Every situation has a silver lining – discover a mindset that heals and enlightens.
August 25, 2021 · 7 min read
I don’t need to get a life, I am a gamer, I have lots of lives. - Anonymous
Are video games a waste of time? This question occurs when you are concerned about your time and life values. Gaming can be both good and bad, but here’s my personal opinion about what I think on this topic.
This article is written by a person that has spent almost 2 decades on gaming. This is my sweet spot and I’ll explain you everything that I’ve learnt from nearly 20 years of experience.
As you probably can tell, I like gaming. A lot. You must’ve heard about at least one of these games: League of legends, Runescape, Counterstrike, Aion, Assassin’s Creed, Borderlands, Need for speed, Quake and many, many others. I must’ve played at least 30 different games throughout these years.
Now, there are more and more debates and discussions on whether video games are generally healthy for mental and physical health and how they impact our lives overall.
As a former gamer, let me explain my view on this topic.
There’s no one way answer to this question. It heavily depends on the situation.
If you are gaming very moderately and you don’t fall into an addiction trap, then it’s not a waste of time. If you enjoy your time playing video games, then that’s great for your mental health.
If you’re just like me who gets sucked into gaming addiction very quickly, then it’s definitely a waste of time alongside with more negatives.
If you want to know my decisive opinion, then here it is. Video games are 100% waste of time.
In my view, this is the biggest problem of video games. A lot of people playing video games spend too much time on them.
However, some people might say: “But if I enjoy video games and I want to play them, then there’s nothing wrong about it, right? Life is about finding your passion and having fun”.
While it can be interpreted as a partially right statement, I still view it as a misconception and not prioritizing your life values.
If your life started at the computer and ended by the screen of the computer, then I wouldn’t be against it. Nevertheless, life has so much more to offer than video games and life doesn’t end by this square screen.
By playing video games, you feed your addiction more and more. Addiction grows day by day. I remember when I used to daydream in elementary school about coming back from school and instantly playing. My thoughts often wandered away from the class.
I used to come back home from school and do the homework as quickly as possible, turn on the computer and play games till it was time to sleep.
There were times when addiction grew so big, that I used to play till 3 AM and then wake up at 6 or 7 AM (on weekends, of course). At those moments I thought: “How lucky I am that my parents don’t brag about my addiction too much”. They’d try to shame me from time to time, but it didn’t stop me.
My addiction was too strong. I was young and ignorant at that time. Having said that, it brings me to the other point.
When you realize that you’ve spent all your childhood, adolescence and even part of adulthood playing video games, it’s too late to bring the time back. Those hours and years that I gamed could’ve been spent easily to master a skill: playing a guitar, football, learn one or two extra languages, dancing, learning to repair cars and maintaining a house, trading stocks or anything else.
The time that I spent playing video games was easily over 27000 hours which could’ve been used to completely master a skill or learn a few skills to a certain degree of perfection.
"We all make choices in life, but in the end our choices make us." Andrew Ryan, Bioshock
If you spend only 1-2 hours a day on gaming, you’ll end up fine. But anything beyond that ends up as a waste of time (even if you enjoy the process).
When you are playing games, the time spent at that moment is so much fun, but after you stop playing that game, all your achievements are gone, you won’t be able to discuss with anyone about it, and in the end it feels like time just disappeared for nothing. Time was spent just for a few good memories.
Believe me, if you won’t regret spending a lot of time gaming after a year or two, you’ll regret it after a decade. It will catch up sooner or later. You will believe that video games are a waste of time.
The more time you spend with yourself, the more anti-social you become.
This is something that I’ve experienced myself but I managed to fix the problem. However, I struggled almost my whole adolescence and only by the age 18 I became fairly okay with my communication skills, because I invested my time to improve them.
However, take a look at e-sports guys. They are a prime example what kind of impact excessive gaming has on social skills. Majority of them have social anxiety and they are not verbally expressive.
But somebody might say that: “It’s not true! Gamers seem very talkative on streaming platforms like Twitch.” Yes, I agree, they seem to be that way. Regardless of that, anyone who has good social skills can notice that their speech is dull and very repetitive. Certainly, there are a few exceptional streamers who have good social skills.
Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever. - Samuel Smiles
It is absolutely true that you have a variety of platforms to speak on with others to develop social skills. I used to speak quite a lot of with other gamers too, but it just wasn’t the same as talking to someone face-to-face.
I had a temporary belief that my social skills were okay. This happened because I had a lot in common to speak about with other gamers. Undoubtedly, you can speak about gaming with others in real life too, but you usually don’t speak about one topic for a long time. Besides, a lot of gamers develop social anxiety and a barrier to communicate due of not having any common topics to speak about with others.
Do you hate your 9 to 5 job or school? Are your relationships at a poor state? Perhaps you don’t have any skills or any hobbies where you could express yourself into? Are you constantly exhausted from everything?
One of the reasons why people might be gaming is because they find it therapeutic. When your real life is crumbling to pieces, you escape to virtual reality. This reminds me of a meme with a dog “this is fine”.
That was the exact situation for me. At the time I had very little friends, my social skills were poor, I was chubby and I felt like I didn’t have an interesting personality. My self-esteem was low. However, I had my calmness fortress which was gaming. That was the pivotal point when I knew for sure that video games are a waste of time.
Surely enough, I started tackling with my problems and when I felt confident enough, I embraced the social life. Gradually everything got better and now I’m in a happy state.
Perhaps you are unconsciously trying to escape the reality. Have a good thought about it.
The keyword is excessive.
