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No Time to Play

I hear a lot of people lamenting how much less time they have to play games these days. I suppose I'm one of the lucky ones, being almost 29 and having more play time than ever.

Actually, I'm not lucky at all. I make very deliberate lifestyle decisions. Not having kids is particularly helpful for maintaining my free time, admittedly. If I ever decide to go down that path I will have to re-evaluate my choices again, but that's true of any major commitment. Essentially, I've chosen to leave some time for games rather than taking on more things. Not watching television and living very close to my work also help a lot.

When I still lived with my parents games were a bit of a luxury. Then as a university student I simply didn't have time to play many games. Anyone who just looks at the contact hours on a course and thinks uni students are slackers has absolutely no idea.

As a full time worker though, I have money to spend on games and the time outside work is actually my own. I do have plenty of other things to fit in, but working has freed my life considerably. Everything I commit to now is a choice rather than a chore. It's the only phase of my life where I've been able to play games without feeling guilty about it.

And maybe that means I'm living my life backwards. I grew up with a concept of what it meant to be "responsible", and having a list of things I "had" to achieve. Then I realised how much of that was false, and I could live pretty much however I wanted. It's been a lot more satisfying than trying to please everyone and prove to the world how smart and dedicated I am.

Oh yes, how dare I live for my own satisfaction? If I must shouldn't it be as part of the race to constantly work more, do more, want more? Games are my major indulgence, and not a very expensive one comparatively. They let me get by on a rather simple lifestyle (by the standards of this rich, Western society anyway).

I'm very aware of the things I'm missing out on, and that I can choose to go after them at any time. I wonder how many people can say the same?

I've reached the point now where I don't actually want any more time for games. There's a healthy balance to be maintained, and other things I also want to spend my time on. Instead, my problem is wanting to get through everything and it not being possible. I am always trying to make a dint in the pile of unfinished games, but it's a losing battle. Ultimately, I end up with exactly the same problem as the people without a lot of time for playing games.

Tax-time sales really don't help matters. My best finds this year were $5 Chinatown Wars, and a half-price Collector's Edition of Bioshock 2. I'm sure they will be fun... when I get around to them.

Having all those unfinished games on the shelf isn't completely terrible. There's enough diversity to satisfy different moods, and I'm unlikely to get bored any time soon. It does feel horribly decadent though.

This whole post has been a bit decadent. It's also quite defensive. Gaming is a hobby I find myself needing to defend sometimes. It has always surprised me that people can watch as much or more television without anyone batting an eyelid, but as soon as it's games people worry and look at me sideways.

As someone who no longer watches television, non-interactive media have become slightly strange to me. I'll still watch video sometimes, but games have become more natural to me. I wonder about the impact of sitting passively while ideas filter through you, instead of being forced to have some agency and consider what is being presented.

Even if I were in the majority I wouldn't tell other people how to live though. I can only make decisions for myself. All I really hope for is the same courtesy.