Gah!

So, it should be no surprise to anyone who has been following my Accomplishments posts that I haven’t really been playing video games as much anymore, and in general significantly less than I’d like.  But while I did keep trying to find time to fit games in, it wasn’t really bothering me all that much.  Until very recently, when I made a big mistake, and came across and started reading this blog about playing old RPGs.  And doing that got me feeling very frustrated about not being able to play video games, and ranting to myself about all the reasons why I can’t.  And that leads to this post where I rant about that to you.

Okay, so first, why did reading that site cause me so much consternation?  Because there are a number of games on there that I’ve wanted to replay for years and that I’m not at all close to being able to play, let alone replay.  Such as the Gold Box games (I have the GOG versions as well as some emulated versions).  Such as Sentinel Worlds I:  Future Magic (I have an emulated copy of that somewhere, probably provided by my friend).  Such as the Might and Magic games (I have the GOG versions of these).  And then thinking of that reminded me again of games like Icewind Dale (I have original disks for this one), Icewind Dale II (original disks and a Switch version), Planescape:  Torment (ditto) and Baldur’s Gate I and II (ditto).  And then the Fallouts as well (I have through New Vegas from GOG, I think).  So there’s a lot of old and not-so-old video games that I want to play, and the CRPG Addict’s tale of spending 10 years — up to now — trying to play all of those games simply reminded me of them.

That wouldn’t have really bothered me much, though, except that I had already been a bit annoyed at not being able to play games, and had recently just reworked my schedule to try to fit some in and was trying to figure out what to play.  I had been trying to find a game that I wanted to play that I could play for about an hour or two when I had time.  Now, again, on its own that would have been mildly annoying, especially since I couldn’t find a game.  I have the remastered Mass Effect Trilogy on tap, and loaded up the original Mass Effect game that I had started with a Barbara Gordon expy (again, like the first time, I was playing with the character creator and noted that the default looked a lot like Dina Meyers’ “Birds of Prey” version), and was surprised to note that I had, in what had to be only a couple of  sessions, played it for over 10 hours.  And then took an hour to finish the Terra Nova mission, and realized that this was really not going to be the sort of game that I could play for an hour.  I’d already decided that that was true for a new game of Wizardry 8 that I’d started by creating the Gilligan’s Island characters, because there’s lots of combat that can often run long.  I also have a Human Noble play of Dragon Age:  Origins on tap that I started with the GOG version so that I’d get a chance to play all of the DLC, and mused that it might work although its areas can get a bit long.  And I had tried to run Sith Lords but it kept crashing on my new laptop before getting into the game, so I’d have to play it on my older gaming system.

So my mind was already on these things, and then the blog came along and added a number of other options, and then that reminded of other options — some Vita RPGs, for example — and a bunch of older console RPGs on the PS2 and … Gah!  Thinking overload!

(Which, to be honest, I’m prone to.  The entire reason this blog exists is to allow me to stop thinking about things so I can think about other things).

Okay, so even though I was being overwhelmed with options, the real issue was not the number of options but the fact that I didn’t think that any of them would really work for me.  One issue was the issue that I’d had previously, kinda dropped, but has returned:  I work from home all day and so work in the office(bedroom) that I use for my main computers all day.  At the end of the day, it is kinda nice to get out of that room and into the living room, and so I wanted to play games that I could play there.  So games that will play on my newer laptop and on my consoles.  But Sith Lords and another good candidate — Disciples 2 — only play on my older gaming system due to it seems operating system incompatibilities that I don’t really want to take the time to fix, especially given the options.  Even then, with the laptop and with the PS4 and PS3 and Switch and the Vita and the PS2 there were a ton of options.  But I kept running into the issue of “I need to be able to play these games for about an hour or two a day in the couple of days a week that I can play games.  I might get some more time than that, but can’t count on it.”  Which leaves out the big game that I really, really should play sometime, Persona 5 Royal.

And as is my wont, this got me pondering why that was.  While in the past I’d had issues playing games, it was never really this bad, and really only happened for a few months at a time when I was really busy (and sometimes I played more when I was really busy because I let everything else slide).  And this got me thinking about how since I’ve been working from home my schedule has been a lot tighter than it used to be, even though in theory I’ve lost about an hour a day of a commute to work.  And it isn’t that being able to work from home has meant that I work longer hours, because other than some late meetings every second week I haven’t been, mostly because I haven’t had the time.  So what’s taking up my time.

One big thing that I’ve lost is Sundays.  Because I’m working from home, I’m not eating out much.  Or, rather, at all, as I haven’t bought anything from any kind of restaurant for about 9 months now, and that was to freeze it in preparation from Christmas.  So what it makes the most sense for me to do is cook things ahead and then have stuff that I can heat up during the day when people at work aren’t bugging me (usually early in the morning since I start early).  So my Sundays are taken up with my weekly grocery run, cooking for the week, eating, doing dishes, and doing laundry.  And while this costs me an entire day, it’s actually a lot less stressful for me to do things this way and so is working out pretty well for me.

