BY ALEX DAUGHERTY: I was psyched when Assassin’s Creed Odyssey released. It’s a great feeling when a game is released that you’ve been hyped about, that receives great reviews and, well, features Spartans. I know, I’m right there with you, totally sold on this. I squeezed the Best Buy visit into our errands that afternoon, thank you Gamers Club, and I now own the game.
But honestly, in a family of four having the thing you want to invest time into is half the battle. It gets shelved, but right before bed, I sneak five minutes to begin the download. Now I know that it is ready to play when I am, and so the next night I mentally block off time. I get a full-fledged forty-five minutes all to myself, just long enough to get through the intro and past the first quest.
Truth be told its more like an hour. When did the writing on screen get so small? Am I getting old? Not important – I have an entire day off from work the following day, and I tell myself that I’m going to put a serious dent in it then.
Only, I don’t.
My day is meticulously planned to allow me at least three hours of super uninterrupted play time, in theory. A mini vacation in my own living room. There’s just one thing I didn’t plan for: life.
Here I sit, having paid full price for a game (minus that sweet 20% discount) and in 72 hours I’ve only played about an hour, give or take. And the truth is, this is normal for me. This is my life now.
I remember the days when I would take a day off work when a new and exciting game had released. I would stay up late, wake up early, miss a family function, whatever it took, to complete Mass Effect or put another ten hours into Don’t Starve. I thought nothing of it.
And yet here I have Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at my fingertips, offering me a Witcher 3 experience in perhaps my most beloved historical setting, and I realize something is very different about myself. I’m not willing to stay up late. I am most definitely not waking up early. And I have a birthday party to drive to on Saturday for my eight-year-old, and I am willing to make small talk for five solid hours, so she can play and have fun and build those precious childhood memories.
I realized something very important today. I am growing up. I have all the time in the world for games but there are only so many birthday parties when you’re a child. I can play this thing the next time I get a cold, or perhaps I’ll have a Sunday all to myself out of the blue (hey, it happens, right? Probably?). I shall bide my gaming time because I can. There’s something special in that.
I had the option tonight to play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for thirty minutes before bed and, again, I passed. I decided to do something that perhaps would make someone feel a little better if they were running out of time: I wrote a quick little reminder that it is okay to put off gaming for a while. It will be there when you get back from that birthday party, or finish folding laundry, or wash the same pot for the sixth time this week because boiling things is what’s for dinner. And we’ve all got to eat, right?
Take it from someone who has a tried and true method. Finding time to game is not so much about hunting for the minutes it takes but spotting the opportunities as they arise. And, its all about getting a Switch so you can play Into The Breach whilst your significant other watches the latest episode of the Blacklist. Win and win. Plus, everyone in the family can play Mario Odyssey, another great game, but…no Spartans. You haven’t lived until you’ve Spartan-kicked someone off a cliff.
I will do that again next Sunday night. Maybe.