It’s been three weeks since I officially left my post as Editor-in-Chief of Destructoid to take on the role as Publicist at Harmonix in Cambridge. What this means for my long-time hobby, playing videogames, is that it’s no longer also my job.
What I’m quickly finding out, and have long suspected, is that having a full-time job and a family makes carving out time to play videogames quite difficult. While my days and nights used to be spent playing games because I had to (full disclosure: that’s a hell of a lot of fun), I now have to find time to fit them into my schedule. The question I always used to ask, even when it was my job to cover every game and the industry was: how does a working adult make the time to play all of these great games?
The answer is, he or she doesn’t. Well, at least not to the extent that my job used to call for. I leave the house at 8 and I return around 7 that evening, spending time with my two kids and my wife for a few hours before that elusive “personal time” kicks in. That personal time includes: cleaning up the kitchen, the living room, spending alone time with my significant other (head out of the gutter here, guys), and basically preparing for the next day or even the coming week. By the time I can get a controller in my hand it might be 9 or 10 at night. I’m not the young buck I used to be, the one who would stay up until all hours of the night and still (reluctantly) be able to drag myself out of bed in the morning. So let’s say I can (or even feel like) turning on a console by this point, I probably only have a good hour or two left in me before it’s time to hit the lights and get some sleep.
Now, I’m not complaining, really. I’d rather, any day of the week, spend time with my family than hop online and play Battlefield 3 (the fact that I’m miserable at competitive shooters aside). I’d rather read a book with my daughter or cuddle up with my wife and watch a movie than trawl the endless vistas of Skyrim. It’s not that I don’t want to do these things; videogames have been a staple of my life since as long as I can remember. They always will be. But as priorities shift, I’m finding that I just need to resign myself to the fact that it might actually takes me two years to finish Bethesda’s next big thing.
But I am making time to play games, and here’s how that’s going:
- Batman: Arkham City: Everyone is playing this, right? Near perfect scores all around on this one, with very few lobbing any criticism at Rocksteady’s latest. For good reason: it’s a great game, and you can tell that only a few hours in. I’ve only completed about 10% of the game, swapping turns with my wife since launch day. See? I told you we don’t have much time to play these things. As good as the game is, I still don’t know if I’m enjoying it more than Arkham Asylum. The open world stuff can be really distracting, pulling me off the main course of the narrative, and basically threatening to lose my attention. While all of that “stuff” is great for a lot of gamers, this kind of ties back into the “I only have so much time to game” stuff I mentioned earlier. I want to see what the story has to offer, and getting sidetracked frustrates me. I’m also sometimes overwhelmed by the number of gadgets, and various combat and navigation controls. I think I prefer the more restrained Arkham Asylum, whereas this “everything but the kitchen sink” approach might be more than I’m looking for. Still, there’s so much TO LOVE about the game, I’m willing to get past what may very well be my own personal issue.
- Need for Speed The Run: So I downloaded this demo and just got around to playing it today. I’m shocked to find that the demo didn’t have any sequences where the player is out of the car, since that’s among one of the key features EA has been pushing for this one. I also felt the cars didn’t control quite like I had expected, more like heavy tanks/machines than super fast, sports cars you might see in an arcade racer. There are some pretty awesome moments on the second track, which has you racing down a mountain explosives tear it to pieces. Otherwise, I don’t think the demo sold me on the experience.
- Orcs Must Die: Robot Entertainment’s rad community manager Justin Korthoff was nice enough to hook me up with a code a bit early… this was four weeks ago, the day we moved into our new place. So needless to say, I didn’t get a chance to play ALL that much of it then. But I took some time today (between doing the dishes, doing the laundry, and vacuuming the house) to make some orcs die real good like. And it’s awesome. A nice mix of tower defense and third-person action. I’ll admit: I had to bump the difficulty down to easy, because this shit gets HARD. I plan on going back and completing some of the stages on harder difficulties, but I simply don’t have the time (or the patience) to die repeatedly these days. I’m not ashamed: I don’t necessarily think games have to be about these extreme, white-knuckle challenges to be fun. I don’t like getting my ass kicked, but I sure as hell love the feeling of kicking some ass.
- Dance Central 2: I do PR for Harmonix now, so I won’t say much about this. But other people think it’s awesome, and I agree. It’s also a hell of a workout, and I’ve basically completely replaced my cardio at the gym with doing the Humpty Dance.
Next up: Uncharted 3, Skyrim, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One (even though it’s getting lukewarm reviews, I love me some Insomniac), Mario for the 3DS, Skyward Sword… and I know I’m missing something. This should last me ‘til about 2014.