The time has come. I’ve been fighting the idea for several months now, but the nagging sensation has become too loud to ignore. It’s time for me to admit that I’m finished creating gaming content. My schedule has gotten to be incredibly crazy with kids in soccer, basketball, band, volleyball and whatever other miscellaneous activity is happening on any given day, but the bottom line is that my heart is not in it any more. If it was, I’d find a way to make it work, but it’s just not. I started this journey back in February of 2011 when I signed up for a plucky little MMO called Lord of the Rings Online. My interest in the game and community, and later the larger gaming community, continued to grow as I deepened my understanding of various aspects of the industry and broadened my network of fellow enthusiasts and friends.
In the few years since, so much has changed. My youngest is now nearly the same age as my oldest was back then. My oldest is now a sophomore in high school, and requires my assistance in accumulating 60 (!!!) hours of driving practice this year prior to earning his driver’s license next year. Keeping up with my kids’ academic responsibilities can be a full-time job in and of itself. The house, as houses do, requires constant upkeep thanks to the abuse a family of six doles on our surroundings.
In reading Izlain’s post about his hiatus from Couch Podtatoes, I was nudged toward the realization that my game/community commitments, as soft as they were, were holding me back from doing something I love: trying and learning new things. I want to get even better at home repair. I want to dabble in video and photography. I’ve recently volunteered to run the video projection/stage lights for my church one Sunday a month. I want to pull all of my old athletic awards out of storage and build a display wall for them. I want to be able to go to my kids’ concerts, sporting events, and plays and not feel like I’m letting an audience or a co-host down by skipping a blog post or recording session. Most of all, I want to enjoy my family for the few short years we have together before the kids start going their own separate ways.
I’ve also got my personal health to think about. The recent diagnosis of adhesive capsulitis in my shoulder has underlined the passivity of my lifestyle. If you’re not familiar with that particular health issue, it’s a very strange ailment where the connective tissue in my shoulder has stiffened up to the point that I cannot move my arm greater than about 30 degrees in any direction without an excruciating amount of pain. It hurts pretty much all the time. Counter intuitively, the only way to combat the issue is to push through the pain and keep stretching the tissue out to limber it up – which hurts, man. I won’t lie, it hurts. I’m on daily pain meds and I have physical therapy twice a week in an attempt to keep pushing it and regain some range of motion. The good news is that I should eventually gain full range of motion back, but there is a long road ahead, possibly up to 1-2 years. I’ve heard it’s good to have a goal, so my goal is to eventually be able to get back into the pool and do a swimming workout again, which is something I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to do when the pain first set in. It’s quite the mind game. One of the records I set in high school was the 100 yard butterfly, the most shoulder-intensive stroke in swimming, so I was very strong. Not being able to raise my arm above my head just doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s confusing, and very humbling. It’s going to take work to get back where I want to be, and work takes time.
Just so I’m not pulling any punches, my relationship with Twitter has also changed a lot in the last 12 months or so. There are several people who I interact with who really seem to “get it”. We banter, we have a good time, and we share relevant news and information. But something has happened to my feed in the last year. Alternatively, something has happened to me in the last year to make me much grumpier. The amount of noise being amplified in the name of ‘raising awareness’ of some social injustice or unthinkable offense against humanity has increased seemingly exponentially, to the point that it almost feels like whining. I’m not completely innocent of contributing to this, I realize, but it’s now reached the tipping point for me. Yes, there is social injustice in the world. The world can be a terrible place. Consider my awareness raised. That kind of bombardment is not why I signed up for Twitter however many years ago. Gamers talk all day long about how our hobby allows us to “escape”, and yet somehow we still find a way to drag all the stuff we’re escaping from right back into the hobby. I think it’s time to escape from the escape.
For now, the blog will stay up as-is, possibly getting an occasional update, but nothing regular (as if my posts were ever regular). I plan to keep the domain name up unless it becomes too much of a hassle or too expensive. Same for Beyond Bossfights. I plan to keep it up if for no other reason than to give me a place to drop an episode out there every now and then if I feel the need. Brodkil has recently started listening to my back catalog and has been dropping hints that he wants to record with me, so I’ll probably have at least one more episode out there in the next few months when we find the time for it. I’ve told Chris Cook of my intentions to step away from MMORPG’s Game On podcast, as well. Chris was very supportive and welcomed me back at any time. As with other members of the community, it’s been great getting to know Chris. He’s a super classy guy with no hidden agendas and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to lend my voice to a major gaming podcast. As far as TGEN, I’ve turned it over to the other podcasters. I can’t speak for all of them, but there is at least a core group who would like to continue to release quarterly round-table shows together. I would like to be among that group as well, but time will tell whether my new hobbies will be of interest to anyone, or whether my schedule will allow it. TGEN was my baby, and it’s tough to walk away, but I don’t feel like I have any leadership left to give to that team. I’ll be shutting my Patreon page down as soon as I can figure out how to do that. For those who have supported me, financially or through feedback and encouragement, I thank you so, so much. The people I’ve met along the way have been the best part of the whole journey. I can’t name names, as there are simply too many. Which leads me to my next thought…
It’s funny, one of the reasons I created a Twitter account with my LOTRO character name was so that I could easily walk away if need be. But walking away from these old passions has been anything but easy. I’ve probably held on far longer than I should have out of a sense of obligation to both audience and friends. While I’m not going to delete my Twitter account, nor the blog nor podcast backlog, I certainly will not be as regular as I once was in any of these cases. Perhaps this is only a hiatus, I don’t know. But, the last few months I’ve been doing some things as me – not as Braxwolf – that have confirmed for me that I’m where I’m supposed to be at this time. The gamer tag is a veil, albeit a thin one, that I’m tired of wearing for the time being. I need to move on, and breathe freely, and continue to grow as a person. Unfortunately, to promote growth, pruning is sometimes necessary.
I thank you all for your friendships, your encouragement, and your good humor. I truly and sincerely appreciate it.