Physical space in video games is a very unique thing. While enhanced graphics make modern-day virtual worlds a lot more realistic than they were back in the day, it’s usually still necessary to use our imaginations to ‘fill in the blanks.’
But what about that space outside of our computer or television screens? I’m someone who tends to both work and game on the same computer, which means there isn’t much distinction between my ‘gaming’ and ‘working’ spaces. While I find it easy enough to keep up my productivity, even with the World of Warcraft icon beckoning me from my desktop, using the same computer to both work and play is a strange and daunting experience.
Over the past few years, I’ve found that for me, the distinction between my work space, and my gaming space, is more psychological than physical. During typical work hours, I make a conscious effort to remind myself that it’s time to work. I also make sure to keep my desk free of distractions. That Nintendo Power magazine I’ve been dying to read, for example? It’s kept safely in the bedroom, away from my workspace. But when the sun begins to set and I’m ready to call it a day, it’s a rather strange thing simply closing down whatever I’ve been working on and opening up a gaming application on the same computer.
The recent purchase of a netbook went a long way towards creating a more physical divide between my ‘working’ and ‘playing’ spaces. On many days, I try to use my netbook for working, and my laptop for playing– I also keep the computers in different rooms to reinforce the physical distinction between them.
But buying an extra computer isn’t necessarily cost-effective, nor a work-friendly option. Netbooks today are being equipped with updated technology, such as improved HD video playback, which has the potential to someday rival full-size notebook gaming performance. I’m lucky my work netbook is practically a dinosaur. It has trouble loading Internet Explorer, which basically puts it on death row. But I can imagine that consumers who are in the market for a new computer will have an increasingly hard time distinguishing between which computers are meant for simple word processing, and which are meant for serious gaming.
Striking a balance between work and play is something we all struggle with– it’s practically part of our DNA. But for those of us who use the same physical space for both work and play, finding a balance is wrought with new, and increasingly more profound complications. When do we ‘call it a night,’ for example, when our work is always literally at our fingertips? How do we resist the call of online gaming during work hours, particularly on a patch day or at the time of a new release? Finding answers to these questions is an ongoing process, but one I’m certain will lead me to more productive, and satisfying online experiences.