But sometimes I step back and think about how I'm literally just interacting with a machine that is following a program someone wrote. The illusion is so compelling because the progress and competence feels permanent, like something that no one can take away (unlike say money earned in real life), but actually it is just a hardware failure or power outage away from disappearing. I guess I still have the skill of having learnt to navigate a particular game program, but that's never been useful and no longer even gives pride.
So I think for me the only value left in playing games is either the stories they have to tell, or the novelty of a cleverly crafted system. I think to be a game maker is to be like an illusionist... you must keep people chasing the carrot on the stick even though they are just interacting with a dumb machine (multiplayer excluded). I don't know, sometimes I just get the feeling that gaming is something I put an inordinate amount of time into and got back less than almost any other activity I can think of. I guess it's not so much different than other time wasters like sports or drugs. But if I could go back to when I was still a passionate youth who enjoyed things, I think I would steer clear of gaming and its great illusions to pursue activities more grounded in reality.