There is a maxim that refers to the three stages of life, and how these three stages govern the management of free time. To relate it to gaming is not hard. As children, we have no money, but a veritable abundance of free time. For many of us, this is how our gaming habit takes root. Long nights (mis)spent exploring cavernous dungeons or aboard extraplanetary vessels, our imaginations caught like ships amidst digital storms. As school or college students, we have more money, but less free time. Where previously we could consume infinite amounts of experience, we must begin to better focus our gaming habits. It is at this stage that we will normally commence honing our skills in a particular area.
The next stage is adulthood. For the purposes of categorisation, I define adulthood as the moment when you enter into full-time employment. At this stage, money becomes something to which you have much easier access. You learn (hopefully) to save and to invest your hard-earned coinage in valuable returns, be that World of Warcraft, or the latest modern military shooter. Of course, all of this time spent earning directly translates to less available time to play. Often, we must bid adieu to gaming all-nighters, or even more simply the idea of just daily gaming. Free time becomes windowed and highly-focused. If we have an hour to indulge ourselves, we must carefully decide how that hour shall be spent. This week I’d like to bend your ear on a particular subject that has gradually become ever-increasingly noticeable in my gaming habits throughout the past few years: Game difficulty settings.
|Merely looking at this thing |
makes me nostalgia like woah.
In fact, it wasn’t until I purchased my Xbox 360, and was playing Call of Duty 2 side by side with a similarly newly-consoled friend of mine, that my eyes were opened to the worlds of Hard mode. In Call of Duty, it took on the title of Veteran, and was already more enticing after that mere name change. As I loaded the game and dived in Normal difficulty (by this stage, I felt I had truly graduated to the level of a norm), my friend stopped and stared at me. ‘You don’t play on Veteran? Don’t you want to get the achievements for it?’ I protested that I’d rather have fun finishing the game than spend my time getting frustrated by impossible challenges. ‘Chris, these modes are designed for the likes of you and I. They’re for people who know how to play games.‘ Said friend was a master of encouragement and influence, I must confess, and after not much further debate, I had started a new path towards the world of the ‘Hardcore Gamer’. I was so Hardcore. So very, very Hardcore. You cannot begin to fathom the molecular bonds of that core I had. Bro, it was dense.
|This young lad is experiencing some serious PS1-era Fiero|
As time has passed, however, I have incrementally ascended into adulthood and jumped forth into the world of work. Grinding at the ol’ 9-6 leaves me with perhaps two or three hours maximum of game time per evening, and after a hard day’s work, it can sometimes be hard to face the prospect of almost insurmountable obstacles. Where some choose the passivity of television, I am still loyal to my gaming roots, but now I seek out quicker satisfactions. I no longer have time to spend five hours wrapped up in passing an Act in Gears of War. Instead, I have moved into turn-based games, or more particularly games which do not require an inordinate amount of invested time in which to become good at them. While I’m not particularly drawn to them, I have full confidence that my entrails would be strewn amusedly across the ground were I ever foolish enough to try a deathmatch game of Modern Warfare 3. I am no more the Hardcore gamer that I was, but does that make my contribution to gaming any less? Can one be Easycore and proud?
As life moves further on, I expect I’ll eventually be blessed with offspring who will then command even further chunks of my time. Gamer parents in particular humble me with their time management skills. So I put it to you, dear VGW readers: How much time do you spend gaming? And which pressures, if any, do you feel bearing down on you throughout?