thelazywriter

just another guy with a blog

Skating on a longboard might not be the best hobby for life in Canada, where winters can take up about 5 months of the year, but it's as good as any other summer-time hobby. I first tried long-boarding in 2014, thinking it's “kind of like skateboarding, but without the tricks and the skate parks.” I did not know much about it, nor did I do much research prior to buying a board. The experience turned out lacklustre. I sold the board and filed the whole experience in the “not for me” folder.

Fast forward to 2021. Social life had taken a hit after the COVID lockdowns, and something like long-boarding around the city pathways seemed like a good idea. I figured it's as good a time as any to revisit this hobby. This time around, I did do more research and went into the hobby with a bit more knowledge. I had no plans to learn tricks or to go downhill like you see in many videos online. I always felt attracted to skateboards, but at the ripe age of 30-something, I don't want any injuries.

Back in the 90s, I did have a penny board when I was a kid, and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I don't know what happened to it. I think it stayed behind when my family moved to Canada. A penny board is a plastic skateboard with larger wheels, as opposed to the traditional ones made for tricks.

Speaking of terminology, I won't bore you with too much detail, but here are some of the basics that you can skip if you are already familiar with the lingo. Remember, I am still learning too, so this is a pretty generic overview:

The Deck

this is the board itself, usually made of several layers of wood, or sometimes other materials that might be stiffer and lighter. The drop-through decks will get you closer to the ground, which in turn makes pushing easier. Pushing is how you make the board move. Decks that are not drop-through look more like regular skateboards, but longer. The difference in ride hight comes from how the truck's baseplate is mounted. On a drop-through deck, the baseplate sites above the board, contrary to traditional skateboard decks, where the baseplate is under the deck.

The Trucks

This is the metal part that connects your deck to the wheels. At first sight, these may look all the same, but there are two main types: TKP (traditional kingpin) and RKP (reverse kingpin). The kingpin is the big metal bolt that keeps everything together, linking the baseplate to the hanger. The hanger is the T-shaped axle. TKP trucks are traditionally used in regular skateboards (the ones for tricks). RKP trucks are the most common longboard trucks: the kingpin faces outwards, so it would make tricks difficult. In exchange, RKP trucks offer better stability. You can still put TKP trucks on a longboard in order to achieve certain handling preferences, or to make smaller longboards more skate-trick-friendly so to speak.

The Wheels

There are so many wheels to choose from. The main considerations are size and hardness. The larger the wheels, the farther they will roll. Big wheels are great if you're taking longer rides on your longboard, and like to cruise with ease. On the other hand, smaller wheels might be better for a more nimble board. Wheel hardness will dictate how grippy the board is. A harder wheel can help you slide, but you'll also feel more of the little debris on the pathways. What I found was that for my area of the city, softer wheels are best. Most pathways are in good shape, but not nearly top notch smooth asphalt. Soft wheels will lose less momentum when going over debris and cracks in the pavement.

The Bushings

These are the little rubber cylinders that are part of the trucks. Hard bushings will make for a more steady ride at the expense of turn radius. Softer bushings will make the ride feel more responsive. Expert riders also note that different bushings have different rebound properties that help with certain styles of riding. For cruising around, I've been pretty happy with medium bushings, but I do change them and experiment with different hardness levels. The choice in bushings also depends on your body weight. What is a good medium bushing for me may be too soft for a heavier rider, for example.

Now that we went over some skateboard terminology, let's have a look at the boards that kept me busy these last two summers!

Landyachtz Ripper

First up is the Ripper, made by Landyachtz – a Vancouver-based manufacturer. This turned out to be a good choice for me. It is a good all-around board. It was great for me to practice and I was able to learn and understand more of the longboard technicalities as I kept cruising the pathways and reading online posts from others who share the hobby.

The kick-tail offers the option to get the nose off the ground if I ever do want to learn some basic tricks. This board came with TKP trucks, which make the Ripper feel very responsive. The bushings that came with it are a bit hard, but I chose not to change them. I'm keeping this board as is. The wheels are a little small for cruising. With a diameter of 63mm, they are on the smaller side as far as longboard wheels go. The hardness rating of 78A makes them pretty soft, which I was happy with on the older segments of the pathways. The Ripper is a fun board, but the smaller wheels demand a bit more pushing than some of the boards I built later on.

