As gamers, we often hear high-horsed critics compete and criticize against the nature of how we react with our video games and we far too often come across studies of scientists, who’s experiments say that we play too much. This isn’t to say that devoting an unhealthy amount of time grinding levels in the latest MapleStory update or in the newest iteration of Call of Duty wouldn’t bring about various consequences. However, the reverse of these two ends is just as daunting. With titles releasing in plethora and ina a short amount of time, have embarking on new, virtual quests become limited? Is there such a thing as too many games?
We can surely recall our first encounter with a video game console or our first time at the local arcade joint. Wholeheartedly, we can all agree on how these games have (for the most part) positively impacted our lives and what made it that was simply due to two factors. There were so many games to play and, because of the lack of responsibilities that came with our youth, the seemingly unlimited amount of time that we had to explore them all was also present.
Beating Super Mario World in one sitting? Done. Saving the world of Ruin with the help of several friends in Final Fantasy VI? See you in about a week. Doing a speed run through Sonic the Hedgehog 2? Conquered in nearly an hour and we still have NBA Jam and Super Tecmo Bowl to haul us over for the rest of the night. Although not accurate for every gamer, childhood and early teenage years came with time so vast that it wasn’t even funny. Had our 16 and 32-bit pixel filled consoles of our yesteryear came with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 trophies and achievements, you can bet your bottom dollars that our younger selves in the past would have been able to complete them all with absolutely zero problem at all.
Doing that today? Not so much. Being a full-time or part-time anything means having to sacrifice. It means contributing far less time doing what you want to do. All the family matters and other business obligations also has strenuous tendency to activate our “sorry, something just came up” texts on our phone and the sad feeling of knowing that you’ll be too tired to see through some more dragon slaying in Skyrim.
Not all of us can devote every second of our lives to video games. That’s just the simple, heartbreaking truth. However, we can still game for a satisfying amount of time given a few adjustments to how we approach each title and how we go through games. My method for achieving the maximum amount of entertainment is pretty simple, so much that it consists of three simple guidelines that I both live by and always urge gamers to adhere to, especially when they tell me that they “don’t have time to play anymore.”
1. Focus on one game for one month.
Provided that you haven’t lived under a rock and have been playing video games for quite a while, I doubt that I need to reinform you of how expansive titles have gotten in these last few years. Action and role-playing games are likely to have missions and side missions, followed by some collectables and special costumes that you’d probably enjoy. First person shooters have campaign modes and often include online multiplayer modes, a mode that’s bound to suck you in for hours and hours. Fighting games and racing games are similar, unlocking moves, tracks, cars and fighters. That being said, it’s best to keep your attention to one game for a full month. Depending on how small or large the game is, there will be plenty of things to do should you find yourself interested in the title. If you’re tough on the amount of time you can spend, try gaming for an hour each day. Focus on completing two or three missions, stages, tracks or what have you. Do the same thing the next day, but switch it up. Focus on side missions or customization options. Get a feel for the narrative, even. But keep yourself down to two hours.
If you find that you have some more free time, try two or three hours, or even more if you find that your weekend isn’t as interesting as it should be. At the end of the day, you should keep to one game until you finish it. If you’re satisfied with the results of your play, you can move on to another title.
There is the option to focus on multiple games at one time, but the trick to this is that your game of choice has to be the one you’ll play for that particular day, and nothing else. This is so that you feel convoluted or overwhelmed, especially if you have other non-gaming errands to attend to. So the scenario goes: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on Monday, Street Fighter IV AE on Tuesday, Tomb Raider on Wednesday and so on.
2. Sell games that you haven’t played in years or ones that you don’t see yourself playing anymore, even if it’s brand new.
As a fan of most role-playing adventures released by Square-Enix, I could not stand Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, and as a result of my disapproval of several sessions with the game I decided that I no longer needed to dedicate my time to something that I flat out did not like. Selling it seems like a formidable option, but I may want to eventually come back to it later in hopes that I might find some enjoyment.
However, if you’ve gone through the experience of disliking a game even after a certain break period, then it’s time to sell it and use the exchange for something better. We often get caught up in being completionists rather than making sure we actually enjoy what we play. It makes no sense to endure bad games for the sake of achievements or trophies, nor does it merit any further sense to continue the painstakingly brutal experience for the sake of ‘getting your money’s worth.’ If you have a game that you dislike, sell it. Even if it’s brand spanking new. Trade it in to a store for something better.
As far as the games that you’ve had for a long time but never went back to them, you should sell those as well.
In general, selling your games serve the purpose of being able to free up shelf space for new games that you see yourself playing for months to come. With games releasing by the dozens and through various platforms—be it through steam, retail or virtual on-demand entertainment—it’s important to prioritize what you’re willing to play versus what you think you’ll find yourself playing later.
This isn’t to say that the season of gaming droughts don’t happen, which is usually the best time to return to titles that have been long forgotten. However, it’s imperative to cut ties from games that you realistically have no plans to return to, especially during the Summer or during the aforementioned season. It’s not because you don’t have time to play them, it’s because you’re no longer interested in the game, and subsequently will not play them.
However, if you think you can go back to long forgotten games when you find a bag of free time, apply step one to said titles.
3. Play With Friends
There’s no better way to heighten playtime than with a friend sitting right next to you. As it may relate to a handful of gamers, this is effective because it’s derivative from our pastimes, the old days when taking turns on Super Mario Bros. 3 made all the difference. Don’t believe me? Ask Game Grumps show hosts Danny and Arin.
Buddying up on a game can bring forth a myriad of conversations and the enjoyment of sharing the experience of completing games. Applying this step and the first step with a friend is what makes game experiences captivating. It’s what makes us recall memorable moments with our first Legend of Zelda or Mario Kart.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide how to utilize your time. These three steps are the main ingredients to strengthen the taste of your gaming dish. You don’t have to follow all of them, but it’s important that you at least come away from this little guide more knowledgeable and more ready to plan out your time wisely. There are too many games out there on the market, but with a little twist here and there, you may be able to conquer all of that the industry has to offer.