First-world problems, right? Living in the United States gives me the luxury of being able to have a gaming habit, but that doesn’t mean I can afford it necessarily. I could certainly have bigger issues, like not having a roof over my head or anything to eat, but we’re in the 21st century damn it! We need video games.
Regardless of your stance on video games (though if you’re reading this, there’s a 99% chance that you’re pro-video games), it’s safe to say that luxuries are a part of life that we all would prefer to have. Video games are my way of having fun while actually engaging in something, so I have to find some way to acquire them.
I don’t pirate games (that’s a totally different discussion) and I can’t afford to buy every single one that comes out. That’s where the budget comes in.
I usually start with games that I feel like I’m going to get the most from. I’ll generally gravitate towards ga that I feel will have a good replay value or robust multiplayer that I’ll play quite a bit. Either that, or it will get funneled into a list of games that I’ll buy when they get cheaper. To give you an idea, this is what my mental list of upcoming games looks like:
- Crackdown 3
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
- Kingdom Come: Deliverance
- Mass Effect Andromeda
- No Man’s Sky
- Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
- For Honor
- Gears of War 4
- Horizon: Zero Dawn
- Ratchet & Clank
- Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
- Sniper Elite 4
- Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
The lists are fluid and I usually switch games around based on release dates and how slim my wallet is looking. They’re also in my head generally, so putting it down here is making me a little nervous. All of these games put down makes me realize how much money I’m going to end up spending.
You get the idea though, I’m sure. Most of the games in the Must Plays category are of the variety that I know to some degree of certainty that I’m going to play the most. This is something I figure based on whether or not they are open world, what their story is supposed to be like, etc.
COLD, HARD CASH
Obviously another variable in the gaming equation is money. Games are not cheap, even if you don’t count the DLC practices that are becoming more and more ludicrous with every release. I won’t get too into depth with that here (that’s for another article) but it saddens me that I can’t just buy any game these days. I shouldn’t have to apply game theory (no pun intended) and bust out a calculator to determine the cost effectiveness of DLC purchases through a season pass or individually while factoring in the likelihood of the DLC being good or not, as well as being worth the price…
I think you get the point there.
The fact is that right now, I don’t make much disposable income. My money is tied up in tuition, vehicle costs, bills, and other adulty obligations. Video games sadly take the back seat to those costs. My wife has kindly allowed me a bit of a gaming budget that I can spend. Like a gaming slush fund.
Honey, you’re great and I love you!
That one is for her y’all. I don’t love you. Well, I love you like I love people that aren’t my wife. This is getting weird…
Anyways. My point here is that I had to find a way to divvy up some cash to be set aside for my hobby. Luckily, this hobby of writing is free, but the gaming part isn’t. Now that I’ve taken to writing about games, I’ve had to be even more careful with what I spend
my our her money on.
The key to this is knowing what your disposable income is and then determining what amount of that number can be spent on luxuries like video games. What I’ve found personally is that I usually have about $50 that I can spend a month on games. So that’s where I start boiling down the possible purchases to a smaller number.
On top of this, I factor in any discounts or deals I can get on games. I used to have it much easier when I was working for GameStop where I would get discounts and free games, and be able to check out games that I wanted to play but didn’t want to buy. Now it’s a different story. I’ve since started taking advantage of Amazon Prime’s (of which there is also the student variety) 20% off of new releases, but there is also Best Buy’s Gamers Club which offers 20% off any new game. Definitely weigh your options there. There are plenty of other options like Redbox and GameFly too, if rentals are more your thing.
TIME, THE CURRENCY OF LIFE
Another budget you need to make is with your time, especially if you have a time-eating career, are married, have kids, or any combination of those. I never really thought about the time I spent playing games until I found myself where I am now; working a full-time job, going to school full-time, being married, and trying to have some semblance of a social life. All of this combined with posting articles here for you fine folks to read and also trying to post articles for XboxOneUK as well. Life is busy.
So where I previously had about eight free hours a day for gaming, I’m down to around to two or three on weekdays. Weekends are better for gaming, but my time is also split with spending time with my wife and going to DnD with her. Still, I get to game more on the weekends. Having a day set aside for being lazy helps and my wife prefers to have a lazy day as well, so that’s kinda nice.
The key here is balance. I have to budget my time as a resource, just like my money. I have to treat time as if it is finite (because it is). And I have to keep the wife happy too because if the wife is happy, I’m happy. If she isn’t happy,
she has me outside with a shovel and a gun to my back I’m not happy. Unhappy wife equals no gaming, for good reason.
Seriously though, it’s important to not only find time to game, but to set aside time for other things too. Being a functional adult is important after all.
LIFE, MAKING FUN COMPLICATED
The cold, hard truth is that life often gets in the way of gaming. Whether it’s money, time, or negotiations with my better half, I have trouble coming up with the time. It doesn’t mean that I don’t find the time, just that it’s much less time than I remember having. Perhaps once I finish college I can devote more time to it.
How do you find time for gaming? What’s your strategy?