philosophy

Bill Loguidice's picture

The Weight of Things - Over Consumption of Videogames, Computers, and Technology

I want you... to buy more stuff!I want you... to buy more stuff!After checking out the latest, typically profound Stuff No One Told Me comic, The weight of things, it got me thinking yet again about my own life and habits, and in particular an area that relates to Armchair Arcade's mission, which is primarily to chronicle the complete history of videogames and computers. As a co-founder of Armchair Arcade, I've obviously been a part of shaping said mission, which is no surprise as it's clearly a reflection of my own life. As I used to like to say, I have three basic loves in my life: family, working out, and of course, technology, with a big focus on videogames and computers.

As you probably know by now, I have a ridiculously large videogame and computer collection--more stuff than can be appreciated in one lifetime, stuff I've been accumulating for the better part of my 39 years on this planet in one way or another. It is in that particular area that that comic speaks most to me, as, as much as my collection brings me joy, it also feels like the beast I must constantly tend to, and, most sad of all, constantly feed, with little time available to stop and smell the actual "roses," which is usage of the very items that elicit the warm and fuzzies in me, both in recollections of positive childhood memories (again, as in the comic) and to satisfy my present desires.

I think as much as we'd like to think otherwise, I do believe we can have all of the same feelings of "weight" about digital goods, i.e., items that only exist as bits of information stored somewhere other than a physical medium we retain all rights to, like a record, cassette, disk, optical disc, etc. Again, there's a certain burden of guilt of lack of usage because there's simply not enough hours in the day. It's part of the reason why I avoid any and all MMORPGs--not for fear of addiction, but rather for fear of not being able to put time into it to make it worth the effort. "First world problems" as they say...

Naturally, abundance in that area also breeds indifference. I always like to use MAME as an example. It's something we would have practically murdered for as kids in the 1980s, but shortly after gaining the ability to replicate literally thousands of arcade games in the late 1990s, we as a whole became somewhat indifferent to the idea. It's there, it's free, it's accessible, it's everything we hoped for, but the "chase" is over. The dream has been realized and it's overwhelming. In other words, it's all in our possession without barriers and it somehow became far less special than when we had to plunk down .25 or more per play. In fact, digital subscriptions like Netflix and OnLive can feel like that too, where we can somehow complain about the lack of selection despite hundreds or even thousands of possible on demand selections that we couldn't possibly have the time to explore even a portion of.

So, can I rid myself of my possessions like in the comic and set myself free? Although I've fantasized about it, probably not. I don't think most of us could or ultimately would want to. You'd have to be at a very specific point in your life with very specific responsibilities. I guess all I - all we - can do is acknowledge the problem, try to keep it under control, and for goodness sake, try and really enjoy this trip through life a bit more. To put it another way, think about and smell those "roses" now and again, whatever form they may take...

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