I’ve been a gamer for over 30 years and in that time, my perspective has changed. Gaming as a little child is vastly different to gaming as a father of little children.
Available time, available finances and personal tastes change wildly as both you and the industry grow. I’ve seen the move from 2Bit gaming to glorious 4K HDR.
From single-minded platformers to fully realised worlds with incredible detail.
So what’s the difference in gaming from my single years and now that I am almost 40 with three kids? Where do I begin?
Who has the time?
As a teenager, I had all the time in the world. Outside of school and simple chores, I could play games as much as I wanted to.
My only limitation at the time was access to the television. I quickly learned to rest in the hours when the TV wasn’t available so I could game late at night when everyone else was asleep.
I never thought this would be a smart tactic to help me today. But here we are.
In my family I’m outnumbered; four women to one man. With a full-time job to provide for these angels, there’s barely any room left for binge gaming sessions like those halcyon days.
My time is very measured. After a full day at work, I come home and do homework with the girls, have dinner and catch up with my wife. After doing the cleanup chores, it’s usually past 10 pm. If I still have the energy, I will try and put in 2-3 hours of gaming.
This isn’t a daily thing. It’s usually only three days a week with two of those being Friday and Saturday nights. I’ve got to get some sleep sometime, or else I’ll be ineffective at work.
This time constraint makes my choice of games quite specific. I stick to two or three major titles at a time. But because I love the variety, I will often have an FPS and a deep story driven single player game on the go.
For example, right now I have Assassins Creed Origins, Destiny and Tomb Raider.
The challenge is that modern games are vastly bigger and take far longer to fully complete than those a decade ago. I don’t have 100 hours to spend on a single game and it causes me unwanted stress.
My time is so focused that I want to enjoy a reasonably long story driven game and complete it without worrying about all the hidden secrets and collectables I haven’t found.
I consider 20-30 hours as reasonable. And I am simply not going to play a game twice through anymore. Completionism is no longer a priority. I also like to play games on the easy or normal setting. Not because I’m a wuss but more so I can simply enjoy the limited time I have.
Games are for my enjoyment after jam-packed days. I don’t need them to stress me out but rather soothe and entertain me.
It’s all about the money
Again, as a teenager, I started working in computer shops. Partly because I loved tinkering with them and partly because I wanted the money to buy video games.
Everything I earned was saved to buy expensive cartridges from overseas. As I grew older and finished school, I was able to earn much more and buy better equipment.
By that time, I had moved on from console gaming and joined the PC gaming master race. I recall buying an HP gaming laptop for $2400.
That amount could have bought me a very good used car at the time but, priorities, right? PC games were also a lot easier to procure because you could download them as opposed to console games that strictly came on discs.
Then I got married and started having kids. My financial decisions were no longer driven by my need for the latest games. I had real-world responsibilities and adventures that far outweighed the fleeting pleasures of virtual worlds.
Over time, I played less and watched more. Effectively, I stopped active gaming for a couple of years. Only last year did my incredible wife encourage me to get a console and start gaming again.
Here’s where costs came in to play. I had hoped to get a PS4 Pro because all the major games that appealed to me live on Sony’s console. I had a $300 budget to work with.
However, Sony’s consoles were retailing for $400 for the Slim to $550 for the Pro. I had to make a choice and after some rudimentary analysis, I found Microsoft’s Xbox One S to be an all-around winner for value.
I picked one up at $299 with Shadow of War and a month of Game Pass and Xbox Live.
I regret that I wasn’t able to get the PS4 Pro but these are the realities of being a responsible adult who doesn’t have Ninja’s $500k monthly income. In time, I’m hoping Sony will finally run a discount on the PS4’s in the same way Microsoft has been doing.
Buying games is also a challenge. Both time and money play a huge role in my decision-making process. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the frequent discount deals in the Microsoft Store.
I’ve enjoyed 3 months of access to Game Pass for only $1 a month and two days ago, I bought a copy of Tomb Raider Definitive Edition for an amazing $5.99.
I got a preowned copy of Destiny for $8 and also won a giveaway copy of Assassin’s Creed. Xbox Backwards Compatibility is an exciting prospect with a whole backlog of games I missed in the past decade readily available to play.
I’m constantly checking the pre-owned sections at JB Hi-Fi and EB Games. There are often interesting gems for dirt cheap. I have my eye on an unopened copy of Destiny the Taken King collection for only $10. These are the things I look out for nowadays.
One hiccup for me is digital only games. While they are supremely convenient, I can’t trade them in for other games which would have been a great cost saving for me.
I have no interest in storing up a huge library of games. My original plan was to get an Xbox One S and later trade it in with a bunch of games to get a PS4 Pro or One X. That isn’t a possibility now unless Microsoft allows for unloading my digital licenses.
In my younger days, I’d have no problem spending the $80 pre-order price for the latest games without a thought. Now, I’ve learned to be patient. I can wait for months to play a game. YouTube playthroughs also satisfy my FOMO.
It’s all about being smarter
In the end, the major change in growing as a veteran gamer is just about being a whole lot smarter. It’s also about being efficient and managing my game time and resources.
I don’t have the luxury of spending as much as I wish nor do I have the time anyway. But by changing my gaming habits, I’ve been able to find a sweet spot where I am satisfied.
Through a combination of discounts, pre-owned and a whole lot of patience, I’m still able to enjoy gaming like I used to. Even though I don’t get to spend entire days gaming, I find I appreciate and enjoy my shorter gaming sessions much more.
I’m keen to hear from you Dads out there about your gaming habits.
Hit me up in the comments below or on Twitter.