Between the upcoming holidays and various real life happenings, I haven’t been immersing myself in gaming like usual. A lot more of my free time has been dedicated to various creative/crafty things instead and I feel really good about that. It’s relaxing in a different way than gaming is for me, and at the end of the day I have something more tangible to show for it. I will never consider time spent gaming as time “wasted”, but I do sometimes have to think about what I really have to show for all the hours spent.
Playing through the story of a single-player game, or questing through the main story of a MMO are easy to justify. To me that’s the equivalent of watching TV or reading a book, consuming content. Group activities like raiding are more like sports. You’re developing a skill, but also socializing with your teammates. Then there’s the repetitive, grindy stuff I often do in games. I find it hard to find an analog for that in other leisure activities. Leveling that 15th alt is a bit like binging reruns of your favorite TV show I suppose. But grinding? Whether it is gearing for raiding, chasing primal ancients in Diablo, or gaining reputation for a cosmetic reward, grinding is a lot of work and time spent for very small gains. Yet those grindy tasks are the things I gravitate toward toward when I am using gaming as an escape from daily stress.
Leisure activities, by definition, don’t actually have to be productive. Leveling through Outland for the 1,000th time is as valid as writing a novel. But societal pressures put very different values on those two tasks, and personally I get a bit more gratification from creating rather than consuming. I think I’ve got a good balance now that I’ve been doing daily creative things for a few months. Sometimes I don’t have a ton of time for both creating and consuming on a given day, and I’ll devote my time based on how much energy I have.
I’m not entirely sure what the point of all this is, except that creating things is hard work and it’s ok to consume things like games. You don’t have to be productive all the time, but it is nice to feel creative when you can.