Sector 9 Bintang Fox

After riding the Ripper for a while, my curiosity drove me to explore a drop-through board. I chose the Sector 9 Bintang Fox because I immediately loved the graphics on it, and the slogan: “never worried, never hurried.” I felt it described my relaxed approach to skating, my focus on safety and my lack of desire to learn any dangerous tricks or to go fast down a hill.

This board turned out to be a good contrast to the Ripper. Its wide RKP trucks offered a steady ride, but once again the smaller wheels left me pushing quite a bit, feeling like it's just not rolling far or smooth enough. Of all my boards, I think this is the one that saw the most changes in wheels. I did make it work for me eventually, when I put on some 70mm Orangatang Stimulus wheels. But by then, I had moved on to better cruising options. Long story short, this deck ended up on my wall, stripped of its parts. I just love the graphics too much to sell it, and it makes for good wall art.

Zenit Marble 38

After the Ripper and the Fox, I had this idea that the best board would be one that's larger than the Ripper, something wider and stiffer. Zenit Boards had a sale around this time and I picked up something from their blemish section. These are heavily discounted decks due to small visual issues, such as the graphics not being printed properly. I did not want to spend a lot of money, but I was craving more variety and this was the first board I assembled myself, with parts bought from Zenit. The trucks I got were also blemished – they had a small scratch. The wheels were the only mint component here.

Sadly, the overall ride quality was not great, but it taught me a lot of things! With this board, I learned that smaller, harder wheels are not great for cruising, especially on concrete that's not smooth. I also leaned that a very stiff board may feel solid, but to me it also felt less fun. I learned just how enjoyable the flex in the Ripper really is. I believe the Marble 38 is a very good board, but maybe not the best for my own needs. Most importantly, the process of building this one from parts gave me the confidence boost I needed to start assembling my own boards rather than buying complete ones, which can be pricy. Like the very first longboard from 2014, the Marble had a meeting with the second hand market on Kijiji, and off it went to a better owner.

Landyachtz Dipper

By this point in time, I had a good idea of what constitutes a good cruiser and what doesn't. I had time to ride the boards I already had, and I had learned more and more from online forums about different setups and combinations. I was ready to build something new from parts. Since I was fairly sure by now that I won't be doing tricks, I chose a pintail deck: the Landyachtz Dipper.

This is the Ripper's cousin: almost the same deck, without the kick tail. The graphics were also from the same series as the dipper, only in blue rather than orange. For trucks, contrary to expectations, I went with a TKP option: regular skateboard trucks, Venture brand. This worked well thanks to the Dipper not being too wide at the front and back. The wheel choice made up for that width anyway: Orangatang 4President wheels, 70mm. That size, with a durometer of 77a (really soft), made for a huge upgrade in ride quality, smoothness and speed. These bigger, softer wheels had no issues with the less-than-perfect pavement in my area. Small stones? Leaves? Cracks in the asphalt? Small sticks? Didn't matter! Moreover, The TKP trucks made the ride pretty responsive and the flexible deck made it a lot of fun. The Dipper became my go-to board for most of the summer. I was happy with my creation! Eventually, I did take this board apart, and a friend of mine gave it a new home, but with a different configuration.

Loaded Omakase

Did I need anymore boards? No. Did I stop experimenting and trying out new setups? Also no. By now, I was trying to aim for variety; to have a few different boards that each rode differently and gave me a different experience. I thought the Omakase would be a good addition to my quiver. A quiver is a collection of skateboards.

This board was the one that made me think I went too far. Loaded is one of the high-end brands, so I wanted to buy the board as complete rather than experiment with my own parts. What I realized is that for someone who's only cruising around, a board like the Omakase was simply overkill. I do not have the skill to truly appreciate the finer points of this board. I tried changing the wheels and even the trucks, but ultimately this board didn't bring me something that justified the price tag. So, before putting anymore wear on it, I introduced it to my old friend, the second hand market, to recover as much cash as I could. I later learned that the Omakase was designed with the option of adding an electric motor to it, which is something I would not have done anyway.

Zenit AB Maze

Thanks to the longboard community, I made a friend in town. One day, I got to try out his Loaded Pantheon Trip Collab board. It's similar to the much loved and very popular Pantheon Pranayama, a board that makes long distance pushing easy by being low to the ground. Paired with big wheels – 85 mm diameter an up – you get a very comfortable board that you can ride for many kilometres without getting too tired. The big wheels will roll a lot longer than small ones and your knees don't tire as fast thanks to the low ride height of the drop-through design.

