Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Graduated Gamer Games In The Real World, And So Can You - Part 1

Being an adult sucks. I don't mean being a college student, 21 years old, invincible, going to sleep at 5 AM and skipping all your classes to wake up at some time in the late afternoon. I may sound like an old fart when I say this (and believe me, I’m not proud of it) but those glory years in no way resemble real adulthood. How do I know? Because I'm 26 with a full-time job and two college degrees on my wall. I've been there, and I should have never left.

I did not stay as long as I could, nor did I fully cherish it.

One of the biggest differences I've noticed between adulthood and blissful freedom (apart from making more money than I spend) is the amount of time I can devote to gaming. For the first two years of what I consider adulthood, I had forsaken my precious consoles and PC games for long hours at work and sleep-filled recovery weekends. However, over the last few months I've made a conscious effort to find time to game and get myself back into “gaming shape”. This isn't so much a rebellion against the real world or an escape from it as much as it is a way to find my way back to a true passion I've had since I first booted up my Sega Genesis to collect golden rings and defeat Dr. Robotnik.

Now that I've finally settled into a nice groove of gaming in the real world (see, that's the title so I had to add it in somewhere), I want to share the steps I took to turn back the clock to the good ol’ days where weekends were for parties, hangovers lasted only as long as it took me to eat breakfast, and I had enough free time to beat a game in less than a month week day.(Disclaimer Time: These are suggestions and what works for me may not work for you. Also this is a post about getting back to gaming, so take it for what it's meant to be - fun.) To keep this from being "tl;dr", I broke this post into two parts, each consisting of three steps to get anyone back into proper gaming shape if you've found yourself lost in the craziness of (early) adulthood. So without further ado...

Step One: Make Time To Game

This may sound obvious, but honestly, it's the most important step in the process (apart from actually gaming). For me, this took a little planning and a lot of luck. My job requires long hours - it's common to work 50+ hours per week (sometimes significantly more). To make matters worse, my job also requires frequent travel that takes me away from my precious game consoles. As a result, I had make a more deliberate effort and decided to sit down and brainstorm ways to make time to game. Here’s what I came up with: sacrifice sleep, improve work week time management, make fewer plans on the weekend, and create gaming "appointments". If you're like me, you make some of these same sacrifices for your job, so why not use some of those same strategies to make time to game? If you travel a lot and don't have a handheld game system, consider investing in one. I decided to go a little old school and got a Nintendo DS because while you may not get the newest games, the bigger screens, or the better graphics of the 3DS, you can play DS and GBA games which vastly increases your repertoire of possible games to play. So now instead of napping or working while travelling, I either bust out a book or spend an hour or two catching up on Pok√©mon White/Black. If you can free just 3 hours out of your week to start gaming again, you’ll be off to a great start.

Step Two: Take Inventory

When I finally made time to game again, I barely even knew what games I owned, let alone which ones I had never completed due to adulthood kicking into high gear. It is my opinion that in order to know where you need to go, you must first understand where you left off. So I decided to dig into my game collection to find out just that. I started out by separating my games into three categories: 1) those that I had completed and had no real desire to re-explore, 2) games I started but didn't complete, and 3) games that I hadn't even started/opened. If you’re feeling really organized, you can  break group 2  into two subcategories: 1) those you wish to finish, and 2) those you stopped playing because you had no desire to finish (we've all played those games before - I'm looking at you, Dark Cloud 2). Once you do that, I suggest breaking down those games you wish to play by priority and by estimated hours to complete (any reputable gaming site should have this IGN...duh). Keep in mind that this list is fluid, and it doesn't have to be perfect. Chances are you'll revise the list by the time you actually start gaming again. This is a good thing! It shows you're critically thinking about gaming once again and you're regaining your gaming passion once more.

Step Three: Research the Current Gaming Landscape

This step is just to get you acclimated to the current series, news, and other topics in the gaming world. In my gaming heyday I would frequent sites like IGN and 1UP daily and even had subscriptions to various console magazines. I'm not suggesting you need to be that dedicated but try to take some time to catch up on reviews of games you want to play, the latest industry news and trends, your favorite game series and genres, and, if you've been out of the loop for a long while, the latest consoles (seriously, we all know the N64 is awesome but you might want to upgrade to a PS3 or a Wii). Take as much time as you want with this; the point is to soak up enough information to be adept in today's current gaming landscape and to know where to look once you get back into the swing of things.

Well, that covers the first few steps of my plan to help you pull yourself from the pits of n00b-dom. I hope you find this helpful and it gets you well on your way to gaming in the real world. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion in “Gaming in the Real World – Part 2”!

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