Some weeks I might get an hour or two of quality time with my Xbox 360. Other weeks I might not play at all.
Imagine, then, my frustration when attempting to join an online game of Halo 3 or Battlefield 1943 against players who seem to be online every day for hours upon hours, who know each level and spawn point by heart, who work together in teams with other kids who spend a similar amount of time online.
If I'm lucky I can maintain a kill-death ratio of around 0, which means I only get killed once for every person I manage to kill. More often than not I wind up with a negative rating as I can't seem to stay alive long enough to figure out what I'm doing wrong or how I was killed.
Add online chat to the equation, where I'm taunted, insulted and jeered at for my ineptness, and I sometimes wonder why I bother...
Here's why. I like playing games, much more than I like watching television or surfing the web. It feels like I'm doing something rather than doing nothing, which is kind of ironic because nothing wastes more time than gaming.
I'm also pretty good at games. I've finished a lot of the top games out there for PS2 and Xbox 360, sometimes while playing them on the hardest mode.
But I would still classify myself as a casual player. I don't spend enough hours on any one game to master it, I'd much rather play a lot of different games than devote my limited spare time to one thing.
But that's just me. There are people out there that have been playing Starcraft for the past 11 years, and now play in tournaments where hundreds of thousands of dollars are up for grabs. People have actually died during Starcraft marathons after playing 30 hours or more without a break.
Check out Major League Gaming (www.mlgpro..com) or Fragapalooza (www.fragapalooza.com) if you want to know more about the world of professional gamers.
It's the guys that don't go pro but probably could that give me the most grief. I've played Halo 3 games against players that have played 5,000 or more multiplayer games, while I've personally played less than 200 in the past two years.
As a result, online play is where my enjoyment of games is sorely tested, and unfortunately that's where more and more games seem to be heading. Most games are being released with some kind of online multiplayer component, or are being released for online play only - such as Battlefield 1943, Team Fortress 2, Unreal Tournament, etc.