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The SC2 community is all about balance: “infestors need to be nerfed,” “no more blue flame hellions,” “Terran is OP,” etc. Each patch changes the game and balance is constantly re-examine by players, fans and Blizzard staff alike. What might be the best strategy or unit one day could be one of the worst after a patch. Whether you read Well Played, Team Liquid, Reddit, or simply Twitter, balance discussions and rants are a constant. In this community, balance is everything. There is another type of SC2 balance, however, that is often not discussed. It is essential to the enjoyment of the game for casual players. This balance is life balance.
Regardless of whether you’re a gamer or not, life balance is an issue that everyone struggles with. Today, peoples’ lives are dynamic, hectic and busy, filled with numerous roles and responsibilities from work to working out. It can be a challenge to balance everything, especially if there’s something that you really enjoy, like SC2. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to interact with the SC2 community, get better at the game and enjoy it which can be added to any schedule. It takes a bit creativity and a touch of work, but any gamer can add SC2 to their life without letting it take over. It’s all about balance. I’m far from perfect when it comes to balance (see: dirty dishes), but here are a handful of tricks I’ve developed to incorporate SC2 into my life:
It’s impossible to ladder effectively while doing other things, but it’s both easy and productive to watch streams while doing other things. Instead of simply sitting down to watch the NASL each evening, try cooking dinner with the stream on in the background or eating dinner while watching. In hindsight, you’ll feel more productive if you make dinner while watching the NASL instead simply watching the NASL.
Late last year, I made an effort to watch the Day9 Daily whenever I was at home for the evening. I’d get home from work in time to make dinner before the show started and then I’d enjoy a supper with a side of Sean. The last handful of months, when I’m writing or answering emails, I often have streams open on the left-hand side of my screen. It’s a good way to feel productive while enjoying the streams of some of my favorite Protoss players (SaSe, HuK & ToD).
I don’t devote all of my attention to watching the stream, but I do get a chance to get things done while enjoying the game. I love listening to gaming podcasts, too, and I make a solid effort each week to do chores while listening. You’d be amazed at how much can be accomplished between Inside the Game, State of the Game, Live on Three and Weapon of Choice.
With the GOMtv and Justin.tv mobile apps, it’s easier than ever to take SC2 with you, too. If you love watching streams or GSL VODs, it’s too easy to take them on the road with you. Spend hours on the bus each day to and from school? Catch up on the GSTL! Run on the treadmill after work? Watch a SC2 stream! It can be a great way to incorporate the game into your day-to-day life while doing another, necessary activity.
One of the best ways to do something regularly is to make a routine of the activity. Having a routine is a highly effective way to ensure regular workouts, so why not do it with SC2? I personally haven’t had any success with having a routine when it comes to gaming since my WoW days, but I do think it could work well for someone with a more regular schedule. Want to ladder more? Wake up an extra hour early and play 2-3 ladder games before breakfast. If you’re a student who studies every night, plan to take a break every night from 9:00PM to 10:00PM to play a ladder game or two. It could help you be more effective with your studying if you know you have a welcome SC2 break.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m active in my local SC2 community. I’m privileged to live in a city with a vibrant local gaming scene, and I take full advantage of it. Instead of gaming at home and then hanging out with friends, I simply hang out, gaming with my friends. The local SC2 crowd gets together at least once a week whether its for a tournament or to watch the GSL finals together. It’s much nicer to look back on the day if I played SC2 all day with friends than if I played SC2 all day by myself. Even laddering can feel more productive when chatting on Skype with a friend even if the conversation is less focused than it would be without SC2.
It’s easy to combine social activities with gaming. If you don’t live in a city with a big gaming community, take some initiative! With the development of BarCraft and local tournaments popping up, it’s easier than ever to be a social gamer. Google local gaming centers, text your friends and host a SC2 night. Think you could draw a crowd for BarCraft? Organize one! There are great resources on Reddit and TL to help you with planning and promoting the event.
As juvenile as it sounds, give yourself conditions that must be met before you game. If you find your homework slipping because you’re playing too much SC2, simply do not let yourself play until your homework is done. It sounds silly, but everyone gives up the necessary for the fun at some point. I’d much rather ladder than go to the gym, but we both know what I should do. If I don’t go to the gym at least four times per week, I can’t ladder the following week. It’s simple.
There are regular posts on TL about casual gamers giving up the game because it has consumed their life. Just like everything in SC2, though, juggling work, school, friends, family, etc. is simply about balance. Try using your time effectively and fit gaming in where you can. Learning to balance gaming with other roles and responsibilities is hard, but giving up SC2 would be much worse.
Blue flame hellions, however, still need to nerfed.
After years of playing World of Warcraft, a friend introduced Jacqueline to Starcraft early last year. Jacqueline’s relationship with Starcraft started out slowly: a handful of casual dates, a little bit of flirting but nothing serious. She took her relationship with the game to the next level after BlizzCon 2010 where she experienced eSports magic first-hand and realized that Starcraft was the one. Despite being a mediocre player, she has been clambering the ladder at a glacial pace and has spent more time watching Starcraft online than she’d like to admit. In March, Jacqueline made the leap from eSports fan to eSports professional when she was hired by the Handsome Nerd as their Art Director, combining her design skills with her love of Starcraft. Since its start in April, Jacqueline has been a contributing writer for the North American Star League, writing coverage for Division 1. Offline, Jacqueline is a bookworm, a runner, a freeride snowboarder and has a Human Ecology degree with a Clothing and Textiles major.