Tuesday, 17 April 2012

[GW2] Finding a Game/Life Balance

I’ve realised over the past few months that my gaming tastes have changed a lot since I left University. At Uni I had a lot of spare time (I did Social Research for pities sake!); I was a bit of an insomniac and never had a roommate or dorm-buddy to worry about keeping up with my late night gaming sessions, I also have a lovely long term girlfriend, so there was never the chance of stealing a likely young wench from the local tavern and bringing her back to my lair. The upshot is that once all of my buddies had retreated to bed, I would have all the time in the world to play games. Games usually meant Guild Wars and Guild Wars meant several hour sessions: vanquishing zones, completing Zaishen quests and going absolutely batshit bonkers in PvP (once the red-mist comes down, my blood-lust is difficult to satisfy).

Since leaving University my commitments have changed. I have a full time job, my own house, bills, taxes and other such grown up things. My gaming time – although very generous (thanks girlfriend!) – has had to change. Mostly, now, it is consumed in bite sized chunks; 20 minutes between when I get home and when I start cooking tea, an hour or so after tea till I begin to feel guilty about leaving the lady alone in front of the telly and then maybe an hour or so once she heads off to bed and before I can’t keep my eyes open.

This disjointed schedule just isn’t conducive to a full-time MMO career, but it lends itself perfectly to console gaming – 15 minute Call of Duty battles, 20 minute FIFA matches or a quick jaunt around Rome in Assassin’s Creed. It’s easier to lounge on the sofa for half an hour and get my gaming fix than it is to find 2 hours a night to sit alone in the spare bedroom hunched over a keyboard.

My worry is that with the coming of Guild Wars 2, I won’t be able to fully commit. If I am going to experience this game, I want to fully immerse myself, I want to have proper time to commit – and I haven’t found a proper way to balance an MMO gaming habit with a healthy home-life.

So, I implore you, good readers; fill me with your wisdom – Have you found that balance? Do you have a loving spouse who games with you (mine is currently addicted to Skyrim, so that means I can steal off and play for a bit longer than normal)? Do you disregard the tuts and sighs which come from a cross-armed partner, as she/he stands in the doorway pyjama-clad and yawning?


  1. Luckily I married a gamer so being left to 2 hours or longer gaming sessions isn't out of the window for me. We frequently play the same games which of course means we still spend time together. In addition, we make sure we leave at least one night a week free for a "date" which may be as simple as spending an evening watching a movie together.

    I think many would consider that I haven't found that balance but for us, gaming is a central hobby that we share. Apart from the odd complaint that I put my sound on the headset rather than speakers, we've avoided arguments about it.

    I think Guild Wars 2 will be more casually friendly than Guild Wars because you don't have to clear out an area before you can stop. PvP matches are shorter. The only really time intensive areas of the game are dungeons where you'll need to clear 2 hours or more, and possibly WvW.

  2. I generally overstay in the night 1 or 2 days of a week and play mostly during the mornings and afternoons of weekends. I'm afraid I'm never going to be able to play 6 hours a day continuously for five days ever again.

    I had a lucky break during November so I was able to finally reach 30 HoM points in Guild Wars(up to Nov 9) AND I was able to play about 123 hours of Skyrim(from Nov 11 to Nov 22) - ah the bliss. I wasn't able to touch Skyrim since then which is a shame. Hope I'll get two week break like that when Guild Wars 2 releases.

    1. I am getting a feeling overstay is not the right word there...I hope you get my meaning :P

  3. I know exactly what you are talking about. When I was in college, I too had much more time to play games. Although my major was very time consuming (Computer Science), I still had a lot more free time than I do now, and I played a LOT of GW. I did have room-mates, but they too played GW, so we frequently played all hours of the night.

    Now that I'm a couple years out of college (actually, almost as long as I was in it), my time is still more than many, but far less than it used to be. I have a long-term gamer girlfriend, and she does plan to play GW2 with me, so that does solve some of the issue, but setting that aside, I mostly play when she goes to bed. She gets up much earlier than I do and also sleeps more per night than I, so I have a couple hours after her bed time.

    As for my tastes changing with my free time, I have certainly noticed this affecting me as well. Games that are easily broken into 20-30 minute chunks are far easier to squeeze in. Also, with less time, I have to be more discerning with what games I actually play. While in college, I had the time to play a game that was only mediocre. Now that my time is much more limited, I not only can't play every game I'm even slightly interested in, I simply don't even want to any more. It feels like so much more of a waste when it expends precious time on something that wasn't as amazing as other games I could have played.

  4. That's how I've been playing for ages... or rather, since I've quit WoW (where I raided on two days a week). During the week, I usually do lots of other stuff once I'm home from work... boring RL stuff like cooking etc. but also a bit of gaming. But never much and never in long gaming sessions. I'm usually just too tired to do that. Instead, I read and blog. ;) During the weekend, I find more time to play but with no dedicated MMO (the last one was Lotro), I've not done that either recently. This "gaming schedule" also means that I'm looking for casual guilds which consists of members who do exactly the same thing.

    And guilds who do not require me to be on TS or Vent while gaming because it doesn't make much sense to spend my evening on there and listening to those people when my boyfriend's sitting next to me and might just want to get to talk to me as well. ;) Of course, we're both gamers. But we still don't always want to play together. Or rather, we very often do not play together even when we're in the same game. ;) We communicate and talk about the game and RL, etc. instead.

  5. Well, first off, you and I both know that GW2 is not the usual MMO... no gear grind, no level grind, etc.  So you've got that going for you.
    Second thing is, you were already wise enough (or lucky enough) to select a significant other who isn't a glommy, clingy, co-dependent, needy mess... so you've got that going for you too.

    I've been fortunate enough to have similarly pleasant female hang around here for the last few decades, and it is truly a blessing to have someone who does not begrudge me the form of entertainment that is my preference.  My first piece of advice would be to recognize how rare and wonderful that person is.  The 20 minute time slot you describe as being right after you get home... don't spend that gaming at all... give up those 20 minutes to lavish some attention on your partner.  You'd be surprised how much just that little bit of time can be appreaciated, and it makes them feel like they are still the higher priority in your life when the first thing you do after getting home is to interact with them.
    The next thing I would suggest is; when you're living an adult, responsible life with schedules - put your entertainment into that schedule also.  Set aside a pre-determined period of time in the evening that is expressly for gaming, and then stick to that.
    Your partner will get used to seeing you "emerge" from the gaming room at the prescribed time each evening, and so long as you don't "cheat" that then they will still feel like time is being set aside for them as well.
    Finally, try to include your partner in the entertainment activity you prefer if possible.  DON'T rush it.  Allow it to evolve and develop slowly and naturally... it will be far more comfortable for all involved that way.  And if gaming is just not their cup of tea, then don't force the issue.
    Again, you're quite lucky on that last point since she's already expressed some interest in games (you mentioned she's played or is playing Skyrim) so it's possible she could be gently encouraged to join you in GW2.
    Regardless, GW2 is going to be a MMO for grown-ups.  It certainly looks like ArenaNet are designing the game with responsible (schedule wielding) adults in mind as part of their player base, and they're including certain features that will accomodate less hearty chunks of playing time.
    Eventually, the time availability pendulum swings back in the other direction... I'm retired now, and frequently spend the better part of my day engaged in video games of one description or another, but I never move the priority from the people in my life to those.  So long as you keep that in focus, you should be able to find a balance for yourself. 



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