How much time do you spend playing games every week? Every day? As I previously said, I found myself with a lot of enjoyable free time this summer. This is an experiment I'm finding most enlightening and that I am bound to do again next summer. However, when I found myself spending increasing amount of time playing games every day (mostly on kongregate's website), I began questionning myself on the use of that much anticipated free time.
Somewhere in the twelve weeks of the creative program I'm following (from the book « The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity »), the author asks us, as an artist, to avoid reading anything during a whole week. It appeared to make sense and I did just that. It was not easy. I turned off my RSS feeds, put away my bed shelf novel and the three or four books I always keep at arm reach and tried it. I was amazed at how much time I had on my hands and I found myself being much more productive during that week. Whenever I felt like just lying down and reading a good book, I found myself in dismay as I had to do something else. Most of the time I grabbed my guitar and scratch a few chords just to kill off time, or I got my hand on some pen and paper to draw or write. What was amazing was that I found it much easier during this week to get work done on my Flash game and other duties. I also cooked a lot. Over all, a pretty busy week.
Fast forward to just recently, the answers to my question about my gaming habits became clear: I WAS spending too much time playing. Yes, I like playing and it is helpful to me as a game designer, but I had to keep some kind of balance. I was playing games mostly out of escapism and fear of duty so I had to do something about it. And that something was radical: no games for a week. While I thought not reading for a week was hard, I found it much more difficult not to play... And much more productive. Believe me, I never played that much guitar in my life as during that week! I also worked on a new game and the graphics progressed at an amazing speed.
Most interestingly, I felt some kind of switch in my feelings. When I play a lot of games, I often put aside more important duties and feel pathetic for “the time lost”, but, while I kinda missed playing during that week, I felt an immense satisfaction at everything I was accomplishing. Overall, this was very empowering, so much that I'm considering doing this again in the futur (thought it won't be any easier than it was, maybe even more difficult). In the end, I realized I'm a “game addict”. My gaming habits are life long and I'll keep playing my whole life, but as someone who seeks out accomplishment and creative freedom, this experiment was very eye opening.