My main hobby is video games. Not just playing them, but reading about them, learning about advances in technology or limitations and news… oh, so much news, my RSS reader (yes, but I can’t think of a better way to keep track of ‘my stories’) regularly hit 100 articles a day. I’m not sure if it’s a change in lifestyle or simply getting older but there is just not enough time for video games in my life.
So this is somewhat of a first world problem – I have too much to play. My love of video games means I own a fair few consoles; at present a PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS Vita, Wii U, not to mention a Mac, iPhone and iPad. They all have their own games and the upsurge in indie development means there’s just as much worth playing that is a lower price (so I’ll buy more) and with a shorter development time (so more are available). The volume of quality titles are more prevalent than ever.
I have to play these games. Yes, I’m addicted. But it’s not just that – the online connectivity and social communities that join, follow and then abandon each new release for the next mean that if you miss the boat at the start then you miss out on the experience. I remember getting to Ghost Recon a bit late once everyone had moved onto Call of Duty. The hardcore community that was left spent most of their time hiding in bushes once you finally managed to get a game. Fun? Nope. Was it fun when it was bustling with players experimenting with game types and hunting each other on release weekend? I hear it was amazing. A friend had a similar experience with Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. One of my favourite multiplayer experiences ever, it was all I played at one time. However the learning curve was so steep and the investment so great to be competitive that after a while you frequently came across the same players in matchmaking. For a new player that joined, the term ‘Baptism of Fire’ was a gross understatement.
There are exceptions of course, split between AAA major releases and those which stimulate a hardcore or dedicated community. But this forces me to get on at the ground floor and put time in straight away. But it’s not just video games that fight for my attention. There is so much other content specifically produced for every possible audience that is available at your fingertips. I have a Netflix subscription, Amazon Prime, Sky TV, WWE Network – all of these great value and bought for a different reason, but with it comes a huge amount of content. And box sets, oh box sets – the new season of House of Cards is available. Fantastic show. But that’s a solid 13 hours I need to get through before I stumble across any spoilers, I work 8.30-6pm, I need to eat and sleep within that plus play all those games!
Don’t get me started on music and podcasts. I love music, chilling out and listening to it is among my favourite things. One click, a new album is yours instantly. Podcasts – so much choice, they all auto download to your phone. Each week I have around 7-8 hours of podcasts to listen to. The demands for the attention of a digital consumer are great.
This is a bit ‘woe is me’. I’m very fortunate. But to deal with all this content has required me to make some deliberate choices. Only a few years ago I would buy nearly every game. Every major release, play it, and eBay within a few weeks. Then it moved onto game rentals, and now I have a fairly good idea on what I will actually enjoy, I hold off for those. And that’s the key – am I really enjoying this, what do I really want to play? What do I really want to listen to, and what I am doing just because of my slightly obsessive, completionist personality drives me to (probably caused by years of trying to 100% video games). Sure, some things I will double up on – Netflix while playing Vita, Xbox One whilst watching Amazon Prime on iPad, podcasts at the same time as League of Legends. But ultimately the best way I have found to cope is ask myself – do I really want to spend time on this? If the answer is ‘no’ then why spend time doing it? After all, that’s the most precious thing I have available, and to give to the producers of this content: my time.