Friday, January 1, 2010

Gaming Is Expensive

Gaming is expensive. I'm not talking about the cost of the books, dice, and so forth - though that can certainly add up. I'm talking about the total costs for me in particular.

I freely admit to being a book whore - in that I would happily support Wizards of the Coast by ordering the books they put out each month. In the grand scheme of things it wasn't a tremendous amount of money, though over the years it does add up. But it wasn't like I couldn't afford it, particularly before having any rug rats around. Which brings me to the real costs of gaming.

Right now, I try and game at home Monday nights (for three hours) and then Friday nights in Chelsea (about an hour away) from about 7pm to 11pm. More often than not these days, the Friday game is cancelled because someone can't make it, so it is really more like every other week, or sometimes more like once a month. The thing is, often my wife gets home quite late from work (though not as much recently) or she'll be out of town for the week for work. Having a one year old and a four year old that require an awful lot of supervision, this means that to play I need a babysitter on Monday to watch the kids, feed them, and get them baths and given the need to leave and drive on Friday, we at least need someone here to watch the kids until my wife gets home. Even if it isn't that late, since I have to leave before 6 if I can, that means having a sitter (or the nanny stay a little late - she normally works 8 to 6 and costs an arm and a leg...)

Paying the sitters at 10 dollars an hour (or 12 for the nanny when you factor in overtime), that means at least 30 dollars on Monday nights and maybe just as much on Fridays. Now THAT is expensive. Now, if my wife gets home at a reasonable time (i.e. if she leaves work at 5) then there is no need for a sitter on Monday and there is at most a need for an extra hour on Friday, maybe less (and given that Fridays often don't happen, we often need not cover that regardless).

But this cost adds up. I swear I feel like all of my pay goes straight to the nanny and to babysitters. And really, it basically does.

There is also the cost of time, but that really isn't too bad most of the time. The advantage of Monday is that I game at home, so I don't go anywhere, and I'm really not away from my family. My daughter often likes to come downstairs where we play and talk to us, or take the figures and play with them, or just in general hang out with us. Probably my son will start to do that too when he's older. In fact, that is part of why I want at least one game run out of my house, so my kids can see me play and eventually, if they want, play themselves. Yes, I'm creating new gamers. (I can't do that with Friday's game because one of the players lives so far away that the only place we can all reasonably meet is in the middle, which is in Chelsea. Occasionally when he can't play and everyone else still decides to anyway, we'll play in Lansing, but more often than not we just cancel if someone can't make it).

Given how expensive having kids is in general, and how much we are paying for a nanny, it is making me rethink just how much gaming I can afford. My wife would certainly be happy to see less money spent that way. She does try to get home earlier, which is also nice in other ways - she can spend more time with the kids. She'd probably be happy if I stopped gaming altogether, but then she's not a gamer. Beyond that, it is my only social activity right now - we almost never get out of the house at all for any reason (again, the kids), so to give it up would be to give up my only social activity, not exactly healthy.

So the gaming will continue, though perhaps with less frequency. (That seems to happen naturally on its own, as I said above - busy professionals with families have a lot harder time finding the time to game). I still buy books, but now only from Paizo, and they don't have nearly the volume that Wizards had (and has for 4E I'm sure). I have plenty of miniatures, so I really don't buy anymore. (I do look at the new sets to see if there are any singles I might want, and the player character minis are cheap and non-random, so I'll probably keep getting them).

At least I don't have any other hobbies of significant expense. Well, ok, I also like Advanced Squad Leader, but they rarely put out much for that - the system is complete.

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