Uncharted 4, Drake gaming on the couch with a friend as an adult gamer.

How to Find Time to Play Video Games as an Adult

Here are tips and tricks on how to find time to play video games as an adult without sacrificing time with your family or neglecting your other priorities. 

As we grow older, our responsibilities pile up, a lot, making it increasingly difficult to find time for our passions, such as video games.  If you’re an adult with a job, possibly a family, pet dog called Ronald and other responsibilities, then you could be forgiven for feeling like you’re missing out on the latest gaming releases. Or maybe I’m just projecting.

But fear not!

Here are tips and tricks on how to find time to play video games as an adult without sacrificing time with your family or neglecting your other priorities.

1. Schedule Your Gaming Time

Scheduling is the key. I know it sounds boring (that’s because it is), but this is the most important step, in my opinion.

The first step to finding time for gaming is to prioritize it, just like any other important activity in your life. Look at your daily and weekly schedules, and figure out when you can allocate time for gaming. It might be an hour in the evening, a couple of hours on weekends, or short sessions during breaks from work. Create a gaming schedule that works for you and stick to it.  Personally, I set aside Friday night as my game night.  I know that I’ll be uninterrupted and can play until the early hours if I’m enjoying myself.  That may work for you, or perhaps you’ll find that an hour each morning before the kids get up works better for you.

To make the most of your game time, make a list of games you want to play, and prioritize them based on which one you want to complete the most and the time required to complete them. This way, you can focus on one game at a time and avoid being overwhelmed by a massive backlog of games.  Be realistic about the time you have available and play the games that you’ll be able to enjoy with the time that you have.

2. Share the Fun with Family and Friends

One way to make gaming a part of your adult life is to involve your family and friends. If your partner or children enjoy video games, find ways to get them to pick up your spare controller and share the experience together.

Sonic and Knuckles playing video games as adult gamers.

There are plenty of co-op or multiplayer games to play with your kids or partner that cater to various skill levels and interests, so you’re sure to find something that everyone can enjoy. And, if all else fails, kick their asses at Madden and be done with it.

If you don’t have a family (or even if you do but you’re feeling adventurous), consider hosting regular gaming nights with your friends. These can be online if you’re not all able to get away, or in person if you want to relive those moments you had as kids, passing the controller.

3. Embrace Shorter and More Varied Games

Many AAA games demand a significant time investment, but there are also plenty of shorter games that can be enjoyed in small chunks of time. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by massive open-world games, consider exploring indie titles, mobile games, or shorter experiences that can be completed in just a few hours.

Don’t limit yourself to one type of game or genre. There are so many games out there offering an untold number of gaming experiences.  It is impossible to play everything, so use your limited gaming time as an opportunity to explore new genres and styles of play. You might discover a new favorite game or series that fits perfectly into your busy schedule.

4. Adjust Your Playstyle

If you’re struggling to find time for gaming, consider changing your approach to playing games. For example, if you’re a completionist who usually spends countless hours on side quests and collectibles (gotta get those Platinum trophies!), try focusing on the main storylines instead.

This can help you experience more games in less time while still enjoying the core aspects of each title.

5. Take Gaming on the Go

Portable gaming devices, such as the Steam Deck or Nintendo Switch, or even a smartphone, offer a convenient way to enjoy gaming on the go. They allow you to play games during your daily commute, on your lunch break, or while waiting for an appointment. With a wide variety of games available on portable platforms, you can easily find titles that fit your time constraints and preferences.  You could also sail the seven seas and play some games from your childhood, apparently.

Valve Steam Deck handheld gaming device on a desktop

Mobile gaming machines can help you make the most of your “dead time” – those moments when you’re waiting for something or have a few minutes to spare. Instead of scrolling through social media or staring at the wall, I use these moments to chip away at my gaming backlog.

Many games and gaming platforms now offer cloud save functionality, allowing you to sync your progress across multiple devices. This means you can start a game on your console at home, then continue playing on your Steam Deck during your lunch break or commute, then pick up again at home in the evening. This seamless integration can make it much easier to find time for gaming, even with a busy schedule.

6. Optimize Your Gaming Setup

Designating a specific area in your home for gaming can help you focus and get the most out of your limited gaming time.  When I didn’t have a gaming setup for a period of time, I barely touched my consoles as I didn’t want to be hogging the family TV.  I found it hard to switch off when I did, as I was sitting in the same space all day and all I could think about were the chores that I needed to tick off.

