I admit that today didn’t go quite as planned. I didn’t get my study time in this morning. Or manage to tidy my room. (Not that anyone would notice if I did.) I didn’t write the scholarship essay that’s due in two weeks. And from where I sit, it looks like I may not even finish the blog posts I’d hoped to bash out.
Unfortunately, I’m in no position to ask, “Where did the time go?” I know exactly where it went, beginning at 6:30 this morning. I woke up half an hour early and, on most days that would mean that I had the time to cram in some extra language study or a few more minutes on the treadmill. I might have the opportunity to put a little extra elbow grease into the day’s housework or get ahead with a few of my writing assignments. Time is money (or at least production opportunity) and I usually treat it as such.
Today, however, was different. Part of my morning ritual includes logging into “Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth.” I’m what, in game parlance, is known as a “might hugger” – someone who builds troops, but never actually uses them in combat. Building these massive armies doesn’t require a great deal of dedication to the game, but it does benefit whichever alliance a player has joined and, with that benefit, comes the right to fellowship. (This usually takes the form of random small talk in an online chat room and is a good way to pass time with other people who are as crazy as I am.)
I had planned to proceed as usual, queuing a few troops for training and sending any spare resources to the “bank” where they could be used by other players. I had just begun to clear the messages in my mailbox when one caught my eye: the game was running a promotion.
“Boxes” of random goodies could be “purchased” for a mere 6th of their usual price. The boxes were awarded randomly through a game of chance and, since I had won quite a few of the gold tokens to that were used in the game, I thought I’d take a look. I did, after all, have a spare half-hour.
I logged into the exchange and began redeeming the tokens. Box after box was added to my knapsack and, as I began to open the boxes, I realized that the prizes (which included additional tokens) were actually quite good. Desperate not to miss my opportunity, I returned to the game of chance and redeemed the additional tokens.
I continued this process until I’d exhausted all of the gold coins, then decided to take a look at my alliance’s standing in one of the server competitions and call it quits. I admit that I might have been better off leaving well enough alone. We were in third place and I knew that some of the prizes I’d acquired with the boxes would help us along the way. So instead of setting the game down, I began using the goodies I’d won.
It was a process that went on for hours. On and off throughout the day, I logged in to release my new troops into my cities. Each spare moment I had (and a few that I didn’t) was spent unleashing the flood of might. My citadels were brimming with hungry, belching, beer-drinking dwarves. And I was pleased.
The sun began to set and I suddenly realized that I had squandered most of my day playing a game. For a moment, I felt guilty. It seemed such a wretched waste of time. Then, again, I can’t deny that I enjoyed it. So maybe it really wasn’t a waste after all.