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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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My empire of dirt

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One man's decision to walk away from gaming

Some time ago, I contacted a friend of mine through the time-honored method of cellular text, inquiring if he'd like to partake in a match of 'Sins of a Solar Empire.' I was a little perplexed and intrigued when he responded with a very serious request for me to do something incredibly important for him, something that could very well define our friendship. With far more than a bit of curiosity, I agreed to hear him out, and he sent me one of the longest novels of text that I've ever received in this digital age.

My friend was incredibly upset with himself. He felt that he was wasting his life away whenever he played video games, that his need for entertainment was transcending his desire and ability to be creative. Whenever he immersed himself in a game for long periods of time, he would come out of the fog depressed and angry with himself for wasting so much time on something that wouldn't last. There was no way he could balance gaming with the rest of his life, and he felt that if he continued, he would wreck any possibility of being a productive member of society. In a move to distance himself from this kind of behavior, he asked me to keep him accountable and keep him away from video games.

When I first read this, I was perplexed as to why he would enlist my aid in this. It's akin to asking Andrew W.K. to keep you away from partying. I love gaming in every single form, and I couldn't understand for the life of me why one of the greatest armchair generals of the area would retire from "Company of Heroes" to hang his decorated "Battlefield 3" sniper rifle on the wall and walk away forever. In all honesty, I was actually hurt. I felt like he was turning his back on his friends that had been with him from the top of Caspian Border to the very depths of the Nether. Why would he willing stop doing something he very obviously enjoyed?

As I mulled this over, I realized my confusion was due to the fact that I have a self-scheduling gaming hobby. As a newly-married man with a newly-minted IT job, I don't have as much time for gaming as I'd like. But at the same time, I find I get far more enjoyment out of the time I do have to game. I don't feel like I'm forcing myself to play out of boredom, I play because I have a couple hours to myself. My buddy works a bunch of doubles over the weekend, which leaves a ton of free time over the week. With all of this free time on his hands, the temptation to go overboard was overwhelming. And every time he did, he would look back on a week spent entrenched in the digital realm and see no real result from it. It wasn't a hobby he enjoyed anymore, but a habit he had to feed.

I hope that someday he can find a balance and return to the hobby he loves. Until then, I've come to accept the fact that gaming isn't for everyone, all the time. It should be a boon, an uptick to the downtick of everyday life, not a master to lord over your social life with an iron fist.

Because he realized this truth before it destroyed his love for gaming, I completely support his decision to walk away from the screen. Until the day he finds a truce between gaming and his creative output, I will back him 100 percent. For the very first time in my life, I'm proud, incredibly proud, to have a friend that gave up gaming.

Aaron Waite has taken a donut hostage. The situation looks grim for the captive.

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