It’s been a long day of “adulting” and you have a family that’s tucked nicely in their beds. It’s only now you finally have a few hours to have some good ole gaming fun. Your eyes are bulging towards the screen as you push to keep playing a few more minutes. It’s way past the proverbial bed time and at this point there’s no chance you’ll wake up chipper and full of energy in the morning. You take another swallow of warm energy drink and press on in your quest. Once you level up your character’s skill one more time, you promise to drag your aching body to bed and let sleep take over.
Let’s face it, gamers aren’t just kids anymore. We aren’t kids anymore. There’s a whole lot of us who grew up pwning newbs and laughing at fallen enemies. However, now we have jobs and partners and kids. You know, responsibilities. Unfortunately, those responsibilities make the ten-hour gaming marathons a thing of the distant past. I’ve heard so many ex-gamers say they just don’t have the time for it anymore. Well, the average adult is watching about five hours of television a day, so obviously there’s time to be had. The bigger problem is not knowing how to transition gaming to fit a new, busier lifestyles. Yeah, you can’t go collect your new game at the midnight release, yelling out you won’t stop playing till you finish the story line. No, you’ve got a toddler that needs you to read a book about trains five times before you go to work in the morning.
You don’t need to give up gaming just because you can’t game like you used to–when the only thing you had to do the next day was sleep through class, after wandering into school an hour late. You just need to adjust the way you game.
Here are my ten tips for being a gamer when you have responsibilities:
- Put the controller down once it’s interfering with other obligations. I know it can be frustrating to learn this habit—especially when you used to space bathroom breaks four hours apart so you wouldn’t have to walk away from your game—but it’s a good habit. It will remove the stress from failing to maintain a balance between gaming and life. Your game will be there when you get back and your other obligations will have been dealt with. Win, win.
- Everyone needs hobbies, so don’t feel guilty about gaming. Don’t accept anyone telling you to grow up or move on. Gaming isn’t for kids, it’s for everyone and it’s a hobby like any other.
- Don’t try and figure out how many hours a day or week you can give to gaming. That’s the wrong way to think about it. You’ll get frustrated when things pop up and you got in half the hours you expected to that week. Gaming is fun and there’s no reason to stress about it. Instead, concentrate on getting you responsibilities done, then relax and game.
- Involve your family. Get multiplayer games and suggest it as a way to spend time together with your partner. Tell them that next time they can pick the activity. Also, once your kids are old enough to play, you’ll have a great bonding experience over games. They’ll love it, you’ll love it, and memories will be made.
- Avoid the real time-consuming games. To me, that means no MMOs. The socializing aspect is a major time killer that has me constantly itching to get back to my guild/group.
- Switch your hobbies up. Instead of watching Futurama a fifth time, or drooling over the new Rick and Morty for hours, you can pick up a new game that’s caught your eye. You won’t be taking away any time from your responsibilities, you won’t even be taking away any fun or joy. You are just switching one fun past time for another.
- Limit how long you play at any given time. Try playing your game for thirty-minute increments. After thirty minutes take a break and make sure nothing needs to be done before continuing on. This way you won’t be looking over your shoulder for incoming ordeals that need your immediate attention.
- Keep your video game library sparse. You don’t need to look at a stack of games you haven’t even opened and feel disappointed. If it’s not a game you’re sure you want to play, you probably won’t play it. You probably don’t have the motivation or time for things you are lukewarm about anymore.
- Do your chores right away. You notice the carpet needs vacuuming, the trash is falling out the top of the bin, there’s two loads of laundry that needs put away—whatever it is, do it as soon as you notice it. Avoiding chores is horrible for time management. I’m so bad at this and I suffer for it. I’ll spend all day avoiding something. It’s always in the back of my mind, annoying me. I can’t really enjoy whatever I’m doing fully because what about those stupid, filthy dishes?
- Appreciate handheld gaming devices. You’ve got places to be and long lines to wait in. Phones games and Nintendo 3DS is your new best friend. I never appreciated handheld more until I started having to be away from my laptop for most the day. I still had plenty of sitting around to do though, and handheld games became my best friend.
Hopefully, my list will help you enjoy a never ending “gamer” status while making no sacrifices in your life. Leave a comment with your own tips. I would love to read them!