Finding the Balance Between Gaming and Real Life

When I was younger and had much more free time than I have now, gaming took up a significant amount of time in my life. Sure, I had other interests and commitments, but if I wanted to host Pathfinder on Thursday, play Friday Night Magic on Friday, travel to an SCG Super Invitational Qualifier on Saturday, and play another SCG Super IQ on Sunday... well, I could.

I don't really have that luxury anymore... at least not until my daughter is old enough to play games with dad, and then who knows if the games we end up playing will even be the ones that I love now? Until then, I just don't see myself having the time to game like I used to... but I have no intention of stopping altogether. I just need to scale back my gaming to a more realistic pace.

Luckily, my wife is really supportive of my hobbies. She knows I am rejuvenated by a healthy dose of gaming, so she encourages me to go out and roll dice or turn cards sideways. She's the best, but even she can't keep up with the amount of money and the amount of time that I would need in order to immerse myself in all the games that I love.

So here are my favorite games at the moment, and my plan for scaling them back in the near future:
  • Magic: The Gathering: I have tried to keep up with standard for years, but I did take a break between 2009 and 2011, and I survived just fine. I think it may be time to let standard go for good. In its place, I'll focus on modern, a non-rotating format. With modern, I can find a deck or two that I like and become an expert in that archetype, rather than floundering around with standard formats that will be changing even more often than before.
  • Roleplaying Games: There are a lot of games in this category, so I'm going to lump them all together here. I don't think it truly matters what game it is that I play, as long as I do my best not to take on the role of game master. GMing just takes up a huge amount of time, and that is a responsibility that I just can't shoulder at the moment. As a player, on the other hand, if I want to go into deep character development in my free time, I can... but if I don't want to or I can't find the free time, I won't be letting anybody down. I am scouting several games at the moment (some that will be starting soon, some that are ongoing but that might have slots available). I'm hoping one of them will turn into a weekly or bi-weekly chance to play.
  • Warhammer 40K: I sold a lot of my stuff before I moved across the country, but I still have a large number of unpainted miniatures. If I get the urge to play 40K, the plan is to channel that urge into painting productivity. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll even replenish my collection of terrain and host games at the house.
  • Legendary: Luckily, this game has several things going for it. A) It has a solo mode, so I don't have to schedule it with other people. B) My wife actually likes this one, so I can play this one and not be an absent husband/father. How's that for convenient?
How about you, dear reader? What restrictions do you impose on yourself so that you can strike a balance between gaming and real life?
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