So yeah, Pancake Day is upon us, like, well, a pancake, that has finally unpeeled itself from the ceiling and dropped, moist and lukewarm onto our upturned faces. I love pancakes. They are the best food. I always do my best to celebrate pancake day by gorging myself in a hurried and unselfconscious manner.

But I’ve never given anything up for Lent before. This is partly cos I en’t religious, but mainly because quitting something for a month isn’t quite so fun as cramming multiple frisbees of soft, sweet batter into my slavering dogma-hole. So, I thought to meself… what can I give up?

I thought of booze, chocolate, crisps, Diet Coke – DC was the biggie, actually. I know I drink too much of the fizzy black sugar water, and I don’t much enjoy knowing I’m giving money to the ethically-dubious Coca Cola Company, but still I choose to guzzle quite a lot of it. Still, last time I quit for a week, I got a withdrawal hangover on the first day that lasted for 24 hours, complete with pounding head, runny nose, and chronic tiredness. My main reason for not choosing any of those things was that giving them up didn’t seem to have much of an interesting narrative behind it.

So, I tried to think of something I do every day, something I’ve done for a long time, something I can scarcely imagine life without. And, I’ve decided…

For Lent, I’m going to give up video games.

It will be the longest I’ve been without them since Primary School. Yikes.

I love video games. They make me genuinely delighted and happy. I love them like I love books, like I love movies. For over two decades, they have sparked my imagination, and given me hours and hours of fun. But with the advent of game clocks and my progression into the higher echelons of adulthood, I’ve also had some tricky realisations. After 12 months of play on Pokémon Diamond, I checked the game clock and discovered I’d notched up 660 hours. That’s the equivalent of 27 and a half days, without sleep. That’s like playing non-stop for the whole of this month. Assuming an 8-hour working day, 5-days a week, that’s like working a full time job for nearly 4 months. That’s sick.

Obviously, I love Pokémon considerably more than the next man. If you’re wondering whether I’m just lying, I’d point out that, since the battles are turn-based, Pokémon is ripe for being combined with other activities such as TV watching, and since it’s on a handheld system, I played it pretty much every train journey I had – and I do a lot of train travel. Let’s be clear – I’m not smack-talking Pokémon.

But that’s not okay, is it? I mean, it’s pretty awful. A little Pokémon, fair enough, but that’s an actual bona fide binge. And it wasn’t even the only game I played that year!

So look, here’s what I’m going to do. You may have noticed I’ve done naff-all updates on this blog so far this year. Sorry about that. I’ve been busy. But we should reconnect more. So, I’m going to quit video games for Lent, try to rediscover some other pursuits, maybe procrastinate less, and I’m going to blog about it a bit. I reckon I will miss them, but I also think my life needs a little more balance, eh? I’d like to do one or two posts on games that really made a difference in my life, and also on non-video games. You know, like board games. My Dad has always been a pretty awesome advocate of board gaming, and I reckon it’s his fault I’m hobbled with this dreadful craving for arbitrary simulated challenges. And I want to write about that.

Or maybe I’ll just spend the time checking my Twitterfeed and reading obscure blogposts and I’ll realise that video games are one of the most constructive uses of unstructured time available to us. Maybe I’ll go mad. Maybe I’ll renounce video games and never play them again. Who knows? All I know is that they’re a really important part of my life, I kind of, not to be an idiot, but I kind of actually care about them, but for the next month me and them are going to have a trial separation.

And so, for now, I’m going to spend the rest of the evening binging on pancakes and games, in preparation for the long, stark fast before Spring.

5 thoughts on “Lent”

  1. Hey Tim. Just so you know, Mass Effect 2 is amazing, breaking new ground in RPG design. Also, New Super Mario Bros. Wii represents a melding of everything Nintendo have done right in the last three years with the sensibility of the original, genre-defining classic. And Final Fantasy 13 comes out in a couple of weeks. And Pokémon Soul Silver is already out in Japan.

    I suppose what I'm saying is: good luck, sucker.

  2. Also, a day in, John Smith revealed that it's possible to get one of those giant Super Mutants as a pet on Fallout 3. I do miss it.

    On the plus side, I played Doggie Top Trumps last night – and won! 'Loveability… 23.' Who needs video games?

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