Lately the amount of time I spend traveling for work has been excessive; I’m often out of my home three or four days a week. Sometimes longer. The “advantage” to this, at least as far as this blog and my gaming hobby is concerned is that it provides me with additional time to write and play MMOs that I otherwise wouldn’t have at home. For a while I kept the time I spent gaming even while away to no more than an hour or so longer than what I would have done were I at home, but over the last few weeks that’s changed and I’ve started to spend additional hours gaming when I’m away.
There are many readymade excuses of course—I don’t have much else I could be doing, I’m tired from an often physically exhausting job, it’s only for a couple of days, etc. However I’ve noticed that this additional time spent playing games on the road affects my expectations when I get back home. I am by all definitions an introvert and slightly obsessive compulsive so I prefer to be alone and I am most comfortable when I have set patterns in my life. For a while now that has included taking an hour and a half most evenings to play an MMO and another thirty minutes to write.
However being allowed even for a few days to immediately withdraw from people after work and delve into the comfortable pattern of MMO gaming has created a desire to be able to do the same when I’m at home; it very quickly devolves from exception to expectation. Unfortunately this is not a first for me. When I began playing MMOs and especially once I discovered raiding in World of Warcraft I would do the same. “I can get in an extra hour or two, the kids are busy playing with friends,” I’d tell myself. Or I’d wake up on a Saturday and immediately sit down to farm mats or level alts as I sipped my morning coffee only to continue playing in the afternoon and evening if I could get away with it. It was an unhealthy time in my life as an MMO enthusiast and more than once I questioned whether or not I should just quit altogether.
That isn’t to suggest that I’ve noticed the same degree of obsession this time around but that I am all too aware of what it can devolve into. The irony in all this is that at the same time I’ve been looking to make some new habits in our family life so that we spend more meaningful time together without TV, electronics, or devices of any kind. However developing that kind of family habit really does require me to be home consistently and so I’m struggling to find the time I need to get us started down this route as a family. So because of this travel I’m on the precipice of developing some very bad habits as a gamer yet I’m also feeling crippled in my ability to cultivate new family habits at home. What to do?
Well, pray for one. That for me is a given. I’m praying once again that I would either hold loosely to this hobby of mine and let it be holy, consecrated for God— “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) or that I lay it aside. I’m praying for the wisdom, resolve, and love that I need to develop these new habits in our family life. And I’m also praying for a change in the travel time required for my job and I fully expect to be writing about the answer to all these in a future “Answered Prayer” post. Whatever happens I don’t want to go back to those early WoW days when my every waking thought was about class builds, professions leveling, and BiS gearing.
For my own wellbeing and as a role model for my family I want to demonstrate a heart for worshipping Christ alone and to exercise that freedom I have in Christ responsibly. My hope is that I’m able to do so and also be able to continue playing MMOs and be a part of this community. Perhaps the problem is I’m too bound to the latter for the former to be possible. Either way I trust the Lord to resolve this internal conflict and it’s nice to be able to share all of this with people who won’t view my love of gaming and MMOs as petty but who can also appreciate the value I place on Christ and family.
Have any of you experienced a time when your gaming hobby was out of balance with the rest of your life? Is there any advice you would give, especially to a husband and dad for improving and prioritizing family time while still being a gamer?