What's the accepted marker for adulthood for Americans? Jewish communities host a bar or bat mitzvah for 13 year-olds; Hispanic communites celebrate quinceanera–a ceremony that honors a 15 year-old girl's sexual growth and marriage availability. In general, America celebrates growing up in other ways: driver's permit at 16, driver's license at 18, legal smoking at 19, and legal drinking at 21. Sure, on birthdays we celebrate with cake, ice cream, and gifts, but in the greater scheme we get more responsibilities as we grow older: bills, jobs, thinning hair. For gamers who deal with these tasks, I would add another: dusting off video game consoles.
My interest in video games have wanned considerably in the past couple of years: I don't follow the news as much as I did when I was 21 or 22. The broad attention I used to give video games has narrowed to tunnel vision–Batman: Arkham City, Call of Duty: Modern Warefare 3, and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim were the only games I cared about this year, and I didn't even follow the news on them. I noted their release date and then waited, knowing that at 60 bucks each I would never purchase them. I don't have a wife and children, and I don't work full time. I devote myself to the rigors of college from the safety of my parents' home, but even under the care of a college student who would seem to possess too much time, the 360 still collects dust.
I like to clean her every two weeks–some times I forget, and my routine jumps to week three. There are many ways to clean a 360, and while Microsoft has official directions on approaching this task, I like to use a dry washing towel, the kind most people bathe with. From the top of my 360 I remove my long-forgotten, though ever-present Playstation 2. After pulling the 360 from the shelf, I clean the top surface first, and then move to the bottom. "Wash on; Wash off", Mr. Miyogi tells his apprentice in The Karate Kid; same lesson applies here.
I make a point of cleaning the back of the console, too. The wires, the sockets, all that stuff, need careful attention. Of course, I never forget the vent in which the fan sits: cooling the 360 is essential to long-lasting, happy video gaming. After I successfully dust off the console, I move to the controller. Nothing special there: Wipe, blow, and I'm done. I finish my task with the Playstation 3 and the TV stand, especially the TV stand as dust drifts from the wood to the 360, and that is unacceptable. Though I have not played my 360 in months, I make sure she is cleaned for the day I return to gaming.
That day finally came last month when I bought Batman: Arkham City. Granted, by then the workload for college had decreased significantly, which is the only reason I devoted hours of my weekends to crime fighting. Nevertheless, a small piece of my gaming life has revived. But I wouldn't call this a comeback to playing video games.
January is just over the horizon, and with that, another semester. This time graduate school.
It's funny to see the new generation of gamers. My teenage cousins are not representatives of their generation, but they understand life guarntees nothing. During their visit to my house they prodded and begged me to let them play my 360; I replied, "All you do is play video games!" "We know," they said. "We're trying to get all the gaming we can before college."
Not true for everyone, of course, but hearing those words put a smile on my face.