Want to play something but finding yourself pressed for time? Is work/school/childcare taking up most of your day? Not been able to start The Division yet because you’ve still got other games on the go, even though you really want to? Hey, we’ve all been there (I still haven’t even gotten close to finishing The Witcher 3 yet), but I’ve been doing some research on how to make the most of the precious few hours I do have. Here are some tips I’ve picked up on how to make the most out of your gaming time.
The very first thing you need to get your head around is that you’re just not going to be able to do all of it right now. You have to figure out the bits that are most important to you in a game. Do you want to push on and see The Witcher 3’s story, or are you more interested in hunting for monsters? Do you enjoy listening to lengthy tapes in Metal Gear, or would you rather just Fulton a complete zoo while listening to A-ha?
Pick the modes and type of gaming you enjoy most first and prioritise that. Face it, if you don’t have hundreds of hours free to pour into a single game, let alone four or five of them, you’re not going to 100% it, and that’s ok. Just focus on the things you most want to see.
Schedule it in
You schedule in work or school commitments during your day, heck most people even schedule in their social plans (drinks at the pub on Tuesday from 7pm, yeah?), so do the same for your gaming time. Not only is it a great way to make sure you get some concentrated gaming in to get things done, it’s particularly useful if you live in a house with others. Let your friends or family know your plans so they know not to disturb you, or that you’re using the big TV that night so they can schedule around you.
But you’ve also got to be aware of other people’s plans, don’t schedule a conflict. If you know your brother is having his boyfriend over to watch a movie on Friday night don’t double-book the TV; compromise and let him know that it’s yours on Saturday instead. Setting aside a night or two free from other distractions and responsibilities so you can unwind and indulge in your favourite hobby is a great way to find those precious hours you need to see everything in your game of choice.
Stick to one game at a time
It might seem like a good idea to cover more ground by taking on several games at once, but that just makes it harder to really get under the skin and appreciate any single one of them. It might help you get things done, but what’s the point if you then don’t have the time to enjoy what you’re playing?
Of course if you’ve got a long commute or a spare 30 minutes at lunch that’s an excellent time to get some handheld or mobile gaming in - you won’t be able to touch whatever big triple-A game you’ve got going at home so you might as well spend this time trying something small and new. Word of warning: I tried juggling two huge RPGs with this method, one on 3DS and one on PS4, and it just didn’t work - I found myself unable to get into either properly. It’s far better to keep things light when you’re likely to be distracted during the day.
Break down your goals
Ever feel like a task ahead of you is too huge and daunting to even start? It’s as applicable to finishing a tough boss or raid as it is of cleaning your house. Having enough time to do it all might seem impossible, but when you start breaking it down into smaller chunks it suddenly becomes manageable. Cleaning the bathroom isn’t so bad if you only think about the sinks first - once that’s out of the way then the scuzz in the bath doesn’t seem like such a big job either.
Use a similar approach to your game time - need to complete The King’s Fall raid in Destiny but you’re nowhere near geared enough? Well, you’re going to need to focus on getting slightly better guns first before you’re able to get the best guns for the fights. Then focus on learning each phase of the raid one by one. Make a list if that helps you focus on each part. Before you know it you’ll have reached the end in good time.
Spend a night not playing games
This might seem counterintuitive, but sometimes stopping what you’re doing and taking a break for a night will make your time go further. Ever had a bad night in Street Fighter where you just can’t seem to win? Maybe you’re tired and you’ve lost your mojo, or perhaps you’re overthinking all of your moves. Either way it’s time to put your controller down and do anything else but play a game for a night to give your brain a rest. You won’t be reaching the silver league tonight and playing while performing badly will only waste your time.
Yes, you won’t get any gaming done in those precious few hours you have, but it’ll also leave you feeling more refreshed for the next time you play. When you’re well rested you’ll find that you’re far more productive and able to get much more done in a few hours than you could by forcing yourself to grind away all week.
Let it go!
If you can’t finish it, put it down. There’s no point in stressing yourself out to reach the end of something if you’re not having any fun doing it. Large games are all about taking in the world around you, so if you’re 50 hours into The Witcher 3 and you realise you’ve had enough that’s fine. You shouldn’t push yourself forward just for the sake of it. Put it away and pick up your next game instead.
Yes, there’s probably hundreds of hours of potential game that you’re missing out on, but it’ll become a chore if you mindlessly continue onwards despite the fact you stopped enjoying it ages ago. Besides, 20-50 hours is far longer than you’d spend with an average game, and it’s plenty of time to have experienced your game world of choice.