Gaming for grownups?

I like video games. A lot.

I always have and hopefully I always will. I will talk about them, watch programmes about them, I'll damn sure read (and hopefully work for!) magazines about them, but I'll tell you what, I hardly play them any more...

Last year I had a grand total of 6 whole hours of lectures. They were so much fun, I actually went to about two thirds of those in any given week, sometimes less.

Now this meant that two things happened. Firstly I became immensely apathetic and lazy, and secondly it meant I had all the time in the world to game to my hearts content.

Half Life, Counterstrike, Company of Heroes, Madden, Pro Evo, Supreme Commander, Battlefield 2142, Zelda, Mario, I literally bought a game a fortnight and merrily worked my way through them and still had time to have a girlfriend and a social life.

And then came the post-grad. Don't get me wrong in spite of several reservations I love this course, writing is my fourth favourite thing in the universe and there was no way I would be doing anything else (in spite of what I might say when stuck in uni till 5pm on a Friday evening...ahem...) but it causes a problem.

What it means is that I now have a tiny window of free time every day which I have to really manage to make the most of. Now I love my lovely ladyfriend and I want to spend time with her, and I like at least half of my friends and want to spend time with them, I also like to write inane gobshite on the internet... as you can see.

What this doesn't leave much time for is gaming. This is where I think gaming foolishly gets it's tag as being childish, immature, or only for geeks, losers and the mentally ill. People with lives do not have time for gaming. Since September I have played Madden through half a regular season with the Bucs, last year, I had already completed every game mode and won the Superbowl 5 times by October.

No game better illustrates this than Bioshock. I upgraded my PC purely for the pleasure of playing a game that looks this darn pretty.

I ended up shelling out a fair chunk of my playscheme wages on upgrading and yet more for for the game. And it is brilliant. Not just good, great, or even excellent, but brilliant. I am fairly sure I have never played anything like it before and it may be a good while until I do again, it redefines my opinions of how the medium can tell a superbly crafted story, combined with stunning, atmospheric game play. It is, and I do not throw this term around, genius.

And yet I have played it for roughly two hours, perhaps a fifth of this magnificent opus. This isn't because it is too hard or I don't really like, but because a game like this cannot be enjoyed in half an hour bursts like Pro Evo or Tiger Woods. You need to sit with it for a week and become immersed in the story as you would a good book or gripping tv series. And that is why I can't play games like this any more, I don't have the time to give them the credit they deserve.

This makes me sad, I know I'm missing out on a lot, and maybe as time goes on I can manage my time well enough that I can come back to them. Until then, I completely understand why only kids and bums play games and until the industry can do something to change the way they work, it will always be that way. The Wii is a start but it's still not really hitting the right notes. Gaming bank holiday anyone?

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