Saturday, March 21, 2015

The working class or busy student gamer survival guide

There are a lot of things that we talk about gaming everyday, but it is not too often that we get into the topic of how our gaming experience changes as we get older. I'm sure anybody over 25 (unless you are rich or have somebody paying for your hobby) can relate to this, as reality and life itself clashes with the things you love to do (like gaming). Today I am going to do a little guide that gives some tips on how to keep your gaming experience as intact as possible while at the same time tending to your adulthood. Now, without any more delay, let's jump right in.

I have nothing to play
Nothing to play... If you only dedicated 20 minutes to each game or course.
1) Focus your gaming time into whatever you want the most.
You may remember the days where gaming meant play everything and master every game you touch. Well, if you are reading this it is possible that this is not so easy for you as it was 5-10 years ago. At times you most likely feel like you are not enjoying your game so much and this is because you are not advancing as much as you would like in the games that you play. You may play that epic story based game you bought for a while, but then all of a sudden you change to an online multiplayer, played a couple hours and went back to your epic solo adventure to play a little more and so on, giving scraps to each game.

At the end of the week you will notice that you haven't really progressed that much in either of them and that pisses you off and makes you feel like you wasted money on both, but before you quit gaming altogether, know that there is a solution to that problem and that is to choose a side. If you want to play your solo adventure to the very end then stick to it. If you just want to play with your friends, level up, complete the game while playing with others or just compete with other players, then do it. There is no wrong option as long as you stick to it and enjoy it. Believe me when I tell you that trying to do everything at once is just as waste of time after which you will end up with a bunch of unfinished games piling up and reminding you about how little free time you now have, its depressing.

Simpsons Mob
Almost impossible to avoid once you get focused.
2) Be prepared for a backlash.
If you are already a focused gamer, then you most probably have received a lot of criticism because of it. This rather unpleasant situation happens when focusing your gaming time to fit what you want to play when you want to play it, makes you look like an asshole in front of other people. When other gamers that are close to you (like friends or siblings) have more free time than you or when they just have different interests, they will see you like an outcast because you are not flowing into their collective. This is completely normal and no reason for you to feel discouraged.

What you need to do is to be prepared and stand your ground. After all, you buy games for your entertainment so just don't let anybody tell you what to play or when to play it. If you at some point coincide with them, then enjoy it to the fullest, but don't dedicate yourself to following the opinions of others because you no longer have the time to afford such luxury. You are no longer the 17 year old kid who could please everybody because you could play all day, everyday so grow a backbone and play whatever suits you at the moment, regardless of any criticism or peer pressure.

Gaming vs distractions
You decide who wins...
3) Forget about modern distractions while you play.
Gaming in this day and age is not the same as it used to be. Back in the past, a gamer's environment was most likely composed of a gaming console/pc and a tv/monitor (with the occasional gaming magazines thrown around the room). Now the current gaming environment has a lot more distractions coming from an always connected world. Now you have social networks, instant messaging applications, push notifications, email notifications, different types of news in your face all the time and all those kinds of modern life components that are quite useful... If you are not trying to play a video game.

Trying to get immersed into a game world or just enjoying a play session with your friends becomes really annoying when the cellphone is always getting in the way, your computer is full of people trying to make small talk (getting angry if you don't respond) or web services are bombarding you with information that takes you away from the game. The best thing you can do against all this is to temporarily ignore them or get some auto-messaging software that can tell people that you are busy. (if any of you know about a good one for Facebook I would be glad if you could share it with me). Contrary to popular belief, doing this is really good for your social life, because then when you spend time with somebody you will not be ignoring him/her in 10 minute intervals because you just cannot put your eyes away from your phone screen.

Burned out brain
Believe it or not, burn out also applies to gaming.
4) Whatever you do avoid burn out (not the game).
The fact that you like certain types of games doesn't mean that you have to be only playing that. Tip #1 may had been about focusing your gaming time, but that doesn't mean playing the same thing until you hate it. From time to time you need to take a breather and play something simple. Getting one of those mobile time wasters (without falling into the micro-transaction scam), downloading some demos or trying some indie games can be real good to your overall gaming experience. This kind of thing makes you feel relaxed and eases the tension of a gaming industry that moves a lot faster than you can follow. In fact, it doesn't even have to be about gaming, as you could just go outside, take a nap, watch a movie or any other one of those things you like to do beside gaming.

This kind of thing is also an old trick used to clear your mind when you get stuck in a game. Instead of spending more time than you have, trying to get past that nasty boss, just get off from the game for a while and try something else. Neuroscientists say that the human brain pieces together information way after initially getting it, so give some rest to your organic computer and let it work while you think on something different.

"Once processed in short-term memory, our brain’s neural pathways carry these memories to the structural core, where they are compared with existing memories and stored in our long-term memory, the vast repository of everything we have ever experienced in our lives.  This process occurs in an instant, but it is not always perfect."

The "not always perfect" part is what makes this tip necessary. If you want to read the rest of the article you can find it HERE.

The sky is the limit unless you limit yourself.
5) Never lose your sense of adventure!
This doesn't mean that you have to make a backpack and head to the wilderness as if you were the explorer guy in Pitfall. NOT losing your sense of adventure is all about keeping the same excitement you always had for gaming. It is understandable that been starved of time and having to do all sorts of things in order to keep been a gamer regardless of your age can make you a little too picky about games in general, but overall been too picky harms more than it helps. The gaming industry is bigger than ever and there are a lot of games coming from a lot of places, so getting into a "bleh" attitude can only take you so far. For example, don't be one of those people that talks trash about every indie game without even trying it.

Remember the days when you tried anything regardless of how stupid and senseless it looked? Remember all those "what the hell" moments that happened when playing that game you picked at the video club just because the box art looked cool? There were no "bleh" or "meh" feelings in those times were they? Well, that's the kind of enthusiasm you need to keep in order to fully enjoy your experience as a gamer while been a responsible adult at the same time. It is not easy to pull off, but once you do, it is very rewarding.

Wrapping it up
Well, folks there you have it. A small survival guide for any gamer over 25 who feels like he/she is spread too thin between adult life and gaming. Of course there are other things that affect how gaming is personally perceived after certain age, but keep in mind that you can do still do something to enjoy gaming and be the hardcore gamer you have always been.

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