Playing games on road trips: killing time or making time?

“And Andrew missed the whole road trip playing his games” my dad chuckled as he browbeat me for playing games on my phone for a good amount of our road trip from LA to Las Vegas.

While it’s true that when I had made the same road trip with my sister a few years prior, I had been staring out the window at the vistas, the landscapes that changed from Southern California’s dry valleys to Nevada’s true deserts, taking pictures and commenting on all that we passed, but this time it was different.  It wasn’t slated as a time for my sister and I to get close or to share a conversation as long and winding as the road from one place to another.    It was a road trip with my family and my girlfriend where we were packed into a car driving through heavy traffic, a time typically reserved for sleeping and listening to our music, each of us with headphones on.

I definitely got a “greatest hits” series of glances out the window and commenting on the unique landscapes that we passed, but the focus of this trip was the destination not the journey.  So, with that in mind I pulled out my phone and caught up on my games, in much the same manner one would take the opportunity of a long flight to catch up on a good book.  I had the time to dedicate to each and every game I had needed more than a few taps to make progress in, and it was perfect.

In looking at the difference of circumstances we can begin to understand the change in behavior, and see that the games I played were not  me killing time with an idle activity, but instead me making time to enjoy something that meant something to me.

Have you ever used a long trip to catch up on some gaming? Do you find it challenging to determine the right time to game and the right time to be present while traveling? Do you feel that you or someone you know spends too much time on their phones or playing games, to the detriment of social interactions? I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to

Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on FacebookTwitterInstagramand Youtube.

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