As much as I love gaming, I tend to get anxious when I pick up something new.
Don't get me wrong - even though I never seem to have the time to jump into a new 100 hour fantastical adventure, some of my favourite games of all time are the ones with massive worlds, amazing stories and unforgettable characters - Skyrim and Zelda: Ocarina of Time, for example. These are games I love jumping back into and exploring to my hearts content. That said, I always feel guilty doing so.
It's no secret that I have a ton of games yet to actually play on my pile of shame (as most gamers these days.) Hell, I even taught myself how to code simply to make an app for it. This makes it all the more heartbreaking when I pick up a game I have technically "finished" to play - I mean, I could be using this time to play something new. That guilt piled on top of anxious thoughts like "I could be spending this time doing something productive with my life"... Gaming is meant to be fun though, right?
This passed Saturday I had some spare time in the afternoon. Would I do some work towards one of my current projects? I could, but I really wasn't feeling it - from passed experience, I know when it's time to have a break. Maybe I could relax, play a game instead. OK, I'm cool with that.
But what to play? Do I pick up one of these new titles on my shelf and run with it? Maybe Far Cry 3, or Super Mario Galaxy 2? I'm still only up to Assassins Creed 3 in that series - the way they keep releasing new ones of those, I'm never going to catch up, so maybe I should go for that instead. But... I'm not really sure I want to get into something new though. If I do, I'll want to be playing that during the next week or more, when actually do want to put aside time to work on my other projects. Knowing how 'into' games I get, that's probably not the best idea. But this just leaves me with some of my older favourites, that I've already finished... Isn't that a waste of time?
I used to think so.
After about half an hour of umming and arring, I came to the conclusion that the game I really felt like playing, the one that I would have the most fun with in this free afternoon, was my favourite game of all time - Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn. I've put 190+ hours into this game, I've unlocked every character, found every hidden item and know the story back to front. I've completed the game 8 times. And now I wanted to go for a 9th.
The fact is, gaming is all about enjoyment. Happiness. Fun. As gamers, we always say to others, "Oh, I still have to play that game." Actually, no we don't.
If there's one thing I'm learning as I get older, it's that money isn't the most valuable commodity - time is. Even when you have no money, you still have your life. If you have not a single dollar to your name, you can still make more. When it comes to time... There's no way to get it back once it's gone. That's precisely why I want to spend the time I do have enjoying myself.
For that few hours, I had a blast. Nostalgia, fun, challenge, all mixed together perfectly.
Looking at the large pile of games still on my shelf, waiting to be played one day... I would usually feel guilty at the sight. But I realized that, right at this moment, it doesn't matter. I might play these games one day. I have no doubt they are fantastic experiences. There may even be a contender for best game of all time in there. I might not ever get to every game on that list - but that's OK. Right now, I'm having fun.
So what if all the games you "still haven't played yet" add up to more than 1000 hours to complete. Gaming is not a job. It's a pastime. A Hobby. Something fun to do in your downtime.
We only have a limited time here. Enjoy it.