One day, my friend told me there was a sale on the Zenit AB Maze deck, which is similar in design to the Trip Collab and Pranayama. My quiver did not have any decks like this. Paired with the very good sale price, I couldn't say no. I already had trucks for it, and wheels. Indeed, this board rides very nicely! Even a beginner like myself was able to do 12 km on it without feeling sore in the knees. I ended up ordering larger wheels – 86 mm McFly wheels from 88wheels. I took this board on a weekend trip to a nearby city – Lethbridge – where I had the chance to ride it several hours each day. It's great, and I finally understood why people loved other similar boards so much. It's just effortless and fun, without getting tired as easily or having to push so often. The wheels are soft, and with the extra-large size, debris or cracks in the pavement don't matter at all.

Landyachtz Big Dipper

Most normal people would have probably stopped at this point, but when I really get into a hobby, I want to keep exploring and trying different setups, customizing, experimenting. Having spare parts also makes it a lot cheaper to continue playing around with new setups. Landyachtz released a larger version of the Dipper. If you recall from earlier, this was the cruiser I assembled from individual parts that I was very happy with it. The thought of a longer, more flexible version of the Dipper intrigued me. As mentioned before, no need for me to waste money on completes now that I have spare parts and I know what I want to assemble: I just buy the deck. I paired the Big Dipper with Gullwing RPK trucks. Funny enough, I got the trucks at half price due to an end of season sales. I used the soft 4President wheels I already owned. Initial thoughts: it's fun and very flexible due to its length – 42.2 inches long! And then, winter came. I'll be riding this board next season.

Friends

One of the great things about any hobby is sharing it with others. When my parents visited this summer, it was fun to show them some of the boards and talk to them about the hobby. When I met my new friend for a few rides along the pathways, I learned a lot from him and got to try new boards. And when my old friend and neighbour down the street showed interest, I was happy to go skateboarding with him and his two boys, and to help him customize his boards with new wheels. I leave you with this shot from a quick ride around the neighbourhood, with a stop at 7-Eleven. Looking forward to next summer, when the longboard fun can continue!

Thanks for reading!

Skating on a longboard might not be the best hobby for life in Canada, where winters can take up about 5 months of the year, but it's as good as any other summer-time hobby. I first tried long-boarding in 2014, thinking it's “kind of like skateboarding, but without the tricks and the skate parks.” I did not know much about it, nor did I do much research prior to buying a board. The experience turned out lacklustre. I sold the board and filed the whole experience in the “not for me” folder.

Fast forward to 2021. Social life had taken a hit after the COVID lockdowns, and something like long-boarding around the city pathways seemed like a good idea. I figured it's as good a time as any to revisit this hobby. This time around, I did do more research and went into the hobby with a bit more knowledge. I had no plans to learn tricks or to go downhill like you see in many videos online. I always felt attracted to skateboards, but at the ripe age of 30-something, I don't want any injuries.

Back in the 90s, I did have a penny board when I was a kid, and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I don't know what happened to it. I think it stayed behind when my family moved to Canada. A penny board is a plastic skateboard with larger wheels, as opposed to the traditional ones made for tricks.

Speaking of terminology, I won't bore you with too much detail, but here are some of the basics that you can skip if you are already familiar with the lingo. Remember, I am still learning too, so this is a pretty generic overview:

The Deck

this is the board itself, usually made of several layers of wood, or sometimes other materials that might be stiffer and lighter. The drop-through decks will get you closer to the ground, which in turn makes pushing easier. Pushing is how you make the board move. Decks that are not drop-through look more like regular skateboards, but longer. The difference in ride hight comes from how the truck's baseplate is mounted. On a drop-through deck, the baseplate sites above the board, contrary to traditional skateboard decks, where the baseplate is under the deck.

The Trucks

This is the metal part that connects your deck to the wheels. At first sight, these may look all the same, but there are two main types: TKP (traditional kingpin) and RKP (reverse kingpin). The kingpin is the big metal bolt that keeps everything together, linking the baseplate to the hanger. The hanger is the T-shaped axle. TKP trucks are traditionally used in regular skateboards (the ones for tricks). RKP trucks are the most common longboard trucks: the kingpin faces outwards, so it would make tricks difficult. In exchange, RKP trucks offer better stability. You can still put TKP trucks on a longboard in order to achieve certain handling preferences, or to make smaller longboards more skate-trick-friendly so to speak.

