Upon reflection, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that much of my gaming time has been time spent poorly. The question driving this is, “Am I really enjoying this or just looking for something to do?” I find that much of my gaming time has been driven by habit, increasing numbers on a screen because that is what you do in this game, and working on arbitrary checklists. Like the epiphany about social media games, this is a realization of just how strongly our primate brains can provide a drive to continue without much in the way of value or enjoyment.
The metaphor that immediately comes to mind is sitting down in front of the television so see what is on. This is how you lose an entire evening without having the sense that you did or even watched much; there is always something on, or at least about to come on or just about done or hey let’s see if this is any good… It is similarly easy to sit down in front of the computer after work and check Facebook, your RSS feeds, follow a few links, check in on a few games, watch some YouTube videos, look through Amazon’s new recommendations for you…
I was considering limiting myself to X hours of gaming per week, but I have settled on a different metaphor: only eat when you are hungry. Don’t eat out of habit or boredom or just open the fridge to see what looks good; only open the fridge when you are hungry. Therefore: only sit down at the computer when you have something in mind to do. And then stand up and walk away from the computer, rather than doing the equivalent of flipping through channels. If I see something that looks like fun while I’m there, great, but if I am just looking for something to do, I can draw an experience point bar on a whiteboard and give myself points for housework. “1000 dishes washed: achievement!” And I’m going to watch Dr. Who. I hear good things.
I’ll let you know how this goes. I may be posting more or less; some of my most prolific posting sprees came from times when I was not gaming much, but that might have been because I was sitting at the computer and looking for something to do.
I could use more happiness and intention in my career, too. I don’t suppose any of you work on the business side of Disney Parks or Resorts? I’m thinking of jumping industries but my professional network is in my current industry.