When Kotaku contributor Tina Amini recently posted a list of seven easy tips for busy gamers, I was interested.
We’re grown-ups, and that comes with its perks and its pitfalls. Nothing would ever compel me to relive my teenage years (and I mean nothing), but one thing is for sure: it’s really hard for adult-me to make time for the things I love to do. Something else always seems more important.
This is especially true of gaming. Mobile gaming helps: if you have to kill five minutes, there’s no easier way than by pulling out your cell phone and tossing a few cantankerous avians. But even mobile gaming carries with it an air of frivolity that we sensible adults don’t always have the time for.
Hopefully you already know that just because you’re having fun doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time. Games can be an amazing source for education, relationships, emotional stability, and so much more. It pays off for us to work them into our lives, busy or not.
Luckily, these benefits (and the tips below) apply to teens as well, because—surprise surprise—they usually need a little bit of help with that time-management thing, too.
1. Dodge the Ultra-Time-Consuming Games
Some games just cannot be played in short increments. If you are playing with another player in a MMORPG like World of Warcraft, it can be especially hard to walk away, because you know there’s another person on the other end of your game who’s relying on you. These games can be great if you have the time, but if you really only have 20 minutes, you need to think ahead and consider how easy it will be to walk away.
Amini points out that it’s also good to be aware of your own behavior with certain kinds of games. “I tend to have an addictive, one-more-round-please attitude when it comes to first-person shooters,” she explains, so she plays them only when she has several hours at her disposal. If you want more specific information on save points in video games, we mention them in almost every entry of our game library.
2. Skip That Side Quest (…Sometimes)
This may be a great tip for a video game journalist like Tina Amini, whose goal is probably to get through as many games as possible, but it’s important to keep in mind your own lifestyle. I find that side quests can be a wonderful way to spend a short amount of time playing a longer game. In The Legend of Zelda series, completing a temple often means remembering details from every previously visited room, so I like to try to finish them in one sitting. But I don’t always have a few hours to set aside for a temple. Luckily, because of the games’ many side quests, I’m able to use the time between temples to complete mini missions, some of which can take as little time as 5 minutes.
However, any game with a long, complex story arc will often require you to remember plot details, which can be very hard if your gaming is spread out over several weeks. If the game doesn’t have a built-in system to remind you of your mission goal, staying focused on the main plot (or playing a game without a plot) may be a good idea.
3. Know Your Priorities
It’s a little ironic to me that this isn’t number one on the list (where were Amini’s priorities?). This is the first place to start—understanding when you need to put life ahead of games. Your kids, your health, and your job all come before Call of Duty, and that is exactly how it should be. Luckily, you can use the other tips on this list to find a way to respectfully observe all of the above.
4. Trade One Medium for Another
We all know your free time is valuable, and that the new episode of “Sherlock” is absolutely going to take up at least 90 minutes of that time. But maybe when you’re next thinking of watching TV, you could consider playing a game instead. If Sherlock is indeed your priority (see #3) then that’s fine. But if you’re lazily zoning out while getting caught up on your Netflix favorites list, why not shake things up with a new indie game instead?
5. Exercise High Standards
Let’s face it: not all games are created equal. If you’re not excited to try your new game, chances are it will be sitting on your shelf (or taking up hard drive space) for a long, long time. Focus on the games you really care about, and make those experiences as meaningful as possible. Not sure where to start? A great way to find games that resonate is to keep up to date with gaming sites like Kotaku, Polygon, and Pixelkin. Hey, you’re already halfway there! High-five.
6. Play on Easy Mode
This doesn’t work if you were already going to play on easy mode (and there’s no shame in that). However, if you consider yourself an expert player, this is a very simple way to speed up the game. Again, Amini’s goal with this tip seems to be to help you complete as many games as possible; however, if you really do need to finish a game quickly, this is a great idea.
7. Get Gaming Into Other Parts of Your Life
Do you have a designated family time? Why not add games to that mix? Obviously, games will not work with every part of your busy schedule (please don’t game and drive), but for relationship time, why not include a game? And handheld gaming devices work great when you’re hanging out on public transit with nothing else to do.
With all of the amazing writing and art and music and craftsmanship that goes into games today, I hope this list helps you find a few extra minutes this week to try out a new video game. Do you have your own time management suggestions? Tell us about them in the comments.