The Wheels

There are so many wheels to choose from. The main considerations are size and hardness. The larger the wheels, the farther they will roll. Big wheels are great if you're taking longer rides on your longboard, and like to cruise with ease. On the other hand, smaller wheels might be better for a more nimble board. Wheel hardness will dictate how grippy the board is. A harder wheel can help you slide, but you'll also feel more of the little debris on the pathways. What I found was that for my area of the city, softer wheels are best. Most pathways are in good shape, but not nearly top notch smooth asphalt. Soft wheels will lose less momentum when going over debris and cracks in the pavement.

The Bushings

These are the little rubber cylinders that are part of the trucks. Hard bushings will make for a more steady ride at the expense of turn radius. Softer bushings will make the ride feel more responsive. Expert riders also note that different bushings have different rebound properties that help with certain styles of riding. For cruising around, I've been pretty happy with medium bushings, but I do change them and experiment with different hardness levels. The choice in bushings also depends on your body weight. What is a good medium bushing for me may be too soft for a heavier rider, for example.

Now that we went over some skateboard terminology, let's have a look at the boards that kept me busy these last two summers!

Landyachtz Ripper

First up is the Ripper, made by Landyachtz – a Vancouver-based manufacturer. This turned out to be a good choice for me. It is a good all-around board. It was great for me to practice and I was able to learn and understand more of the longboard technicalities as I kept cruising the pathways and reading online posts from others who share the hobby.

![](https://i.snap.as/TKZzDzo0.jpeg)

The kick-tail offers the option to get the nose off the ground if I ever do want to learn some basic tricks. This board came with TKP trucks, which make the Ripper feel very responsive. The bushings that came with it are a bit hard, but I chose not to change them. I'm keeping this board as is. The wheels are a little small for cruising. With a diameter of 63mm, they are on the smaller side as far as longboard wheels go. The hardness rating of 78A makes them pretty soft, which I was happy with on the older segments of the pathways. The Ripper is a fun board, but the smaller wheels demand a bit more pushing than some of the boards I built later on.

Sector 9 Bintang Fox

After riding the Ripper for a while, my curiosity drove me to explore a drop-through board. I chose the Sector 9 Bintang Fox because I immediately loved the graphics on it, and the slogan: “never worried, never hurried.” I felt it described my relaxed approach to skating, my focus on safety and my lack of desire to learn any dangerous tricks or to go fast down a hill.

This board turned out to be a good contrast to the Ripper. Its wide RKP trucks offered a steady ride, but once again the smaller wheels left me pushing quite a bit, feeling like it's just not rolling far or smooth enough. Of all my boards, I think this is the one that saw the most changes in wheels. I did make it work for me eventually, when I put on some 70mm Orangatang Stimulus wheels. But by then, I had moved on to better cruising options. Long story short, this deck ended up on my wall, stripped of its parts. I just love the graphics too much to sell it, and it makes for good wall art.

Zenit Marble 38

After the Ripper and the Fox, I had this idea that the best board would be one that's larger than the Ripper, something wider and stiffer. Zenit Boards had a sale around this time and I picked up something from their blemish section. These are heavily discounted decks due to small visual issues, such as the graphics not being printed properly. I did not want to spend a lot of money, but I was craving more variety and this was the first board I assembled myself, with parts bought from Zenit. The trucks I got were also blemished – they had a small scratch. The wheels were the only mint component here.

Sadly, the overall ride quality was not great, but it taught me a lot of things! With this board, I learned that smaller, harder wheels are not great for cruising, especially on concrete that's not smooth. I also leaned that a very stiff board may feel solid, but to me it also felt less fun. I learned just how enjoyable the flex in the Ripper really is. I believe the Marble 38 is a very good board, but maybe not the best for my own needs. Most importantly, the process of building this one from parts gave me the confidence boost I needed to start assembling my own boards rather than buying complete ones, which can be pricy. Like the very first longboard from 2014, the Marble had a meeting with the second hand market on Kijiji, and off it went to a better owner.

Landyachtz Dipper

By this point in time, I had a good idea of what constitutes a good cruiser and what doesn't. I had time to ride the boards I already had, and I had learned more and more from online forums about different setups and combinations. I was ready to build something new from parts. Since I was fairly sure by now that I won't be doing tricks, I chose a pintail deck: the Landyachtz Dipper.

