I have been a bit of a gamer for as long as I can recall. I'm talking far back... back to the 80's and a Commodore 64 that required a long wait for the mere loading of games off of a floppy disk (remember those?) or much worse, from a cassette tape. Later in the 90's, I would go to a friend's to play the first Nintendo, that is until I one-upped them with a Christmas gift from my parents, the Super Nintendo. The Super Nintendo soon became second fiddle to the first game console I ever bought for myself, and it was the long awaited Nintendo 64. We all managed to survive the millennium bug, and in the year 2000 Playstation II hit the shelves. Obviously I had to have one of those! After that, Microsoft came into the picture with their famous XBOX which meant so long outdated PSII. The next logical progression from there was the Xbox 360...and that brings us up to date.
I had only had the Xbox 360 a year and a half when it showed ill fated signs of the dreaded 'red ring of death'! For those who are not in the know, that basically meant your XBOX was experiencing a general error and that if it turned out to be irreparable and out of warranty then it meant saying good-bye to your gaming console. Mine was one of the few deemed unworthy of repair and I had been playing it less and less anyhow so I decided just to let it go entirely. I didn't really make a big deal out of it; I was more concerned about watching movies on the console than playing games on it. Besides, considering the time and money I've spent on consoles over the years, it was probably for the best.
Everything was going just great. I had a job that kept me busy, a new girlfriend to spend time with, so playing video games wasn't much of a priority for me. I had a few friends that had started playing Battlefield III online and told me that I should get involved and be a part of their platoon. But that was not enough to change my mind. It wasn't until I saw a trailer for Skyrim at the cinema that I knew I might be in a bit of trouble. Initially I thought it was just a movie trailer, and then I saw the "now on Xbox 360" message at the bottom of the viewing screen. I was overwhelmed! My girlfriend, who was with me at the time, she even commented about how epic the trailer appeared. So what choice did I have but to invest in a new console? I bought an Xbox 360 at the local game store, some games including Skyrim and Battlefield III, a subscription to XBOX Live, and a new headset so I could chat with my friends. It was a fair sized bundle which cost me nearly a thousand dollars but it was totally worth it! Or so I thought?
I warned my partner that this might be last time she would see me for a few months. She assumed I was joking, and at that time I meant it as a joke, too, but after some time passed, I actually started to worry. I would check the clock (conveniently located in the console menu) and realise that the whole day had passed by and I had done nothing but level up in my games! I tried to convince myself it was justifiable; I told myself, "hey you work hard, you did go to the gym to work out a little this week, so you should not feel guilty about some game time." But then I considered what I could have accomplished in other areas of my life in the same amount of time and it actually made me feel a little sad. I could have done a little more work, something that I actually get paid for? I could have used the time to produce new content for my blog. But, there I was, with nothing to show for all that time spent but some Skyrim dragon bones, and a rank of sergeant in Battlefield III.
Apart from being unproductive I also realised that I was neglecting more important things. If I were halfway through a new level, I would neglect doing necessary chores so I could play on in the game. I would also miss out on catch up time with my friends thanks to staying up so late playing games the night before, leaving me too tired or without any desire to go out. But the most important thing of all was I was neglecting my girlfriend, failing to give her the attention and care she deserved from me. I am fortunate in that my girlfriend enjoys playing games too; while I battle Skyrim dragons, she fiddles around with her Sims characters. But it became evident how terrible I was being when she would ask for favours,simple things like putting the bin out,but I would actually prioritise the game over helping her...even though there is a pause button.
Gaming is a good way to take off some of the stress of daily life, but only in moderation. It gives you a chance to leave real life behind for a while and be the marine, the dragon slayer, the hero. You have no strict guidelines, no office politics or drama, and no meetings to attend. The big keyword is 'moderation'. How much time in front of your games is too much time? The answer to that depends on every different situation. If you are involved in a relationship, then how much time you should spend gaming should be discussed with your partner. You have to compromise and arrive at a solution that is acceptable for everyone involved. How about playing just a few times a week for a few hours at a time? If you play games with your friends on the internet, maybe have a night designated for games with your mates and make sure your partner knows about it in advance. Your partner must understand that your game playing time is important to you; it helps you unwind and destress. But you can still let them know you care about and appreciate them with a night out occasionally or spending one on one time with them.
For most of us playing games is just a hobby like woodworking or stamp collecting but for others a gaming addiction can be a serious problem. How do you know if you are a gaming addict? If you answer yes to any of these questions it might be an indicator of a bigger problem.
- When you are away from the console, not playing games, do you still think about them all the time?
- Have you reached the point where you are no longer satisfied with the hours of play time you used to be contented with, requiring more time to get the same level of satisfaction?
- Do you have a hard time putting down the controller?
- Do you become agitated and irritable when you are unable to play games?
- Do you lie to you friends and family about the time you spend playing games?
Luckily, help is available for you. You can start by talking with friends and family, but if that is uncomfortable for you, there are actually clinics and centres that offer assistance similar to that for alcohol or drug abuse. Oftentimes games are a means of avoiding other problems.About the Author
We have all been in a rut
, locked in a pattern of circumstances that we can't seem to get out of. Sometimes, those circumstances change by themselves, but more often we need to take action to ensure that we don't become stuck in a rut
. We aim to help you get out of a rut
knowing they can affect any facet of life.