The Downside To Being A Gamer

Not all that long ago, I wrote a little something defending the habits of gamers as being no less wasteful and negligent than any other hobby. I stand by that argument, inasmuch as I stand by anything I have said in the past; kind of a lot, but not written in stone.

A recent spell of introspection, however, has opened me to some of the negatives of being a gamer*. More specifically, it has drawn my attention to a few behaviors I’ve engaged in on a more consistent basis ever since buying my brand-spanking-new Alienware Aurora computer thing. It’s beautiful and magnificent, let me say outright, but it has had a cost above and beyond the ludicrous price tag.

Whether or not these may also apply to other hobbies of similar time intensity and cost, I don’t know, because I don’t have an awful lot of hobbies (Lord knows writing is an entirely different kettle of fish-shaped crackers). Maybe I’ll be proving my past self dead wrong.

Let it be stated here and now that I’ve never been one to make a highly productive use of my time. I leisure with the best of them, which is to say the worst of them, and whatever fault I find with that is insufficiently repulsive to make me think about changing it. I can’t clearly recall a time in my life where gaming wasn’t at least somewhat important, at least not since we got our first hand-me-down NES at whatever age I happened to be at. While I was exposed to Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda much earlier, it was Super Mario Bros. 3 that sealed the deal with me forever.

All of that being said, for the last several years I would average maybe one to one and a half hours a day actually playing games on a computer or console. Obviously it would spike when I got a new game, but I’d always either beat it or get bored after a few days and I’d settle back into the median. I did other things with my life in the meantime: make pitiful progress on my guitar playing, watching movies, surf the web for things of at least passable entertainment value.

Lately however, I’ve been gaming a lot more. Like, jumping on the computer as soon as I’m home from work and not removing the headphones until my roommate wants to make dinner. And its mostly because I have this fancy new computer, and with it I can play fancy new games. Like DC Universe Online. That one in particular is a huge time sink for me. Mostly because of the sheer breadth of character options. When I play a game like The Legend of Zelda, my character is Link. He does Link things and goes on his Link quest, and nothing will change that, so my focus is reduced to doing those things. When you can make your own character, though, there is always a part of me wondering “hey, how about I try this now?” with this being anything from a Batman carbon copy to a tiny pink shapeshifting gunslinging pixie to a death metal devil that bursts into flames every few seconds, and so many many things in between. I have played through the first ten levels of that game no less than a dozen times. Which might indicate more of an issue with myself than anything involving gaming itself. Seriously, it kept me up last night; I was just lying there, thinking about what to try next.

With my loss of free time, it of course follows that I devote less time to other activities. My movie attendance has dropped drastically (as have my chances to becoming a half-assed movie critic), my guitar playing is probably as horrible as it was months ago, and while I’m not in any worse shape than I was two months ago, I’m certainly not helping myself out with sitting in front of a monitor even longer than the 8 hours I’m required to do it at work.

Most poignant for me, though, is that my writing has suffered. During my big movie thing, one of my favorite parts about seeing the movies was having something good to write about after the fact. This stupid blog has suffered. Remember when I was going to post on it every day? My writing as a whole has suffered. What was the last thing I wrote, Texas Trip 2011? I was away from my computer for all but one of those posts. Of course even then I was playing my 3DS, but that manages to have a lot less of a hold on me. Maybe because it’s smaller. That’s how psychology works, right?

The problem is I can’t easily justify doing something else. Not after all the money I sank into this glowing madness engine of mine. It seems downright irresponsible to go out to see movies or even spend time doing other things when I have all this computer to play. Because otherwise I just spent all this money for no reason. Not that I’m strapped for cash. More of the principle of the thing I suppose.

The solution, of course, is to alter my thinking on the subject. I need to regard the computer as a long term thing, not something that requires immediate and constant use for fear of dying and missing out. I’m going to have this giant heavy rectangle for the next several years, and it will certainly be my main computer for at least another three or four. And unlike a laptop, it can be upgraded, so that’s even more time. And since it’ll last a while, I don’t need to try to squeeze every last drip of amusement that I can out of it and whatever amount of hours I have between work and sleep.

So no, I definitely won’t be getting Skyrim. Like, ever.

*Okay, so this ended up being a lot more about the crazy glowing rectangle under my desk than about gaming in general, but whatever.

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