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Nostalgia

The other day I started thinking about X-Play for no good reason.  I think I got the image of Morgan Webb in my brain and started wondering what she was up to, and then I remembered how much fun that show was.  Back when I was in college, we couldn't get access to G4 on the school's cable service, so I set video tapes to record X-Play at home.  Then I'd binge-watch months' worth of episodes back-to-back.

(Translation notes for kids born after 2000: G4 was a cable television network that originally catered to technology geeks and gamers by buying out TechTV, another cable network that catered to geeks and gamers, before it eventually went south and started airing bullshit. Video tapes were a form of physical media you could use to record television broadcasts before streaming and DVR services were invented.  College was still more expensive than a kidney transplant, though, so at least we can bond over that.)


Then I started to do the math and realized: I haven't watched an episode in over ten years.

Part of this is doubtless due to G4's constant "improvements" that took away from the show's comedic tone, but mostly it's just because I've given up on that entire part of my life.  My budget for gaming time started shrinking the moment I left college. Then, in 2013, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't touch another game controller until I was successful enough with my writing that I could do it as a day job.  I gave up on any and all video games that were more involved than Freecell.

Coincidentally, 2013 is also when X-Play was cancelled.  Seems appropriate.

But realizing all of this hit me with such a powerful wave of bittersweet nostalgia that I had to sit down.  Here was a thing that used to delight me for hours.  I loved those days when I had a fresh tape filled with new X-Play episodes.  As lame as it sounds, they were like miniature Christmases.  And X-Play wasn't just some random bullshit - it was G4's flagship show.  It was important.

But I just kinda forgot all about it.  Every recurring joke, every hapless intern they dressed up in a dollar store costume, every rant, every interview.  It all went into the bin I put at the mental curb when I realized that video games were taking up too much of my time.

The show went on for eight years after I stopped watching.  In my brain space, it just wandered off into the woods to die alone.  It gives me such a terrible feeling of guilt on top of the feeling that something is missing.

This is what nostalgia does to me all the time.  I can see why people flock to remakes, reboots, and other forms of pop cultural revival.  It's a powerful itch, and sometimes you ache desperately to scratch.

But on the other hand, you know what I've gained since I quit gaming?  Two published novels, two more first drafts in the bank, about a dozen other works in progress, and an amazing daughter.  I can honestly say I'm happier and more fulfilled now than I've ever been.  Everything I'm most proud of has been accomplished within the last three years.

Nostalgia is just a mean practical joke with a long fuse.