Everything in Moderation: A Short List For Everyday Gamers

Jan 7, 2013

With my wife working on Christmas Day, I spent 5-6 hours playing Guild Wars 2. And, naturally, I started questioning my life. What kind of man ignores his family and friends (and dog) during the holidays just to sit motionless for hours with is brain sucked into a virtual world? Granted, I wasn’t alone – it’s an MMO. But the thought still crossed my mind. Finally, for the first time, the gamer in me offered a rebuttal: why does it matter? Afterall, I earned the right to spend some time alone. I work hard, I celebrated the holidays over the weekend; it’s my time. While I let the gamer win, it’s not enough to stop there. This is an ongoing issue of guilt that needs resolution. And moderation is the key.

I grew up gaming. It wasn’t unusual to find me with the radio on playing my NES during the 8 months of winter in Portland, OR. Eventually I grew up and moved to the PC, and still, when it was raining and my homework was done, I would game. The reason my folks didn’t destroy my tech is that I would balance my time well. Growing up I was also a huge basketball fan (OK, I am still). So I would play a lot, even in the garage. Naturally, I maintained this pattern as I grew up and my interests shifted. At the time, however, there was less marketing and fewer games available. Also, it was up to my parents to purchase the games. Now, with my own cash on hand and nobody to keep me in check, I could spend all of my time gaming. But, fortunately, I’ve learned how to balance my time. Still, the guilt gets to me. I often feel that I should be reading a book and educating myself. Or even watching a documentary on U.S. history instead of playing Assassins Creed 3. It’s time to clear the air. Below is a simple daily list to check before you sit down to game:

  1. Does anyone I care about need me for anything?
  2. If I were to game, would it negatively affect anyone?
  3. Have I accomplished anything positive today?

There is an obvious trend: I focus on my friends, family, and self. It’s very important to me that the people I care about are well cared for and that I maintain those relationships. This extends to my dog. I can’t enjoy gaming if she hasn’t gotten her walk or simply needs my attention. As for the focus on self, I strive to improve my mind and body daily. That means keeping up on current events (not necessarily discussing them), eating well and exercising. I’m also strong in my faith and I work on that daily.

Certainly it will take a lot of self-motivation and perhaps a few reminders to execute on this list, daily. I’ve been gaming this way for the past 5 years and I still have a healthy lifestyle. I use the Nike Fuelband to keep myself accountable for physical activity. And I have a policy that I never game when my wife is at home. I still manage to game for roughly 10 hours per week and I also have time for movies and social events.