Of course, the problem is that before Sunday afternoons and potentially mornings were the times when I go do a lot of things, like playing games.  And that’s gone away pretty much completely, so aside from writing some blog posts or possibly doing some reading pretty much everything else that I would do there has to be done some other time.  So the big thing to move to is Saturdays, but that isn’t as free as I’d like for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I have a lot of things to put there — cleaning, other basic errands, and the blog — that pretty much takes up that day.  If I happened to have a morning free on Saturday, I also have The Old Republic to fit in there, since that definitely requires a long session to play — I like to do one planet in a session, which takes me about 3 – 4 hours — and so wouldn’t have time to do any general thing.  So that leaves me a little time on Saturday afternoons, but I’ve been cooking something to eat on Saturdays and doing that requires me to do the dishes, especially since I’ve often left some from the week that need to be done.  But of course when cooking on Sunday I will generate enough dishes to have to do them again.  And before anyone suggests that a dishwasher might help, it’s not the general plates and the like that take time, but the pots and pans from the cooking, which need more attention than most dishwashers can give them.  So my time is limited on Saturday afternoons, but I do have some time there (I recently played some arcade and board games in this time, and am trying to do that more regularly).  That being said, that time ends up being about the same as I have most weekdays, which then is a bit shorter than I’d like.

So why is that?  Well, as it turns out, there are some constraints on my time, especially on weekdays, that I didn’t really have before.  The first one is my push to get through my stack of TV shows on DVD.  In order to do that in any reasonable amount of time, I want to spend a significant amount of time on them a night.  For hour long shows, that was usually at least an hour and a half (two episodes or half a disk).  But that last sentence hints at another constraint, which is that how I watch these things is to stop doing everything for the night, shut off the lights, and just watch them.  Because of that, I’d like to not have to get up and change the disk in between.  While watching hour long shows, watching two episodes allowed me to do that, but also would drag the shows out pretty long, but watching an entire disk would generally leave my evenings a bit short.  Some of the shows I watched had more episodes on a disk, which pushed me to push that time out a bit longer but to finish series faster.  And Crave shows worked well because I could watch as many episodes as I wanted without having to worry about disks at all, so I pretty much started it when I finished my other stuff for the day.  But half hour shows have more and sometimes a variable number of episodes per disk, so I settled in to watching about 2.5 hours of shows a day.  That left me a total of four hours in my evening, which seems like more than enough.

Except that I have other things to do in that time as well.  Since I eat early, I have to eat something at some point (usually something light).  That takes a bit of time.  While I’ve been taking a break from it, one of the other reasons to eat early is so that I can play Ring Fit Adventure without being full and getting sick.  So I lose at least an hour to those things.  And then I’m modding Arkham Horror games again, and usually need to update every day.  That takes me about a half hour to an hour.  So you can imagine that if I balanced everything perfectly I’d have about two hours to play games in the evening.  Hence, a game that I can play for about an hour or two and make progress.

(And, of course, I’m not a master at time management either.  There are all sorts of times when I could do things but then get distracted reading or watching something or playing around that I later lament that I could have just done one of the things that I’d been wanting to do for a while).

And even there I only have about two days where I can do that, because of the other things I want to do.  One big time sink for me right now is the blog.  I’m proud of keeping up my “every weekday” posting rate, but it does mean that I spend a lot of time writing blog posts.  A horror movie post takes me about a half hour to and hour to write, as does the “Philosophy in Popular Culture” post.  The commentary on general movies and TV shows can take a half hour to an hour and a half, depending on how detailed I want to get.  The longer philosophy posts always take over an hour and can take two or more depending on how deep the topic is, as do the Deep Dive posts that I’ve been making lately.  That takes up a significant amount of time, but I like doing it and am happy to do so.  But if things take longer on the weekends than I anticipated or don’t feel like writing blogs there, then it eats into my weekday afternoon times.

And then there’s general reading.  I’ve been working through a number of fiction and philosophical books for the last while, and trying to finish them.  Although I read a lot at pretty much any time (like when I’m eating), there’s some pressure for me to read in the afternoons and evening to get through them.  As it stands, they’re going slower than I’d like but quickly enough (I’m doing Tad Williams’ “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” series right now and then going to re-read “Lord of the Rings” before reloading with something else, while working through some Nietzche as well).  But that takes up time and can happen every day.  I also bought a lot of books with logic puzzles and really want to get into them.  And then there’s the two longer meetings every second week.  And I need to find time to watch at least one horror movie a week to keep that running (and as seen above they are great to watch and write ahead because they don’t take a lot of time).  So I lose even more time to play video games.

Which them leads to the conclusion to this entire thought chain:  I am not playing games as much as I’d like, and that can be a bit frustrating, but in general it’s a matter of priorities and I think that my priorities are right.  I didn’t realize how much losing Sundays would impact my time in general, but I still think that what I do there really works for me.  I probably need to manage my time later, but at the same time I think it’s good for my mental health to sometimes just goof off and not do anything important. 

Because the one thing that I’ve been grumbling to myself about for a while is that I no longer seem to do anything just for fun anymore.  My reading is often things that I want to read for a reason and to write about.  What I watch I watch to ultimately write about.  Writing the blog is something that I do to do it, not just because I feel like it.  And everything else is some sort of work.  While I do enjoy most of the things I do, it’s not very often that I do it just for fun without it doing something else for me as well.  Times where I just say “Screw it” and do something just for the heck of it are important to me, as well.  I probably just need to make sure that everything else is under control first before I do that (or be willing to face the consequences of that.  Which I’m pretty good at by now).

One Response to “Gah!”

  1. Video Game General Comments | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] last week I talked about my frustrations with playing video games, brought on by reading “The CRPG […]

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