Responsibility is something most people over the age of 14 have to deal with. You often have to balance time with friends versus time studying as a high-school or college student. Or once you reach adulthood you’ll have to figure out how to balance the responsibility of family, work and your own personal time.
Through my experience I’ve come to realize that gaming is able to fit in your life of responsible behavior, but not without compromises. If you have any combination of being married, young children or a full time job then there is most likely no chance that you can get 30+ hours of gaming per week. With such demands on your time, you might want to reconsider devoting such drastic blocks of time into gaming, or any other hobby for that matter.
This is a stepping stone to my first real point: trim down your game time and assess conservatively how much you would like to play every week. So for me, going from teen, to adulthood, to married life, made a graph of my game time look more like the trajectory of Hummer sales rather than Pam Anderson’s bust size. But that doesn’t mean I no longer get my fill of the digital world. Going from about 40 hours per week down to around 13 really hasn’t been all that bad. When you really think about it, 13 hours is about the length of an average game these days. If you were determined and you budgeted your time correctly, you could potentially play and finish upwards of 40 games per year depending on what genre you prefer.
I personally don’t come close to this number because I (as somewhat of a “completionist”) typically take my time beating games, but regardless, the amount of time I spend gaming is still enough to beat 40 or so average games per year. So take my word, if you can’t find the time for the important things in life, figure out a plan to cut out what is unnecessary and live within your means (an idea Americans should take to heart in a certain other type of budgeting).
So that is step one, but what about other ways to maximize your time? Well, if you have a family and you don’t mind looking like an idiot, than I have the perfect idea for you! It’s called motion gaming, and yes, I realize you already knew what that was. Regardless of your stance on whether it is your preferred genre or not, you can absolutely have some fun doing this together with your family. It might even be worth your time investment just to get your wife (sorry to be sexist, but I have to speak from personal experience here) on board with video games so she understands more about how you can find value in videogames.
Having a family that is open about this is a valuable asset. Just ask someone who has a (for lack of a better term) “nag”. Anyone who gets beat down because they have a hobby is absurd. I’ll often see couples who are perfectly fine with the other person watching TV and “relaxing”, but for some reason, if they are playing games with the exact same chunk of time it suddenly becomes “wasting time”. The reason is simple; the “nag” has no experience and therefore can’t see a positive value. It’s like fishing; at first there seems to be no value, and to someone who doesn’t enjoy it, it might even seem pointless and boring. But beneath the surface, there is much more. Humans need something besides work and social life to focus on and devote time. I work fulltime running a senior oriented service, and I see first-hand what having nothing to live for will do to the soul. Hobbies (and therefore gaming) have an intrinsic value that is difficult for the non-gamer to grasp, but easy to experience. And that’s why it’s important to get family members to understand what you enjoy about games. All of this basically comes full circle to helping those close to you understand what you enjoy about games: fun. Motion games (good ones anyway) are a low barrier to entry method to experience the raw fun that gaming can provide.
Now of course they might see you cursing your TV and throwing controllers around and ask how games can be fun, but after a while, they’ll get it. Also, here is a pro-tip: minimize that angry behavior. Either way, the benefits of getting loved ones into gaming will both net you extra time gaming (albeit with family) and the oh-so-important mutual understanding.
Luckily I found the perfect in with my wife: puzzle games. She loves any sort of puzzle game, and it was a no brainer to start her with Brain Age and Sudoku, then she “graduated” to Picross. Then I threw in the big curve ball: a puzzle game with story. Prof. Layton is to me the ultimate crossover. So this particular progression might actually be a great game plan if you are interested in getting someone into gaming, in addition to getting less frowny faces when you are playing by yourself.
Really, I find these two things are the greatest assets in getting as much out of the time you have. The last thing really only has to do with your attitude. Don’t be afraid of the pause button. The more ignorant and lazy you are while gaming, the more negative the view your significant other will have of your hobby. So take my advice, and try not to get sucked into a bubble. It’s not easy, and I struggle with it myself sometimes, but in the end, the benefits of being able to drop the controller and pay attention far outweigh the (if any) negatives.
To sum up this whole article, just remember to be logical, polite and outgoing with your hobby and you’ll be fine. Get your family involved, and you’ll find yourself with a fun hobby, maybe some new gaming buddies, and a whole lot fewer sneers and growls. Happy gaming.