Yesterday, Xbox sent out round-up emails with stats about our year in Xbox. Usually, I’m interested in that kind of thing, but reading these stats was uncomfortable.
I’m in the top 5% for amount played, at about 1500 hours in 2015. I honestly didn’t expect to be that high a percentile, more like 15/20%. That number annoys me- at least 1/3 of those hours happened as deliberate escapism or inertia. What could I have done with them instead?
The first argument I’m using to justify it is “I don’t play as much as my friends do”. This is kind of true as amongst my group I had the lowest hours, and some had double the hours I did. However, the gap between my time and theirs is smaller than I expect. I’ve been the last person online at night quite a lot, even on nights where I was intending to do something else.
The second argument is “Not all of that time is gaming”. Again, kind of true; sometimes my Xbox was on in the background playing music or YouTube videos while I was doing something else. Other times, I just came on to chat to people doing something else. But I have to be honest and say that I didn’t often stick to that intention. When going from not using the console to loading up a game involves just pressing two or three buttons, it’s far too easy to end up playing when I didn’t intend to.
But right now I’m mid-MSc. I’m part of something that’s important, meaningful, and fun. Why am I not putting that before anything else?
The third argument is “It’s not having any negative effect”. Well, maybe right now its not. But the biggest marker for gaming becoming a negative thing is how often its used to escape and to put off what you don’t want to face. The amount I play as procrastination from something else, or just because its there even though I’m not specifically interested, has definitely increased over time. Getting the One and having more access to free/ shared games has definitely been a part of that. Dealing (or rather, not dealing) with my feelings about my work situations was also probably a big part- I realised after that I had been gaming to distract myself from thinking about it and being anxious about work.
Honestly, I can’t say that I’m putting 100% into anything I’m interested in. Gaming isn’t the main reason for that; my own faulty thinking, expectations and lack of confidence is. But gaming is an easy thought pattern to hold when thinking about goals and the future is hard, so I’m turning more and more to what is easy.
After I graduated from uni, I explored creating an identity around gaming stuff- to see if that was a field I wanted to be more invested in, and somewhere I could be comfortable. That didn’t work, and I learned that gaming wasn’t something I could take part in to that extent- it had to be something done casually.
While its not his fault at all, I’m strongly influenced in terms of gaming time, money, attention by it being my boyfriend’s main focus. It tends to be the main topic of conversation, and the main thing we do when we see each other. But while that pattern isn’t helpful, it’s still something I’ve helped create.
I don’t really know where this is going- seeing the stats connected a lot of jumbled-up thoughts I already had. I guess I’m just annoyed at how much I justified things to myself, and how easy it was to not see that.