This is the Ripper's cousin: almost the same deck, without the kick tail. The graphics were also from the same series as the dipper, only in blue rather than orange. For trucks, contrary to expectations, I went with a TKP option: regular skateboard trucks, Venture brand. This worked well thanks to the Dipper not being too wide at the front and back. The wheel choice made up for that width anyway: Orangatang 4President wheels, 70mm. That size, with a durometer of 77a (really soft), made for a huge upgrade in ride quality, smoothness and speed. These bigger, softer wheels had no issues with the less-than-perfect pavement in my area. Small stones? Leaves? Cracks in the asphalt? Small sticks? Didn't matter! Moreover, The TKP trucks made the ride pretty responsive and the flexible deck made it a lot of fun. The Dipper became my go-to board for most of the summer. I was happy with my creation! Eventually, I did take this board apart, and a friend of mine gave it a new home, but with a different configuration.

Loaded Omakase

Did I need anymore boards? No. Did I stop experimenting and trying out new setups? Also no. By now, I was trying to aim for variety; to have a few different boards that each rode differently and gave me a different experience. I thought the Omakase would be a good addition to my quiver. A quiver is a collection of skateboards.

This board was the one that made me think I went too far. Loaded is one of the high-end brands, so I wanted to buy the board as complete rather than experiment with my own parts. What I realized is that for someone who's only cruising around, a board like the Omakase was simply overkill. I do not have the skill to truly appreciate the finer points of this board. I tried changing the wheels and even the trucks, but ultimately this board didn't bring me something that justified the price tag. So, before putting anymore wear on it, I introduced it to my old friend, the second hand market, to recover as much cash as I could. I later learned that the Omakase was designed with the option of adding an electric motor to it, which is something I would not have done anyway.

Zenit AB Maze

Thanks to the longboard community, I made a friend in town. One day, I got to try out his Loaded Pantheon Trip Collab board. It's similar to the much loved and very popular Pantheon Pranayama, a board that makes long distance pushing easy by being low to the ground. Paired with big wheels – 85 mm diameter an up – you get a very comfortable board that you can ride for many kilometres without getting too tired. The big wheels will roll a lot longer than small ones and your knees don't tire as fast thanks to the low ride height of the drop-through design.

One day, my friend told me there was a sale on the Zenit AB Maze deck, which is similar in design to the Trip Collab and Pranayama. My quiver did not have any decks like this. Paired with the very good sale price, I couldn't say no. I already had trucks for it, and wheels. Indeed, this board rides very nicely! Even a beginner like myself was able to do 12 km on it without feeling sore in the knees. I ended up ordering larger wheels – 86 mm McFly wheels from 88wheels. I took this board on a weekend trip to a nearby city – Lethbridge – where I had the chance to ride it several hours each day. It's great, and I finally understood why people loved other similar boards so much. It's just effortless and fun, without getting tired as easily or having to push so often. The wheels are soft, and with the extra-large size, debris or cracks in the pavement don't matter at all.

Landyachtz Big Dipper

Most normal people would have probably stopped at this point, but when I really get into a hobby, I want to keep exploring and trying different setups, customizing, experimenting. Having spare parts also makes it a lot cheaper to continue playing around with new setups. Landyachtz released a larger version of the Dipper. If you recall from earlier, this was the cruiser I assembled from individual parts that I was very happy with it. The thought of a longer, more flexible version of the Dipper intrigued me. As mentioned before, no need for me to waste money on completes now that I have spare parts and I know what I want to assemble: I just buy the deck. I paired the Big Dipper with Gullwing RPK trucks. Funny enough, I got the trucks at half price due to an end of season sales. I used the soft 4President wheels I already owned. Initial thoughts: it's fun and very flexible due to its length – 42.2 inches long! And then, winter came. I'll be riding this board next season.

Friends

One of the great things about any hobby is sharing it with others. When my parents visited this summer, it was fun to show them some of the boards and talk to them about the hobby. When I met my new friend for a few rides along the pathways, I learned a lot from him and got to try new boards. And when my old friend and neighbour down the street showed interest, I was happy to go skateboarding with him and his two boys, and to help him customize his boards with new wheels. I leave you with this shot from a quick ride around the neighbourhood, with a stop at 7-Eleven. Looking forward to next summer, when the longboard fun can continue!

October 1st was a pretty cool morning. I get up early as usual, only today, instead of the usual morning vista, I see some dense fog in the distance, and clear blue sky above. One cool thing about Calgary is the big sky and number of sunny days per year, which in turn gives us a ton of impressive sunrises and sunsets.

I put Luna on a leash and off we go to check out the fog in the park. Sure enough, as was indeed my hope, the fog was nicely covering the open area.

