Seven Rules to Avoid Video Game Addiction for Grown Ups

I’m 31 and I’ve played video games since I was six, starting with Zork on the PC and Baseball on the Atari 2600.

When I was younger I played somewhere between way too f*cking much and just plain too much. Now that I’m a grown ass man, I rarely play more than 10-15 hours per week, but I have my binge moments, and I’ve noticed that video games have had some negative consequences in my life. I’ve caught myself being late for just about everything because of playing video games, lying to people about plans to play more, being late to work a lot, thinking about how I’ll play a certain game while I’m actually in a conversation with a real life human being, choosing to play games rather than spend time with my girlfriend (now ex. shocking, I know), and using games as an escape to not think about important issues with work, family, or friends. Obviously I’m the one responsible for this behavior, but being disciplined with my video game time has definitely helped me feel more fulfilled in most areas of my life.

I am 43% Video Game Addict.
I Play a Few Video Games

I may play video games but they don’t rule my life. Good for me. But I should be careful not to fall in the grasp of the loving glow of the TV or monitor.

Sooooo I’m writing down these rules before I buy GTA IV and an XBOX 360. I haven’t played any games at home in six months, and I’ve held out 17 days after the GTA release, and more than a year since the release of the newer consoles, without buying anything. Except for this one Wii at work and playing at parties but whatever. Over the last ten years, my minor addictions were with GTA III on the PS2, Red Faction on the PC, and Age of the Empires III on my home HTPC, Karl, which I removed from my house and locked in a closet at work three months ago due to the fact that I was playing it and watching movies all the f*cking time. So the idea is that by writing out some guidelines I can avoid having to totally remove my XBOX from home after binging on GTA IV:

The Rules

  1. No canceling plans with real human beings to play video games.
  2. No lying about plans to play video games.
    For example, “I’m busy on Tuesday” counts as a lie if by “busy” I mean I want to play video games.
  3. Maximum of 20 15 hours per week.
  4. One hour maximum for the “I just want to win one level before I go to bed.”
  5. Bed time no later than 12:30am on weekdays just because of video games.
    This means if I get home at 11pm, and still want to play for several hours, I can’t. Ever. None of that.
  6. Girlfriend comes before video games. Almost always.
    I don’t actually have a girlfriend right now, and nothing is wrong with spending time playing games, but when it comes to regularly choosing to play games instead of spending time someone important to me, that is a violation! This one is hard to define, but I always know if I’m making poor decisions in this area.
  7. Minimum of two days per week with no video games
    It’s kind of sad that I have to write this one down. But hopefully I’ll have enough actual life occurring so I won’t have to play games.

The Penalties

Breaking any of these rules results in a 3 day no-gaming penalty, except for lying which results in a 5 day penalty.

  • Crissy

    Hi I’m wondering if you could talk to me a little about this. I’m a soon to be ex girlfriend. I love my boyfriend more than life but I cant take being ignored and being treated badly when I want to spend a small amount of time with him. He plays all day and that is not exhaggerating. When he worked for himself it got really bad. 16 hours a day. Now it’s on all or most of his off time. He minimizes it to me and is borderline abusive/defensive when I even try to talk to him while he’s playing. I know he loves me and I love him too but I really dont know what else to do. His mother suggested I write him notes when I’m feeling neglected instead of interrupting his game. This seems absurd to me.
    What do you think?

  • Crissy

    Hi I’m wondering if you could talk to me a little about this. I’m a soon to be ex girlfriend. I love my boyfriend more than life but I cant take being ignored and being treated badly when I want to spend a small amount of time with him. He plays all day and that is not exhaggerating. When he worked for himself it got really bad. 16 hours a day. Now it’s on all or most of his off time. He minimizes it to me and is borderline abusive/defensive when I even try to talk to him while he’s playing. I know he loves me and I love him too but I really dont know what else to do. His mother suggested I write him notes when I’m feeling neglected instead of interrupting his game. This seems absurd to me.
    What do you think?

  • Hey Chrissy,

    Sounds pretty familiar. I think what you guys are dealing with is something a lot of couples go through. The women i know tend to feel that you should just leave a guy that plays video games that much and is older than 21, but having gone through some spells like that myself, I can say it’s for sure just an escape from something else your boyfriend doesn’t want to deal with. But admitting that is hard, just like with anything we use as an escape. If he’s not even willing to talk with you about it – might be time to bounce.

  • Hey Chrissy,

    Sounds pretty familiar. I think what you guys are dealing with is something a lot of couples go through. The women i know tend to feel that you should just leave a guy that plays video games that much and is older than 21, but having gone through some spells like that myself, I can say it’s for sure just an escape from something else your boyfriend doesn’t want to deal with. But admitting that is hard, just like with anything we use as an escape. If he’s not even willing to talk with you about it – might be time to bounce.

  • Diana

    I have been with my bf for 2 years he is 24 and going to be a teacher. He won’t stop playing video games I asked him to stop, I asked him to slow it down, and I even bought him $200 golf clubs, and he still won’t stop! I ask him to go with me do things, but he would rather be all by himself playing games because he says he needs a lot of alone time. I think it is just an excuse to get to the next level of the game and not have to deal with the struggles of real life. I am an outgoing person and I feel like I am dating a complete bum even though I know that he is the most sweet, caring, loyal person I have ever met. Why are games so important why does he love them so much? I’m a soon to be ex too even though I don’t want to be.

  • Diana

    I have been with my bf for 2 years he is 24 and going to be a teacher. He won’t stop playing video games I asked him to stop, I asked him to slow it down, and I even bought him $200 golf clubs, and he still won’t stop! I ask him to go with me do things, but he would rather be all by himself playing games because he says he needs a lot of alone time. I think it is just an excuse to get to the next level of the game and not have to deal with the struggles of real life. I am an outgoing person and I feel like I am dating a complete bum even though I know that he is the most sweet, caring, loyal person I have ever met. Why are games so important why does he love them so much? I’m a soon to be ex too even though I don’t want to be.

  • Danny

    Lists of rules. Ha 🙂

    Come on, you know rules don’t work.

    The only thing that works for people like us is the uninstall command, and then the bin.

  • Danny

    Lists of rules. Ha 🙂

    Come on, you know rules don’t work.

    The only thing that works for people like us is the uninstall command, and then the bin.

  • sembabwea

    video game addiction is not fun. you spend little to no time with friends and family. you lose imagination. you dont really have fun when you play; you play just to play. and its really messed up and u know what? the rules dont work. sure they work for one or 2 days, but people just stop doing the rules after

  • sembabwea

    u know, maybe you can probably . . . . .
    first, u can return those $200 golf clubs.
    then maybe you can probly hide his video games so he wont always be playing them. (but then he might get really mad and break up with you sorry)
    then maybe you dont have
    my ideas rnt bright. im only 11.k?
    (my name isnt sembabwea. its just a nickname

  • Ervinjayobillo

    what is the true rules to avoid video game addiction ??

  • ammumalar


    If you think that every single form of creativity or interest is a way of escaping the world, well… I don’t really
    know what to say to that. I’m sorry you grew up in such a bad , environment that made you hate the world around you so much. http://www.games2teens.com/gam