My Struggles with Post-Adolescence Symbolized by the XBox360

I might have blown my load on the title, but it seems that in an effort to “grow up” or “become mature,” especially over the past 2 years or so, I’ve tried to forgo certain socially-implicated immature behaviors. The most obvious of these has been playing video games.

I’ve been a gamer as a long as I can remember, with the stereotypical nerdy behavior really culminating in high school. Every gamer has his drug of choice. First it was the MMORTS/FPS of 10Six, then the FPSs of CounterStrike and Planetside, and finally the beta and subsequent full release of World of Warcraft. If I recall the in-game timer correctly, I put a solid month of my life into WoW. Ugh. When I realized that it wasn’t possible to play video games in the way I wanted to and have a healthy social life, I dropped it. I figured that was the “mature” thing to do. Recognize a detrimental behavior and change it.

In college, I console gamed with my bros, with the Halos being the centerpiece of my sinning. Three-quarters of the way through college, the 360 came out, and I waffled. I’m much more of a research shopper, so I wanted to see where the price would fall to, and what kind of deal I could get, but by the time all was said and done, I didn’t know if I should get one. Did I want to be that guy who would have a gray-streaked ponytail when he attended E3? The creeper who continued to visit the comic shop well past his prime?

I know there are a lot of old guys who play video games, but for some reason, I’ve always associated becoming an adult with listening to classical music, debating politics and talking about your 401k. The problem with the aforementioned behaviors is that, while they certainly can be a portion of growing up, they’re not all you should do. If anything, I’ve learned to become more passionate about my passions. My generation was raised in the console era. Does it make sense to drop something you grew up loving (and continue to love) just because its aging is untested?

I can’t really answer that yet. I played Halo: Reach last night, and that pretty much sealed the deal that I would get a refurbed 360. I feel like I’ve been forsaking an industry I grew up with just as it’s starting to reach its golden age. More money than ever is being pumped into video games, they’re becoming cinematic-woven puzzles that eclipse even the modern movie business, but I’ve been sitting on the sidelines because I thought I couldn’t speak about them in polite company. My mental picture of being an adult involved caviar and Kafka, not Mass Effect and Arkham Asylum.

So screw polite company. I’ll continue to worry about my taxes and making dinner and all the other domestic hassles that come with being an adult, but I’m going to do it between fragging sessions, save-points and NPC chats. Being an adult is probably more about learning to balance all of these things healthily than sterilize parts of yourself.