Since we’re talking about things we are outside of this blog I think its time I gave you a bit of a picture of the person that I am when I’m not writing here. Not only am I one of those hated economists who tells you why your hip pocket is getting hit harder than usual because of that pesky ‘invisible hand’ and tries to tell you that the loss of your job is necessary structural adjustment, but I actually have other interests outside of video gaming. Amongst them is my love of music – adoration, even. I grew up in the middle of two incredibly influential movements – too young for the grunge that defined Generation X, but too old to respect the modern take on emo that followed and has come to define a portion of Generation Y (I am also a middle child, but lets not get into that).
So when it comes to music I was lucky enough to not have that gravitational pull toward a certain type of generation music that ended up defining who I am as a person, and as a result I was free to form my own tastes in music and through that my identity in an incredibly pressured youth culture. Because of this I have a relatively open idea of what constitutes good music. That doesn’t mean I like everything, it just means that my iPod isn’t filled to the brim with songs that all sound the same or just contains The Beatles. To be clear it does contain The Beatles, but it fits snugly between Bane and Between the Buried and Me. Despite this however I did identify with one particular genre early on.
Punk, particularly Hardcore Punk, formed a big part of my identity as a teenager and not only had an impact on what I blasted my parents’ and siblings’ ear drums with involuntarily at home, but also how I dressed and the company I kept. I even started a band and started playing live shows just to prove that I could. As a youth it was all about living a straight edge lifestyle and exuding a positive mental attitude, something that when I was a teenager (and even now at times with a busy job and living in a city I don’t really care for) was harder than it sounds. And it all came from the music I was listening to.
But what I love the most about the scene is the passion. From Hardcore bands hailing from the Lower East Side of New York City like Sick of it All, Gorilla Biscuits and H2O to the more contemporary sounds of Long Island bands Glassjaw or This is Hell, they all have an unadulterated passion for the music they play and the people they play for. Whether its sitting on the train listening to the smooth sounds of Walter Schreifels’ immediately identifiable voice, or being covered in other people’s sweat in the mosh pit, almost nothing beats the indescribable joy I derive from music. And the great thing is there is always something new to discover.Music, of course, isn’t the only thing I’m ‘into’. I am a follower of the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union team, a watcher of films who thinks that Moon may well be the greatest film ever made, and a reader of books who is currently reading the Horus Heresy series to try and ignore the fact that I wasn’t as disturbed as I should’ve been after reading Bret-Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. And somehow despite all of that, but more so the American Psycho thing, I also have a girlfriend of ten years who keeps me in line.
So why am I telling you this? Firstly because I think its always good to get to know the author of things that you read. But secondly because it relates back to the way I’m currently feeling about the video games in general. People talk about falling out of love – a concept which I don’t necessarily believe in when it comes to relationships with others but one that I think can aptly describe the way that interests tend to come in waves, video games included. I’m not one of those people that grows out of things, for example I still think in wonderment about dinosaurs daily; hope that during my lifetime humans are visited by a benevolent extra terrestrial race; and can picture a day where ants will finally rise up to rule the world. So rest assured this ‘trough’ in my interest in video games isn’t some sort of sign that I’m going to suddenly settle down, have kids, wear cardigans and start watching MasterChef on TV. Not only is that not happening, but by jove I hope it never gets to that point. But my reliance on video games as an escape or distraction from other things is certainly declining, due in no small part to how I feel about today’s gaming industry. Violence-centric, uninspired and misguided are a few words I could use to describe my feelings, but its something that can’t be quite be qualified that is leading me to shift my ‘leisure expenditure’ – including time – away from video games toward other pursuits.
To end this, I ask you to imagine a human body, complete with all its muscles, tendons and bones. Now imagine that body lifting a heavy box. Now in your head tear one of the muscles in your arm. Lift that same box again. See how the other muscles around the damaged muscle work harder to compensate for its weakness? While this isn’t a perfect fit, it does work as an analogy for how one interest, as it wanes, is replaced by another. It all sounds rather dire, but I’m sure as this ‘injury’ passes and the stagnation I think is present in the video game industry starts to flow on, video games will again take on their fair share of the burden of entertaining me. Until then at least I still have my love of music which will only become stronger as a result of this decline of video games.