One of the core concepts in economics is opportunity cost. The price of something is not just the money you pay for it, but also the loss of the ability to buy other things. And since money is just a substitute for time, the same is true of any task or activity you undertake: those eight hours in the office every day have a monetary award but come at the cost of not being able to go fishing in the afternoon. Or play Dota. Having today bared my soul and detailed my addiction to Valve’s online multiplayer war-fest, I am now taking a sobering glance at the opportunity cost of this free-to-play game. In the 1,400 hours I have played Dota 2, I could have done any one of the following:
- Read War and Peace. 20 times.
- Watched the extended edition of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. 123 times.
- Watched every episode of Lost, The Simpsons, Friends, Frasier, Breaking Bad, and South Park. Twice.
- Walked from London to Moscow. And back.
- Cooked 8,000 omelettes. Though probably not eaten them all.
- Learned how to juggle, swim, drive, iron a shirt, and brew a proper cup of English tea.
- Become conversant in a new language. Or three.
- Earned $10,000 working a minimum wage job in the US.
- Built a small hut. Hell, make it a large hut.
I regret nothing.
But these are just a few (carefully researched and mathematically correct) ideas for what else I could have done with my time. Deficits of motivation, interest, and patience mean that I likely wouldn’t have been hard at work refining my Mandarin inflections even in the absence of Dota’s all-consuming presence. Do you have any suggestions for what I should do with my next 1,400 hours of spare time? Can you come up with anything as supremely awesome and addictive as Dota?