A little while ago, the insane Randall Munroe completed perhaps the biggest project on XKCD yet: Time, comic number 1190.
The XKCD blog post tells the entire story: 3,099 panels, drawn over a period from March to August. An epic project by any standard, and yet, not altogether unexpected from the inanity of Mr Munroe.
I’ve been working a lot over the past few weeks, and as much as fun as six days a week sounds (for my bank balance, maybe), I’ve come to the realisation that it leaves very little time for extra-curricular activities, the stuff that I want to do.
Yes, I’m talking about games.
When you work full time, there’s very little time for anything else. A normal work day involves getting up at 6:30 AM, writing and publishing the news, and by 8:30, I’m ready to go to work. I don’t get home until after 6 PM, at which point it’s time to get something to eat and start thinking about what I’m going to do with my evening. But I’ve barely started when, oops, it’s 10 PM, and now I have to go to bed so I can get enough sleep to function as a person (as opposed to a zombie) the next day.
I usually finish eating by around 7, which gives me three hours, give or take, to do everything I didn’t get to do during the day. I usually check a few websites, read some forums, go through my email, and trawl through some RSS feeds. You’ll note I don’t even consider things like gaming, writing, movie-watching, or anything like that. I usually watch an episode of something when I’m eating, but that’s about it.
I can sometimes get away with a few extra hours by putting off my bedtime until midnight, but missing out on sleep more than a few times a week puts a negative spin on things, and usually just results in falling asleep on the bus to and from work. Work is tiring enough without me also feeling tired from a lack of sleep on top of that.
When you work full-time, free time, or the lack thereof, is a real issue.
During my degree there were definitely times where I had too much time. I’d waste the day by taking naps, or not getting out of bed until after noon. I’d put off doing work until the very last minute, when I’d spend all-night working on some horrible requirements document or other fun deliverable, and spend the next day sleeping. If you’ve been a Uni student before, you can probably relate: you procrastinate the smallest of tasks only to spend a few sleepless nights working feverishly on whatever you were supposed to have worked on before the deadline was looming large. It was like that during my degree, too; I could afford to waste time, because there was plenty of it.
But now that I’m kind-of, sort-of, looking for work and filling in for someone who’s going on holiday at my current place of employment, there’s just not enough time. Or at least, I don’t seem to have enough of it free as I would like.
There’s just not enough hours in the day for me to play the games I want to play. Forget the games that sit squarely on my pile of shame, but even the games I’m actually excited about playing get ignored. Resident Evil Revelations HD. Dishonored’s Brigmore Witches DLC. Splinter Cell Blacklist. Papers, Please. And these are just the games on PC I’ve bought in the last month that I actually am looking forward to playing. There’s a bunch more stuff I’m itching to play on the PS3 (Journey, Ni No Kuni, and I’ve got a tonne of Move-related stuff on the way which should be awesome), but as it stands, I don’t think I’ll ever get the time to play through any of it until late September, at the earliest.
It’s not that I’ve been ignoring this blog, either, it’s just that finding the time to write anything substantial is time that could be spent playing games. Or time that could be spent sleeping. Or watching movies. I always have a few ideas on the back-burner, it’s just that finding the time to flesh them out is something I haven’t quite figured out yet. There’s even — shock, horror — a few casual programming projects I want to work on, but just don’t have the time to dedicate to them at the moment.
I told my parents I was taking six months off after I had completed my degree to sit at home and do nothing but play games. I was only half-joking, but perhaps that’s closer to the truth than they — or I, for that matter — know. Because at this rate, I’ll never find out if Ellie and Joel really are The Last of Us. Then Pokémon X and Y will be out, and before you know it, you’ll have spent 100+ hours in an entirely new, 3D adventure.
I don’t have enough time to play games. But that’s not even the worst part. The worst part, ladies and gentlemen, is that this is but a mere glimpse into the majority of my adult life, which is kind of depressing.
I mean, I’ll be spending the majority of my working life working a 9-to-5 job, where I get home late enough to only get a few hours each day to do what I want. Gone are the days where I can waste the day laying around in bed all day. Gone are the days when I can just wake up at noon, eat some cereal for brunch, and jump into a game of Counter Strike or whatever else takes my fancy.
To be fair, none of this is, strictly speaking, new and unprecedented. When I was still in high-school I worked full-time hours during the holidays and what have you, and I guess it was OK then because I was young and foolish (and having cash at that age was awesome). Over time, I’ve come to realise that being loaded is kind of overrated if you don’t have anything to spend it on, or any time to enjoy your frivolous online purchases. Short of diving into piles of cash, Scrooge McDuck-style, what are you supposed to do when you have lots of cash and no free time?
I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but as I got older and wiser I started to value my time more, and money less. It’s not that I hate my job or anything (on the contrary, I enjoy it immensely most days), it’s just that I kind of enjoy not doing anything.
Now, if only there was some way I could get paid for that…