Give The Gift Of You

My name is Chris. You may have stumbled upon this by accident, be a regular reader, or perhaps I’ve asked you to read this. This isn’t an ordinary article; I don’t usually start off by breaking the fourth wall and directing my thoughts towards you, so this is going to be something a little different. It’s also going to be quite personal. Usually I’m known for injecting my personality into articles, conveying a sense of excitement and awe in my writing. Today, however, it’s less personality and more personal, and I’m going to be honest and frank about something that I feel I should talk about. I need you to understand that everything I write here is one hundred percent honest, and is in no way embellished to drive home a point; everything I tell you has happened, or is currently happening.

Chances are, if you visit here regularly, you’ve got anything from a fleeting interest to a serious dedication to video games. They’ve come along way in the twenty five years I’ve had to watch them grow and, after getting my first PC (a Tandy 3000) and my NES aged four, I’ve been on a steady diet of gaming… and I’ve loved it. Why wouldn’t I? It’s slowly become more socially acceptable to be someone who plays video games, although we’re still a long way away from a world where they are applauded en masse for their contributions to society, but they certainly are starting to be appreciated by the right people. That’s a start at least. I’ve played a video game pretty much every day or every other day since I was four. Up until the age of sixteen, that was probably acceptable to the older people in my life and I’m sure they probably thought I’d grow out of it. It wasn’t the case though. I was hooked. I certainly wasn’t addicted but it was my hobby, and I was good at it.

Roll forwards another nine years and I’m twenty five years old. I’m still playing games, now probably more than ever. My thirst to write creatively, something which I never previously had the courage to do, has been quenched by starting my own blog before starting to write for GamingLives. I started my blog around a year ago and what a year it has been. I’ve had thousands upon thousands of people read my thoughts, expressing interest and offering congratulations at what dribbles out of my mind and on to the page. I’ve been to the Eurogamer Expo as well as a couple of closed door events. I’ve met hundreds of people, made some friends, and probably managed an enemy or two along the way.

Yeah, hi... remember me??

It’s not just the playing of the games that interests me though, it’s the industry itself – how it all works, the sort of commitment these people have to this art (and it is an art), and the industry as a whole. I’ve done this all in my spare time, juggling full time work, moving house, while still managing to spend time with my partner, friends and family. It’s been exhausting, but I wouldn’t change a second of it. I live my life by the rule of ‘No Regrets’ and no, not that Robbie Williams song. I simply refuse to regret past decisions, because there’s simply nothing that can be done to change what has been.

At this stage you’re probably wondering where this is all going, but bear with me because I’m getting there. I just need you to understand what I’ve been doing for the last year – I’ve been working my backside off, but it’s been fun. I also need you to understand that my passion for gaming is just as valid as any other interest out there. I don’t make a secret of it, and it’s by no means regarded as a mainstream pastime, yet people I work with, friends and even the odd family member call it pointless. They make off the cuff remarks about it being a waste of time, and a waste of money. “Couldn’t sleep last night Chris, were you up all night playing games?” No, I was wondering how I’m going to afford the food shopping, or if I’ve remembered to feed the tortoise today. Poking fun or not, it wears thin incredibly quickly given the fact they spend their free time indulging in their own hobbies whether it’s painting, exercising, shopping or photography; I mock none of it. What gives me the right to? It’s their passion, so good for them for doing something. I digress slightly but hopefully you now have an understanding of my passion for the video games industry, and so I’ll move on to some rather frank details about current events.

Trainspotters... not to be mocked.

As I write this, my Uncle is dying. He’s in hospital very close to passing away. I’m sure you can understand this is very upsetting, and there’s a very real chance that by the time you read this he’ll have passed away. I’ve said my goodbyes and I’m confident in the fact that, due to having no quality of life of late, that this is the best thing for him. He has dementia you see, a disease that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Watching him slowly slip away from us over the last few years and then rapidly become worse in the last six months has been as shocking as it was painful, especially as he is only fifty six. That’s just a little more than double my age, and two years younger than my father. My family are very close, although I understand that some families aren’t. Some of the stories I’ve heard from friends about their families make me wonder if mine is the exception to the rule or if I just got incredibly lucky. Judging from what I’ve been told, it’s a slice of both, so the imminent death of a loved one affects us all greatly as we’re very close knit as a group.

