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I had a big long whiney blog post written that I've been tweaking, trying to make it not horrible. And I ultimately decided the whole thing could be summed up with the fact: "The opportunty cost of stuff goes up after you have kids".

Enough said there.

Another thing I've been thinking on is about how video games fit into the current stage of my life.

I've often talked about how I think video games are going to make our generation have a much more healthy view of late retirement. That they give us something accessible and interesting to do when our bodies can no longer. That my wife and I can go old and grey and be able to sit on a couch and lazily play Civilization 10 together, all day long, without a care in the world.

Consequently, I think they were an interesting thing for myself as a young child, when similarily, your own body and age limit your actions. You can't drive anywhere, you own few useful complex tools, and you lack any skills or knowledge to do much productive... These days though, when a child can either play Megaman for 4 hours or access a database of all known knowldge... I'm wondering into "kids these days territory" there, so let's stop.

So the question becomes... What are video games good for when you are an able bodied adult, with skills and a dizzying array of options?

One of the main reasons I play video games, is because it has become a substantial pillar of definition of myself. I am a "gamer", I play video games, I keep up on video games, I discuss video games, etc.

Not that that is a good reason, but it is definitely one I have. I don't worry about keeping up with the neighbors, I worry about falling so far behind on video game culture that I no longer qualify.

There are other reasons of course. Different video games scratch different itches.

I play puzzle games because I enjoy solving puzzles. I play minecraft because I like creating things. I play some single player games just to consume the story, like a much longer, interactive TV show.

So video games are not devoid of use for me. The problem is, is they are always easier than doing something more "meaningful".

In the back of my mind I'm consistently disappointed with myself for not finishing a story idea, or breaking out my soldering iron and making a "gadget".

In practice, I can spend an hour writing and output nothing, or I can spend two hours soldering, and create a lead-tainted thing that doesn't work. Video games give a clear sense of progress, even if it is towards a largely "empty" goal like "beating a game", and I don't have to clean up my tools afterwards.

Ultimately, it seems to boil down to the meta game of what I want to "be" outside of parenting and work. As is, the identity of "gamer" seems incompatible with being a "novelist" or "tinkering mad scientist".

I know it seems a little petty to be agonizing over which hobby to pick, but from an existential point of view it seems like the only thing that matters to me. My decisions at work and parenting are pretty well established. They come with time demands that I absolutely must meet. At the end of the day, the few non-obvious choices left to me are how to spend my 15 - 45 minutes of freetime per day.

At which point maybe the true goal should be a zenlike one. To realize and accept that it is essentially mathmatically impossible to "accomplish" something with that level of time committment per day, and to just be content with dicking around in virtual worlds without feeling guilty.