“The times they are a changing”: How gaming less has made me appreciate it more

gamepad_318-48332.pngI’m sure I’m not alone in this but I’ve found the amount of time I have to game these days seems to be getting less and less – and the times I play those video games has changed, too. I guess, when I look at it, it’s the natural progression of getting older, having more responsibilities (partner/children/work/other interests) and prioritising things –  but, surprisingly, gaming less is not necessarily a bad thing, at least  not for me.

When I was in my early 20s, I was pretty much able to game when I wanted to, apart from while I was at work, of course (although when I picked up a job doing game reviews for a NZ newspaper that shall remain nameless I was able to convince my non-gamer wife that the hours I was spending on video games was legitimate work: It worked most of the time). If I wanted to play a game on a Saturday afternoon, I could but as work became busier and children came along, my priorities changed: Gaming took a back seat for a while, especially when the children were still up.

If I wanted to game while the children were up I had to be selective on what I played, too: I rightly couldn’t play violent first- or third-person shooters in front of them, which was fair enough. There was a silver lining, though, as the children got older I started reviewing more child-friendly games, meaning I could get them to play the game with me: Win-win. Of my two children, my son is the one who games these days. My daughter hasn’t shown an interest in it apart from The Sims from time to time.

As I got older, time to game didn’t become so much of a priority: Other things took precedence. I’m sure many of you have found yourself in a similar position: By the time you get home from work, do the things around the house that need doing, sort dinner, take the dog for a walk (or go for a bike ride) and spent time with the family, it’s almost bedtime! Well, not quite, but it seems I don’t have the energy or time to spent four or five hours gaming in a single session anymore these days. I’m also not usually gaming until after 10pm, which means if I’m too late I’m pretty tired in the morning.

I guess it’s natural for the time you spent on things to change as your life changes but I’m now finding that now I’m in my mid-40s (I know: Old man, right?) while I don’t have a lot of time to game, I’m finding that I’m enjoying it more because it’s more focused. I’m doing it in bite-sized chunks and that suits my life now. I’ll play a mission then go to bed.

Another thing I’ve noticed, too, is that I’ll often be quite happy sitting watching my avid gamer teenager son him while he plays multiplayer COD or a few rounds of zombies on Black Ops 3. I don’t have to be gaming myself to find enjoyment in it. Watching my son is a fascinating exercise in seeing how a young, agile gamer tackles particular  situations or scenarios (it’s also great in seeing how he handles when things go wrong). Sometimes, I’ll just sit, transfixed as he racks up another kill or jump boosts his way through a map, taking down a horde or zombies with a bow. He’s young so has quick reflexes and reactions, unlike me. I don’t play MP games anymore  these days: My hand-eye co-ordination just isn’t up to the task anymore and my eyesight is starting to get worse (I had to buy a cheap pair of glasses from a chain store the other day just so I could read the fine print on a bottle of something)  and I’m not old (at least I don’t consider that I am) but my reflexes aren’t as quick as they used to be. I’ll stick to my campaign/story-based games, thanks.

That fact that I game less now isn’t a bad thing: I think it’s actually made me appreciate gaming more. I think it has helped that I don’t review as many games as I used to. When you review dozens of games a year I think you start to lose the enjoyment factor and the reason why you started playing games in the first place. As a critic, you’re no longer playing games for fun, you’re playing them to find fault. Now that I’m reviewing fewer games and buying more games myself, I can sit back, take as long as I like to finish it, and enjoy it. I’m liking that.

I’m also not so obsessed with collecting Achievements/Trophies as I was as a younger gamer. Now, I want to experience the game for all it can give me and I’m not wanting to blast through it, missing details in the narrative or all it has to offer. I’ve got no problem taking 10 hours to finish a game that Gamer X took six hours to complete. I have less time to game these days so I want to savour every moment.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is if you’re gaming less now than you used to don’t see it as a negative. Embrace it and enjoy it. You might find,. like me,  you start enjoying games a little more.