I’m certainly not telling you this for sympathy, however. I’m also no stranger to death. This year alone I’ve attended three funerals, missing one due to being out of the country, and I said goodbye to my best friend David, a man who was practically my brother,  four years ago after a freak car accident. Again, this isn’t a plea for sympathy and anyone who knows me will understand that I’m far too much of a positive person to crawl into a ball of self pity and desperation. It’s certainly not been a jolly old time but I’ve battled through, and if you’re wondering why I’m telling you this… it’s to provide context for the rest of this article.

First spotted in Canterbury high street, June this year.

Christmas is fast approaching and, like a runaway freight train, it’s going to be here and smashing through December before you can get your hands on some mistletoe and tinsel. It’s traditionally a time for families to come together and celebrate all manner of things, depending on your religious beliefs. I get that some people don’t celebrate Christmas, and that’s fine too – I’m certainly not going to try and convince you otherwise. Christmas in my house, however, is celebrated and, for as long as I’ve been able to walk, it’s consisted of the following routine: my sister and I will wake up around four in the morning and pilfer the stockings then, after making enough of a racket to wake our parents but not the neighbours, we all open presents. Not long afterwards, I’ll disappear upstairs with whatever new game I’ve been given, my sister will stick on her new film, while mum and dad fall back to sleep for the last few hours that they should have had earlier. Hours later it’s off to Grandma’s, where more presents are exchanged before heading back to ours where mum and my sister will cook, dad opens the cider, and I join him before going back to my new game. Dinner is served, and devoured, and from that point on, for me at least, it’s a mix of games, films, turkey sandwiches and sleep. Pure holiday gold.

This year marks a change though. Quite a large one, as I no longer live there. It’ll probably throw a spanner in the works, considering the pattern of events for the last twenty years, but I moved out at the start of this year. My partner, however, is going back to visit her parents in a different part of the country and I can’t go with her because of work commitments, so I’ll be going back to my parents.  This has presented me with a problem because none of my games consoles will be there, so I’ll effectively be unable to play anything I get given on the day. It’s a strange feeling to have, because I’ve already started to calculate when I’ll leave in order to ensure that I’ll be able to get back and play some games.

It’s around now that you need to perk up and listen. I know that you’ve been reading for a good ten minutes or so, and you must be wondering just where I’m going with this. Yes, I’m talking to you… as well as the thousands of people who visit this site and are hopefully also reading this article. I’m talking to those people with a fleeting interest in gaming as well as the hardcore gamers; I’m talking to my girlfriend and my sister, to all of the GamingLives team, my friends and work colleagues who view my passion as a lost cause of wasted money and misguided ambition.

I’m such a lucky person, but I’ve also had an epiphany of sorts. The fact is that while I have this fantastic passion, it is something that eats into my free time. You, me, and everyone out there are incredibly busy people; our lives move so fast that sometimes we forget what’s important. I’ve certainly not forgotten that though. My friends, family and partner come first and gaming comes second. That said, you’ve read what a typical Christmas Day for me is like, and I should imagine that for other gamers reading this you may follow a similar pattern. I know anyone under the age of sixteen probably does because they’ve been waiting months for their games, if they don’t have rich and generous parents. There is a message I want to give to you all, and this applies to everyone, from people who think that a Nintendo Wii is some sort of urinary tract infection, to those who will prestige on Modern Warfare 3 on Christmas Day.

Triple word score!

