Tome of Navel Gazing +3
I've made a terrible mistake. I read the Newspaper Comics thread in the Lounge. Specifically, I got thinking about Calvin and Hobbes. Now it is worth noting that I recognized the fake end-of-series strip immediately as a hoax, not because I've seen it before but because I basically grew up glued to that strip. Heck, a few of my parents' coworkers actually called me Calvin when I was little.
Anyways, the mistake that I've made is getting nostalgic. I've always had a very weird soft spot for nostalgia. I used to read through my Calvin and Hobbes collection in afternoons and on weekends, and have sort of mini-marathons where I'd just chain-read for days on end until I cycled through the entire set. Like Calvin, I used to love getting sick because it meant I could lay around and read comic books all day. Whenever I finished one of those marathons, I'd get into a deeply depressed mood, sometimes lasting multiple days.
I never really thought about it until one year I did the same thing with the Lord of the Rings series. I started with The Hobbit, and basically did very little but read until I finished The Return of the King. Of course, being a complete geek, I went through all of the appendices, supplemental maps, and even a decent chunk of the Silmarillion before I quit.
It took me almost a week to recover from that. The euphoric joy of reading, being caught up in some other world, doing grand adventurous deeds was more than just palpable to me; it was something to care about. Leaving that world wasn't just a matter of wishing it wasn't over; closing the cover of the book didn't mean returning to real life - it meant killing a set of friends that I'd become attached to.
Over time I've seen a pattern develop. It's not just a matter of getting lost in some fantasy world that I know I can never truly inhabit. It's more than being attached to memories or things. "Sentimental value" has absolutely nothing on me - I've got things in my possession going back to when I was born. I've kept stuff unopened from so long ago I can't even remember getting it - but all things holy forbid that I get rid of it.
We moved a lot when I was a kid, and I hated every move because inevitably mom or dad would come in to my room with a big box and say something along the lines of "figure out what you don't want to keep." Without fail, when they came back, there'd only be two or three things in that box - most of them sneakily pilfered from various trash bins around the house. I couldn't throw stuff away, and to a large extent I still have a very hard time doing it. Maybe now and then I'll get rid of the receipts I know I'll never look at.
A long time ago, I got drawn into games because they had many of the same effects as good books. The immersion, the exploration, the experience of something else has always been a very powerful force for me. I recently reflected that I don't think I've ever genuinely played a game until I was sick of it - almost invariably, the reasons I stopped playing were practical ones. I can still name a long string of games in my collection that I don't feel like I ever truly managed to wring dry. I'm beginning to wonder if I ever will. I don't much like that thought.
There was something else about games, though; something more personal. When I first started gaming, I couldn't write or draw worth much, so my favorite media for expressing imagination were out. But this - this game thing - I could do games. One of the most vivid memories I have of anything is sitting on my dad's lap in front of the family's 386, using the DOS-SHELL editor to look at some of the data files for Commander Keen. Ever since then, I've simply known that I've got to make games.
I still can't draw, and I've never been much good at writing. But I still hold on to the hope of making games. I've actually started doing it, and if things go well, I'll be doing it full-time and gleefully at the beginning of the year. I still don't really truly understand my sentimental streak - and maybe I never will - but now I know what to do with it.
Because all I've ever really wanted to do is share that nostalgia, and inspire those kinds of feelings for other people.