How Do People Have Time For Video Games?

Life can be hard in the 21st Century, especially when you don't have the time to play video games. Actually, does anyone?
Uncharted video games time
Oh, Uncharted, I'll always have time for you. | © Naughty Dog

Have you ever had that feeling where you really want to play a game or two, but just can't find the energy or will to do so? It can be so much easier to switch on a Netflix show, make some nachos and veg in front of the television for a couple of hours. It can be so much easier to whip out a great book, make a cup of tea and chill. It can be so much easier to do things that require little to no brain capacity but are nowhere near as rewarding as sitting down to play a great game, solve some puzzles, and have a jolly ol' time. I mean, who has the time for video games when we're living such complicated, stressful and exhausting lives?

I can assure you that I, at least quite often, most certainly don't have time for such things. You try your best, of course, to keep up-to-date on releases, and especially when you're a gaming journalist, make sure that you know the s**t that you're writing about. Now, please don't see this column as a slight on video games, but more of a love letter of longing to the games that I've missed over the years due to pure exhaustion and a lack of time. There are many of those, from the latest Horizon game, to my attempts at getting the time for Elden Ring at the moment, to eventually giving up on Breath of the Wild back in 2017.

Picture this: you've been working for eight hours, barely getting even a break to have a quick sandwich, you come home, cook dinner, eat, and find that it's already 10PM. You're feeling weak, tired, stressed, annoyed about various things, and want to also spend some valuable time with your partner. What are you going to do? Well, you might crack open a cold one and chill on the balcony with her/him/them, eat some snacks and shoot the s**t. You might watch some television, maybe catch up on that final season of This is Us or Gilmore Girls. Perhaps you're feeling like more of a vegetable than usual, so you chuck on some Seinfeld and open a packet of crisps. Perhaps you haven't caught up on the latest stories in your favourite magazine, so you read that with a nice cup of black tea. Or perhaps you need to prepare some stuff for tomorrow, or the weekend, or call a relative who you haven't talked to in a good long while. Maybe you just really need a nice few hours at the pub, playing some Pool with your mates. What do you not really have time for? Video games.

It's not that you don't want to play video games, per-se, it's that you simply don't have the time or energy for something that you know is going to take you hours upon hours to complete. Take Elden Ring, for example. This is an absolutely wonderful game, with a ridiculous amount of extremely high-quality content, tons of weapons to find, bosses to beat and things to discover. It also takes a very long time to progress through it, as you need to level up your character a great deal before you can even think about taking on some of the game's harder bosses. So far I have played 10-15 hours of the game (don't worry, I ain't writing our guides for Elden Ring, that would be the F-Man himself - seriously, people, listen to The EarlyGame Podcast, it's available on Spotify and all of the usual platforms [shameless plug, of course]), and I am yet to really progress. I love it, I am having an absolute blast, but the likelihood of me having 100+ hours to play this game? Yeah, that ain't happening. It's just not.

In the end, Elden Ring will fall into that inevitable bucket of "Too Long, Didn't Play" (TLDP?) and will sit at 30-40 hours of playtime, with limited success, for the rest of my [hopefully] long life. It's the same for the likes of Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, or if I ever pick up Horizon: Forbidden West. There are so many games that fit into this category because so many developers are opting to make games (if they are not multiplayer ones) that have so much content that it is nearly impossible to fully complete them. Again, that's not a complaint (though I do feel that there should be more linear games available for people who don't have that much time on their hands), it's just the sad reality of the situation. It is actually incredible that games offer us so much these days, and it seems like the days of a sixty-dollar game taking only four hours to complete are truly over, but it does come with its list of set-backs.

The reality is that people like me, people who don't have those 100 hours in the bank, are going to have to focus their efforts on drop-in drop-out games like multiplayer titles (things like Call of Duty or Halo), or will end up focusing nearly entirely on nugget-sized Indie games. Again, there's nothing wrong with that, but it is true that games like The Last of Us or God of War, which clock in at around twenty or so hours and are largely linear single-player and story-based games, don't come out nearly as often as these bigger titles. The fact is that I am more likely to make it to the new Kirby game because it is more manageable, and I can play it on the go, then something like Forbidden West. It's also supposed to be amazing. That does help, to be fair. Is it just me, though, do other people also struggle to find the time for these big-ass games.

In writing this column, an idea for another column actually comes to mind, because it really is so true: that old-guard opinion of video games being a mindless waste of time is truly bulls**t. It requires a lot of skill to get good at a video game, a lot of brain capacity to solve puzzles left and right, and a whole lot of effort to get yourself into it in the first place. That's what is so attractive about a shooter like Warzone, for example, because once you have worked on it a bit it doesn't take much to launch yourself into a round or two when you have the time. The same goes for a lot of Nintendo games, but didn't go for Breath of the Wild, for example, because it was so big and time-consuming. You end up playing more of a game like Wordle or Hearthstone because it is right at your finger tips when you're taking your daily commute. In the end, that's the whole point, right? Video games are an incredible way to spend your spare time as they keep your brain active whilst you are relaxing, similar to if you were doing something like reading a good book.

This is where I will throw it back to you, the audience: how do you find time to play video games, amongst the pangs and throws of everyday life? What about all of those gamer mums and dads out there, what do you do to get your daily dose of gaming goodness? I am curious not because I want to get some sick-ass engagement on Facebook or anything (though, I'm not gonna lie, that would be hella-nice [insert winky face here]!) but because I want some tips and tricks for myself. How can I get myself that wonderful few hours to play video games each and every week? It's a hard question, but one that I'm sure that y'all will be able to help me out with. Until next week, cheerio!

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