Monday, August 16, 2010

I need a little time..

I’ve had a thoughtful weekend. The gaming was fine and actually quite a lot of fun in places, but I’ll get to that soon. My weekend was strange because of a phone call my wife got from a very old friend of mine. You probably have some knowledge of this friend if you follow this blog and my previous one, Revenants. My friend is Daltieri/Takoul and the many other guises he held when an avid EQ2 player (he quit about 2 years ago).

The reason my weekend was a thoughful one was a direct knock on effect from the phone call and what it was about. Now my friend is quite a solitary person. To the point that his friends (including me) worry about him and how he is getting on living what I consider a more solitary lifestyle. He has a good job, a nice house, and plenty of spare time, with which he used to game online and has a fantastic personality that always made me think it was strange that he used to spend so much time alone. Not that that is how he always was (he lived with me for three years) and he was always in to his gaming yeah, but because me and another mate lived with us (Yes, it was very much like ‘Men Behaving Badly’, but with three not two) we always found time to not only game but to go out drinking and socialising. Of course I didn’t have children then :)

Anyhow, the phone call. It looks like my mate is considering coming out to Spain to live not far from us in a bid to see more of the world and experience life a little bit more than he used to. To give you an idea of how he is mentally changing himself, he actually broke his computer and didn’t replace it for a long time. That would never have happened in the past. It would have been straight down PC World to buy whatever he could to get back online for that evening. He is obviously making a very real and substantial effort to change some things in his life.

This is where the thinking comes in for me. I usually know where I am headed in life and don’t question too much if it is right for me or not, I just get on and do it if it is best for my family. It got me to thinking that if he can change his life, should I? Is there anything else I would rather be doing than playing EQ2? This obviously led me on to thinking about what I get up to in real life against how much time I spend online (which to be fair is already a lot lot less than a couple of years ago) against my other hobbies and my family. Well, to be fair I don’t go online unless my kiddies are in bed. Admittedly quite a bit over the last few months I have had disruptions to my spare time as the little one hasn’t been sleeping too great. Not a problem and obviously my children always come before a computer game, but still a shame for the countless groups I have bailed on recently (usually guild so luckily they are understanding and know my circumstances).

Seems like a silly statement that your children come before a computer game, but for some it is not. I recall raiding with a group who I didn’t usually hang with, in fact I think I only raided with them this once. I was trying them out as a raid force and likewise, them me. The raid leader and his wife/partner/better half both played the game. One was main tank, the other main healer. As you can imagine, quite indispensible in the main tank group. One of the reasons I never went back is that raiding with them broke my heart. Nearly every time they came across Ventrilo you could hear their child screaming in the background. Like constantly. Not once did either of them go afk to sort their little one out and in the end (after about an hour of listening to the poor mite) I made my excuses and left. I did make my thoughts known to the couple later though even though it is really none of my business, I do feel it is every humans business to question things in life if they feel strongly enough about it. At the time, and this was over a year ago I hadn’t heard of the Korean couple who spent more time raising their online baby in a digital world to the point that their own real life child died of neglect. A harrowing story, but thankfully I think the two are now in jail.

So, taking in to account my main and most important role of Dad and the fact I have that down without problem or interference, do I spend my spare time valuably? Is playing EQ2 a proper use of that time? Well, I know for sure the more my family grows and spends less time sleeping, my time online has already diminished massively. When EQ2 first came out and for the first couple of years my first daughter was young enough and content enough to allow quite a bit of online time. She slept for like 17 hours a night, which is a massive amount but meant the wife and I got to spend a lot of time online. As she grew obviously the time dedicated towards her grew too. Now we have another child, but my time online stays the same as I still spend every moment they are awake and I am not at work, with them and not doing other things. That won't change now. All spare time I have, if my kids are awake, is spent with them, and that's that.

So with children in bed, what do I do? Usually of course I do a few chores around the house then log on to EQ2. Occasionally I will read a book, or watch a TV series I like or play a different computer game. There is a load of things I like doing, it’s just that I really love MMOs and have forged some very strong and lasting friendships playing them, so I choose to play EQ2 mainly with my spare time. I certainly do not view it as a worthless way to spend my time. BUT, if I didn’t do that, what would I do? The answer to that is quite simple, probably watch TV or sit in the garden reading. But, what I would do and should do are different here. I am trying to work out if I ‘should’ do something different with my spare time. Should I get in to another hobby? Perhaps a physical one so I can get back to being fit again? I think the main, I ‘should’, is spend the time more constructively and get some more of my novel written. And that’s not a problem because I love to write, although getting started is usually a bit of a struggle, but once I’m there I can write for hours and hours. I do have to be in the right frame of mind, but once started, that's it, I'm off. I know I should spend more time writing and it is not a difficult thing to do for me, I never struggle to write but it’s a solitary thing again. I don’t get to interact with others whilst doing that.

Then there are other things. I live in Spain but only speak basic Spanish as I work in a British overseas territory and spend most of the time where I interact with others in English. Should I get off my lazy ass and learn Spanish? Well, the answer is yes, I guess I should but languages do not interest me and I probably wouldn’t stick it out.

I guess as it stands I’m glad I asked the question but in the end I’m pretty happy with how my time/life balance works out. The most important bits are with the most important people, my family. After that I need a hobby that doesn’t make me too much of a hermit and actually lets me speak to other people without the hassle of going out every night and MMOs fit perfectly with that. Take in to account my wife plays a huge amount too and it’s a no brainer. If anything, I really should try to make room for just two more things that I feel I lack currently. I should try to make more time to indulge in my writing. I really really enjoy it, but because it’s a solitary thing and sometimes a little tough to get started, I tend not to spend as much time doing that as I would like. Secondly, I guess I should start going out and getting fit again. I used to do a very physical job and was fit as a butchers dog, but now, well, not so much. Aside from that, at the moment I’m happy with my time spent on gaming.

I think everyone who plays such a time intensive game as an MMO needs to evaluate that stuff occasionally. How you spend your work/life/MMO balance. It's something I feel we all need to keep a check on. It's important to remember there is a real world out there and there is, sometimes, other stuff you could or 'should' be doing.

Be well


  1. I Really enjoy your blog everytime you update it but today was more excellent than excellent.
    Good reading & please keep it coming!

  2. Thanks :)Appreciate the support Bro.