In a post earlier this year on resolutions and goal settings I wrote about my use of Toggl as a personal time tracking system. I have tracked my time 24/7 since late 2014. It started as a quick experiment to see where my time was going each week. I had heard of people that would track their times meticulously for a week to do some analysis on it so I gave it a try. I also know all about the Hawthorne effect which says that just by measuring something you can change it. This is why just keeping a food journal will help you lose weight. Toggl made it so easy to track time that I didn't stop after my week was over. Now that I've been doing it for over a year I can run some reports. One report I just ran has led me to dig a little deeper and make a life-altering decision.
According to my data the amount of time I spent on "Entertainment" varies greatly depending on the time of the year and peaked in April at 56 hours and was lowest in September at 15 hours. That makes a lot of sense because there is no Hockey on TV in September and the playoffs kick off in April. But all in all I averaged 1.1 hours a day of "Entertainment" activities. Keep in mind that my data does not count going to the caps games as "Entertainment" because that would normally get lumped into the "Time with Family" or "Time with Friends" bucket.
I did a quick search and found a statistics site that has data on how much TV people watch. Americans watch 4.7 hours a day and even the 15th on the list, Sweden, is over 2 hours. I don't feel too bad about how much time I spend on entertainment compared to the average person, but I also know my data is flawed. That "Time with family" bucket I mentioned earlier is one flaw, but another flaw is simply how many times my timer is running for one task while I "get distracted" by an alert on my phone that one of my games needs my attention.
In 2015 I spent 241 hours playing video games. So 60% of my Entertainment bucket goes to games. I happen to know the only games I have played in the last year have been SuperCell games Clash of Clans and Boom Beach. In February SuperCell released another new game and my playing time went from averaging less than 20 hours a month to nearly 30 hours a month. Trying to track down <national averages for video games is difficult, but that article calls "core gamers" people who spend more than 5 hours a week playing, and my reported time puts me at 4.6 hours a week and I just know that is a super conservative number based on my data flaws. So I'm a "core gamer" because of two iOs games? That doesn't fit well into my self image. There isn't anything wrong with video games if that is what you enjoy and who you want to be. But that's not who I want to be at this point in my life.
Now that I have in my head that these games may be more of a time-suck than I give them credit for, and that's not really who i want to be, there is another wrinkle too. These games are time based games, and of course you can speed things up using in-app purchases. I know I spend more money than I should on these games, but at $10 or $20 a purchase it doesn't seem that bad. In my head I treat it just like putting quarters into a pool table or arcade. I just went back through my itunes purchase history (which has a horrible user interface) and did the math. I have put nearly $3,000 into those games over the four years I've been playing them. I do get a lot of entertainment value out of them, and that's less than I spend on my Cable TV subscription that I don't use as much, so it's all relative, but it's still an alarming amount of money I could have done something better with than speeding up the construction of an archer tower in a fantasy world.
I think it's time to go back to good old fashioned dungeon crawls or StarCraft for my entertainment. Or maybe finally catch up on Walking Dead or Game of Thrones? But SuperCell games are either going to go away completely or become a no-money, weekend only check ins. Sorry, Clan-mates.
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