Like so many of us, I found that I had too much time on my hands when the world stopped during the pandemic lockdown. So much so that I didn’t know what to do with myself. As an ex-boyfriend once lovingly told me, I didn’t do anything. Some people cook, some draw, and others have plants to take care of. I didn’t have anything that was just my “thing” until the pandemic hit, and I discovered a wonderful game called Stardew Valley, which became my thing for a while. I probably sank about 200 hours into Stardew in the first couple of months of playing it. Even now, it’s a game I often revisit because I love it so much. Later, I befriended a group of gamers through my aforementioned ex-boyfriend, who were all excited about this shiny new game called Valorant (super niche, obviously). Suddenly, my old Macbook Air wasn’t enough to fulfil my gaming needs. I enlisted the help of some tech-savvy friends and built a custom gaming PC.
Now, you can critique my poor financial decisions all you want. The height of the pandemic was also the height of the crypto mining craze. If you weren’t building a new PC to soothe pandemic boredom, you were building a supercomputer to get in on the crypto mining market; the sudden demand for custom PCs meant the prices of computer components were probably at an all-time high (or at least it felt like it). So, obviously, I had to build one of my own during this peak. It felt like rubbing salt in a wound when, only a year later, a friend built a computer that was twice as good as mine and a couple hundred dollars less. But even with the combination of hindsight and stinginess, if I were to go back in time, I would still build that PC because the value it gave me (and will continue to give for years to come). It gave me access to such a wide variety of games that I could not try before.
With my then freshly built PC, I began my nightly routine of playing games with my new friends. Over time, our bond grew stronger, and they became some of my best friends. The general perception of adult friendships I had growing up was that you meet up once every blue moon and don’t talk very frequently in between. However, I think I’m one of the lucky ones, as I found a group of people who manage to find the time to game and chat almost every night. Sometime during the late nights that we spent yelling at (and over) each other, my friends became pillars to my mental wellbeing. During my emotional lows, they’ve kept me grounded, or, at the very least, distracted enough to get through the day. Nowadays, my day doesn’t feel complete until I hop into a voice call and talk about our day while playing some games. I think I became a better person because of it, too. Maybe it’s the nature of playing competitive games, but this routine forced me to be more direct with what I want, making me a better communicator.
On another note, I have always been a sentimental person, and I have worked that into gaming by making videos! Highlight reels showcasing cool moments are great, of course, but my favourite videos to work on are the compilations of clips from the silly moments I share with my friends. They are a lot of fun to edit and to share with the group; we always get a good laugh out of it. If I am being honest, I am probably the biggest contributor to my YouTube view count just because I love rewatching them. Besides nostalgia, I like seeing how my video editing has improved. Grasping the basic concepts of video editing during my free time has become an asset to my visual storytelling skills as a Broadcast and Online Journalism student. Whenever someone asks me when my next video is coming out, it makes me happy; making videos is my “thing” now.
I am glad I found this little hobby that started with just playing games and meeting a great bunch of people. They inspired me to create something without the burden of feeling like it must turn out amazing, and I’m now able to create just for the sake of creating. Having the opportunity to experience that, I now encourage you, the reader, to revisit whatever pandemic hobby you might have picked up, too. It can be hard to relax since the world started up again. We feel like we should work twice as hard to catch up on lost time, but you never know what you might get out of it!