The One Where I Disavow Gaming

As I write this I have wasted almost an entire weekend. I got home Friday afternoon and spent the evening collecting gift ideas for my family and playing a video game; Saturday I wrote the first draft of an essay and reviewed three months’ worth of notes for an upcoming exam all before lunchtime, then proceeded to waste five hours playing that same game before cramming an article in with one foot out the door as I prepared for my girlfriend’s choir concert that evening. After the concert we went to a party. Sunday morning I dragged myself out of bed for church, and then proceeded to spend the rest of my day playing video games once again. I have probably spent just as much time gaming this weekend as I have sleeping, and I really despise this about myself.

You see, this is by no means an isolated incident: every weekend for the past three weeks I have spent my time similarly. While the surrounding activities changed — I don’t vanity shop for gifts every Friday, nor does my girlfriend have a concert every weekend either — the inordinate amount of time I devoted to gaming remained constant. In between games I would briefly consider writing or even just fishing something out of a nearly five hundred line text file full of ideas and potential topics, but that never happened. Or maybe I could start that site revamp I’ve been thinking about lately, or spend some quality time tinkering with FirstCrack. And then there’s always the elephant in the room of learning iOS programming, which I started weeks ago with good intentions but as of yet have succeeded in nothing more spectacular than defining variables and printing them to the screen. But all those require so much effort, effort I apparently don’t possess.

Now, I can’t say those hours were a complete waste: while playing I also listen to podcasts, so this time has allowed me to plow through approximately forty episodes of Home Work and Systematic at 2x1 since Friday evening. However, this certainly was not the best use of my weekend, and given the lengthy roster of projects on my someday-maybe list I would have much rathered spend such a long period working on them instead of wiling my time away at a pastime that could in no way positively impact my future at literally any point in time.

I say that I want to become a well-respected and popular blogger, yet I spend the days I have the most free time to devote to this professed dream doing anything but pursuing that goal; I think about a future wherein I get to spend my entire day at home with my wife writing while still in my twenties or early thirties, yet I regularly confound every effort that would bring me closer to that dream. I justify this behavior by calling it “relaxation” or by saying that after a full week of nine and twelve hour days I have earned some time doing nothing, but in actuality it is procrastination, plain and simple, and in reality I have not come anywhere close to earning an entire weekend mindlessly tapping the W, A, S, and D keys for hours on end. So this is me publicly disavowing gaming of all sorts, both on my computer and on iOS. No longer will I take the easy way out. I won’t cut all leisure from my life cold turkey, as they say, but instead of three hour stretches lost in faux-3D world I will spend thirty minutes watching an episode of Family Guy, or — at the most — an hour with an episode of The Sopranos. You may think it trite or a plea for attention, my decision to so publicly declare my faults and profess dedication to a resolution, but I see no other way; I obviously do not possess the willpower to do this on my own. Next weekend when I get home having finished the last of my semester exams and in the face of an entire month of free time, and I invariably start thinking about playing my favorite game for just a bit, I want to open my own website and see this public reminder of my commitment to doing something meaningful with my time. So here’s to an end of habitual procrastination, and the beginning of my dreams.

Actual 2x, of course. Since I started listening to podcasts quite some time ago, I have steadily increased my tolerable playback speeds up to a point where I not only understand shows played back at double speed, but actually can’t listen to a program at anything less than true 1.5x (which, confusingly, would be labeled “2x” on iOS podcast apps. See Marco’s aforecited post for details.). Anything below that threshold actually has the opposite effect one might assume, where the incredibly fast pace of 2x forces me to pay attention while at 1x I have a hard time keeping my mind from wandering.