Break the mould. Ignore your instincts. That game will still be there on Boxing Day, or the day after that, or even by the New Year whereas your family might not be. While that sounds like a very bleak outlook on life, it really isn’t. Looking over this year on reflection has taught me the value of seizing the moment; we have one chance in this life and then it is lost forever. While I’ve said that I don’t have regrets, I’ve recently accepted that my youth could have been better spent (at times) with loved ones and friends. No, I wasn’t locked in my room day after day but I could certainly have come downstairs for a game of Scrabble or Monopoly once in a while. The impending passing of my Uncle has made me value the frailty of this life and helped me to understand that I’m not quite strong enough to lose those closest to me.

I’m not saying that you have renounce your sins, jack in your hobbies and devote your life to being the shadow of your nearest and dearest. I’m no stranger to a busy lifestyle, as I’ve already identified, and it would be remiss of me not to take the time when it’s appropriate to spend time with the ones I love so, this year, I won’t be playing video games. I’ll be helping mum make dinner, showing dad how the latest gadget works, and trying to compete with my sister in trying to eat the most chocolate. That game will be there for sometime in the future.

I’m lucky, and thankful, that my immediate family are still here today, but some haven’t been quite so lucky. Don’t think “I’ll do it next time”, or “I’d rather be playing this game”, or write off Christmas as “just another family thing to survive”. This Christmas, give your family a gift they might not be expecting; after years of watching you scurry away to play the latest release, give them you’re undivided attention. Give them the gift no-one else can give them: yourself. Take it from someone who now knows a thing or two, as you may regret it if you don’t.

Last five articles by Chris



  1. Chris, fantastic article and written from the heart. I can resonate with many aspects of your life as it is incredibly similar to mine, albeit I’m a few years younger but also about to spend my first Xmas not living with my parents.
    It seems it’s been an incredibly eventful year and not all positive for sure, apologies for the losses you’ve had and I know what dementia is like having my nan pass away 5 years ago from the same debilitating illness.

    Your story is one that should be read by all of us who read your article – there can be no greater gift than giving ourselves to the ones we love for the small amount of free time we have, as like you say – that new game will always be there, but your friends and family won’t.

    Again, great article, loved reading it and hope others will too.

  2. Mark Marks says:

    Lovely article mate. Really enjoyed it.

    Although when I got to the end, my first thought was, “Fuck that shit SWTOR is out.” Saying that I’m taking a good long time off at xmas hopefully. There should be time for everyone and every game.

  3. squirt says:

    thanks chris,
    me , mum & janet have just read it well i read it out loud, thank you so much chris, we’re going to get dad & mike to read it when they get home

    Love you so much chris

    Mum , me & Janet have cried through it all with happiness for all the great words that you have shared with everyone


  4. Mike Rodda says:

    Hi Chris,

    how bizarre, i’m 28 and like you i’ve game’d through out my life; the more i read into this article, the more similarities I could see with my experience of maybe over indulging in gaming and ignoring everyone else.

    The bizarre part of this, is that I would say starting this year i’ve had the same thoughts regarding “the game will be there tomorrow”, lets go downstairs and do something.

    I have upstairs, battlefield 3, skyrim and MW3 (still in its wrapper), if I was say, 3 years younger, i would of had them all completed by now and probably wouldn’t be writing this comment :)

    Good article mate

  5. Tania Tania says:

    Very well said Chris. Certainly enough to make anyone who reads it stop and think. :)

  6. Mike Tanner says:


    Read the article on the day of David’s passing, found the content very moving and full of worthwhile pointers to a more rewarding life.

    I look forward to seeing the reformed character at Christmas, mental note to hide the iPad 2 so you don’t get tempted.

    Keep up the good work.

    Keep safe.


  7. John says:

    Lots of love baby bro! I think you’ve made a bigger impact than you probably realise! x

  8. Fitz says:

    Good article dude.

    Firstly honestly “showing dad how the latest gadget works” ? I think it”s more the other way around.

    I can certainly relate to everything you have said and I know I will be doing just that this year. It was quite a deep read for first thing in the morning and I really need to be getting ready for work. But I thought I’d do it now or I’ll not get time.

    I think pretty much everyone will have similar feelings whether that person plays or doesn’t play video games. Time does fly and trying to juggle everything you want to do does eat away at it, but it shouldn’t be a Christmas thing. When things change in your life it makes you reflect on the “what ifs”, but you can’t regret what you haven’t done just be happy for what you have done.

