someone from continuing to take part in one's hobby. That couldn't be further from the truth. I love video games so much. And I still consider myself a "gamer."
But things change differently for different people. I dropped out of college at 19 years old and am now facing the consequences of that. It's true you don't need a college degree to do what you want to do with your life, but for what I wanna do, genetic engineering, is not something you can really accomplish with "college dropout" on your resume.
I spent several years of my life trying to pay back the loans from that year of college failure and I finally went back to school a couple years ago years ago. Since then, I've become increasingly busier, and more dedicated to do well in school. I've worked hard to obtain a full ride scholarship to an Ivy League institution. An unfathomable dream for a family of immigrants who never even had a high school education. As a result, I don't have the time to sit down and play video games as much as I did when I was teenager.
When I first got into watching Roosterteeth content, and later Achievement Hunter, it was to get a laugh. I remember the RT Shorts videos, and Things to Do, and how short they were. They delivered quickly on the comedy and it was something you could digest in a few minutes and move on.
As time passed and I found myself having less and less time to play video games, I started appreciating Achievement Hunter more. Like many, the series that got me hooked was Minecraft. And not long afterwards, I was playing less myself and watching other people play games more.
I know what some people might think, "If you have time to watch 45-minute Let's Plays, then you have time to play video games!" They probably have a point but now, at 28 years old, it's not about the time anymore. It's about the experience. As I said, I still love video games. But I don't think I love playing them. At some point during the past few years, the video game experience shifted for me. I now experience, and therefore enjoy, video games through Let's Plays. I bought Minecraft after watching AH's videos, and while it's a fun game (I did put A LOT of hours into it back in 2012), I never found myself having anywhere near as much fun as the videos I was watching. At some point, I became a different type of "gamer."
Through AH, I have found myself learning and enjoying games I would otherwise not play on my own. Thanks to them, I am not only enjoying video games in a new different way compared to younger me, but I am also enjoying video games I never knew I would enjoy.
Now, admittedly, I am having a bit of a hard time keeping up with all the content they release (I am currently about two weeks behind on content). But I do try to watch as many as I can during the week.
With the addition of others to the LP family, like FH, they've all allowed me the ability to continue to enjoy video games when I can't or don't want to play them. If it wasn't for them, then I really wouldn't be a gamer at all. And for that, I am truly grateful.
-Damian, a different kind of gamer.