Dead Rising 3 review: shuffling zombies and weird weapons

New character: It's mechanic Nick Ramos' turn to take on the zombie hordes.

New character: It’s mechanic Nick Ramos’ turn to take on the zombie hordes.

I bet Rick Grimes, from TV’s The Walking Dead, would have loved to have had a sledgehammer combined with a circular saw in his battle against the undead hordes like Nick Ramos of Capcom’s Dead Rising 3 does: It’s very good at clearing out a path through a crowd of slobbering, shuffling and moaning zombies.

The third in the Dead Rising series (I guess the 3 gives it away, huh?) and an Xbox One exclusive,  we now have a new protagonist Nick, a mechanic (rather than Frank West and Chuck Greene in the  other two games), and a city – Los Perdidos – under lock down after a zombie outbreak. Ramos has a few days to get out of the city before the government nuke it out of existence.  It’s nothing new when it comes to zombie conventions but part of the Dead Rising series’ charm has been the ability to craft weird and wacky weapons out of just about everything and use them against the undead.

All around the game world are potential weapons: Cinder blocks, scissors, chairs, wrenches, robotic teddy bears (combine it with a cardboard box and you have a neat distraction for zombies) … and you can also eventually combine vehicles to make awesome machines of death!)

Where Dead Rising 3 has changed for the better in terms of weapon crafting is that once Nick has discovered blueprints for weapon combinations, he can actually make them on the spot rather than having to find a work bench in maintenance rooms  like in DR2. It makes for much smoother gameplay and means you can make new weapons on the spot. Ramos can only carry four items in his inventory but if he clears out safe zones he can use lockers there to store unwanted weapons.

As well as the main story, there are other survivors to save (and they’ll decide whether to join you or try to make it on their own) and side missions to complete but much of the fun is guiding Nick – dressed just in a pair of blue underpants – into a vehicle – a steamroller is particularly good – and driving around the streets, running over zombies and earning experience points. And there are lots of zombies on the streets to run over: thousands, I’d say.

Dead Rising 3 isn’t re-writing the book when it comes to zombie games so if you’re expecting something completely new, you’re not going to see it here, but something that is a neat feature is that if you have the Smartglass app installed on a smart phone and activate it while you’re playing, you can receive phone calls from NPCs and access information using the app. It’s quite neat, actually.

Excuse me, coming through: You'll have zombies hanging from your vehicle as you make your way through the streets of Los Perididos.

Excuse me, coming through: You’ll have zombies hanging from your vehicle as you make your way through the streets of Los Perdidos.

Criticisms I could point at Dead Rising 3 are that I didn’t it looked particularly next-generation (current generation?), either, apart from the number of zombies on-screen, and sometimes I felt as if I was playing an Xbox 360 game.

All in all, though, Dead Rising 3 is an entertaining romp through a zombie-infested open-world that while not taking any real risks with the series it’s a solid entrant that will suit zombie-killers and those who like making weird and wonderful weapons out of everyday items.

Rick Grimes needs to play this to get some tips on creative ways of zombie slaying.

Dead Rising 3 story trailer

Like fighting zombies with a variety of weapons and machines you’ve crafted? Then Dead Rising 3 might be the game you’re looking for.

An Xbox One exclusive, the third game in the Capcom series welcomes new protagonist Nick Ramos, who has to take on the zombie hordes in a game world said to be larger than those from the two previous games combined.

I loved the weapon crafting aspect of Dead Rising 1 and 2 and it seems in this new installment you don’t need a work bench to make wild and wacky zombie-killing implements – you can make them on the fly. Apparently the time limit from missions has been removed, too, which is nice, but there is a game mode that reinstates the time limit for those of you who like to slay zombies under pressure.

The Dead Rising series has always been known for the ability to craft just about everything to form a weapon, so I’m interested to see just what combinations gamers will come up with.

Sound like your cup of tea (or whatever hot beverage you prefer)? Here’s a story trailer on what to expect.