Lent 2012: The Failed Experiment

Once upon a time, I tried to do NaNoWriMo while in my first trimester of pregnancy. It didn’t work. Neither did this (no, I’m not pregnant).

I mean, it worked. It’s Easter Morning, and aside from any minor gaming I’ve done while writing about gamification for work or testing game-y things we’ve built and a brief demo or two in the name of parenting, I haven’t played a video game since Februrary 21st. (That’s 47 days, btw). So, yay me.

But it didn’t really work.

My goal was to backfill all that time spent playing video games with more productive tasks. I shot myself in the foot by not having a more specific plan than “write some things, read some things, update somethings.” That would have tremendously helped, especially in the evenings. But those idle moments in the day where i’m spending a few moments playing on my phone? those to get to be made productive. They’re wasted time, no matter what I do. In those moments I spent time on Twitter and Tumblr, browsing content created by others. I diligently kept all my apps up to date. Basically, I found proto-games to fill my time without reaping any of the actual benefits of these games. DrawSome took off while I was away. There’s apparently some Avengers-movie tie-in Facebook Game that i’m now woefully behind on. Once you step out of IM conversations, every social interaction online has some sort of game element and I avoided those as best I could.

I really tried when it came to the larger chunk of free time in the evening, but fate conspired against me.Through a series of unanticipatable events (vague, i know. we’ll work on that later), life has left exhausted, and I didn’t have the mental energy left to write. I hardly had the strength to read. I got a bit further in Reamde, but Stephenson was too dense for me to maintain. In fact, the only “to do” item that I was able to keep up on was comics. There were a few series that I wanted to get “caught up” with before heading to C2E2 this week. I did that. I also watched the first season of Supernatural and some of the second. I’m waiting for it to get good and I’ve been promised it will. I stuck it out and didn’t spend any time playing games, but it was frustrating. Insomnia made of worry is a bitch and not having games to distract me to sleep was so very not fun.

There is a bright side to all of this. I learned something about who I am: I’m a gamer. It’s one thing to recognize that a particular game is taking over my world and walk away. It’s important to keep and eye on how much I play to make sure that aspect of me isn’t squashing other aspects like “mother, wife, reader, writer, … employed”. But it’s part of me. Can I go 47 days without gaming? Sure. I could probably go forever if I wanted. I know I don’t “need” to play Skryim again. I know I’ll be able to resist Diablo 3 when it comes out next month. But I like playing these games. It’s one of my favorite past times. I know I could avoid all the gaming apps on my phone and use it This might become harder to do as gamification takes over everything we do and the definition of “game” and “gamified tool” gets blurrier and blurrier.

But then I wouldn’t be me. And that’s no fun.

You know what is fun? DrawSome with my friends. Rocking out with Elmo and Cookie Monster and my kids via the Kinect. The tiny feeling of satisfaction I get when I accomplish some minor goal in one of those build/maintain Facebook games. Spending an evening immersed in a fantasy world where i’m a Dragon-slaying BAMF. Those things are fun and I miss them.

Happy Easter!