*My* unplayed backlog, life, & kids

(note: this was originally posted on my blog at www.trueachievements.com but that site's blog functionality is terrible, so moved it here).

So I stumbled across a friend's blog post from awhile back (EldritchSS' Blog), and found myself completely relating to what he said about how his backlog of games is now far outstripping his free time.

It got me thinking about how my gaming habits have changed over the years.

I got my 1st 360 in June of 2006, at that time I was engaged to be married (in fact the 360 was a wedding gift from my bride to be), still working on my bachelors degree, and otherwise enjoying the life of a full-time student. Gaming was a bit sporadic, full-time studies were a big time committment, but OTOH, I could take breaks whenever I wanted.

Shortly thereafter I started graduate studies, which meant that in addition to full-time studies I was also working part-time. However, all my "working" time was almost completely self-scheduled. There were periods where work/school would get hectic and gaming time would suffer, but by in large I could play whenever I wanted so long as I found the time to get my work done. Suddenly I found myself in boosting sessions trying to get those elusive MP achievements that I'd never get "legit" (I *hate* adversarial MP). My gamerscore soared.

Then last July I completed my master's degree, and found myself suddenly looking for work. By September I had *two* jobs lined up. Suddenly I found myself unable to find the time to game at all. I went weeks on end without even playing a game on my 360, never mind trying to grind out tough achievements. Boosting? Hah. It wasn't until December when one job ended and the other was on holiday that I went on a mini-spree and played a TON.

By January I was down to a single full-time job, with relatively flexible hours. Suddenly I could join boosting sessions again, though only in the later evenings. Surprisingly, this was a serious limiting factor in my ability to progress my gamerscore. I had never realized how many boosters are high-school students who want to boost during the day, or live in foreign countries. The vast majority of boosting sessions were for times when I was at work or in bed.

And now, the biggest impact on my ability to sco-ho occured on May 7th with the birth of my daughter. The first week or two after the birth I didn't even find time to turn the TV on, let alone play anything. Now i find myself able to find some gaming time (though this is only because I'm on parental leave from work), but it's in sporadic bursts -- 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, an hour on occasion. It's amazing how much a screaming baby interferes with one's ablity to play video games. :) Now while I may get 3-5 hours thoughout the day in, it's never more than maybe a half-hour or hour at a time, and I never know when they're going to happen. Suddenly my schedule seems open, yet completely inflexible -- while I know I won't be working at any particular time (much like when I was a grad student), I never know until the actual time if I'm free or not, or for how long. This makes it impossible to join any boosting sessions -- how can I commit to a session if I don't even know if I'll be able to play or for how long?

And after next week, I'm back at work during the day *AND* helping with baby in the evening. Maybe my gaming days are behind me. ;)

I'm curious for all the gaming dads (or mom's) on my friends list, how do you find having kids impacts gaming? Do you make the time for yourself to game? Does it put a strain on the relationship with your significant other? Do you just "play it by ear" and game whenever you get the chance? Does it get easier to find the time as kids get older?

(PS - for the record, I have *ZERO* complaints about being a Dad, I wouldn't trade my daughter for anything, please don't take anything I wrote above to indicate otherwise. I feel truly blessed to be a parent, I'm just thinking aloud about the impact on my biggest hobby) :)