On why I keep looking up gaming consoles on Amazon

You read the title, so let’s cut right to a few possibilities on why I keep looking up gaming consoles on Amazon:

  • Privilege: I’m modestly affluent (which means I’m rich to most people on this planet and I’m too ungrateful to realize how lucky I am) with a reasonable* amount of disposable income. Rather than distribute it to people and/or causes it would actually benefit, I am indeed inclined to dispose of it to frivolity (e.g. video games). Not even a frivolity I necessarily enjoy anymore, but just a thing that I don’t want to accept no longer appeals to me because I don’t want to let go of my old story/identity.
  • Storytelling: I want to remain the old Lou who likes video games. He (child Lou) survived, so if I’m somehow still him, in my dumb brain, I can’t die. Because logic, people.
  • Logic: It just makes sense. I don’t need to understand what sense it makes, just that it does.
  • Fear of death: Buying a new gaming console (or one that’s been out for years) is entering a relationship that I delude myself into thinking guarantees me years of life. For instance, surely if I get the Nintendo Switch, Death won’t be able to take me. Because there’s no way I can die when I haven’t played the new Zelda in its entirety, and there’s no way I can die when the new Mario isn’t even out yet.**
  • Boredom: I’m waiting for work to bring structure back into my life, and in the meantime, why not throw away 100s of hours to an experience that can’t really qualify as an experience if I’m in advance planning not to be there for it? If it’s a way to shut my mind down and regress to child Lou, then…where am I going exactly? And why do I want to escape?***
  • Escape: I’ve been espousing a love of life recently, so why would I surrender that for something that doesn’t express said love?
  • Love: Maybe I am fulfilled by playing video games, and it’s time to stop pretending that I’m not. There is a cultural stigma**** around male adults sacrificing themselves at the altar of Gaming, so I might be concerned about how others will view/judge me if I express joy in playing.
  • Pretending: Or maybe I want to perform joy in gaming to participate in its culture.
  • Belonging: I’m looking for a community to belong to, a new identity to form, or an old identity to return to. But surely I’ve outgrown my gaming identity, right? Surely it can’t contain my newly expanded spirit…
  • Fun and friendship: Gaming can be a wonderful social experience, which it used to be for me all the way up through college. And then it was mostly a solo thing, a way (likely) to avoid developing more authentic relationships. My games don’t have a choice but to commit to me as long as I’m willing to play them.
  • Self-centeredness: Gaming is all about me, and I’m not ready for life to not be all about me. A console is a gift from the gods that reminds me I’m special.
  • God complex: Since I can’t scale social hierarchy to feel like God, I can just play a game to feel powerful. Never mind the empty feeling that inevitably follows a gaming session (which makes it sound like therapy almost).
  • Healing: Is it legitimately therapeutic? What am I trying to heal, and why do I think gaming is the best aid in that healing?
  • Ignorance: I’m going the route of Cypher in The Matrix. I’ve seen the Real, and I don’t want to keep myself there in that knowledge. I want my childhood Eden back, which I convince myself included video games. They can still be my salvation.
  • Salvation: I want to be saved. Games can save me.
  • Fear of death: Nothing can save me. Knowing that, can’t I just play games? Do I have to justify everything I do?
  • Responsibility: I don’t want it. Besides, am I really responsible for anything? If life is just a game (or but a dream), then can’t I just replicate that on a smaller (but virtually bigger) scale without paying for it in some karmic/cosmic way?
  • I don’t know. I don’t know anything. At least a game makes me feel like (a) I know something, and (b) I can know something. A game has resolution. Redemption. And, increasingly, I get to determine both. Well, the journey at least. So…why don’t I just apply that to life and focus on my life’s journey instead of outsourcing it to some digital avatar?
  • Comfort: I’m a baby, a terrified, crying baby who needs comfort. Something…someone…console me.


*”Reasonable,” to a person who doesn’t know how well off they are compared to others, means “substantial.”

**This is a reason we look forward to movies too. We probably think trailers are bargains we’re collectively making with Death. As if to say that until we all finish the new Star Wars series, Death gets put on hold. But then oh but we also have to finish the Marvel cinematic universe narrative, and then [insert whatever franchise is up next, ad infinitum]. Thank God for movies!

***I’m not even sure what “I” we’re talking about here. Which Lou wants to play video games again? And why am I listening to him?

****Sort of…being a nerd, which can include playing video games, isn’t exactly a negative thing anymore. There’s an entire adult industry (not porn) which venerates gaming. The more we can convince adults to be children again, the more we can get them to want unnecessary stuff. As a kid, you’re totally vulnerable to those elaborate cartoon commercials about your favorite breakfast cereals, and now, as an adult, you’re being suckered in exactly the same way by marketing for games. Plus, you get to murder aliens without consequence!

1 Comment

  1. Rohan Mukherjee

    I would add control to this list (as an extension to resolution and God complex). After having played a game, we become certain of the outcome. We can always erase our mistakes and load to a saved past if we choose. And, unlike life, we can pause whenever we like. This ability to know the future, rearrange the past, and control the present allows the gamer to overcome the limitations of time. Since time passes as we hurtle towards our inevitable end, the game allows us to relive life in a way that’s impossible in reality. In game, we choose our life, our identity, and our level of difficulty; we transcend our social institutions; we decide when we die.


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