I have been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I would go over my uncles house to sit a foot away from the TV and play duck hunt until I got my own NES, then I would sit a foot away from the TV in my own living room. Being a kid I would have to wait till special occasions to get a new game or save for months to buy a $70 copy of Earthworm Jim. As I got older and started making more money it wasn’t uncommon for me to buy a new game or two every week, beat them, and go back for more. In some cases go and buy a GameCube because I wanted to play Resident Evil 4. Free time and disposable income can be truly wondrous things when you’re a gamer.
I got married, had kids and that influx of wondrous game time and extra money was replaced by a wondrous wife and two adorable daughters. Gaming may have gotten bumped from my number one love spot, but it is still high on my list. So what’s a gamer to do when his free time and extra cash get limited? Well you can do what I did.
- Set up a routine.
Routines are an absolute necessity for any household with kids. They help set up boundaries and guidelines and keep the chaos of raising kids a little bit less chaotic. When dinner time comes around we all know that it’s teeth brushing, pj’s, some room play time, story, then lights out with generally no fuss or drawn out stall tactics. Routines also make it possible to maximize the use of your time so after the kids are asleep you can take care of your other responsibilities then get to gaming.
- Set up a schedule.
Now that the chaos has subsided and your chores are done you can be free to sit in your favorite chair and just relax with some game time, right? Probably not. There may be someone else in the house who has spent all day talking to kids and may want some adult conversation. Making a schedule to play is a courteous way to let your significant other know when you’d like a bit of alone time for your hobby without crushing their hopes of mental (or whatnot) stimulation.
- Don’t be impatient
Now when before the kids, almost every Tuesday I would be at the store picking up the game or two. Sometimes I’d get burnt and the games would be terrible, but I’d just add it to my collection and move on to the next game. Now I rarely buy a game the day it comes out. I wait to read reviews and listen to what other people have to say about them. By being more patient when buying games not only will you save yourself from some train wrecks, but also save some cash especially when a game goes on sale. Chances are that AAA title game that got released in September will be on sale in November, just in time for the holidays.
- Budget and then choose
This goes along with being more patient, but deserves its own. I recently had to let go of my OCD, borderline hoarding behavior and trade some of my collection in to be able to get some of this years crop of awesome games. When choosing between some diapers for your child and getting that $60 game, I think it’s fair to assume that most people will get the diapers. So trading in games has been a great way to lighten the load financially. Stores that take in trade in also almost always have buy 2 get 1 deals on used games to try and purge some inventory. Choosing how you buy games is important too. Looking for deals is a great way to take a small game budget and stretch it out. For example, PSN recently had a promo for spending X amount and get Y amount back in credit. So I took the games I was going to buy on disc and turned that money into store credit to buy them digitally. Doing this not only saved on taxes but now I have some shiny extra psn money I can use to buy more games. And if money is really tight you can’t go wrong making an investment in services like PlayStation plus or Xbox Live Gold. Both services offer up several free games a month and discounts on other games.
- Include your family
There is no better way to get extra game time and family time by including your family in on your hobby. There is a plethora of family friendly games available like Mario Kart, Little Big Planet or Disney Infinity. Now, my oldest is only 2 so she is still mastering holding the controller, but she is learning. After all the family that plays together…
How do you find time to and money to continue gaming? Let us know in the comments.