I hoped to find even thicker fog, so I went towards the trees that line the pathway 400 meters away. As Luna and I walked on, the fog did get thicker. I was glad I decided to go for a walk this morning!

To make things even better a week later, one of the photos won a little prize in a workplace fall photo contest. Lesson of the day: go with the flow, like water! Or like fog?

Last week, as I was driving by a local mall, I noticed that something new had popped up. It's called the Museum of Failure, and it's a temporary exhibit showcasing failed products over the past 50 or so years. I was intrigued by this. It sounded fun, and it seemed like a place where I could take some interesting photos.

I came back armed with my camera and my wallet. The admission fee was $20, and I was advised to download the app that goes hand in hand with the museum. I did download it – only because it did not collect any personal information – but I did not use it much. More about that later.

The exhibit filled about and hour and a half of my time, and it was fairly entertaining. However, the setting was not very well lit, and most failed products were behind glass, which did not yield the best photographs. Still, I'm glad I checked it out!

I have to say, I was already familiar with some of the failed products displayed, which made me feel a little old. For example, I owned things like a Microsoft Zune and a Sony Minidisc player myself, in the early 2000s. Hell, I still have the Minidisc player, though it's been sitting in a box of old memories for many years.

Something that surprised me was the plastic bike! I'm not surprised someone came up with this idea; I'm more surprised they did not manage to make it work! In this day and age, cheap replicas seem to have a pretty good customer base. I guess they drew the line when safety was involved.

On the eerie side of things, I saw a set of lobotomy tools. What a barbaric “medical” procedure that was! I get the chills just thinking about it.

Speaking of creepy, there was also this facial beauty treatment mask. It looked like something straight out of a horror movie! Here it is for your enjoyment.

The list goes on an on, and many of these are listed on the museum's site. I think the idea is fun, but I wish the presentation was a bit better. Remember the app? I'm a little old school. If I go to a museum, I prefer to be present and enjoy what I see there, in person. I prefer not to stare at my phone. So, I felt like I did not get the full experience because I didn't use the app. This seems to be a trend nowadays, where technology is combined with reality to create these mixed experiences. To be honest, I find the approach cheap and lazy. I feel like a little more effort into the physical space could have made this museum really shine. Maybe in other locations it's better. In this poorly lit concrete hall at the mall, the Museum of Failure failed to truly impress me, but it did entertain me sufficiently for the $20 entry fee.

Agricultural scenery east of Calgary, AB. Agricultural facility.

Prairie dogs! Prairie dogs.

Hidden RV. A hidden RV.

Video games are one of the most common hobbies these days, but they are no longer a good option for me. I focused my last two posts on the negative relationship I have had with video games, and on how I've stopped playing them. This time, I'd like to switch to a more positive tone and focus on the positive changes I noticed since I stopped playing games. As usual, I'd like to state that these are just my opinions, and I'm not an expert. What works for me might not work for you.

Whenever I used to get very interested in a game, I noticed that all my other hobbies fade in the background. Now, without games, they are re-surfacing and bringing me a lot of positivity. First of all, my camera sees a lot more usage. I stopped gaming for almost 2 months now, and I already got a number of great photos. My mind feels free of games, so it finds more purpose in other hobbies. Whenever I know I'll be going to a new place, or out for a long walk, I'll take my camera. Of course, we all have our cell phone cameras on us, which is great. But bringing my actual camera feels different. It feels more purposeful and I observe my surroundings with a fresh perspective. I've learned how to use an analog camera when I was a kid, in the early 90s. I switched to digital cameras sometime in the early 2000s. Photography has always been there, but because of the amount of time spent on video games, it tended be a sporadic hobby. Well, I'm just happy to make it less sporadic now. I share some of the photos I take on my Twitter page (check the Media tab if you'd like).

Another hobby that took a back seat for a while is writing. I used to have a movie review blog throughout university and after. I watched movies and reviewed them. I also used to write blog posts such as these here on Medium, but that also faded over time. I'm happy to resurrect this habit now that games are not taking up so much of my time and mental energy. Aside from Medium, I'm also on a 70+ day streak with my personal journal. I managed to write in there every day, and it's giving me hope that I can finally turn writing into a respectable interest. After all, I'm an English major! It's a pity not to do more of what I love. These posts on Medium are a good way to get back into it, while the personal journal helps me make sure that I write at least something small every day.

