Overworked & Underplayed

by Tonya Foust

Have you ever noticed that along with seasonal changes in your available time, you have gaming changes? How many times have you walked past your computer or console game and thought Man, I'd love to play 'xxx' right now, but I have WAY too much to do. Have your friends called you up and asked you to come join a game that you love, but you don't have the time?

I've run into that on several occasions, but most notably these past few months. I have been working so hard that by the time I get home the only thing I was to see is my husband's face and then, very shortly after, my pillow. There has got to be a solution.

Well, there is or rather are!

Because we, as a society, seem to be getting busier, gamers of all sorts have found ways around the time crunches that can inevitably affect us all.

With the help of my friends and fellow gamers, listed below are some options for the time deprived among us to fill our gaming desires.

Play By E-Mail (PBEM) is a way that many people can game on a schedule that meets their time sensitive needs. PBEM works by allowing the players to interact with each other via email. Character interactions and combat resolution are achieved by mailing a list of the people involved and waiting for the response.

A downside to PBEM is that you, as the gamer (or even the GM) have to wait for each response from the other participants. That can often take even more time away from you.

Instant Message Gaming (IM-ing) is an alternative to PBEM. With this option you can interact more closely with the people you are gaming with. You get more immediate responses and in some cases can even talk to each other using voice enabled chats such as Yahoo! Instant Messenger (YIM).

However, this option dictates that you have a set time that you and your fellow players meet online. This can limit the times you can play if you are already short on time.

Solo computer/console games are another way to entertain your game craving. Because these games are designed around individual play, you get the chance to game when you have time without waiting on someone else's schedule. There are two basic flavors of computer games, local and internet/online based games. The local games are ones that reside strictly on your computer, while the online games (such as Yahoo! Games) offer other selections without having to install anything (usually) on your computer.

Again, a disadvantage to this may be that for some of us, gaming is a group activity and a chance to socialize. Solo gaming takes that away, or at least is not an active encouragement for it.

Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) are similar to solo gaming. Because you play in the comfort of your home (or office for those lucky enough to have that option), you can play on your own time. In this case, however, the socialization aspect that solo games miss is present. Games like Everquest, Everquest II, City of Heroes, Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft and others offer the chance to talk and interact with other people. In some instances you find that you are gaming with people from the other side of the world!

However, the thing that I find about MMORPGs is that if you don't keep up with them (i.e. only play them on a casual level), all the people that you have met will eventually surpass you in levels and rarely will you have the opportunity to have social interactions with them. So you end up having to spend time alone or always meeting new people to interact with.

Gaming at lunch can be an option for some people. Frances, one of the Lady Gamers, has the incredible luck to be able to play during lunch with her co-workers. They started with simpler games, things that were quick and easy to learn and play and have worked into the more intense (gamer) games.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a work environment (or the co-workers) to be able to have this option.

Conventions are gamer weekend escapes. Most area conventions have a gaming room, or at least a place that a group of friends can pull up a table and a few chairs to game. Conventions provide a chance to be social (face-to-face) with your friends and fellow gamers as well as a chance to get in some hard-core gaming time without having to answer a phone, feed the dog or any other of a host of duties our lives bring us.

The biggest disadvantage, in my opinion, to conventions is that they can be too exhausting, especially if you only have the short weekend to participate. People try and cram too much into the weekend. I often find that I am more worn out AFTER a convention than not.

In the end, it all amounts to what you feel most comfortable with, what types of gaming you enjoy and how much time and effort you can find to put into it. Mind you, there are pluses and minuses to any of the options available (and I have only listed a few), even getting together gaming with your friends, but in the end it's all about finding the time to do what you love.

Finally, I have to thank Frances for giving me the title that I couldn't find in my own head as well as some additional suggestions for gaming on a low-time budget.

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