How I Rediscovered My Lost Joy For Video Games During The Pandemic

Written By Wade Braden

Joy is defined as “a great feeling of pleasure and happiness.” Many things throughout your life can bring you joy. Friends, travel, sports, and exercise are just a few of the many experiences in my life that have brought me joy. There is also one particular experience that continued to be a joyous experience throughout my life. Well, that is until adulthood, and responsibilities changed everything. But would that joyful experience be gone forever? Due to an unseen predicament, I would reunite with the joy that kept my heart warm for so many years. Before I dive into what happened, let me take you back to the very beginning.

The 1980s

Most of the 1980s consisted of me cruising the neighborhood streets on my rusty piece-of-junk BMX bike that offered me freedom on two bald wheels. But as joyous as those times were, an Atari video game system changed my life forever. My friends and I would pile into a living room and play the Atari system for many hours of my childhood, and it’s hard to believe that pixilated tanks or frogs would bring joy to children all over, but it did. Those days of Kool-Aid and Atari video games with neighborhood friends are joyous memories that have stayed with me throughout my life.

Fast forward to the back half of the ’80s, where I was introduced to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Holy cow! The NES system brought my joy of video games to a whole new level. The NES introduced me to some of my favorite games like Crystalis, Star Tropics, and Super Mario 3; I still own all three cartridges today.

The 1990s

Things didn’t stop improving in the ’90s. With Nintendo’s success bringing joy to people worldwide, Nintendo dropped another exciting console on us. Welcome to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

To me, everything was perfect with the SNES. The top-load console design and how the controller molded to your hands are just a few things that were flawless about the SNES. The SNES was absolute pure joy and, to this day, remains the greatest Christmas gift I ever received. Playing games like The Legend Of Zelda: Link To The Past, Super Mario World, and Chrono Trigger kept me up late most nights, barely holding my eyes open, trying to make it just a bit further in my adventures before I succumbed to my lingering sleep.

As I moved more into my teenage years, the Sony PlayStation gaming console offered me and many others 32 bits of joy in the form of a compact disc. The PlayStation was jaw-dropping-I remember how my jaw dropped watching the 90’s Cindy Crawford Pepsi commercial for the first time-my jaw dropped the same way when I first saw a Playstation. My favorite Playstation games like Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto, and Resident Evil managed to lure back those same friends from the 80s to hang out in my living room. Except for this time, we traded in the Kool-Aid for Pepsi and Doritos; You know, Cindy Crawford could have walked in any minute, and real men drink Pepsi after all.

The 2000s

This decade is when things started changing for me. I’m now reaching adulthood, and I’ve just started dabbling in responsibilities. Nonetheless, I kept entertaining myself in the joyous feeling of video games. Early on in the decade, Sony released the PlayStation 2. This console is the first and only video game console I bought the day it was released. I remember bringing the PS2 home to the apartment I shared with friends, and we awed over its superior video game graphics. Games like Dragon Quest 8, Grand Theft Auto 3, and Metal Gear Solid 2 made the PS2 a joy maker for me, and my roommates, their brothers, and just whoever else decided to show up at our apartment.

Shortly after the PS2 release, Nintendo gave us the GameCube. Of course, I bought Nintendo’s first compact disc console, but something was missing. I tried out Animal Crossing; Tom Nook hassling me about a house loan somehow did not give me the exciting gameplay I craved. Unlike all of the other video game consoles prior, the GameCube left me feeling no joy at all. The lack of joy I was feeling may have been because I was getting older and enjoyed many other things as an adult. Losing my joy could not be happening, could it?

Microsoft Changed The Way Games Are Played

Nope! My joy came back with the purchase of Microsoft’s XBOX console. Finally, another game system that delivers top-notch gaming. From creating a fairytale on Fable, meeting at a friend’s house to system-link Halo, and then upgrading to online play on Halo 2, XBOX took gaming to the next level. The XBOX was so magnificent that Sony upped their game and released the PlayStation 3. But, around just as Sony’s new console was released, my joy of video games leveled off. How could that be?

Two great gaming machines, and now I’m losing that joy. It’s not that the joy was gone, but more like hidden away. I rarely got to play video games anymore. At that point, I had a child, my career was taking me places, and my focus was on more important things than games. I still tried to find time to play video games here and there, but it just didn’t feel the same. This lost feeling of joy lasted for several years, and I just figured that's life.

Well, life can be funny sometimes.


After so many years of minimal video game playing, a resurgence of gaming joy came back into my life. My joy came back to me during the most unlikely of times. With all the problems the world has faced during the Covid pandemic, I encountered my own hardship. Little did I know that this hardship would bring back my joy of video games, set aside for so many years.

So how did a global pandemic restore my childhood joy for games? Unfortunately, my wife and I recently tested positive for Covid and had to quarantine. And being confined to home, we basically had nothing to do. Lucky for me, I own a PlayStation 4 that I bought for my son. During the three weeks of being confined to house living, that PS4 helped me stay sane. Slaying dragons on Skyrim and chasing bandits on Red Dead Redemption tapped me back into those childhood memories and all of the joyous times I had forgotten.

I still have responsibilities and all of the other distractions adulthood offers. Yet, during this quarantine period, I was able to press pause on adult life for a brief time, and I could explore distant lands, rob speeding trains, and battle vicious monsters right from my couch. And this time, instead of Pepsi and Doritos, I had beer and pretzels.

Although dealing with Covid was challenging and problematic, my rekindled love for video games saw me through, and it helped me regain my joy; and I hope never to hide that joy away again.

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