I will preface this entire post by admitting that I am about to state the obvious.
This past weekend, I came to a realization. Quite simply, I no longer have the money or the time in my life to be the gamer I used to be. In my head, I want to keep up with the hobby that I love–the new game releases, the industry news, the reviews, and all of the discussion of games that is constantly happening on Twitter and other places on the internet. But my life no longer allows for that kind of dedication.
In some ways, I am still that gamer in my mind, as I do spend an awful lot of time thinking about games throughout the course of any given day. Games I’m playing, games I want to play, things I want to write about games–these thoughts are constantly swimming around in my head.
But when it comes down to it, I’m lucky if I have a few hours a week to dedicate to actually playing games. Sure, there are some rare occasions when I get a free weekend day to myself and put several hours into a game (that happened recently with ZombiU), but most of my gaming time is spent in one-hour long increments, after my kids go to bed, or in a two-hour chunk of time on a Friday night. For the past six months, I would say I’ve spent less than five hours a week gaming on average. I don’t see that number increasing dramatically in the near future, either.
Even though I just had my epiphany the other day, the more I thought about it, the more I realized my approach to gaming as a hobby has been profoundly changing over the last year or so. Gone are the days when I pick up every major release on the day it comes out. In the past year, I believe Halo 4 was the only one I picked up on day one (although I could be wrong–I’m getting old). Not only do I not have the funds to keep up with new releases, but my biggest challenge is finding the time to spend on them.
Nowadays, I pick up one game at a time, and I try to squeeze every bit of the experience out of it. I’ve spent more time with Halo 4 than any of the previous Halo games. I just finished ZombiU and wrote twelve blog posts about it. I’m still playing Left 4 Dead 2 as my go-to multiplayer game. And Super Mario 3D World has been stuck in my 3DS for ages, getting completed one level at a time.
And here’s the thing–I am actually enjoying playing games more than I have in a long time. By spending more time on each game, I’m having a deeper experience with each one. I’m writing more about the games I play, because I’m spending more time with them.
But there’s still a part of me that thinks like the gamer I used to be, the one that had the time and money to play almost everything that came out, when it came out. I miss that guy sometimes, and those days are pretty much gone forever. But, in some ways my relationship with gaming is better than ever, and I need to remind myself about that, as it’s one of the reasons I started this blog–to keep connected to the hobby I love.