It’s Top 5 Tuesday again and this time I’m going to lay down a few simple tips for you college freshman out there who are transitioning to dorm and student housing life. Life change demands changes everywhere, but I bet you didn’t know it might mean you’d have to change your gaming lifestyle too. Or maybe you did, either way I’ve got a few tips to keep things smooth because you are about to be surrounded by more threats than campers and teabaggers.
5) Chicks. With apologies to the girl gamers out there I have to recognize that most of the audience consists of males so this one has to go out to them exclusively. The wiser guys will know this already but with gaming being a major competitor for your time and attention it isn’t a hobby that women tend to fully endorse. You might have downplayed your gaming or even hidden it in the past, but college life is like a closed ecosystem in which all aspects need to work together for you to survive.
To that end, if and when you attach yourself to some poor girl that doesn’t know any better you should try to make time for some co-op together. Even if she is against it, choose something you know she might enjoy like LittleBigPlanet, something that requires intelligent teamwork like Portal 2, or something light and nostalgic like Smash Bros. Forcing her into an online FPS match just isn’t the way to go. If you include her in your hobby she will consider it quality time and probably come to understand you a little better. If getting her to try it is a problem then offer to do something you really don’t want to in return like attend a play. If she’s already a gamer (I know that’s more common these days) then you’re set, just play whatever she already likes and shut off your inner critic.
4) The Don’t Start rule. It would be pretty obvious of me to tell you not to spend too much time playing your games so that you can get your work done, so I won’t. You already know that much. Instead the best way to actually accomplish this is with the Don’t Start rule. If you know you need to study or do homework for 3 hours tonight but you want to join a game at 9PM the only way you’re going to both get your work done and not overplay then don’t play between classes, don’t play right after dinner, don’t give yourself a chance to get sucked into it. The next thing you know you’ll be putting off the work for another day, which is very easy to do at college since it can be a week before you have to prove you did anything at all.
3) Avoid splitting game costs. Unless you don’t mind not being the sole owner of your games this little “trick” to help share the high cost of gaming among “friends” has numerous drawbacks. For physical products it deprives you of something you might like in your collection, causing you to have to buy the game again to have your own copy. It might spend more time at your friend’s place so you don’t have access. If it’s a digital game then you’ll probably have to deal with a lot of console activating and deactivating as the other owner may have crazy plans to let all of their friends play it as well.
2) Lending games. College is the land of parasites. If you are a gamer who has more games than the latest Call of Duty and Halo then people are going to eyeball your collection and ask to borrow things. I won’t tell you not to allow it because you don’t want to be too much of a jerk but make sure you know the people you are lending them out to and know them well before agreeing. If they are proven trustworthy or you know they take good care of their own electronics then it might be worth the risk. Basically though, don’t lend anything out unless you can forgive somebody for the fact that it’s either never coming back or not coming back in the condition it left in. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just keep your games out of sight, or have a small faux collection and tell people that’s all you have.
1) Invest in a decent combination safe. Something about the mob mentality that accompanies freedom from the former rule of home life spurs people to behave in ways they never would alone. A few beers and some testosterone in a smoky room somewhere can mean you will get jacked and the game system is often the first thing to go. I know it sounds like a pain in the ass to have to be swapping your console in and out of a safe but you’re going to be so busy it might be something you only do on weekends. In any case it’s better to be safe than screwed. That alone will help you keep from gaming too much, but more importantly a good medium sized safe will keep one of your biggest entertainment investments from sprouting legs and walking away. I’m serious, people are animals.
I realize a lot of this means you are going to have to be assertive, maybe even a jerk sometimes, but trust me it never serves you well to be a doormat. Letting everyone use your online account, system, games, and grub up your controllers won’t make people respect you any more. Stay smart, be selfish if you have to, and more than anything remember to protect everything.