There are a lot of games out there. There is not a lot of time. Between work, school, socialising, longing looks in the mirror wondering what has happened to your life; there isn’t much space left for our favourite hobby. Work, family, friends and even sleep do get in the way but that’s just the way life is (for most, friends not so much for some I suppose).

This year in particular is particularly strenuous, but each year the same conundrum appears almost every single day. For example at the moment, I have had to forgo playing games such as Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and Rise of the Tomb Raider when normally these would be near the top of my list. How do we decide what to tackle next, and what we have to leave for another day?

Of course, everyone is different. Some people have time for a couple of hours’ gaming a night, some have all day every day, some only an hour a week. The key is to prioritise what games mean the most to you, which you enjoy and also what mood you are in.

Note: I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, as we all have our personal priorities in life. I will just advise how to organise your game time.

Now for the completionists among us, myself included, this quandary becomes a nightmare. Getting to the end of the story in a game, doesn’t mean you’ve finished it! Sometimes this means the game has only just begun! What about all those incredibly useful and not-at-all meaningless collectibles to find? What about those platinum times to bust? And how can you possibly think about starting a new game with so many achievements and trophies to earn!?

Assassins-Creed-Unity_map-missions-collectibles

Well, unfortunately this is where the prioritising comes in to its own. Is collecting everything in a game worth more to you than starting a new adventure? I’m afraid it will have to. In the past I have on many occasions searched every nook and cranny for upgrades/artifacts/bits of paper/useless junk to make sure I’d truly ‘completed’ a game. However the next week I would start a new game and realise just how much more fun I was having in this new story than I was for the last 10 or so hours going over the same map again and again.

What I’m trying to say is that the appeal and excitement of something new far outweighs that of what is current (for me) and with this mindset you will end up experimenting with many more titles, therefore broadening your gaming horizons and knowledge overall, as well as maintaining the enjoyment of gaming as opposed to the tedium that can set in from repetitive tasks.

I will admit, on occasion there will be a game that I will stop at nothing to master completely. An example this year being The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, an absolutely enormous game packed with thousands of things to do, but with side-quests that actually have true weight to them. I spent many hours in this game on a single playthrough attempting to see everything there was to offer, which I feel I actually achieved. I always planned to start a new game (plus) to alter all my choices and see all the quests and storylines that I couldn’t see the first time round, but there simply wasn’t enough time in the day to do so with every other game out there to sample.

Witcher 3 is one of the biggest culprits of time-destroyers. Other examples recently include (but not limited to) Metal Gear Solid V, Dragon Age: Inquistion, the Assassin’s Creed games, Mad Max and so on. Fallout 4 is reportedly 400 hours long if you want to see it all. For most of these games you are looking at 150 hours to get a true sense of completion, but this is just impossible to do for them all. That’s almost a week’s worth of time! The key is to decide which one means the most to you and plunge your time in to that one for this year. The others will have to be left ‘unfinished’, by which I mean leaving out some quests or collectibles. By all means finish the main storyline and get as much out of it as you can, this will still set you back a good 40 hours or so.

By freeing up this time, you are open to other avenues of gaming you didn’t know or appreciate before. Try an indie game that lasts under 10 hours (this year I enjoyed The Swapper, a game I randomly found through purely wanting to try something new and immensely enjoyed), or finish that other game you started but other games got in the way (for me this is Tales from the Borderlands, for which I played the first episode on release then forgot about – now upon nearing completion I am finding it as one of Telltale’s best).

tales from the borderlands

If you are reading this then clearly you are a big fan of video games, especially Single Player ones. So there is no problem in setting aside time to do what you love. Much like you would make an appointment to see some friends or have an important meeting with your boss, make a set time each week for yourself to play video games. Stick to this time, however long it may be doing something you love, and don’t let anyone interrupt. Get some snacks and drinks and make it a special little evening to look forward to. By doing this you won’t feel ‘guilty’ for playing as it’s pre-planned opposed to doing it to get out of something else.

These are just a couple of tips to help out. As I said, everyone is different and you can’t help everybody. However we all have had this problem at some time in our lives and more-so at this time of year than any other, so if you have any tips for your fellow Single Player gamers then let’s hear them in the comments below.

Rhys Cooper

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