Have you ever played this game called MapleStory? I used to love the quests, and played for the story; I couldn't understand the people who grinded levels without playing the different stories. Some of the music still sticks with me today, and I especially liked the Ellinia home music. I also used to own a Sony PSP (am I showing my age yet?) and played games like Monster Hunter, Loco Roco, Patapon, Ape Escape and Project Diva on them. How I grew out of them was pretty abrupt, but it was a permanent change I couldn't ignore.
At that time, my MapleStory account got hacked, and I lost all my items. My character was stripped of all equipment too. I changed my password and tried to build my account again with the same character, but it got hacked again, and I lost what I had accumulated. I ended up creating a new character and starting over.
But I couldn't really focus anymore. Losing those items and losing my in-game progress hadn't affected me in real life - my school and friends were still around, and nothing changed at all outside of that game. What's the point of accumulating it all in-game, then? If I can lose it all so easily with no real consequences, then I really don't want to be wasting time on games.
This permanent shift in perspective stuck. From then on I lost all interest in gaming even as I tried to get back into it. Nothing I do inside will affect me in real life, and it's all fake - I'd much rather rack up experience points in reality instead. I'd much rather build up my real-life skills. I'd much rather explore the real world. There are so many things to do and I won't have enough time to do everything, so I want to see and do as much as possible. Creating and making things, learning new skills, expanding my comfort zone. Games are fun and all and they trigger the imagination, but why settle for simulation when you can have it in real life? Life is the most complex game you can be playing, and I don't want to check out of it just to invest time in a fake game.
I sometimes still game as an escape - Itch is a good place - but this change in perspective has made sure that I can't bring myself to sink time into games anymore, and I no longer game regularly. Same goes for watching TV and chasing dramas. All these are nice escapes, but I don't make them a priority anymore. I still read comics for leisure - fantasy and science fiction holds a special place in my heart - but it's a lot less than what I used to. And I want to eventually create them instead. If I like comics, then I should learn to draw them. If I like books, then I should learn to write. If I like to watch fight sequences, then I should learn to fight. I'd much rather participate and do than sit back and watch. Same for sports - I'd much rather be playing the sport itself (or analysing the plays) than simply watch others play. I want a higher creation to consumption ratio in my life; that way, I can build more skills and get the most out of it.
I want to build a life that I don't want to escape and distract myself from anymore. And the best way to do that is to play the (actual) game of life.