As I’ve learnt over the past year or so, it can be hard to find time to game when you suddenly find yourself in possession of a full-time job. And even more so when you’re also dedicating time to reading, blogging, exercising, and having some semblance of a social life.
Unlike watching TV or films, gaming isn’t a passive process; it requires effort. When I get into a game, I end up sitting upright, fingers working frantically at the keyboard or controller, eyes wide, and leaning expectantly towards the screen. While TV shows, and even books to an extent, can be consumed easily in that final half hour before falling asleep, when you try that with gaming, you end up staying up until 2am battling zombies. And generally, that’s a bad idea when you have a 9am start in the morning.
On a personal note, it sucks that I haven’t had as much time as I would like for gaming lately. I miss the days when I could spend hours cutting down monsters and seducing sorceresses in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and dedicated several weekends to playing through the Uncharted collection. Now, playing through either of those games would take me far longer, and between plays, I’d probably forget how to use my abilities, or even what my objective is supposed to be.
At the moment, I have a couple of games on-the-go. I’d love to have more time to play Horizon: Zero Dawn, which is a beautiful game with some great combat mechanics, but I just haven’t dedicated the time to learning properly. I’m also eager to finish playing through Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, which is a fantastic game that I’m gradually crawling through an hour at a time.
But finding the time is hard. So, in the hope that I can take my own advice, here are some tips that I’ve come up with for finding more time for gaming.
1. Play something cinematic
Something that’s worked for me since starting my job is playing games that don’t require as much user input. My favourite of these has been Life is Strange, or Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Because of the cinematic nature of these games, they don’t require a lot of player input. You can actually lie back on your sofa or in bed, and your actions will mainly consist of choosing the right button to take the story in the direction you want it to go in. Of course, this style of game isn’t for everyone, but story-based games like these or the Telltale games can be a more relaxing experience.
2. Game with a friend
If you’re looking to play more games, but are also conscious of the need to tick that “social life” box, maybe it’s time to mix the two. This might be in the form of splitscreen games – my favourites of these tend to be the Lego games, Overcooked, or Portal 2 – or online multiplayer games (which I personally don’t tend to play). Sometimes, gaming with a friend might just mean taking it in turns, or watching each other die horribly whilst attempting to complete Dark Souls.
3. Play low maintenance games
I’d classify these as games that you can casually pick up for half an hour or so, and that are lower intensity. Something like The Last of Us is high intensity, because it’s hard, scary, and gives you an adrenaline rush, whilst something like Portal, Limbo, or even Assassin’s Creed, might be games that you can get through with a little more ease, and don’t need to focus on quite as much. This can be a good option when the only time you have for playing games is when you’re already tired and want to be in bed within the hour.
4. Get into mobile or handheld gaming
The more expensive option here is to buy yourself a handheld console – something like the Nintendo Switch, or a PS Vita if that’s more your kind of thing – so that you can fit gaming into your spare moments while you’re on the move. If you have a long commute, there are worse ways to spend it than by playing Zelda. Of course, buying a new console if you don’t already have a handheld can cost a lot of money, and maybe you’re just not into mobile games, so this option isn’t for everyone.
Additionally, you can take more generic time-saving advice. By spending less time scrolling through Twitter or doing things you don’t actually enjoy, you can usually make a little bit of extra time in your day. And then maybe you can find the energy for an intensive, action-packed adventure game.
Hopefully, I can take my own advice on this one. I’d really like to finish Uncharted: The Lost Legacy sometime soon.