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.
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:
- No canceling plans with real human beings to play video games.
- 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.
- Maximum of 20 15 hours per week.
- One hour maximum for the “I just want to win one level before I go to bed.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Breaking any of these rules results in a 3 day no-gaming penalty, except for lying which results in a 5 day penalty.