There are just a handful of places in my life where I’m willing to invest actual, valuable man-hours in order to return some kind of benefit. Writing, for one, is a hobby that I’ve managed to turn into a career of some sorts, and I hope to take it even further than I have in the future, through continual practice and repetition. Parenting, for obvious reasons, is another area in which I gladly invest my time. But there are plenty of other “grown up” things that I can’t seem to give the time of day — learning to be handy, taking care of my yard, dressing better.
Videogames have always been different. Every now and then a certain game will come along that captivates me to the point where I want to plumb its depths and learn everything I can about it. Of course, this comes with mixed results (such as StarCraft II), but every now and then, the process of practicing skills and memorizing stats and build orders actually increases my enjoyment of a game.
Enter Sid Meier’s Civilization V.
After owning the game for at least a year (from last Steam’s Summer Sale), I had only put just a handful of hours into Civ V since purchasing it. But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve suddenly dumped a ton of time into it. And not just playing it, mind you, but researching build orders, learning about strategies, reading tips on subreddits and forums — and then trying these things out on other human players.
For some reason, certain games just grab me that way, where it changes from something mindless I do after work and when the kiddo is in bed into a study of its own, something I’m putting mindshare into and trying to cultivate. I did the same thing with Halo Wars back in the day, with Halo 2 when it first released, and in certain RPGs when I’m trying to figure out the best build possible for a character.
Does this ever happen to you guys? Where a game crosses over from hobby into something else? What’s the last game that you spent time researching or obsessing about away from your TV or monitor? The last game that you practiced in to get better? Go!