So the holidays came and went, and you wished and wished—or probably more accurately, you worked and worked—and still, you haven’t been able to get your hands on the latest video game console.
If you were like me, you watched the news carefully in late 2013 when the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were announced, and probably figured, Nahhh, I’ll wait a year, wait for the price to come down around Christmas of 2014, and then I’ll upgrade. But Christmas came and you still couldn’t afford it. Maybe by this point you’ve seen it in person at a store or a friend’s house, and you’re tired of trying to talk yourself out of wanting one.
If this is you—don’t despair! There are plenty of things you can do to pass the time with fun, productivity, and insight.
Here, in no particular order, are some suggestions.
Consider upgrading your screen first.
One of the main reasons why the new consoles are enjoyable is because they can create more eye-popping visuals. But running a high-quality video game console through a low resolution screen is a little bit like driving a luxury car with shoddy tires or serving a gourmet meal with chintzy flatware; it degrades the experience. Sometimes a great looking Xbox 360 game on a 1080p screen might look better than a corresponding Xbox One title at 720p. So in the short term, it might make more sense to spend $150 or so for a nicer screen first, then save up later for a new console and games. This is especially a good move, if you’re willing to…
Explore some of the games you missed earlier for little-to-no cash.
For both PlayStation Plus and Xbox Gold members, at least two free games are available for download per month, plus several others at deep discounts (based on my experience, between 50 to 80 percent off the original price). Also, depending on where you live, there might be a retailer selling cheap physical disc copies of games as well.
But if you can’t do any of that, you can always . . .
Use repetition to mine deeper into the games you already have.
One of the downsides of being in an era of so much entertainment on demand is that as a society, we’re losing our appreciation for the art of repetition. Just as aspiring authors can find inspiration by rereading their favorite books, musicians can hone in on how to craft a sound by listening to their favorite recordings, and filmmakers gain perspective by dissecting the works of their favorite auteurs, gamers can rediscover a lot about what makes a game great by replaying their favorite levels or campaigns. The intentional repetition can force the brain to start viewing the game differently, and the fact that video games combine all of these forms (literature, music, and filmmaking) means that you can find significance through repetition in the same way.
And it even works when the repetition is involuntary—like when you’re watching your favorite show online or on demand and the same commercials keep showing, for example. Find one that cracks you up or captures your attention, and every time it comes back, instead of just letting your eyes glaze over and your mind wander, try to find another thing to focus on. Watch the expressions on the actors in the background. Notice the ways visual effects or typesetting or music or costumes or choreography enhance the mood of the scene.
Or, if you’re replaying a portion of your favorite game, go back and enjoy all of the little things. Read the backstories provided for the characters. If the game allows you to unlock any concept art, look at it, and see how the final product differs from what was rendered earlier on in the creative process. Play the game, not just to finish the level, but to appreciate the artistry and creativity that went into it.
Or, if you’re not really that introspective, find one of those websites that tell you how to maximize the number of PlayStation trophies or Xbox achievements for that particular game, and go to town racking up the points you missed the first time around.
And if you still find yourself bored out of your gourd…
Consider the benefits of waiting for the soul.
If you want to get a feel for how much the Bible relates to real life, think about how badly you want that new console, and then search through the psalms for phrases like “my soul waits“ or “how long” and see what you find.
The Bible is full of characters who waited for God to act or fulfill a promise, and those seasons didn’t always pay off in the ways those people wanted. Abraham and Sarah waited for a child and didn’t get one until they were so old that the very idea of having children was hilarious. Mary and Martha of Bethany had to wait for Jesus to come heal their brother, Lazarus, and while they were waiting for Jesus, Lazarus died.
Sometimes the waiting we endure is, like with Lazarus and Abraham, meant to more clearly glorify God through the contrast of deprivation. As in, you may have waited so long that it looks impossible, but nothing is impossible with God!
But there are also times when the waiting itself can be transformative, where the gap in providence we face is the catalyst we need to get us moving farther down the path God has for us. You can see this in the story of Nehemiah. His city, Jerusalem, had been destroyed, and his anguish was palpable. But while waiting to see if something would be done about it, his distraught countenance caught the attention of his primary employer, King Artaxerxes. Before long, he was commissioned to go rebuild the walls. What started as an internal process of mourning ended as a government-sanctioned project.
Just as we might long for heaven but still endeavor to do His will while we’re still on the earth, there’s so much God can do in and through your life as you submit to a season of waiting, even if that waiting is for a new video game console. So if you continue to play, whether by wringing new life from an older console or by enjoying the bounty of a new one, make sure you occasionally pause your trash talk long enough to give thanks.
That is, assuming you don’t see me in matchmaking first, because I’m still crushing it on Call of Duty: Ghosts. I’ll be the one talking trash then.