Playing for too long strains the eyes due of not blinking. Also, the strain intensity of eyes depends on the details of the game (yes, actual pixels). If you have to read something or focus on small objects, your eyes will get tired. My eyesight got bad very quickly when I played one particular game where I had to focus on the same small object for hours and hours. I used to have a perfect eyesight, but now I am left to wear glasses.
Excessive gaming might be the cause of weight gain. Because of too much gaming and too little physical activity, I became overweight in my childhood and adolescence. When you play all day, some of us tend to eat snacks in between meals. That was the case for me and that’s one of the reasons why I got fat. If you are playing, remember to take breaks and have a walk. Also, the habit of snacking is really harmful. Luckily, I managed to lose all the weight by the age of 16.
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” - William Penn
Playing long hours is the recipe for bad posture. Due of intense gaming, you will certainly forget to keep a good posture. Because of this, you might experience problems with your spine in the future. Set an alarm on phone in intervals to remind you of your sitting position. Also, an ergonomic table that can change its height can be beneficial too. In that way, you can play video games by standing. Don’t forget to keep a healthy and good posture!
If you are like me and like to compete, then this point is dedicated for you. Certainly, casual gaming (depending on what game you play) can be stressful too. However, it’s nowhere close to the stress levels which competitive gaming leads to.
For a background, I used to have a high ranking in League of Legends game. This is one of those MOBA (multiplayer online battling arena) games. In this game, you are assigned with other 4 players in one team, which makes a total of 5 players in a team.
Every player is very important to win against the opposite team which is also composed of 5 players. It’s very common that at least 1 player slacks in the game and drags down the whole team. As a result, you have to play as best as possible to compensate your teammate and you have not to get frustrated with him being in your team. Very often players curse on each other because of that.
As a result, the morale of team gets low and usually that team loses. Besides, one game takes about half an hour with an additional 10 minutes of preparation to get into the actual game.
Therefore, even after the whole day of trying very hard to do your best, you end up losing points and having your rank lower than in the beginning of the day.
Even though it’s just a game and it’s supposed to be fun, it really isn’t that case in competitive gaming. It’s constant loop of frustration and disappointments in the team.
The point is that when you play a game, you get stressed all for nothing. Nobody likes to get stressed but it happens that some games are too addicting and people fall into the cycle of non-stop playing. Seeing yourself getting a new rank is somewhat satisfying and keeps people on the hook to keep grinding.
If you play video games in moderation, that might be a great activity to unleash all your stress after a long day. Hopping into virtual reality makes people forget on current existing problems.
However, it shouldn’t become a permanent residence for unleashing the stress. If it happens to often, you have to eliminate the root cause of the problem.
The best way to truly connect with people is through mutual activities. Common activities like playing video games can bring people together and you can spend great time. Make sure to find a consensus on what game to play, because both parties should have a mutual satisfaction.
“How did it get so late so soon?” ― Dr. Seuss
Due to the fact that most games have constant changing environment, a player has to make quick decisions in order to beat the game. Some games are completely orientated for people to find solutions.
Therefore, these games are stimulating brains to improve flexible thinking, planning and organizational skills. Though there is no clear evidence if these benefits are true, but in my scenario I have improved my planning and organizational skills.
While some games might provoke impatience, but some games like Runescape teaches players to be patient and consistent about their goals. As a result, I have become a very goal-orientated and patient person when it comes to my tasks and goals. To my knowledge, a lot of people that play this game end up having more patience than they used to have.
As e-sports are rapidly growing and is one of the biggest industries in the world, a career to pursue in gaming is a viable option. The difference between 2018 and 2020 in revenue in esports have doubled, which is a promising indicator for future growth.
Besides, a 16 year-old has managed to win $3 million in the first Fortnite world cup. However, keep in mind that the gaming industry is incredibly competitive and it’s very hard to establish yourself there.
Here’s as straightforward answer as you’ll ever get – remove the games from your device.
I have tried it all – playing on moderation, reducing allowed gaming hours per day, setting up rules and boundaries, making a reward system, etc., but nothing worked as good as removing the games from your computer system.
You can get rid of compulsive gaming only if your life flips upside down (the addiction can still strike back) or if you are purposely trying to quit gaming for your own good.
To cure an addiction, you usually go cold turkey. Excessive gaming is also an addiction, so you have to treat it with same “medicaments”.
Surely, I have managed to stop gaming during my university degree because of lack of time. However, after finding a job and finally having a little bit more time, I went into the same routine. I quickly caught myself on doing that and removed the games for my well-being.
Now I haven’t had any addiction attack for a while, which is 2 years.
“You may delay, but time will not.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Finding more meaningful goals help too. For me it was setting up financial goals and working towards them. Also, I wanted to improve my skills and knowledge on home and car maintenance.
The main point is to weight the positives and the negatives of video games on the scale. If there exists a balance, good for you! But if the negatives far outweigh the positives, then you should draw some conclusions from this benchmark.
A decade ago there were almost no information and awareness that obsessive video gaming is harmful. Now, the awareness is bigger and more people are talking about it. I hope that my experience will make you think at least a bit differently of the video games.
Video games might be the seed of all devils and in some cases they can be somewhat beneficial.
This article wasn’t meant to be sugarcoated.
In my case, I had to recover and battle against my negative outcomes that were the result of gaming: increasement in weight, vision problems, lack of social skills, countless of lost hours that could’ve been spent mastering a few skills.
However, I’d be ignorant and I’d be lying if I’d say I didn’t have a great time playing video games, especially in my childhood. Those were one of the most joyful moments of my life.
Nevertheless, if I had another chance to restart my life having the experience I have now, I would stay away from gaming, because I know how quickly I get addicted and what consequences are.