I'll preface this blog by admitting its contents could likely earn me an official diagnosis for obsessive-compulsive disorder. For some reason, I've always been obsessed with the "hours played" tally on my games. Some people actively avoid looking at their play time for fear of the "holy crap, I've wasted X hours of my life doing this?," but I'm the absolute opposite. If I'm about to go to bed and I see my hours tally for Mass Effect 2 is at 19 hours and 35 minutes, I think to myself "Well, if I just play 25 more minutes I'll be at an even 20 hours." Back in college, I even made a giant Word document in which I listed every game I could ever remember playing, and proceeded to estimate my hours count for each.

I'm not really sure where this obsession came from. I think it comes from when I was younger and didn't have much in the way of disposable income, so every game purchase was a huge decision for me. When I would read a review that stated "Devil May Cry should take you 20 hours to beat," that made me more comfortable with a purchasing decision. If I knew I'd be spending at least 20 hours on a game, that made it much easier to talk myself into buying it. After all, I wouldn't want to relive my nightmare of paying $50 for State of Emergency and playing it for about two hours.

When I look at my Borderlands play time and see 100+ hours, that makes me think "Wow, this game has given me almost a week's worth of entertainment...that's awesome." I don't think of it as time wasted, I see it as an objective reminder of how great a game is. If a game like Mass Effect 2, Oblivion, or Fallout 3 can keep me interested for 30, 40, or 50+ hours, that's a sign of an amazing gaming experience.

Here's where it gets ridiculous. If I play a game for a certain amount of time and it's not going towards my official tally, I'll let the game run for the appropriate time when I am back on my profile. For instance, if I play Street Fighter IV for two hours at a friend's house, I'll leave mine on the menu screen for two hours when I get home. The most extreme example of this was when 220 hours of Soul Calibur data was mysteriously deleted from my Dreamcast VMU. Sure enough, I left it on the menu screen for over nine days once I started my new file (and then pumped over 200 more hours into the game after that).

During the last generation of consoles, EA introduced a new feature called the "EA Profile." It was meant to track your stats, records, and play time across all EA Sports titles. I was thrilled when I heard this, and hoped it would be the first step towards all games tracking hours played. Unfortunately, it turned out that I was one of the only ones who gave a crap about the feature, as it quietly disappeared and was never heard from again.

To this day, I'm still hoping for the next generation of systems to include an hours tally within the framework of the console. Current systems already add up your achievement points and trophies into one overall score (which has unsurprisingly turned into another obsession for me). Imagine being able to see your total hours played of gaming across the board, or even your hours spent playing a specific genre of game. Taking that idea even further, what about stats for total kill/death ratio across all games with multiplayer deathmatch, or total win/loss record throughout all fighting games? I think it would be amazing to see such a comprehensive array of stats that would display your gaming habits in such an objective manner.

Or maybe I'm just going to turn into that guy who checks to make sure his door is locked 300 times a day.