Plugged In

Game over? Not just yet

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When I started writing about video games here at the Gazette-Mail more than a decade ago, I told myself that if the process of playing and talking about games — two things that I have genuinely loved doing since I first picked up an Atari 2600 paddle as a kid — ever came to feel like work, I would stop.

And late last year, as I found myself struggling to manage my time amidst the added responsibilities and new hours of my new role in the office, playing and talking about video games started to feel like work. I know it sounds silly, the very notion that playing video games of all things could become overwhelming. But that’s exactly how I felt. I was no longer playing games for the enjoyment of it, I was playing because I had to. No sooner than I finished one game, it was on to the next. I began to resent what had, to that point, been one of my favorite pastimes.

I was drowning in a pool of pixels.

So I did what I promised myself I would do if that situation ever happened. I quit.

And I didn’t just stop writing about video games. I stopped playing video games altogether. I would occasionally play something with my kids, usually a sports game or something LEGO, but playing a game by myself? I simply didn’t have the desire.

As 2017 rolled around, I tried to will myself back into the swing of things. I picked up a controller again for the first time in weeks to play through “Horizon: Zero Dawn” — a game I really, really liked — and tried to follow that up with “Mass Effect: Andromeda,” but I again found myself feeling burdened by having to hurry through the massive RPG in order to write a timely review. So again, I quit.

But instead of walking away from video games as I had done earlier, I decided to keep playing. Only this time, I was playing for the same reason I had fallen in love with the hobby all those years ago — to have fun.

I revisited some of my favorite titles in my library, games like “Fallout 3,” “Skyrim,” “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and “Grand Theft Auto V.” I played “NBA 2K17” and “GTA Online” with my kids. There was no deadline pressure, no need to hurry through anything. It was all about having fun.

Which brings me to today.

After much soul searching, I’ve decided to give this blog one more shot. But realizing that continuing to do what I’ve done in the past will only ensure failure in the future, I’m committed to making some changes to the way I handle my business here.

First and foremost, you’re probably going to see fewer reviews. The simple fact is I can not cover every game that gets released; there just isn’t enough time in my schedule anymore. Instead, I’m hoping to cover a wider variety of games, which means a mix of AAA blockbusters and the smaller indie titles that often get lost in the shuffle.

I want to get back to posting more news, trailers, etc. I want to expand my offerings beyond video games. There’s a whole world of cool stuff out there that I want to talk about and this is my platform to do just that.

I want to have more interaction with you guys. I know there were people who’ve visited this space in the past, and some of you must have liked what you found because you kept coming back. I want to connect with you; let me hear what you like and what you don’t like. Is there a game you want me to cover? Tell me. Help me make this a community we can all be proud to call home.

Finally, I want you know that I’m committed to making this work. The time I spent away has helped me rediscover the passion for gaming that I thought I had lost. I really do love playing games and sharing my thoughts with you. I hate that it took walking away to realize that again.

I’m not sure when I’ll have my first fresh review up — this is a slow time of the year for new releases, after all — but in the meantime be on the lookout for my recap of the first half of 2017.

Thank you for your support over the years and for sticking with me moving forward. Game on!