Updated: Jul 27, 2018
I've been a gamer for 30 years & I'd worked in games retail for a decent portion of that. I do happen to consider gaming my main hobby. When that facet of my hobby sheet comes up in conversation with none gamers, I'm regularly struck with the same response "I don't have time to play video games". More often than not this comment is seasoned with a condescending tone or head tilt (the head tilt is a personal favourite). A fair percentage of the people who make this proclamation are parents, some of very young children. I do concede that having infants should eat massive chunks out of your free time. There's also individuals who are the head of a house full of people & they too probably have a crammed schedule. Most people who believe housework, cooking, shopping & other day to day necessities take up 100% of their free time are deluded. Some people read, write, study, go to the gym, play sports, go to the pub, chill with friends or do anything with there own time. I chose to spend a portion of mine with a control pad in my hands.
The easiest comparison of my hobby to point out with non gamers is television. Almost everybody you meet will spend some time in front of a tv everyday of the week. In 2011 the UK daily average time dedicated to watching television weighed in at a mighty 4 hours per day. The age category with the highest average is the 55-64 year olds, amassing a staggering 5.8 a day. I don't know many people that could or would play almost 6 hours of video games a day. I have nothing against tv or the viewing of it. I do watch things on it myself, but like with my gaming choices, I tend to be picky. You could probably closer compare my gaming cadence with that of watching a movie. When I sit down to play on a console, I usually like to put between 1-2 hours in.
I know television can be a more passive experience than bashing buttons. Some may have the news on whilst getting ready in the morning, cooking, doing housework etc. When doing this they're essentially watching whilst not on their leisure time & I know that counts less towards the gaming comparison. In other instances people won't fully dedicate them selves to the screen when they are in their free time. Lots of people may converse during a tv show or film. Alternatively many will be on their smartphone or tablet (There is another issue I'll get to pertaining to these Internet enabled devices in due course). Usually the people watching tv are engaged in what's displayed upon the screen. That is the time I'd have spent wrestling with the left analogue stick.
As far as hobbies go, lots of gamers I've spoken to don't consider gaming a hobby. They seem to think a hobby has to be something more involved, when it's definition is simply something done regularly in your leisure time for pleasure. This definition points out that as a nation we have a hobby of watching tv & that isn't anything to be ashamed of. Me & my gaming brethren choose to dedicate more of our screen time without a predetermined outcome. When we game, we interact with this stuff. Some people watch 10+ hours of soap operas between Monday to Friday & that is fine. The problem begins when the same people have the cheek to remark on video gamers like they must have no responsibilities. I think if most of the population calculated their time in front of the idiot box they'd struggle claiming they couldn't find the time to have a round of Tetris.
I know I may appear to be overly harsh on television & when I planned to pen this I didn't want a tv vs games piece. This isn't about comparing the two as rivals, i just wish gaming was more accepted as a way to spend your time. I'm being a hypocrite by seeming vehement against the viewers when I want people to not act that way against gamers. As a form of entertainment, video gaming is a baby compared to film & television. The screen has been occupied by broadcasts throughout most peoples lives, thus making it a much more socially acceptable pastime. Over the years, I have put more hours into watching than playing, but I've never felt like I've had to justify being a viewer. These are just a few forms of our escape & we shouldn't judge each other on them. I'll probably make more hypocritical statements before you finish reading this, I just feel like games & gamers have this unflattering image that we'll be defending for many more moons. I don't mean to be overly offensive to other forms of entertainment but it comes naturally when defending what your proud of.
The connected world that we now live in means that all of the humans I interact with own a smartphone. It's easy to see how much time everyone spends staring at their communication devices these days. I have had the head tilt of disdain thrown at me by some ironic folk over the years. Recently by someone suggesting they don't have time for video games when I know full well they've spent weeks stuck on a level of whatever free to play puzzler they're currently Playing. The mobile freemium games are still exactly that, games. Playing them still takes time. My lady understands my gaming habits as she has a few of her own. Her main game is The Sims but she did become obsessed with a F2P on her tablet, Simpsons: Tapped Out. In the game you rebuild Springfield in the wake of Homer making a catastrophic error at the Power Plant. Her version of Springfield is so damn impressive, she should add it to her CV. I tried this game & thought my town would be the pinnacle of design, as it turned out my girlfriends beat mine in every way. Ignoring the creativity aspect of it, the only way she's been able to get together her town in such a professional manor is through dedication. The cost of that dedication is that she's invested time, almost daily for around a year. She was fully aware of the time it takes to maintain its growth. The funny thing is, I know of other people who have played lots of this game & others like it whilst still making similar claims about being too time broke to entertain gaming as a passtime.
I hope most who read this can identify with some parts of my rambling. It's funny how much more I could easily write about this subject but I'll refrain as it will begin to sound even more bitter. I would just love the majority to see that their infinitely busy schedules are probably no busier than most peoples. They make time for things that they don't realise they've made time for. I know there are exceptions to this rule but most have more time than they admit & invest it as they see fit. I have lots of things I must do with my time, I just choose to dedicate some of it to saving Hyrule.