My Addiction: Time Management… Games!

OK, it’s confession time. No, this is not why Time’s Fugitive is late, but… okay, it might have contributed to it, earlier on. It is one reason why I don’t watch TV. Or if I do, it’s looking up from my computer, where I’m writing, emailing, on HootSuite, or…

It all started with an intrepid waitress named Flo

I admit it. Playing games. I’m addicted. Ironically, to time management games.

For the uninitiated, these usually feature a character doing a job like waitressing or running a small farm, and you have to run the character through all sorts of tasks that must be done quickly, and in a specific order. In the Diner Dash series, and also Emily’s Delicious, another of my favorites, you work at different restaurants. You have to hand out menus, take orders, sometimes fix food, take it to the customers, collect money, and so on. There are different types of customers who have differing patience levels, and if they leave early, you loose points/money (in the game, not real money). If you don’t make enough money in the allotted time, you fail the level. As the levels go on, difficulty and complexity of the tasks increases.  There is a story that goes along with it, usually told in cut scenes between levels or major game segments. They’re fairly pedestrian – after all, it’s about the game play – but some of them are cute. What my husband finds most ironic about my addiction to these games is that they’re about people doing jobs I would be horrible at!

In the Farm Frenzy series, you play as Scarlet, who has farms all over the place - and in time!

It was way too easy to get caught up in this. It all started several years ago, when MSN Games offered Diner Dash 2 for free. Yes, it was online-only – as in, a tiny screen in a web browser window. And there are commercials between levels. But free! And legal! I was hooked. Eventually, I finished out the game, only to find that… it wasn’t finished. MSN only offered nine levels on the free, online game, then wanted to sell you a downloadable game. For $19.95, which I couldn’t justify.

Then I found, where they offer the full, downloadble versions of dozens of games, FREE. Like the MSN trial online version, these have commercials between levels, but they don’t bother me. (With the commercials, I know the developers are being paid, and that’s something I have a vested interest in.) Sure enough, they had Diner Dash – and if I wanted it without commercials, it’s only 6.99 on Gamehouse.  There are many to choose from. Not just time management games, but hidden objects, puzzles, arcade games. All designed to be played in short bursts (hence the name casual games, as opposed to something long-term, like Everquest or WoW).

"It's good to work toward my dream," Emily says. Ummm.... yeah. Now I need to go work on mine.

I don’t stop writing to watch TV. But I do, sometimes, stop to play a round of Farm Frenzy–gotta make that cheese! Which invariably becomes two rounds. Or three. Or… well, you get it.

So there is my big time management challenge… time management games. I’ve been good lately, but it’s involved a great deal of restraint. I don’t let myself play games until after I’ve done a set amount of work on my writing, done my workout for the day, taken care of paperwork or whatever else needs to be done around the house, checked and responded to email and so on. But sometimes I do slip up and play before the work is done. Then I get back to the work, and it’s that much longer before it’s finished. I admit, I had to get in a round of Delicious: Emily’s Tea Garden before writing this blog – and now it’s 10:30 PM. But the writing got done first!

So tell me. Do you like casual games, and if so, which ones? Or are you more into the more involved games, or… not at all – maybe your addiction is something else, like TV? Is it an effort for you to stay away from your addiction until you get things done? Please share, and tell me I’m not alone! I’ll stop back later… after I’ve served some customers!