Readers discuss how many hours a week they get to play video games, as they try to fit in a family and social life around them.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Ishi, who asked how much time do you spend playing games yourself, on the average week? Do you have a set routine or period of the day you set aside for games or does it depend on whether something new has come out?
Predictably, everyone said they didn’t have as much time as they used to but few felt that this was necessarily a problem, and just a reality of modern life.
If I’m lucky with free time, and I’m really into whatever I’m playing, I’d say about seven to eight hours at weekends and, on average, maybe another three hours during the week. It really depends on what I’m playing and what platform that’s on.
If it’s a Switch game I can happily play anywhere in the house without shutting out everything else, so my weekly total might stretch from 10 hours to maybe 15 (which is why I’m always keen on Switch versions of the games I’m interested in). If it’s a game on the PlayStation 5, I sort of have to lock myself away in the bedroom for a session, although often my wife will sit with me and the dog while looking at stuff on her phone so I don’t feel like I’m completely blocking out the real world.
So maybe 10-15 hours a week if there’s nothing else on at weekends? I think that’s plenty and not sure what I could do to extend it if I wanted to. My dog isn’t particularly high maintenance, so she only takes up maybe an hour and a half of my day; I don’t currently watch a lot of TV and some of my other hobbies have currently taken a back seat to gaming.
I do spend a lot of time on my phone getting updates from my routine sites so that’s the only area I can see myself being able to cut down on. But if I did, I’d probably prioritise exercise or a different hobby. I have no idea how some people I know who have full time jobs and kids seem to be able to play 20+ hours a week but I imagine they’re not getting a lot of sleep.
Game over, dad
Games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. From our first family console, a Texas Instruments behemoth whose model escapes me now, green screen Amstrad CPC 464, to the mighty Amiga 500, Amiga 1200, and the golden age of consoles in the 90s games have been my constant companion to ward of a rainy day or escape from life’s woes.
The 2000s brought social gaming to me in a massive way with PlayStation and then Xbox Live, then at the tender age of 40 it was almost game over. What happened? I became a dad.
So almost immediately, gone were the marathon sessions into the early hours, or the days off work spent sinking hours into endless role-playing games, to be replaced by a stolen hour or two at the end of the day when my boy is asleep.
This has changed my gaming habits massively as I can no longer get so invested in long haul story-driven adventures. Thanks to Game Pass I have more games than I have time to play, but at least I don’t blow hundreds of pounds on games that I probably won’t have time to finish.
An interesting question, because I’ve never really thought about it before. It obviously depends on the games I’m playing at the moment so I’d say it falls into two general set-ups. If it’s a normal week, with no big new game, I probably play a couple of hours every other day. That would be either a multiplayer game like Call Of Duty or Valorant or something I’ve played before, including retro games.
If a big new game has come out – the most recent I’ve had is Returnal – then I probably won’t spend much more time during the week but will try to get in a ‘night’ either on Friday or Saturday. That obviously depends on what we’re doing socially but when my girlfriend is watching Strictly and all her other shows I’m happily working through the latest game.
I make sure to not be an ogre about it and will not just look myself in the spare room or anything, but if I know she’s happily occupied herself I’m happy to indulge as well.
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Maybe this weekend
I’ve not played anything substantial in ages. I even bought a new gaming laptop during the first lockdown and thought this would get me back into gaming but it hasn’t. I bought Metro Exodus when someone mentioned it in the Inbox. I’ve downloaded it but haven’t even opened it to have the quickest of goes.
It’s not the I don’t have time, I have lots of free time, but I’m just not into it. I instead waste my time watching utter drivel on YouTube so it’s not as if I’m doing anything better with my life. Maybe games are just a bit too much stress and hassle and watching people getting injured doing stupid things is just easier.
I might have a go at Metro Exodus this weekend. I’ll let you know how I get on or if I just didn’t bother.
Read all about
Really interested to see what others write for this Hot Topic – thanks to Ishi for suggesting it!
I don’t really have an ‘average’ week. If I’m doing an F1 race with my mates at the weekend (and that’s not every weekend these days), I’ll spend up to an hour practising for that, then two hours for the proper race. Some weeks, and often some months, that’s all I do!
After the initial lockdown boom in gaming time things have settled down and I’ve spent more of my free time on my other hobbies as well. This means I don’t always have a current game that I’m playing. If I am currently playing though something (at the minute it’s XCOM 2), then it’s normally for a few hours one or both days at the weekend, and maybe one early evening session during the week if my wife’s late home.
Very rarely, we’ll play something together and spend some weeknights playing that, as well as at the weekend. We’ve done that with the Overcooked games and It Takes Two this year.
None of this is really affected by new releases – I hardly ever get a game on release and will normally pick it up when I have a decent amount of free time coming up to devote to it. Except with Nintendo games this has the bonus of also being much cheaper (XCOM 2 cost me a fiver).
I imagine like most people, gaming time has diminished as I’ve got older, with the whole day (and even whole evening) sessions long consigned to history, as responsibilities take priority.
I genuinely think the small chunks of time I spend reading about games (maybe 20 minutes a day in total, on here and elsewhere) add up to more than I spend playing them most weeks! I’m happy with that though – I’ll take quality over quantity, although in an ideal world I’d love a bit more time for gaming!
I think the simple answer to this question is that I never have enough time. Without becoming an irresponsible loner there’s not really much I can do than a couple of hours here and there.
Occasionally my girlfriend will go out for a girl’s night out, or there’ll even be a weekend trip to her parents, but beyond that I don’t really get the opportunity for anything longer. And it’s going to get even worse considering we have a baby on the way. I’m not complaining about that, obviously, but there’s no doubting it’s a sacrifice.
A healthy balance
I have too little time compared to the amount of hours of the games accessible to me. To be honest, I play a good amount but when the usual excuse of work and daily chores comes into it I feel I am too tired to play for too many more hours. Sleep is needed and even currently working at home, which has helped to give me more time to play, I still feel many games are getting completed over a longer period than before.
I have more time in the weekend and after work now, which I can’t complain about, and I do get a lot of gaming done. But the choice of games I play doesn’t help when they’re an average of 60+ hours long. I also like the complete experience of these games and can often be a kleptomaniac.
If my passion was getting through five hour games on a regular basis, or shorter indie games or whatnot, then the time would be perfectly proportioned! But even though I do play these games it’s always the longer adventure that attracts me.
My evening sessions are time controlled, so sleeping patterns are observed, and the weekend expands with the more dedicated use of longer recreational times, but are still managed for sleep and chores related needs.
This routine is kept throughout most of the year apart from holidays and special occasions, etc. but it gives me a healthy balanced work and play ethic which seems to be working at the moment! But I could do with that wee bit more time just so I am more relaxed and not clock checking for fear of being too absorbed in an exciting gaming session and lose track of time!
Nothing that coffee, tea, and lattes can’t fix when tired, but I feel as though I am, over the years, getting less gaming time, though it could be a lot worse. The worse being losing the thrill of playing games, but thankfully that’s not happened yet. So with a few little life adjustments, family, work and gaming are at present very healthy. And long may it continue.
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