Last night I turned the TV off. I looked at the time. 1am. Bollocks. I have to wake up in five hours. How the hell did this happen?
Oh, yeah. I forgot. Video games.
Or Metal Gear Solid V to be more precise. For the second (or maybe third?) night in a row, I trundled my broken, sleep-deprived body to bed past midnight. My wife, snoring gently, nudged awake by my clumsy footsteps in the dark: "why do you keep doing this to yourself?"
Video games. It's because of the gosh darn video games.
"I don't normally do this." That was my what I mumbled to my wife, before sleeping the sleep of the dead and the damned, only to be woken four hours later by my two-year-old son ("WAKE UP DADDY. IT'S WAKEY WAKEY TIME. I WANT TO BRUSH MY TEETH.")
Today is gonna be a tough one. It's 8.26 at time of writing. I'm already on my second tea.
I don't normally do this. Except, this year I do. This has become a state of normality. For one simple reason: 2015 has been the best year in video games. The best since maybe 2007 — the BioShock/Mario Galaxy/Modern Warfare/Uncharted/Assassin's Creed year. We get these years every so often — 1998, 2004 , 2011 — years where everything awesome comes out at once and you remember precisely why you love video games so much; why this is all worth it.
I love sleep. I am not a "night owl". I am a morning person. On the weekend I wake up early and spend an hour making fancy porridge for Christ's sake. My body is not used to this sort of punishment. I don't normally do this.
Except this year I do.
I did it for Bloodborne. A game that, if it was released in 2014, would be a clear lock for game of the year but, in 2015, is just another contender in a sea of greatness.
I did it for Splatoon. A game that proved that Nintendo can literally do anything — including making an endlessly fun multiplayer shooter that's about covering things in paint instead of shooting each other in the face.
I did it for Everybody's Gone To The Rapture. Partly because it took me so goddamn long to actually walk anywhere in that video game, but mostly because it told a compelling story in a unique, interesting way. Mostly because it has one of the the best soundtracks I've ever experienced in a video game. Partly because it was beautiful.
I did it for Rocket League. God knows I'm still doing it for Rocket League. A game I didn't even know existed until it existed. Until I downloaded it for free and it was 2am and I'm like, one more match. They're only five minutes long, right? Fucking Rocket League...
Now I'm doing it for Metal Gear Solid V. A game that makes so many weird design decisions but somehow works in the most profoundly brilliant way. A game that's just so consistently inventive, engaging and flat out weird. I'll spend an hour doing one single goddamn mission and it'll feel like the best five minutes of my gaming life.
Hyperbole? Probably. But I can't help myself. I'm running on five hours sleep and I'm feeling super enthusiastic about video games right now.
Video games: they're really, really, really good. But probably bad for my ability to get through a train journey without falling asleep on some poor bastard's shoulder.
On a personal (read: self-indulgent note) video games have often felt like a burden. As a new father, with so much going on in my life, finding the time to stay on top of 'video games' sometimes felt like actual work; like a chore. It felt difficult and — worst of all — stressful. 2015, for me, has been the year where I feel as though I've fallen in love with games all over again.
And strangely, going to bed at 2am when I really shouldn't be going to bed at 2am? That's the best measure for me. The surefire sign that games are a thing I am incredibly passionate about again.
But boy am I tired right now. I am really, really tired.