Why I Don’t Use My Computer for Gaming

Image: Daniel Dudek-Corrigan via Flickr

Sometimes the game I want to play is only released on Steam or a similar platform. Luckily it hasn’t happened very often. Most game makers release an iOS or Android version, giving people the option to play on a mobile device. I say “luckily” because I don’t have a Steam account, and as of this moment, I won’t make one. I reserve the right to change my mind in the future if the greatest game in the world comes along.

But so far, it hasn’t.

Sometimes I wonder what would be the tipping point to forego my favourite device for playing games in order to move myself to where I definitely don’t want to be playing games: the computer. It would have to be the perfect combination of graphics and sound and storyline that would get me to build an account at Steam and hit purchase.

*******When you work out of the house, it can be difficult to separate work time from play time, especially when work and play use the same tools. At the heart of this conundrum is the computer. If I’m sitting in front of it, I get the feeling that I should be working. Sure, I use it to surf the web and read blogs and check Twitter. But mostly, I’m working.

It would certainly be easier to play a game on the computer. The screen is big, and it’s a more powerful machine. I’m aware that some games likely need the computer because they can’t run on an iPad in their current form.

But I can’t get over the fact that if I’m sitting at my desk, I feel I should be working. The few times I’ve tried to play an interactive fiction game on the computer, I’ve found my attention wandering and I’ve stopped playing to check email, add a sentence or two to a manuscript, or jot down a few ideas to use in future articles. It detracts from my enjoyment of the game.

For me, games are a means of escape. I definitely don’t want them associated with a tool I consider part of work time.

So I play games on the iPad and work on the computer.

Even if it means sometimes missing out on something very very cool.

*******I should note that it wasn’t always this way. Until 6 years ago, I didn’t have a mobile device, so all non-console games were played on the computer. Was I more productive back then because there were fewer overall distractions such as social media? I don’t remember it being a huge issue, but once I could separate my game play from my work space, I never went back to using the computer for gaming again.

When I recently told someone about this division of work and play, she stared at me incredulously. She pointed out that I was missing out on really cool games because I was focused on where I was playing them. This, of course, is true, but it’s not as if there are a dearth of games on the app store. If anything, this helps to limit the number of games I could potentially start.

But it made me wonder how many other people limit the devices they’ll use for games. Meaning, if you don’t own a Playstation, you obviously can’t play a Playstation-only game. But what about the devices you own and yet don’t want to use for a certain purpose?

Are you mindful about separating your work space from your play space?

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