Most gamers hesitate to admit it, but growing into adulthood usually means that life will get in the way of their gaming passion. I can understand why it’s hard to say because it is something I’ve experienced myself. No one wants to admit that they can no longer feel the same enjoyment for what they love.
When I was young, I would come home from school and play a game I loved for 8 hours straight, and I would be so enveloped in it that I wouldn’t even notice the time passing. As the years went on, I played less and less. Jobs, school, and friends eventually got in the way.
When I decided I wanted to get back into my hobby, it just didn’t feel the same as it used to. Something fundamental had changed that I believe most adults need to deal with as they approach a new era of their lives–adulthood is the era of responsibility that infringes upon leisurely activities. Of course, that may come without saying, but l want to delve further into the possible cause.
What I specifically noticed is that my attention span is just not the same. When I used to be able to play for 8 hours straight, I can now only handle for 1-2 hours on average before getting a headache. Now the simple answer for this might be, well, adulthood doesn’t offer you 8 hours of free time everyday. And this is true for most.
Through research for my other article, “Creating Deadlines and a Schedule as a Part-Time Game Developer“, I found that 80% of adults only have 2 hours and 45 minutes of free time a day on average. The same study found that the age of smartphones and email keep adults connected to work even when they are at home.
However, I truly believe there is more to it than just not having the time. I still find it hard to play games for long periods even when I have plenty of time to offer.
This is only my observation and opinion, so please take what I say with a grain of salt because I am not a psychologist. I think that it is possible that the added responsibilities of adulthood changes how most people think. The amount of responsibilities an adolescent has versus an adult is astounding. The biggest freedom an adolescent possesses is the freedom to indulge in their hobbies–without worrying about things like bills, rent, work or kids.
When an adult decides to put aside time into their hobbies, they still have all of these responsibilities and more in the back of their minds. More responsibilities=more stress. An adult’s mind needs to accommodate all of these new responsibilities by allowing them to focus on more than just one thing in a day. Sitting down to play and hour or two of a video game or anything else can be hindered by their mind’s constant reminders of everything else that needs to be done that day or that week.
At least, this has been my experience, but one I feel that many can relate to. I really feel that the added stress of adulthood makes it hard to focus my time and energy into the things I love like gaming. I don’t find myself able to become immersed in a game’s world the same way I used to.
So, where does game development fit into this?
Since I began game development back in April 2016, I’ve found that it has overall helped my enjoyment of video games. My responsibilities are more focused on the art, writing and game design aspects instead of coding, but to some extent I understand some of the logic behind it through collaboration and communication with my team and by following other indie developers.
When I play games now, my appreciation and understanding of them have greatly increased. Working as an indie developer, I am able to look at another game and appreciate the time and effort put into it way more than I could before.
Every great game becomes a puzzle–one to unpack and analyze the logistics behind how they made it. Toby Fox’s Undertale, for example, constantly wows me. The game is packed with variables, routes and easter eggs that change the player’s experience each time they play, and they are all wrapped up in fluid writing and meticulous planning laid out by a single individual. It’s mind-boggling!
Game development has given me the gift of seeing video games from another angle. Playing video games has become more than a hobby for me now–it is a learning experience that helps me grow within the industry. It is still not an 8-hour escape from my everyday life, but it also does not bring me headaches anymore. I no longer shy away from games, and instead play them and appreciate them for what they are. I study them, I’m wowed by them, and I learn from their mistakes.
Mixing work with hobbies isn’t always a positive experience for everyone, but it has helped renew an old passion in me that I am extremely thankful for.