Better Balance Makes For Better Gaming

The first game that really grabbed me was The Legend of Zelda. I am part of the gaming generation that played the original eight-bit version on the first Nintendo.

I remember losing an entire Saturday morning, playing with my brother solving puzzles, and conquering level bosses. Of course, that is until the Nintendo would freeze, and we would have to eject the cartridge losing all our progress. I’m not sure if blowing into the cartridge actually helped, but what else were we supposed to do?

We all know how it feels to be glued to our screens. Whether we’re playing the latest game, watching a movie, or streaming Netflix, it’s hard not to get lost in the world of games and TV shows when they’re so engaging. But what happens when you find yourself spending too much time gaming? Is there such thing as too much screen time?

Finding a better balance as a gamer doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some tips for making sure you don’t lose track of your real-life commitments.

Set a Timer: Video games are designed to draw us in and keep us playing. Beyond games being fun, they tap into a part of us that craves adventure, danger, and excitement. If you are a gamer, chances are you have experienced a moment where you start playing in the middle of the day only to look up and realize it is pitch black outside.

One of the best things you can do to keep that time from slipping away is set a timer. Many computer systems have built-in timers you can assign to certain apps that will alert you went a set time limit is reached.

This practice will allow you to keep a bit more at the moment with your game and potentially help you to focus more on making the most out of the time you have.

Play With Purpose: If you are a fan of MMORPGs like I am, you know how easy it can be to get lost trying to do everything in the game. These games are created to give you endless quests to engage in and are infamous time vacuums if you aren’t paying attention.

You can enjoy these games and have a life when you set some parameters around the in-game activities you complete each day.

Before you even turn the game, create a plan of the quest you want to accomplish and be mindful of anything that might take you off task.

Ask Yourself, Why Are You Playing: Everyone should be asking themselves this question whenever they pick up a controller.

Video games are a great hobby, especially during a pandemic where physical interaction isn’t always possible. Still, it is easy to fall into the trap of mindlessly playing to escape reality.

Taking a second to ask this question before you play will help keep you from getting consumed into something meant to be entertainment, not a life.

Gaming is a hobby that can be fun and engaging. It doesn’t have to consume your entire life or cause you to neglect other aspects of your life like work, family, friends, and hobbies.

Find balance in gaming by finding the right time for play each day (perhaps after dinner), playing with purpose instead of mindlessly clicking through quests without any goal in sight, and setting a timer on how long you’ll play, so it’s not all day!

Ask yourself why are you playing this game? Is it just because everyone else is doing it? Or do you enjoy the gameplay mechanics or characters? Be honest about what motivates you when deciding whether to indulge in another round of video games.

We look forward to hearing how you balance your gaming with the rest of your life. Please feel free to comment below.

Matt Lawson, MA, NCC, LPC

Matt Lawson, MA, NCC, LPC

Hi, I'm Matt, and I'm a counselor who helps people achieve optimal health. I currently offer counseling services here at Chicago Compass Counseling and specialize in eSports and video game addiction. If you're interested, you can read more about me on my about page.