    Related to one of the first points. I was sat on a train and a random woman sit’s next to me and starts chatting. She seemed a little odd but seeing as I was on it with her for probably the next hour I thought I’d indulge her with some conversation. This did lead into a debate about video games and she didn’t understand why I played them and added the remark “they are for kids”. I questioned her on her hobbies like; reading, films etc… In which she replied “yes”. Playing video games is a way to escape and enjoy yourself – only video games can try and give you the full immersion. A good game can make you feel emotionally attached to the character in their current situation. You’re not telling me you didn’t feel anything for Max Payne when he comes home to find…!


  9. John says:

    I am not ashamed to admit that , having read this article , I have a tear or two in my eye and I am not in the habit of getting emotional about thing’s I read on the interweb or of leaving comment’s on website’s mainly because I , after many year’s of PC ownership , still type with one finger !!

    You may be asking why this old f*rt is bothering to leave a comment here ? Well it’s because , after 58 yr’s of trial’s and tribulation’s , up’s and down’s , success’s and not a few failures , reading Chris’s above article made me realise that one of my two greatest achievment’s is Chris himself !!

    Why ?? cos Chris is my son !!!!

    Well done for surprising me once again .

    Dad .

    P.S. Your first computer was a Tandy 1000 not 3000 !!!

  10. Chris Chris says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone. It’s really, really appreciated! I’ve allegedly moved a few people to tears (family and friends) so that’s interesting!

    But seriously thanks.

  11. UselessJack says:

    Wonderful article Chris. It really made me stop and think and I totally agree with you. Thanks man.

  12. Ste Ste says:

    Prepare to be shocked Chris… I thought that was great. Yes, something you wrote pleased me. I used to do the exact same thing growing up. Me and my brother would be forsake all to play on whatever new system/games we had received that year and when we went to see family we would be doing the same again with our cousins.

    My nan died nearly 6 years ago now and I’d trade all those Xmas days spent playing for even just an hour to chat with her. Whilst I say that I don’t regret doing that every Christmas. When we’re young we don’t think about that sort of thing and forcing a 10 year old me into having to think about stuff like would have kinda ruined the whole air of excitement that you get as a kid around Xmas time. Christmas only comes around once a year but I thought my nan would live forever.

    Anyway, good article mate, you deserve the praise even though it’s totally obvious that you’ve wrote most of these comments yourself. Sneaky git! ;)

  13. Edward Edward says:

    Top notch, Chris.
    Top notch :)

  14. Katie says:

    Hi. As an avid girl gamer, I was given a link to your article with high recommendations from a very close friend. I’m sorry to say but your article really bored me. All the way through you kept promising, “bear with me, all these personal antidotes I’m saying, has something to do with the climax, I have a point,” so I kept on reading, but I felt by the time you got to the end of writing, the message you were trying to deliver was mostly lost, wrapped up in unnecessary waffle and trying to get the reader to empathise with you. I’m sorry to say, I feel like your article really didn’t have much substance. Apologies this critique comes across as harsh, but I feel like you really could have cut down the word count and written a more powerful article with fewer words.

  15. Chris Chris says:

    Thanks Katie. Glad your friend enjoyed it.

    I think the whole article is required to give substance to the message that is being conveyed. Anyone can say “you should spend more time with your family” but giving meaning those words through experience and circumstance, I feel, delivers a greater message than something shorter and more to the point. Depending on the message that is being delivered shorter can be better. This isn’t one of those instances though.

    Don’t apologise at all. It’s not harsh. While the article is very personal it’s still an article and subject to the same critique any other should be :)

    Thanks for taking the time to comment :)

  16. Jo Jo says:


    I’ve read this a couple of times now and each time, for me, is as poignant as the last. I don’t think I’ve read anything this fantastic in a long time. You’re exactly right – this is something everyone should stop and take the time to think about, not just the gamers.

    Thanks for the food for thought :)

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