The third interest that is helping me fill the space left behind by video games is fitness. Now, to be fair, this one I did manage to maintain even while gaming, but I feel like I am getting a lot more satisfaction out of it now than I did before. Fitness went from something I did just to stay healthy, to something I genuinely enjoy and look forward to. I tend to work out in the morning. This really gives me a boost in positivity. I also exercise in after work, by taking my dog for a walk. Ok, so it's a walk, and not an actual exercise routine, but I try to keep up a fairly fast pace and make the walks 3-5 Km long. It is not as pleasant in winter, when it's dark and cold out by the time I finish work, but I still push myself to do it. I really think fitness is key to getting rid of bad habits. The fresh air during walks, the sweat and heartbeat during workouts, the calm of yoga and meditation – these are exactly the things video games take away from me. Movement is life, and it feels so good not to sit in a chair for hours, pushing buttons and going nowhere.

It is still too early to say how these hobbies will evolve for me, but I am cautiously optimistic.

Thank you for reading!

Discuss...

While many people can have a healthy relationship with video games, I find I cannot. To me, video games have become similar to a slot machine disguised as digital entertainment. Gamers will argue that not all games are addictive; that some are just stories and playing them is no different than watching a movie where you choose the outcome and you play the hero. The same gamers will also typically agree that some games are, indeed, very addictive. These are games designed to get you hooked from the get-go, through the use of in-game currencies, loot boxes, and competitive ranking systems that make you want to get better and better with little reward.

Game genre differences aside, on a personal level I just find it easier to stop playing all video games than pick and choose which ones I allow myself to play. I know what games I like, and replacing a role playing game I know inside out with a story-based game that I can beat in one week is just not the same. I tried, and it fails to satisfy the same craving. maybe I'm just weak when out comes to games. If you, as the reader, are on the fence about your relationship with gaming, you can try this quiz just for fun. You don't have to quit games, but maybe it will show you what people who do need to quit them might feel or think.

I've had a lot of experience with addiction. I smoked cigarettes for a number of years and I drank too much too. I have successfully quit both of these for years now, but it took many tries. Everyone is different, but I learned how to tell when something is becoming a problem, if not a full-fledged addiction. The word “addiction” is pretty strong, so many will just back away from it. I was one of them. Instead, what helped me in quitting things like drinking and now gaming is looking at it as a problem rather than an addiction. I have a “problem” with games sounds a lot more manageable than “I am addicted to games,” doesn't it?

It's important to recognize that what I see as problematic is not necessarily true for others. A lot is based on my personal experiences, past and present. I played games a lot throughout my life, and I'm at a point where they are no longer a fun hobby. Instead, they are a time sync that would keep me from doing more with my life. They are a constant distraction for my mind, where I would think of the game even when I am not playing it. They are the kind of hobby that outshines any other hobby due to its built-in instant gratification and false sense of accomplishment. The list goes on. If you talked to me in my 20's, I would have never believed any of these statements. If you talked to me in my teens, I would have said “I'll play games until the day I die.” In fact, I did say that to my dad once. He still remembers it!

The WHO recognized video games addiction as a real problem a couple of years ago. There are good resources for stopping or taking control of gaming. What helped me a lot in quitting games was the r/stopgaming forum on Reddit and the GameQuitters website. These resources helped me feel less alone in my struggle to fix my gaming problem.

Why is it so hard to just play less? you might ask. Well, to me it's not even about the amount of time anymore. It used to be, in my 20's, when I did little else aside from work. These days, with more grown-up duties and responsibilities, I would not really have too much time anyway. But even 1-2 hours a day, to me, was still problematic. Why? Because games outshine other hobbies. In the game, it is easy to be a hero and to accomplish great things very quickly. Most modern games don't even really have a penalty for dying in the game. You just respawn and continue.

I think the reason it is hard for people to see the addictive side of games is that games are not physically harmful the way substance addictions are. They are not great for your eyes and back because you end up sitting there for hours and hours staring at the screen, but you could say the same about office jobs and watching TV. As usual, mental health is only an after-thought, when it should really take centre stage.

Games also come off as more fun compared to other hobbies because they are highly engaging. My mind is 100% in the game when I play, creating a tunnel-vision effect where reality fades and the only thing that matters is the here and now of the game world. Losing one's self in a hobby is not a bad thing – it's actually a good thing – but games make it so easy that I don't really care about any other hobbies. Why bother with more complex hobbies, when turning on the game is instantly gratifying, exciting, and rewarding? That's the problem for me, no mater if I play 6 hours a day or 1 hour a day. It is best for me to just quit altogether than moderate. You wouldn't tell a cigarette smoker to just smoke fewer cigarettes a day, right? Or a heroin addict to just do heroin less often. It's an extreme comparison, but I think it serves its purpose.

