Video games done made me stupid

It’s that time of the year where we reflect on all the things!

Top 10 lists, best photos, things we’re thankful for, new resolutions, etc., etc.

Well, I hate to disappoint, but I don’t have any lists or lofty goals. In looking back on 2017, I discovered a single revelation:

Video games done made me stupid, y’all!

Flipping the Switch

Allow me to explain…

In 2016, I challenged myself to develop my skills and grow personally and professionally at a greater scale than previous years. I read 43 books, most of which were non-fiction. I devoured hundreds of articles written by experts in my field. I launched new podcasts, kicked off a weekly motivational self-improvement email newsletter, landed speaking opportunities and reaped all of the benefits of focused and intentional learning.

I was truly a more wiser, well-rounded and skilled human after those months of intense growth.

In 2017, things took a different turn. I quickly grew stagnant, and undeniably stayed stagnant throughout the year.

In January, Lauren and I discovered that were expecting baby #3. We were ecstatic! This put me in a state of anxious anticipation and unpreparedness for the following 9 months. After 3 kids, you’d think it’d be easier. (It’s never easier.)

But the real kicker for me, the true nail in the coffin, hit me on March 3, 2017, when Nintendo’s new console, Switch, was released to great acclaim. With Zelda: Breath of the Wild in hand (then much anticipated, now applauded as Game of the Year by most media outlets,) I began developing a strong bond with this portable video game machine.

Any free time I had was dedicated to Switch. I played everywhere– on a plane, in a hotel room, in bed at home, on the couch, in the basement (but never in the bathroom, that’s just gross.)

Gone were the days of pouring through book reviews to find my next big read, or setting ambitious personal goals each quarter and crushing them. The paperback on my nightstand was replaced by a flat tablet with a pair of joysticks attached to it.

What can I say? The Switch felt made for me. With it’s new wave of familiar-yet-foreign takes on classic Nintendo franchises, the Switch took risks. It doubled down on time-strapped gamers like me who have families and share a television. For all the reasons outlined in this great article by Matt Gemmell, I love the Switch.

I invested more time into playing video games this year than any other year, tearing into Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario + Rabbids, Mario Kart, Blaster Master Zero, Splatoon 2, and now Skyrim.

Some of these were the best games I’ve ever played in my life, and I’ve been gaming for quite some time.

In 2016, I read 43 books. In 2017, I read 5. And 3 of those were about video games. (Whoopsies!)

via GIPHY

So, to no fault of Nintendo’s, I grew lazy and stupid. But it didn’t just stop there.

Everything is gaming

This past year, the act of playing video games became more than just escapism for me. It spilled over into other more creative ventures and personal relationships. I invested more time and effort into my Nintendo podcast, Power Time, both in researching and producing episodes that aim to share the Nintendo narrative with a historic approach, but also in connecting the show and audience with various people in the gaming community. Through Power Time, I was able to interview other content creators, musicians, and gamers like Jon Harrison, Sal Pane, Run Jump Stomp of Nintendo Switch Craft, Nolan of New Game Plus, and the incredible band, Extra Lives.

I participated in gaming forums, explored rare games and ROM hacks, donated money to the Video Game History Foundation, experimented with live streaming via Twitch, and listened to countless hours of industry-related podcasts.

At work, I pushed myself incredibly hard to be the best darn digital marketer I could be. At home, when the kids were up, I shut the games off and focused on being present and the best darn husband and father I could be. But alone in the car, late at night in bed, early in the morning before anyone woke up, everything was gaming.

Course correcting and leveling up

I have zero regrets. In no means am I saying that games make everyone stupid.

In many ways, this was what I needed this year. Sometimes you need a very specific outlet or escape, and I found it through the gaming community.

But this past year, I’ve felt the void from the lack of progression and self-improvement. I leveled up my geek status at the expense of almost everything else.

I’ll never withdraw from gaming completely. Quite the opposite, I hope to continue to indulge, but with an element of moderation and intent that was missing. I’m looking to scale down my weekly content creation, limit my gaming podcast consumption, and abandon games if they’re not fulfilling (in the past I’ve been a bit of a completionist.)

I also plan to approach gaming more academically. I want to write more this year, and I hope to write about the games I play with a critical eye.

I’m also putting together a curated backlog of books to read this year and launching a few new projects that are completely non-gaming related, so that should feed the beast.

Have you ever had a stagnant year? Indulged in too much of one thing? What do you think? What have you done to course correct?


Tom Tate

I'm a suburban polymath living just outside Philadelphia with my wonderful wife and three kids. Digital marketing nerd for a SaaS company by day. Rabid movie, music, game, and book consumer by morning, noon, and night. I share life hacks and learnings via email at Weekly Coffee. I also host Power Time Podcast, a Nintendo retrospective. Sometimes I write stuff. Most of the time, it's on the internet.