How To Keep Gaming When You’re Incredibly Time Poor
Make Your Peace With Missing Most Of Today's AAA Epics
The first step to a healthy gaming existence when you're hopelessly squeezed for time is simply accepting that You Can't Play Everything. More importantly, that you can't play most of any given year's big-budget, AAA-scale, usually-open-world epics, however pretty they look in your social media timelines.
Red Dead 2 and Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Metro Exodus and The Outer Worlds will still be there, still playable, when you do have some time - perhaps when redundancy calls, or you've knackered a knee and can't travel anywhere, or if you follow the advice in point five of this list. Don't sweat it. Don't worry about not being a part of the topical discourse.
Besides, playing these big guns a little later will allow you to a) acquire them for less money than at release; b) benefit from comprehensive online guides when assistance is required; and c) you don't need a c) because a) and b) were enough.
Pick Up A Switch - Or Something Like It
One of the most common reasons for being way too busy to sit down in front of a PlayStation or Xbox (or a PC, I guess) is because of long working hours, long commutes, or a combination of both. For me, leaving early and arriving home late - at a time when my wife wants to watch iPlayer or Netflix - prevents me from getting more than a couple of hours per week, if that, of home console gaming time.
Thank my gaming stars, then, for the Switch, which has delivered a steady succession of absolute blinders since releasing in 2017. Breath of the Wild, Astral Chain, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario + Rabbids, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Link's Awakening - its high-quality exclusives have kept me glued to my Nintendo on 95% of my train journeys to and from the office.
And then there's the platform's fantastic array of indies to consider - it's through the Switch that I've enjoyed, in 2019 alone, absolute crackers like River City Girls, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Katana ZERO, Ape Out, Gato Roboto and Wargroove.
If a Switch is out of the question, you can easily (and, sometimes, fairly cheaply) turn back the clock and game on the go with a Nintendo (3)DS (SNES Virtual Console, thank you kindly); PlayStation Vita (Persona 4 Golden alone will keep you busy for a couple of months); or even a PSP (you can't beat a bit of portable Ridge Racer, even now). Then there's Apple Arcade, which for the small fee of a fiver a month will keep on pumping fresh games into your iOS device - and a lot of them, so far, have been pretty darn decent.
Get Friendly With Less-Demanding Indies And GaaS Titles
Another bonus of playing through indies, on any gaming platform, is that they're usually shorter than the more-hyped, more-expensive games that get plastered onto the sides of buses and advertised between soap operas on television. Outer Wilds is one of the best games of 2019 so far, an indie game, and will take you around 18 hours to finish. Observation, another favourite of the GAMINGbible team and, again, an indie title, can be wrapped up inside six hours.
Red Dead 2? That's 50 hours of your life you're looking at investing. Death Stranding? A solid 40 for most players. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, with expansions? You could be looking at 200 hours here, friends. Thank goodness the game got a Switch port.
Another option for the time-starved gamers out there is committing themselves to just one or two games that don't really have an end to them, in a traditional sense. The Games as a Service titles that are live right now, like Destiny 2, Apex Legends, The Division 2 and Fortnite. Games with subscription perks and battle passes; games that you can get together with your pals on, play through a few matches or raids or whatever, and then jump off again. The start and the end, the outset and the objective, nailed in an evening rather than a string of them.
Play Games With Your Kids, If You Can Stomach It
When the weekend dawns, work forgotten for a couple of days, some of you will be able to marathon those new, big games. The PEGI 16s and 18s, the ones full of Exciting Action and Glorious Violence, and so on. But! For parents (like myself), there's no way you can crack on with that Modern Warfare campaign you've been promising yourself you'll get to, not while the primary schoolers are about.
But one way to get some TV gaming time in is to learn to love family-friendly releases. For me, for a couple of years, the big one was Lego Dimensions. Earlier this year, Super Mario Maker 2 could commonly be found filling the big screen. A couple of weekends ago, the two boys and I got sleuthing on Tangle Tower. Left to their own devices, they'll mainline Minecraft - but Mojang's mega-hit rather passed me by, so I like to co-op with the kids on other experiences.
Gaming with kids comes with risks, though. Your sanity can be tested, by games that are so simple as to be offensive - why are we back in the era of awful kart racers again? And tantrums are a very real reality when you're having to share responsibilities on a single screen - which only gets worse if there's competition involved. I've had mine throw shit-fits on Sonic 2, for goodness sake. Sonic 2. Is nothing sacred?
Plan Some Date Nights... With Your Home Console
If you're working, there's a decent chance you get holiday time - freelancers and the self-employed, sorry, you can leave the room now. You could use that time off to jet off to somewhere sunny, to sip cocktails by a shimmering pool. Or, you could use it to play through all of Control, or Sekiro, or the Resident Evil 2 remake. You could. Just saying.
That might not be an agreeable proposition for a partner, however. And if that's the case, you might want to consider a date night just for you and your PlayStation or Xbox or PC or whatever. Make the arrangements well in advance. Encourage your partner to go out to see their friends, take a class, or some such activity where they're out of the house for an evening. Bribe the kids to go to bed on time and stay there.
Hey presto: four or five hours of uninterrupted play time for you and your current gaming crush. Or at least, that's the theory. The reality, of course, is that the kids will not stay put; you'll pick up a game that requires its host system to update itself for a painfully long time (looking at you, Xbox); and your partner will crash in through the front door just as you've got through the opening cutscene. Hooray!
Featured Image Credit: Rockstar Games