My favorite video games, like Pokémon Legends: Arceus, let me go

Dear Polygon,

I am 30 years old and work in an office full time. I’m also drawing a webcomic on the side and trying to develop a (potential) career in digital art. Playing video games is one of my favorite ways to unwind after a busy day. The problem is, when I get into a game, I REALLY get into it. I have limited free time and my obsession with gaming can crowd out activities that are more important to me, like working on my art. Obviously, some of this problem can be solved by working on my own blindness and willpower, but I’d still like to know: Can you recommend some games that are easier to pull away from? And do you have any strategies for speed when playing new games?

“Lost in the lands between.”

Well, Lost in the Lands Between, that’s a tough question! When I get engrossed in a game I love, it’s also hard for me to step away. And even though I cover the video game industry for a living, it can often be hard to justify playing time-wasting games since I also have to report and write and find time for other hobbies like drawing and reading. It’s a work in progress for me too. But I have some strategies and gaming recommendations that made things easier for me — and they might work for you, too.

When my life is particularly busy (read: hectic), I try to stick to games that I can easily jump in and out of. I found this Citizen Sleeperwhich I briefly mentioned in the past Dear Polygon is great for this because the game runs in quick loops that act as natural session book-breakers. Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge can function similarly: levels are quick (about 10 minutes each) and perfect for short bursts between tasks.

Although it takes place in a large open world, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is also perfect for this kind of staccato rhythm. I can break up the game naturally by segmenting play sessions into separate field trips to collect Pokémon, creating this easy save point to shut down the game once I get back to camp and update the Pokédex. Have you tried Neon white? Its seamless platforming and shooting are primarily made for quick sessions, provided you’re not repeatedly trying to beat your friend’s low time on the leaderboards. And finally, despite everything, I did it finally entered into Fortnite. Its no-build mode has removed one of the most intimidating factors of multiplayer, and it’s easier than ever for me to play a round before going back to painting.

However, I understand that none of these games are particularly similar to the games you mentioned on the Dear Polygon form. You listed Elden Ring, and that struck a chord. These are such games as The Witcher 3 and The Elder Scrolls 4: Forgetting, that really suck me in and make it hard to exercise willpower over my time management. Lately, I’ve found it helps to put these games aside until I know for sure that I’ll have tons of free time to lose myself in their worlds—times that I’m fine with when my other hobbies fall by the wayside. I think it’s reasonable to have an ebb and flow in that regard, but I’m always careful to make sure it doesn’t stay that way forever.

Another thing that has helped me manage all of my various hobbies while maintaining a full-time job is actually being really boring. I plan things.

It’s really against my nature, as someone who enjoys chaos and spontaneity – but it works. Now my schedule is still free and I often break it. But simple having the schedule helps me get started and eliminates indecision when it’s time to dive into a new book or video game. For example, I use the few hours I’m awake before work to draw and paint in my sketchbook. That’s when I naturally feel most creative and excited to paint. And of course, if I don’t feel like it on certain mornings, I don’t. And that’s good. My lunch breaks are a perfect chance to work my way through the book I’m reading so I can use the time after dinner to play video games.

It is by no means a strict schedule that I they have to adhere to every day. But charting a free timeline where hobbies fit naturally has been extremely helpful in keeping up with the things I love. A little planning combined with games that let you leave happy can do wonders until your next vacation – at which point you’ll be able to dive into that next open-world game without any distractions.

Nicole