Stop Using Videogames to Hide From Your Life

Rachel Yerks

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Before you get all defensive, this article won’t apply to everyone. Some people are able to play videogames casually without sinking hours and hours into them. You will likely know if you have a problem. That said, if you reacted very defensively to the title of this article, you probably do have a problem. Take it from someone who most-definitely has/had a problem.

Videogames allow you to build a new life

Videogames nowadays are so immersive it feels like you are actually living them. You can earn money, build houses, or fight mythical monsters. Fighting monsters is fine, but when you find yourself doing something in a game because it’s easier than in real life, then you have an issue.

Maybe you love racing games but you don’t know how to drive yet. You are on the top of the leaderboard for the economy, but in real life, you don’t have a steady paycheck. Your character always gets eight hours of sleep but you get four. When there are aspects of the game that are better than your current life because you spend time in the game working on them instead of in your actual life, alarm bells should be ringing.

Achievement hunting for months on end is for those who don’t achievement hunt in real life. You should be improving your life, not a virtual life that could be deleted at any moment. Don’t let the internet take your achievements.

Your videogame life is more enjoyable than your actual life

I think all videogame players are guilty of this every once in a while. Things aren’t going well so you dive into videogames to feel better. Most occurrences online are easy to account for, unlike life. Using videogames as an escape after a hard day at the office is perfectly fine. I won’t dock you points for that.

However, if you need an escape after work every day for months on end, something isn’t right. Videogames are being used to avoid what’s actually bothering you, without any intention of resolving the real-life issues. It’s a never-ending cycle of real-life frustration with a temporary, virtual escape hatch.

It’s hard to work on your life. In videogames, you might be the top dog, but in reality, you may be scraping by. At the end of the day, your family, friends, and future self won’t be impressed by your fantastic videogame self. They’ll be wondering what happened to the person they knew who worked on improving themself and was happy in life.

What to do if videogames consume your life

If videogames are consuming your life, you can still play videogames. Shocker, I know. The games that typically consume you are ones that can replace your social life, i.e. massively multiplayer online games. Playing games alone will allow you to focus on going outside of your house to socialize and wanting to form new relationships.

I love my online friends as much as the next person but playing those games wasn’t good for me. I used to play for sixteen hours straight, laying down on my bed. After getting up to open a window after a particularly long gaming stretch, I fainted, hit my head [concussion], and had a seizure. My mom thought I was dead. When I woke up, we obviously went to the hospital, but I still remember fighting her to stay home because my friends were online and I didn’t want to ditch them.

If you are neglecting your body in favor of digital life, you need to get ahead of it before it bites you. You don’t need to go cold turkey — you can ease into it. I ended up switching my friends over to discord where we could do phone calls and play easy party games. These games were shorter and more focused on the conversation than the actual game. It was healthier.

That’s just you — videogames work out fine for me

It’s fair to say that most people won’t have video game-related injuries like me. Don’t get me wrong — I still love videogames. But nowadays I realize how quickly I can spiral back into losing hours of my days. I believe my hours logged is over a year total for my game of choice — I’m only 23.

I often think about what I could’ve gotten done in that year instead of progressing virtually. Would I be wealthier now? Healthier, certainly. This is the point I want to make through this article. If you replaced a good chunk of your videogame time with actual life achievement, where would you be now? Most likely, you’d be in a better place in life. It’s not too late to replace some of that future gaming time to learn life skills or build up some passive income.

Where am I now

Nowadays, I don’t play my game anymore. Over the years, I tried going back to the game but always fell into old binging habits. I knew it wasn’t worth it.

I actively avoid games where you can create your own world or master the economy. I only play multiplayer games with other people in the room with me, not online ones. It’s a more enjoyable way to get my social interaction in, and it doesn’t take up hours of my time. When you’re entertaining people in the room with you, you both get tired. It limits your screentime.

Do I think I could casually play my old game? Definitely. I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much, knowing I wouldn’t allow myself to binge it, though. It’s not worth playing without the binge.

I have another hobby I enjoy more than gaming that earns me money — writing. I am producing instead of consuming, plus I get paid for it. It feels better and I have something to show for my efforts. Something I can show non-video game people, that is.

Summary

If you play videogames for hours on a daily basis or have huge gaming binges, I urge you to think about why you do it. Are you unhappy with your life? Do you not have people to meet up with after work? Think about why you play, and how you can improve your life by playing less. You don’t need to cut out gaming entirely — I would never advocate for that.

Now I know a lot of you who got to the end of this article are dying to know what game I played. It’s a rather embarrassing choice. It starts with an M and a ton of little kids are obsessed with it. I think you can guess…

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