Video games

Finding time for gaming

Getting older means a balancing act to squeeze in all your commitments. Perhaps setting aside the things that you’d like to do with your spare time (gaming) with things you should probably do instead (like being a responsible adult).

Trying to go through life without the things you enjoy can mean things can quickly become a burden. So I measure my gaming time as quality time for myself. That said it’s becoming more difficult with each passing year to find time for it at all.

A balancing act

A quote from the Kevin Smith film Dogma seems oddly appropriate at this moment.

“He said that faith is like a glass of water. When you’re young, the glass is small, and it’s easy to fill up. But the older you get, the bigger the glass gets, and the same amount of liquid doesn’t fill it anymore. Periodically, the glass has to be refilled.”

Like anything in life, even the most effortless pasttime becomes another burden in our busy adult lives. Things were simpler when we were children, our minds were unburdened with worry, stress and commitment. We were free to simply to relax, play a game and enjoy it properly – without the distraction of social media, family responsiblities, work and the other minutiae of life.

As I’ve grown I’ve lost faith in a great many things, but I have yet to lose my faith in video games and the video games community. For better or worse this community is vibrant and compelling and I couldn’t surround myself with better people. Gaming as a body of work continues to motivate this wonderful community of ours and that’s only going to get more exciting as gaming gets older.

The downside is we’re getting older too, and it’s occasionally a struggle to keep abreast of all the changes and developments that gaming has to offer, sometimes (just sometimes) it doesn’t feel like my community anymore. It can all go faster than I can manage.

I find myself looking back to when I could manage it better. One of the many reasons I have a fondness for gaming because it is a constant reminder of the person I used to be. Games continue to be a comforting reminder of when things were simplier. I think back to games like Final Fantasy VII – one of the first games I experienced with the presence of the internet, and how exciting this new experience of playing a game in paralell to so many others was.

I’d always like to play games more than I am able, but I think I actually have richer and more rewarding gaming experiences because of how precious my gaming time becomes. Commitments such as work and maintaining my home life always come first naturally, but my game time has become more of a reward for the difficult moments.

A constant struggle

The internet has had a profound way on the way we play video games. I remember the time before the internet was the norm, if you were stuck on a particular moment in a game you relied on magazine for help, or the advice of friends to see you through. You learnt secrets about games by watching other people play them. Crucially there was no single resource for our gaming queries. Now our gaming time is infrequent, and we have less patience for finding things out organically, it’s easier to look things up online or discuss them online rather than taking the time to figure out what we’re doing wrong. Realistically as adults we don’t always have the time to persevere as we once did.

There is an improved tolerance of gaming now as it popularity increases, but even so many of us find it difficult to make time for gaming because of a lack of understanding by the people closest to us. There is definitely some pressure from people who do not understand games for us to play less than we do, to use our gaming time for something else – anything else deemed a better use of our time than gaming is.

There’s another more subtle effect at play here too. A lack of time to commit to gaming can affect the games we choose or are able to play. A bias arises towards games that suit the limited time we have rather than larger sprawling games that will dominate what little time we can commit to play. Bigger games such as RPGs will have goals and hundred hour completion times that can now take (us time pressed gamers) weeks to complete rather than the hours it would take someone with more time.

I only manage to accumulate the little gaming time I can slice out of the day because I am lucky enough to live with another gamer. I appreciate that not everyone can be in this position, but I am also genuinely saddened by how many people who really enjoy gaming have to play less or hold back on their interests or collections because of a partner or friends who actively discourage their pastime. This seems pretty common – despite gaming becoming more popular in this decade than it’s ever been.

When we were children finding time to settle down and play a game was effortless. These days I definitely have to work harder than I’d like to so I can make the time. I am playing less games than any point in my life even though my desire to play hasn’t diminished any. This is a problem that plagues all gamers, but seems to have more of a negative impact as we get older.

However I’ll always make time for a great game, and despite a lack of tolerance for our hobby, and the stigma frequently assosciated with gaming, that’s never going to change.

4 replies on “Finding time for gaming”

Despite what life throws at you, demanding you find a slot for it within your daily schedule, I think those activities that bring you joy, relaxation and peace of mind always find a way into your routine.

Even as a kid, there never seemed to be enough hours in the day to play all the games I wanted to. There was school, swimming on Saturday, football on Sunday, etc. Oh, how I longed for the time I could rightfully call myself an adult and all the free time and money that would surely bring!

So life goes on, priorities (and cash flow) change, etc. But gaming’s always been there. Next week I turn forty (holy shit); I have a full-time job, bills to pay and a girlfriend with a six-month-old baby. Yet, somehow, I still find time to play games. It’s my primary means of unwinding after a stressful day. Bizarrely, I still find time to listen to music, watch movies and read books too.

Not that I wish to make generalizations, but one thing I’ve noticed from the “I don’t have enough time to do X” crowd is that they almost invariably come home from work/school/whatever and plop themselves down in front of the TV for about six hours before finally staggering off to bed. And it’s always “McDonalds” TV — trashy reality shows, game shows, talent shows, etc. Sometimes I have to wonder if they REALLY want to do this mystical “X” that they apparently never get time to do.

To misquote Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm: “Games find a way.”

I find one of the biggest symptoms of reduced free time in my case is that I don’t replay games nearly as often as I use to. Unless it’s an arcade-style game or platformer, I find it increasingly rare that I go through a game a second time anymore.

This is an unfortunate part of becoming a responsible adult, and college student/aspiring artist. With so many amazing games coming out, and my schedule only getting busier, I have to cut everything but the absolute best games to play. The fact that many of these games are (long awaited) sequels to some of my favorite franchises makes it even harder!

I must say I really love the voice acting in Xenoblade. At least in cutscenes anyway (the battle dialogue is a bit too frequent). I’m excited that The Last Story will also use British voice acting. Something about the accent works really well for these worlds (for me anyway), though I’m not entirely sure why.

You should try Dragon Quest VIII some time. Aside from just being a really great (though very old-school) RPG, it has a lot of really great delivery with accent in its voice acting, both in the comedic vein and in earnest.

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