Life+Game: The Realization

One of the greatest moments and accomplishments of my life that didn't involve beating a boss at the end of a level

Another E3 has come and gone. For those who care, E3 is the mecca of videogame tradeshows. Many industry insiders and gamers make the annual trek out to the L.A. Convention Center solely to reaffirm their love of all things gaming. After attending four straight years from 2000 to 2003, I missed it for the second year in a row. I missed the one time of the year to hang with my fellow Game Critics, missed the opportunity to cavort with my "peers" and party with the likes of Sony president Ken Kuturagi at the PlayStation Party. No free, useless promotional swag for me. Oh, and I almost forgot about getting an advance peek at the latest and greatest games in development.

Last year I missed E3 because I married the love of my life in June of 2004. Weddings are expensive and I couldn't spare the extra expense (you should have seen the cake). This year I took a pass because my wife and I are expecting our first born also in June (yes, we didn't waste any time). Taking off to the West Coast while my wife was eight months pregnant didn't seem like the right way to announce my fatherhood to the world. It would have only been two to three days, but I would have never forgiven myself had anything happened to my soon-to-be family while I was away. I also figured I'd need to spend money on diapers instead of airfare.

I consider myself a lifelong gamer, but I prioritized these two life events over going to E3, or rather prioritized them over my devotion to games. I don't regret my choices. Everyone always says you have to live a balanced life, but they forget to mention that balancing is the tricky part. It's not something that you either do or don't do. It's an ongoing struggle, the plight of the working class family man who also happens to be a gamer through and through.

My wife knew I was into games when she married me. When we were dating for the first couple of months, I kept the control pad in the closet so she didn't think I was a dweeb. I didn't even reveal anything that remotely resembled pixels until we settled into our relationship. When she did find out, my paranoia was unfounded. She never a problem

Life+Game: The Realization
Mixing business with pleasure at E3 2002 in the L.A. Convention Center. Rather then letting me have all the fun, my wife (then girlfriend when this photo was taken) joined me on my trip to E3.

with games. In fact, our relationship was even further strengthened over games of House of the Dead and Animal Crossing. Of course, I made sure it was never became an issue. She always came first. Whenever we were together, my attention was solely on her (unless we were playing together). Games played second fiddle in my life, but there was plenty of time to go around, so I never felt like I was getting shortchanged from gaming and writing about games for this website.

Transitioning to married life was easy because the pattern and dynamic from our dating relationship remained pretty much the same. We are living under the same roof, but we still have our own private time and space when needed, and on occasion still play games together (or rather fight over playing time when it came to The Sims).

Then things recently unexpectedly changed for two reasons. First, my full-time job as the Webmaster for the American Red Cross in Greater New York became much more demanding. I recommended to management that it was time for a redesign and restructuring of the organization's website. They agreed and made me the project manager. Greater responsibility and challenge has its rewards, but also comes with greater stress and higher demands of time and energy—mental and physical. I started coming home later and later and found myself more and more tired.

The second event that has changed my life is something I already mentioned. My wife and I were blessed with a child (blessed because we know how difficult it can be for many couples to conceive) due in June. While this hasn't yet dramatically impacted my life (aside from sex), I am bracing myself for the sleepless nights, the diaper changing, the crying, the feeding, and on and on. This is fragile life that's going to depend solely on me to get through the earliest years of its life. Where will I find the time to play games let alone write about them?

In a Carrie Bradshaw like moment ("Videogames In The City?"), I began to wonder, How many more times would I pick life over games? I choose the title "Life+Game" for this feature article because it's my hope and goal that I won't have to choose one over the other, and that videogames will remain a prominent part of who I am. But for now, that's the ideology and the focus of this column to explore. What actually happens is something I'll have to discover, and write about, as the next chapter (or perhaps more appropriately "next stage") of my life begins. Somebody hand me a power-up.

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Chi Kong Lui
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