Ensure that your gaming setup is comfortable, efficient, and free from distractions. This way, you can quickly jump into a gaming session whenever you have some free time, without wasting time setting up your equipment or searching for the right game.

N64 video game boxes.

Having the right gaming gear can make a significant difference in the quality and enjoyment of your gaming sessions. Invest in a comfortable chair, a high-quality headset, and any other accessories that can enhance the experience.

Another tip: keep your game library organized and easily accessible, so you can quickly find the game you want to play without wasting time searching through piles of discs or digital downloads. You can use physical storage solutions, such as shelves or game racks, or digital organization tools like Steam’s library categories to keep your games neatly arranged.  I’ve sorted my games by estimated time to complete, so I know if I want to beat something in a few hours in an evening, I need to grab a game from the top of the list.  If I want to beat something over the course of a few weeks and really sink my teeth into a title, I head down to the halfway point of my pile of shame, or beyond if I’m feeling brave.

7. Combine Gaming with Other Hobbies and Interests

If you’re struggling to find time for gaming, consider combining it with other hobbies or interests. For example, you can listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music while playing games that don’t require your full attention, such as casual or strategy games. This can help you enjoy multiple hobbies at once, making the most of your limited free time.

It is important that I keep on top of the latest news in my work industry, but it is so darn boring.  So, I’ll usually throw a news round-up on while I chill with a 4X game or something turn-based.  That way, if something is mentioned in the round-up that I need to remember, I can scribble it down then get back into the game.  It isn’t perfect, but it sure beats just reading industry news.

8. Learn to Let Go of Some Games

As an adult gamer with limited gaming time, it’s important to accept that we just don’t have the time that we used to.  As a result, we may not be able to play every game that interests us. Be selective about the games you choose to invest your time in, and don’t feel guilty about letting go of games that don’t hold your interest or are too time-consuming. Instead of trying to play every new game release, focus on the games that truly excite you and offer a high-quality gaming experience. Forget about 6/10 games unless they’re something that you’re sure you’ll enjoy.

Tears of the Kingdom showing Link looking over the world he is about to explore.

If you have a backlog of games that you know you’re never going to play then just sell them.  Yes, you’ve sunk money into them, but there is no point in staring at titles that you bought on a whim and feeling guilty about it just because a game sale suckered you in a few years ago.  If you’re a PC gamer and you have games on Steam that you’ll never play, hide them.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Don’t stress about completing every game in your backlog; simply enjoy the journey and appreciate the wealth of gaming experiences available to you.

9. Take Breaks and Don’t Force Yourself to Play

Gaming should be enjoyable. Some people forget that.

If you find yourself not enjoying a game or feeling pressured to play, it’s important to take a step back and reassess your priorities. Gaming should not be a source of stress or obligation. If you’re not in the mood to play, give yourself permission to take a break and focus on other hobbies or activities.

Pay attention to how you feel during and after gaming sessions. If you’re experiencing physical discomfort or mental fatigue, you might need to take a break or adjust your gaming habits.

Gaming burnout is real and can occur when you push yourself too hard or try to force yourself to play games that aren’t genuinely enjoyable. Listen to your instincts and take breaks when needed. Be open to trying new games and genres, and don’t be afraid to walk away from a game that isn’t providing the enjoyment you’re looking for.

10. Embrace Change and Adapt

As an adult, your life and priorities will continue to evolve, and it’s crucial to adapt your gaming habits accordingly. Be open to change and willing to adjust your gaming schedule, preferences, and goals as your life circumstances shift. By staying flexible and adaptive, you can continue to enjoy gaming as a fulfilling and enjoyable part of your adult life.  But never lose sight of what is important – your family and friends.

As you grow and change, you may find yourself drawn to different types of games or wanting to revisit old favorites. Don’t be afraid to return to games you enjoyed in the past, as they can offer a comforting sense of nostalgia and familiarity while still providing a fun gaming experience.

Even as your gaming habits and preferences evolve, staying connected with the gaming community can help you stay informed about new releases and trends. Engage with fellow gamers through online forums, social media, or local gaming events to keep your passion for gaming alive.  If you’re anything like me, I don’t have too many gamer friends in my life, so gaming communities are a great way for me to keep up to date and to talk crap about games – apart from in articles like these, that is.