Time flies in gaming, Tempus Fugit for those in the know with a little Latin (or who have seen that X Files episode). The concept is an old one of losing track of time, like when you are 'lost in a good book' or 'losing track of time'. We've all done it, been in a moment and enjoyed it only to realise that what only seemed like a few minutes has actually been several hours. Simon Parkin has labelled this 'chronoslip' in a fascinating article (linked below) and it got me thinking about my gaming habits and those of the current generation.
As a teacher who recently become a father, time is a premium. I have put aside the 6 week holidays as a chance to catch up on my gaming pile of shame, games that I have bought with the intention of completing but have yet to play . I've got Assassins Creed Black Flag, The Evil Within, Alien Isolation and about another 15 games, all of which I bought months and even years ago but haven't had a chance to play. I started off my 6 weeks by playing The Evil Within, a game by Shinji Mikami, creator of the seminal Resident Evil 4.
For 5 nights I played the game whilst my wife and baby were asleep, which was usually from around 9:30pm. I really got into the game and loved the mood that it has created, playing with the lights off. On my 3rd day I made good progress completing 5 levels but looked at the time and it was 1:45 am! Whilst I had been playing it didn't seem like much time had passed let alone 4 hours.
Everyone knows that games are addictive and sometimes you need a lot of self control to turn the machine off. Nintendo recognised this with the reminder set every 45 mins into the Wii, an image of an open window with fluttering curtains enticing you outside. At the time of playing games on the Wii I'd always quickly skip past it, finding it an annoyance and continuing on but now I'm a lot more aware of chronoslip.
In my youth spending 4/5 hours gaming was not a problem, in fact I'd occasionally pull all-nighters with my friends, getting our University work done during the afternoon and playing classic games like Mario Kart until the next day. These 12/ 13 hour binges were fine back then but now I have priorities so 4/5 hours of my time is a big deal.
The reason I'm writing this article is because I was reading about gaming related deaths, y'know, the ones you hear about occasionally in the media and normally from South East Asia where someone has died whilst gaming due to not eating or going to the toilet for 3 days etc.
I'm not that hardcore anymore due to time and family constraints but it does get you thinking that with the addictive nature of gaming and MMO games which you could potentially play forever, does something need to be done to promote healthy gaming?
In South Korea they have passed the 'Cinderella Law' which prohibits people under the age of 18 from being in an internet cafe after midnight (internet cafes being the way most people in South Korea play games due to the fact it is cheap and convenient). In England I worry about how much time the children I teach spend playing video games. Don't get me wrong, when I was their age I spent hours and hours playing video games but I also went outside a lot to the park and hung out with my friends, going to the cinema, playing on our bikes etc. As society becomes more afraid of letting their children play outside are we going to have a generation of unfit children who succumb to chronoslip? Time will tell... As for me I'm off to plough more hours into Dark Souls, only 8 hours in and I've barely made progress.