Hello hello hello. I have not disappeared from the planet, nor suffered crippling injuries to my hands. In other words, I have no Awesome Excuse for my long-ish hiatus from posting over here. I have Good Excuses though, which are much more mundane and not as impressive (work, a slight run in with a cold, and semi-work-related activities). I won’t bore you with that stuff.
Instead, I’ll share some thoughts on a topic that might be more interesting to all of you: Playtime.
Playtime: what a wonderful word. It ranks up there with Absynth and Friday. I love it, although I don’t get to use it nearly as often as I’d like to. People in the society I live in (Southeastern US, circa early XXI century) are all so concerned with appearing busy, and professional, and ..gasp.. productive! Most of them turn a bad eye to people starting their day with a serious chat on the topic of playtime. Things are getting better, with the current generation of workers all being WoW-addicts (or similar, and that’s undeniably a step-up from 90% of the work force being addicted to crack and other dangerous substances), but seeing a summary of ‘my career as a WoW guild officer‘ on a resume is still a rarity.
Anyways, I’m a fervent believer that Playtime is needed to balance your life. You need some recreational activities in your daily/weekly/monthly routine. It should be self-evident that things get quite disturbing without it. Most people (that is: everyone I met in life except for my mother) agree with that – although, as noted above, they seem to find this belief something worth hiding (we’re all closet-players I guess). The most common question about Playtime is then “How much Playtime do you need in your life?“. The answer, as all the answers I learned in college, is “It Depends” (so if this was a multiple-answer quiz you’d be totally screwed because “It Depends” is never one of the options!). My life and yours are quite different, so we can’t come up with a clear-cut rule for how much Playtime we should incorporate in our routines. There’s too little (can you remember the last time you had a day without any must-do activities?), and there’s too much (e.g.: you participated in marathon sessions to be the first warlock to hit the new level cap). Period. There’s no secret, no statistic, nothing else we can say on that topic. Let’s move on.
People that are serious about their Playtime eventually hit the next most important question about it: how do you manage your Playtime? Wait.. you’re surprised that serious and Playtime appeared in the same sentence? I fear you missed the bus my friend: whatever you do in life, do it at the best of your abilities. This does include having fun. So, back to the topic.. how am I supposed to manage my Playtime? I don’t know. I haven’t got the faintest idea.. I’m completely confused (and a bit scared) by this. I theorize it simply can’t be done.
Apparently, to be good at anything it takes time and practice. So, if you pick something like an MMORPG for your Playtime, you will have to drop a lot of time in it to be good at it. Same goes for whatever activity you pick. Reading books takes time (yes, there are people *cough* [RealitySyndrome] *cough*, that read at an impressive rate, but nobody managed to read as fast as Johnny 5 yet), watching movies takes time, going for a walk takes time. Let alone getting good in any of these activities. Why do I feel the need to ‘get good’ at my Playtime activities? Well.. if you like to suck at what you do, be my guest. You’ll probably enjoy life better than I will in the end.
One could suggest that I should simply limit my Playtime activities to one or two well defined hobbies so that I have enough time for them. No ! That was the Voice of Reality stepping in. See, the problem with that approach is that it doesn’t work because any one activity eventually becomes amazingly boring. Pick any activity you enjoy.. anything. Now picture yourself doing that one activity for 8 hours a day (or more) every day. If that doesn’t make you twitch… let’s say that you’re not on a desert island with nothing else to do, but in the middle of New York, with a gazillion other things you could do at any point in time, .. but are not allowed to do. Yeah, you are probably already developing a certain hatred for that activity you picked to begin with. To be honest, my personal experience is not so much about being forced to stick to one activity or the other, but rather with the fact that things get boring once you achieve a decent skill level with them.
So there you have it: as you get better at whatever hobby you pick, the challenge it presents diminishes and you’ll probably enjoy it less and less over time. The end result is that there is no decent way to manage your spare time. QED?
Of course, all of this is my attempt at rationalizing why I should go buy a new DVD, a new book, 10 magazines, a new videogame (and more) every week, but I hope you can use it for your own rationalizations too.