Ever feel like keeping up with your hobby sometimes gets to be more of a chore than a past time? Not that you don’t enjoy it when you’re doing it, but that you almost have to schedule what you’ll be doing next in order to keep on top of the latest releases? I’ve been getting that a lot over that last year or so, both for my gaming and reading schedule. For the reading, it’s usually down to comics being out of stock mid-series and other ongoing series getting backed up while I’m tracking down the missing ones. So, that one is pretty much out of my control. The gaming on the other hand, is a creature entirely of my own creation.
Time Is Of The Essence
Normally, I’m happy enough to coast behind the times and pick a game up months later, in a sale, after all the bugs have been patched out. This year has been an exception. There have been more releases I’ve wanted on day one and, with the indie market booming on the Switch, more tiny games have been adding to the pile. It doesn’t help that most of them have been massive in terms of time investment. Uncharted wasn’t so bad, but the likes of Persona 5, Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, Divinity 2 and Far Cry 5 all took a hefty time investment. I found I was barely halfway through one before the next arrived. My penchant for messing about for ages didn’t help. Neither did the fact that I’d grown so attached to some of these, that as I approached the ending, my progress slowed, simply because I wasn’t ready for it to end yet.
Altogether I felt like I wasn’t really making any progress in any of them and each new release came with a small layer of guilt. As I was playing, I had this constant, niggling reminder that there were other brand new games sitting on the shelf, all bought with the intention of staying ahead of the curve for once, now all left as far behind as ever.
Another factor in the falling behind, was that I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of weekends traveling in the last few months. The Switch has been a godsend for this, because I’d caught up on a lot of the digital comics I was reading, and traveling with physical books was a bigger hassle than it was worth. While it didn’t mean I got any closer to finishing Breath of the Wild or Odyssey, it did push me to get going with some of the shorter indie games I’d picked up. It was pretty satisfying to download a game and then play through the entire thing in a single bus or plane journey. Each completion came with its own sense of satisfaction, which in turn gave me a push to finish the other, longer games.
As a result of this, I’ve started putting together two separate lists of games. One has games that are 40+ hour heavy investments, the other with games that should take less than 10-12 hours to finish, according to HowLongToBeat, at least. If I find myself getting bogged down with the long running games on my list, I take a few hours to hop over onto the short ones. It was like I’d forgotten how satisfying the feeling of finishing something could feel, beyond the usual enjoyment of simply playing the game. By letting go of the guilt of starting something new when I had so much more left to go through, I was actually able to increase how productive I was…. For a given value of productive, given that I’m still just catching up on my hobbies, not working on the other hundred things I have to do.
A Matter Of Time
So, if you’ve been feeling crippled by your catalog lately, whatever it is; Steam, Kindle, or bookshelf, don’t be afraid to step back, take a breath, and move on to something else. If that 1000 page tome, or 100 hour JRPG you’re struggling to find the motivation to get on with is causing you to fall behind on everything else, take a break, pick up something else, get it out of the way and then dive back in. If that’s not enough, pick up two things. Eventually you’ll find yourself dying to get back to where you were. Then the excitement of playing it will be fresh again. If it isn’t, then maybe the game just wasn’t that great and you can forget about it anyway. Life is short and the total library of produced media is near infinite. You can’t afford to spend it on shitty videogames when there are so many great ones.
Now, if I can just polish off these last few missions in Far Cry I can cave and get God of War.
Hopefully I’ll get through with that before Spider-Man comes out.
History says ‘No’, but I’m willing to give it a shot.