The Long Break, or Doug's hiatus from console gaming

Whenever I’ve moved, one of the last things to get packed up has been my gaming console. Of course, my console has also often been the first thing unpacked once I’ve gotten moved in. Funny how that works. But this time, after moving to Japan in early August, all I’ve played since are iPhone games – until last weekend, I hadn’t picked up a real controller since arriving in the land of Nintendo and Sony.

What the hell happened? Well, a perfect storm of things for me, at least.

First: I didn’t want to bring my Xbox 360 with me to Japan. It’s old, is bound to break (again), and is region-locked. Most importantly, though, I would either have to pack it into my slim luggage allowance or ship it over separately, and neither are worth the trouble. Sometimes you have to be an adult and bring clothing, especially when there’s little chance to buy new threads. Okay, I did bring my Nintendo DS, but it’s now gathering Japanese dust instead of gathering American dust. I've got the itch to play games; what to do?

But I can wait. Maybe. I’ve gone two months without playing a game – and longer without playing anything new, frankly – and can afford to wait because real life and the gaming release schedule have allowed me to. I’m too busy getting out of the house and visiting my new friends to spend too much time playing games at the moment, which is good, because there haven’t been a ton of AAA titles coming out this summer. I bemoaned the lack of a year-round release schedule earlier in the year, but I’m quite glad for the break at the moment.

Soon the weather will turn nasty and, as a friend here in Japan said, people will begin to “hide under their kotatsu.” Unlike the U.S., most places in Japan aren’t centrally heated and have very poor insulation, which means you wear lots of sweaters indoors and a kotatsu, a table with a heated blanket. In short, people don’t want to head out and be social; perfect time to catch up on video games, then!

Postscript to the story? Last weekend was my birthday. With enough money and free time on the weekend to go buy a PS3, I broke down and picked one up — a 320 gb model, which now sits happily next to my TV and wireless router. It's now set up to stream media from my computer, access my U.S. Netflix account, and make use of the Silicon Sasquatch staff PSN share. And I bought a pretty kick-ass game to go along with the system, too, one that I'm excited to write about soon.

After the long break, it's good to be back.