Archive for April, 2011

Wasting Time?

First a Warning

In the last 2 weeks, I was at my dad’s side as he passed away and spoke at his memorial service. I say this not for sympathy sake, but to simply say that my thoughts this morning are more philosophical in nature than typical MMO design related.

The Great Lie

I have often told people that in my opinion the greatest lie we tell ourselves is “I don’t have time for…” The reality is that each of us have the same 24 hours in a day. And we each make choices about how we spend those hours. The way we choose to spend those hours, however, does say something about what is important to us.

Now in the past when I’ve said this to someone, I’ve heard things like “I don’t have a choice, I have to go to work.” To which I reply “Of course you have a choice. You could choose not to go to work. But then you may lose your job, be unable to pay your bills, etc. The truth is that you’ve decided that paying your bills, buying food, and such is more important to you than not going to work.”

The Value of Leisure Time

For myself, I have always maintained that I need a certain level of leisure time in my day. I’ve found that if I don’t have some sort of release for the stresses of my day that I can become so tense and frustrated that I become less able to focus on the tasks at hand and eventually my health even suffers.

I think that most people benefit from some “down time”. Whether that is watching TV, reading a book, painting, sewing, carpentry or playing computer games.

Does “Game Time” = “Wasted Time”

I have had some people (mostly family members) argue that it is wasted. They assert that time spent on frivolous things like computer games could be spent more wisely on other pursuits. Basically, the argument goes that if I spent the hours that I normally spend on gaming learning something new I would somehow be a better person.

I won’t dispute that learning a new language, studying some new software system for my job, or some other endeavor along those lines would have benefits. And it is hard sometimes to argue logically that those benefits would be outweighed by any therapeutic benefit to playing games.

How Much Down Time

I guess the matter comes to how much “down time” is really needed? While I hold to my previous statement that I do need some time to decompress, I can also be aware enough to know that sometimes I have used that as an excuse to overindulge. It can be the same as anything that people do for enjoyment.

Having a glass of wine with dinner because you like it and it helps relax you after a long day is different than drinking a whole bottle of wine every night. Or having a bowl of chocolate ice cream for dessert is different than eating a whole quart every day.

Anything we like and enjoy can become an obsession that can hurt us if we allow it to.

Judgment

In the end, the question of whether you are wasting time or not is a personal one. I guess one way that I use to gauge it is whether I am using time playing games that should be spent on other things that I should be doing. For instance, are dirty dishes piling up and attracting flies because “I don’t have time to wash them”, but I do have time to login and check my auction house sales? Or am I re-wearing dirty socks because I didn’t get around to doing laundry this week, but I managed to ding level 50 last night?

I guess that I’m saying that for me, choosing to play games instead of studying the latest Microsoft Exchange release notes is a choice I can live with. I only start to feel like I’m wasting time with games when I am sacrificing my own or my family’s health and well-being due to too much time in games.

What’s the Point?

I guess there is no real “point” to this other than to express some of what I’ve been thinking about over the past few days. And maybe to encourage you to think about how you are spending your time as well. Thanks for reading. I’ll get back to talking about my views on game design issues sometime soon.

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