Not sure when it happened, but I woke up recently and had to face the sad realisation that I’m an adult, expected to feed and clean myself and stay upright. It’s been pretty crappy, to be honest, and this week I decided to use my column space to talk about the difficulties of gaming as a grownup.
Are you an aspiring adult? Are you about to enter into the hell of adulthood and want to know what you’re in for? Are you a fellow geriatric gamer and want to commiserate? Join me after the jump brothers and sisters.
All of the money, none of the time
Perhaps “all of the money” is a tad of an overstatement, but still – certainly more than when I was a broke student subsisting on beer and chip sandwiches.
Of course, when I was a broke student and participated in what I liked to call “optional learning experiences” (what everyone else calls “important lectures”), I had the option of doing what I liked to call “working from home” (what everyone else calls “sitting in res playing games for 9 hours”). Since games were a commodity rarely afforded, this usually meant playing DotA 1 on the university network or the daily post-lunch residence Call of Duty 2 match.
Now that I finally have money to play games less than a decade old, I find I don’t really have the time. I’ve been meaning to dive into The Witcher 3 for ages, but never really quite get around to it. When I do manage to squeeze an hour or two in to game in the evenings, I’m usually playing whatever my friends are. We all have serious relationships, work and responsibilities, so these brief gaming sessions constitute a large part of the time spent together.
Things were different when I had three month university holidays spent at home. Most nights I would stay up gaming till the sun started to shine through the curtains, sleep till noon, spend the afternoon and evening with friends and game through the night again – it was glorious. Nowadays I have to wake up at 6am to go to work, which means round about 11 I drop faster than the Rand after a Zuma speech.
But even with money…
The problem with earning your own money is that you’re expected to do responsible things with it. This is part of the general inconveniences of being an adult, like having to put clothes on and cut your hair more than once a year. You may be broke as a student, but the money you do have you can generally spend on whatever the hell you want.
Now I have to deal with an inner morality that questions whether or not what I’m buying is a responsible purchase or not – he looks like that old white dude from The Walking Dead. Sure maybe I’d like to buy 30 Amiibos on a whim, but I also have to pay the house bond and take the car in for a service this month. Which means my plans of building an army of plastic Donkey Kongs has to be set aside, along with the custom hats I was going to make for them.
As an adult you’re expected to save and spend your money in a way that doesn’t sound absurd when you say it out loud, which means that even when I can afford things I tend to make sure I really, really want them first. Unless of course it’s Steam sale, in which case I’m guaranteed to buy a bunch of shit I’ll never play.
It’s impossible to “make” time
This is something you hear people say a lot. “It’ll be easy to fit gym in every day, I’ll just sleep an hour less and go in the mornings!” The reason this doesn’t work is that every hour you try to “make” is an hour doing something else that you’re giving up. It doesn’t matter if that hour was spent watching Pawn Stars re-runs with your hands down your pants, wondering when the porn is going to start – that was an hour of relaxation (or whatever you call that you weird bastard) that you’re not getting back.
Even sleeping. If you’re waking up an hour earlier, you’re going to bed an hour earlier – I know from experience that trying to force your body to run on less sleep ends on a spectrum of bad that starts with you falling asleep in an important meeting and ends with you donning a leotard and insisting everybody calls you Barbara. So when you find your favourite episode of Gilmore Girls on a re-run at midnight, just know that extra hour you lost is going to cost you in the morning.
You’re out of touch
This is probably a consequence of the whole time thing, but I find with all the demands of being a real adult I tend to lose track of what the cool kids are playing these days. Hell, I’ve never even seen the Minecraft loading screen.
Since I write for NAG I tend to have a better idea than most of my friends, but on any given day I probably can’t tell you what the big releases for the month are without looking it up.
The time I do have for gaming is spent gaming – I’m not able to trawl through forums and watch videos and read websites like I used to. I think, honestly, it’s why I stopped playing games like Starcraft 2 – I didn’t have time to keep up with the meta and the build orders anymore. Trying to come back into it at this point is much too daunting – there’s too much information I’d need to digest first, and frankly I can’t be bothered.
The other day I read something somebody posted about a Counter-Strike “warm-up” that would take around an hour and a half. An hour and a half constitutes my entire time for gaming some days. I’d like to warm up that kid’s ass, if you know what I mean.
Yeah, I really need to work on my trash-talk.
You’re old and impatient
I’m not sure if this is a product of the lack of time thing, but I just have no patience for games anymore. I used to spend hours and hours trying to pass the highest difficultly level or solve a monstrously difficult puzzle, but now I can’t be bothered with any of that.
If I can’t get past something in ten minutes I’ll exit the game faster than Peter Molyneux breaks a promise. Or, sometimes, alt-Tab and look up a walkthrough. For what it’s worth, I do feel dirty afterwards.
In single-player games, I get bored pretty easily. Keep me engaged and hook me early, or lose me. I’m not going to waste time muddling through your linear mess with boring gameplay and a weak-ass story. Entertain me, clown.
Basically, I’m a grumpy old man with poor frustration tolerance and chronic laziness. I feel like things are only going to be worse when I hit 30.
Have your own problems to share? Let’s start a support group in the comments.