It seems like as I get older, I get pulled into more directions and have less time to spend on activities like gaming. Part of this is the natural aging process; you get older and there are more responsibilities and social obligations vying for your attention. Part of this is my incessant need to pick up new hobbies that scratch my itch to learn something new. Sometimes it’s something as simple as wanting to continue to grow/progress in my career as a developer. Unfortunately, this often leads to me spending less time in one of my longest running hobbies: video games.
During this past year, the year of our great pandemic, I vowed to spend more time on this hobby. At first it was a bit of a chore, playing games just so I can still feel like I’m a gamer. Oftentimes, I’d find myself playing some game that I wasn’t really interested in or enjoying. Maybe the game wasn’t my style or maybe the game just felt like too much of a grind. I kept trying to force things that weren’t working for me. Despite these issues, I did eventually find a few things that worked for me.
First, gaming with friends. During the pandemic, virtual became the new “hotness.” You had virtual work, virtual meetings, virtual concerts, and even virtual sporting events (looking at you NASCAR). Why not jump on that bandwagon and add virtual game nights with friends to that list. While I didn’t like every game I played with fellow staffers (Loddy, MissDynamite, and Dudsmack), I did have plenty of fun and found a few new games that I really enjoyed. Games like Minecraft Dungeons (my first experience with a dungeon crawler), Deep Rock Galactic, and Among Friends provided me with some of my best gaming experiences last year. I wouldn’t have found these games without those game nights with my friends.
Second, gamify your gaming habit. I’ve been a big user of Microsoft Rewards for years. In exchange for using Bing Search or doing daily tasks, I get rewarded with points that I can cash in for gift cards. Conveniently, Microsoft Rewards is also on the Xbox. At first I thought it was dumb… why would I want to do that on my Xbox? Luckily, a friend (SiLENC3 - fellow Xbox console enthusiast) convinced me to try it out. Man was he right. Both Microsoft Rewards and Xbox Game Pass encourage you to find and play new games. I found great games last year like Control, New Super Lucky’s Tale, The Garden Between, Donut County, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order all from the comfort of my couch. And the best part…. I got a boat load of points by playing games.
Last but not least, encourage and play with young gamers. You’ll teach them a thing or two and their enthusiasm will rub off on you. My niece is 8 years old and recently she started talking about Minecraft. She’d watch these videos online and casually play single player on her father’s console. I’d tell her about how I used to play Minecraft back before it was even released and talk to her about some of the cool things we’d build. She never really seemed to believe me, so I did what had to be done. I got a private Minecraft Realm for us and built us a world to play in. A day would barely go by where she wouldn’t borrow her mom’s phone to send me messages about what she had built or ask me to play. In no time, she was surpassing my builds and teaching me how to play.
These are just a few examples of how I found ways to get back into my gaming habits. Hopefully, this encourages you to get back into video games. If you have any other tips, be sure to hit us up with your comments on Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, or Facebook.