Monday, November 14, 2011

Top 3 Reasons Why K No Longer Buys Video Games (As Much)

As a bachelor with disposable income, K used to visit GameStop every Tuesday to "browse" the latest releases (and inevitably take a few home). Any time he was stressed out or in a bad mood, a new video game or movie DVD from Best Buy was sure to cheer him up. And besides, playing a wide range of games helps him design better games, riiight? ^_~ However, in the past few years, I've noticed that K has been buying fewer and fewer video games, so I decided to confront him about this interesting trend and here's what he said:

1) A Waste of Time
I know this might be controversial to say, but it's true: video games (VGs) are not the best use of time. No need to get defensive on me; I can extol the virtues of VGs all day long, but come on, there have to be some negatives and one is that they take time. The older I get, the more I realize how little time we have on Earth, and I could be using those VG-playing hours to actually accomplish something. How about actually making my own VG or writing a book or fila movie? It really hit me when I listened to a podcast by one of my favorite fantasy authors, Brandon Sanderson, who said he used to play 8 hours of VGs a day. But he ultimately decided he needed to give them up in order to pursue his dream of writing books for a living. That story really resonated with me because I would rather be making my own stories than playing others' stories.

2) Finite Waking Hours
It also seems like the older I get, the busier I am. I just don't have tons of free time on my hands like I used to in my 20's. Gaming is a big time commitment, so with the number of games I buy, I can't spend 30 to 40 hours per title. And then there's no good way to "pause" in the middle of playing a game; if you put it down for a while, you completely forget what you were doing when you try to pick it up again (Oblivion, anyone?). So why not just buy fewer games? As a designer, I really need have more breadth than depth in gaming experience. I can't stand VG developers who don't play games (more on that later). So I find myself downloading a lot of demos or choosing to go deeper with a particular game to figure how a system works.

3) The Methadone Factor
In the past, my game-buying habit mostly involved VGs for handheld consoles because, well, no hardcore gamer can be without a system for long. However, ever since getting a smart phone, I find myself only rarely buying new retail portable titles. With all the gaming apps out there, they satisfy my need for bite-sized entertainment. The quality isn't as good but it's cheap and readily available, so unfortunately I end up settling for it because of the convenience factor of always having my phone on me. If an anticipated portable game comes along (like Super Mario 3D Land), then I'll take the extra effort to carry around my handheld again. As much as I dread it, they'll eventually solve the control issues on smart phones, making handhelds as obsolete as standalone GPS devices.

In summary, it's totally an age thing. In my 20's, I thought nothing of putting in long gaming hours. But when you have more responsibilities, like a wife and kids, there's no point in buying games if they just end up staying in the original shrinkwrap. Time is precious; you can either spend your time in other people's creations or you can make your own. And I'm the kind of person that isn't satisfied with the former.


Anonymous said...

Very good interview and insight! My husband plays to unwind his brain and to simply enjoy the fun of it. It's about balance though, knowing when it's enough. Like for me, I enjoy looking at art both in real life and online. I enjoy the talents of others and it's inspiring. Yet, there IS a limit because I too need time to create, clean house, cook, and my favorite, invest in others.

A Gamer's Wife said...

Yeah, it's a tricky balance, especially since K feels the need to play a minimal amount to keep current in the VG industry. Not that he doesn't play for fun as well, of course. ;)