A challenge I’ve always struggled with since graduating college was juggling video games, career, and wife. In 2006, I added a child to the mix. As if my game time was hurting enough I added another child in 2009. On any given day I work 9 hours, eat dinner with my family, spend time with my two kids, perform duties as a freelancer, and if my eyes haven’t closed I find my way over the Xbox 360 for Borderlands 2.
Since Borderlands 2 was released I’ve witnessed friends in double digits reach level 50 on my friend list. At first I found this to be a little depressing. I absolutely love the game, and I have some envy wondering which of the 87 bazillion guns they’re likely using. I want to see the areas of Pandora they have seen, and I sometimes feel I am missing out on the experience. This is the first game I haven’t really been able to dedicate an ample amount of time to upon release. At least, one that I was looking forward to for so long. It hit me harder when one of my friends who have reached level 50 status sent a message to me over Xbox LIVE:
How are you not a higher level yet?
I’m currently level 15.
Recent responsibilities have put video games on a lower level of importance for me. It was hard to accept at first. I’m used to playing video games at a minimum of a couple of hours a day. It helped me keep up with a lot things happening in-game as well as many of my friends. This past month couldn’t have been a worse month for me to have the sequel to a more recent favorite release. By the time 10 p.m. rolls around I’m actually thinking about work, or bed, and not video games. This could be a trend. *shudders*
The reality is Borderlands 2 will always be there for me when I do have that time. I found myself questioning why I always had to go and beat the crap out of a game right away. Whether I play a game tonight or tomorrow, the game won’t progress without me. So why am I always in a rush? The truth? I didn’t need to be.
Cold, shadowy fingers tightened around my lungs and forced me to wake from sleep. I lunged forward from my pillow and looked around the dark bedroom. When I stopped worrying that it could be Slenderman standing in the corner of my room, I was able to clear my head.
My anxiety was from the fact that some of my favorite franchises are starting to move to persistent online worlds which evolve over real-time whether I’m there or not. People can play in those games without me and their progress could have adverse affects on my instances. What’s worse is what if I can’t get online for days and can’t help my friends in their games?
Players who have the time can really take advantage of how games are shaped, while people who are finding that their schedules increasingly shortened are subject to their will. These fears, while unproven, do strike a chord with me especially with the future games like SimCity. This lifelong gamer doesn’t really know what the future holds and is going through changes. I would prefer a second puberty over deciding how to fit video games in my life.
Is There Hope?
When I look in the mirror in the morning I see someone who has hope. This could only be a phase. I am very busy right now. My kids will get older and get more independent in time. I’m not always going to be essentially working two jobs. Roughly 7 years ago I couldn’t have predicted where the gaming industry would be, and I honestly can’t do that looking forward today. The things I mentioned, and other worries, are unfounded. I don’t know what next-gen will bring nor do I know where my life will be. I’m playing games now that I had no interest in even 3 years ago.
We’re entering the busiest video game buying season, and the reality is I need to get a grip. There will be time to game. I need to keep calm and game on. I may be a full-time family man and part-time vault hunter, but I still get to be a vault hunter. There are people out there that don’t get to live at least some parts of their lives in the beautifully dangerous world of Pandora. There’s the glimmer of hope I needed. Although, I’m still checking at night for Slenderman. That shit is scary.
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