Before COVID, I had stopped playing games for 6 months. In that time, I took up photography again, I started working out more, I took my dog for longer walks, and even got a new job. I fixed many things around the house, and felt I had more time for everything. As soon as I took up gaming again, during all the lockdowns and after, the only good habit that stayed was the exercise routine, and only because I did that in the morning, when I would not be playing games anyway. Now, 45 days into quitting games again, I already feel my passion for everything else resurfacing: photography, writing, home improvement, talking to people more, being more present and happy, etc. Games gave me a false sense of accomplishment: the victories in virtual worlds made real-world achievements unnecessary. I have no hard feelings for leaving games behind, hopefully for good this time.

Thanks for reading!

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As I embark on another attempt to expel video games from my life, I feel the task is monumental. Even the thought of writing about it is so daunting that I had trouble getting started. So, I decided to break it down into smaller chunks! Welcome to the first chapter!

I've been a gamer since I was a kid, but I'll skip the life story this time. Now in my mid-thirties, I decided it's time to kick the habit. You might think: “Why is this guy talking about video games like some sort of addiction?” I challenge anyone who plays video games daily to take a break for one week (or one month if you're brave) and let me know if you still think they are not similar to any other addiction.

I tried quitting several times before, and at most I lasted for 6 months. That was before COVID hit. The lockdowns drew me back to gaming and re-ignited the craving for action and adventure in virtual realms. In itself, this sounds fairly innocent and harmless, even healthy if you think of the social aspect of online games in a time when socializing in the real world became hindered by the pandemic.

I finally mustered up the willpower to try quitting games again, and here I am writing about it to share my experience 38 days into it. My first observation is exactly this: it took just over a month to start seeing positive changes. I noticed that small things in life are starting to bring me more joy than before. Something as simple as a walk is more exciting and meaningful now. I notice more of my surroundings and I appreciate them a lot more.

While gaming, there is always a part of my mind that's occupied with the thought of gaming, of what I'll do next time I play, what game I'll play, what's the next feat to accomplish in the game. All that brain buzz has finally subsided, and it took a whole month! While I didn't think of a specific game this month, I did think about gaming in general and still felt like a gamer. Finally, I am starting to feel like a non-gamer inside my head.

Games are junk food for the mind, much like social media, TV and streaming. All these sources are easy providers of dopamine for the brain. Remove them, and you suddenly don't know why you're feeling down. All other sources of joy require at least a little bit more effort. And that is how these modern amusements become modern addictions: they are just so easy! Why sit down with a book that takes conscientious focus and effort when you can turn on the Playstation and be showered with excitement immediately? Replace “Playstation:” with “TikTok” and it's no different.

This brings me to my second observation. The tendency when quitting video games is to replace them with something else, because of the time gap they create. More free time is hard to come by, but with so many easy distractions, it's key to avoid replacing one bad habit with another. As such, I have been quite careful with how much time I spend online and in front of the TV (Netflix, Apple TV+, etc.). I read comments and stories from others who are trying to ditch video games, and many end up spending hours and hours on Reddit, for example. Others quit playing games, but they still watch YouTube or Twitch gaming streams. It's not easy to break the cycle, so I've tried to be cautious with all the digital forms of entertainment in order to avoid replacing one brain junk food with another.

My last point is exactly this focus on what to do. What should I replace games with? In previous attempts, I rushed to the logical, mechanical approach: replace games with one of the hobbies that lay in waiting and never really got much attention. This time, I'm trying a more holistic approach, a slower approach, grounded in feeling more than logic. I'm not rushing into any hobby, but rather I'm letting those interests manifest themselves. I like writing, but it took me over a month to finally put together this post. I like photography, but I'm not forcing that one either. I want to embrace the sense of discovery, to allow myself to be drawn into these interests and others, rather than dictate them to my brain.

Quitting an old habit – or an addiction – is hard. I hope this new approach will help me push past my previous record of 6 months, and into a life with less junk food for the brain, and more meaningful interests and hobbies.

In the next instalment of this series, I'll have to delve into the addictive facet of gaming and talk about how moderation is not an option for a lot of people when trying to stop playing video games.

Thanks for reading!

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