Free Time

I’m busy playing Batman: Arkham Knight nowadays, zooming across Gotham City in the Batmobile and trying to clean up the streets. One of the many missions in the game, which has been consistent in all the games in the Arkham series, is completing a series of challenges set by the dastardly Riddler, which involves solving puzzles and riddles strewn across the city. This was one of my favorite parts from the previous games, as it gave me a break from punching miscreants (which, let me be clear, is just SO fun) to exercise my thinking parts.

In Arkham Knight, I’m finding these puzzles to be a source of endless frustration. Every time I get stuck on a puzzle, I gnash my teeth and move onto the next one instead of puzzling it out. I’ve occasionally found myself cursing at my television or furrowing my brows in confusion. Now granted, some of the puzzles are pretty challenging, but that’s the fun part! So why am I getting bent out of shape over this when I’ve enjoyed it so much in the past?

I was thinking about that this morning (because, really, is there a wrong time to be thinking about Batman?) and it occurred to me that when I played the previous three games in the series, I was unemployed. The first game, Arkham Asylum, came out in 2009, a few months after I had finished my Master’s Degree and was on the lookout for gainful employment. The second, Arkham City, was released half a year after I’d lost my first job and was too burned out to find another. When the third game, Arkham Origins came out, I was headed toward my third straight year of unemployment.

Playing video games was my full-time job then.

I had all the time in the world to play through everything and solve every puzzle. Stuck? No problem. I could just play for another 4 hours and figure it out. There was nowhere else to go and nothing else to do.

But now? I limit myself to an hour of gaming per day, and some days I just can’t even fit that into my schedule. So if I get stuck on a puzzle, that means I might have to do that same puzzle again the next time I play, and maybe the time after that. I can’t take my time with solving it because I need (well..want) to fit in as much as I can into that one hour.

My frustration isn’t so much with the game as it is with the fact that I just don’t have as much time to devote to it any more. And it’s not the only hobby that’s been shortchanged since I started working.  One of the trade-offs of being employed, I suppose.


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