A friend recently pre-purchased Star Trek Online, the first MMO (for non-gamers, a game played on-line with other people) set in the Star Trek universe. Like most games of this type, it costs $15/month to play, after purchasing the game itself for $50. Normally I avoid anything that costs money every month, but I REALLY like Star Trek. I spent a couple hours combing the website, and the longer I looked at it, the better the deal seemed. After all… it only cost $15 and I make plenty of money, right?
Here are two things that discouraged this purchase.
- I would need $500 in computer upgrades to allow my box to play the game.
- They offer a lifetime subscription, something I had never seen for such a game.
A lifetime subscription sounds like a good deal, especially if you plan to play a long time. It would take 16 months of play to equal the $240 they want for the lifetime subscription. However, this made me realize how much this game could really cost. $790 (game + subscription + new computer) seems like a lot for a game (the other catch, you can only buy a lifetime subscription with a pre-order, in other words, you can’t try the game first if you want to lock in this “deal”). Without the lifetime subscription, it would cost $180/year for as long as I played. That might be ok if that was my entertainment for the year, but I started thinking about how much I would have to play, and whether I had the time.
Calculate your free time
“Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12
As I was pondering whether or not to purchase this game I began to wonder… How much free time do I actually have? I blocked out my day in 15-minute increments to get a better idea.
- Blue: Time at work (assuming no extra overtime.)
- Red: Time spent sleeping.
- Green: Time preparing to work, commuting, or elsewhere. Slight flexibility here… but this is not free time.
- Orange: The precious free time I have for life. Most of my free time is on weekends… on a workday I have just 4 hours.
There is even less if I include tasks of daily living (little things like showers, my toothbrush, and that exercise I should be getting). I would play this game for about 2 hours at a time, consuming my free time, which still might not matter if all entertainment was equal.
Wise free time management
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” – Ephesians 5:18
What does this passage have to do with my dilemma? It clearly addresses drunkenness but also delivers another subtle and often overlooked truth. Condemning drunkenness indirectly, Paul is primarily admonishing the Ephesians to avoid what is literally translated as “dissipation,” of which drunkenness is but one, obvious form.
Dissipation: A wasting by misuse; a process in which energy is used or lost without accomplishing useful work; mental distraction; amusement; diversion
God cares how well we steward our time. We should not waste it producing nothing with bottle in hand, or with long periods spent hypnotized by a flickering light. I can spend my time and money on an entertaining game that enriches my life very little, or on recreation that refreshes while producing something good (like writing articles for Debt Free Adventure.)
I will not purchase Star Trek Online, but I enjoy computer games so this is not a blanket condemnation of electronic entertainment. When a game has a monthly fee I feel somewhat obligated to play enough to get my money’s worth. If there is no monthly fee those feelings of obligation dissipate greatly. This concept can be attributed to any form of entertainment but today I figured I would focus on my weaknesses. The main point being to prevent frivolous distractions from crowding out time better spent in self-enrichment. Spending our time well not only saves us money, it helps ensure we are getting the most out of it.
What do you think?
We only have so much time… perhaps reevaluating our use of free time is in order. Do you wrestled with time spent on frivolous activities that could be put to better use elsewhere?