How My Life Changed When I Quit Video Games

in story •  3 years ago  (edited)

I loved video games, until I turned thirty-three.

A few days after my birthday, while building up the new Evil Empire in Civilization V, I fell into an existential pit, realized how much time I had spent playing video games - and, holy hell - all the other stuff I could have been doing with that time.

As an experiment, I decided to take a year off of video games to see what I could do with the hundreds of hours that I normally spent playing them. The results were pretty astounding.

I learned to play guitar.

Video games never stopped me from picking up the guitar, but the extra time left me with a need for something as tough and complicated as a good strategy game to fill it with - guitar hit the spot.

When I first moved to LA, @neilstrauss introduced me to Jason Charles Miller, an excellent musician and voice actor.

He said, "This is Jason, he plays D&D." Which was all he needed to say, because through the power of D&D we instantly became friends. Over the next year, we played in a fantastic Forgotten Realms campaign.

He turned out to be the perfect guy to ask for help with the guitar. He explained to me that I should get a cheap guitar to start. Something to practice with just to make sure I'd keep it up. Then he was kind enough to let me borrow this matte black custom ESP, he'd taken on tour -- it felt like a real-life magic item.

Despite the fact that playing guitar tougher and more frustrating than any game I've ever played, I love it.

I gained 20+ lbs of muscle and lost 3% body fat.

On New Years, I joined a Gym called Nerdstrong: A Nerdcentric gym that helps you get fit by turning high-intensity gamified workouts that were themed: Dungeons & Dragons, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and just about every other nerd world you care to name.

The motivation to get out of the house came from my first weeks of sitting around with all the extra time. Boredom kicked my ass out of the house.

Six months later, I had radically changed my diet, had started putting in about five hours a week at the gym.

I managed to get up to a weight of 185 and down to about 17% body fat. The fittest I've ever been. In D&D terms, I've improved all of my physical stats: Strength, Dexterity and Constitution.

I had the realization, that I’d much rather be the characters in the games, than play as them. Next, year Parkour!

I learned to speak French.

It has always been an insecurity of mine, that I only speak one language. With all the fascinating people out there in the world, and my secret micro-obsession with French culture and literature, With all this free time, how could I not use this opportunity to learn the language?

I started meeting with a friend who speaks French fluently; I offered her $30 a lesson to sit down for a meal and talk with me. When I'm home, for practice, I use Duolingo and study a book called 501 French Verbs.

Right now, I'm conversational and I can read French better than I can speak it. Next year, my goal will be to spend some time in Paris, attempting to converse with locals.


(Source: Pixabay)

I got a promotion at work.

Video games were a huge distraction from work. There was always this nagging that I had to get back to whatever I was playing. Whether it was Rome: Total War II or Civilization V -- there were nations to conquer. What could be more important than that?

When I dropped the games, the nagging went with them, and I could focus more on my organization, work ethic, and attention to detail.

Within a month of my one year game break, I was promoted to a higher-paying position in the company. I have not missed a single deadline all year, and have received compliments on the quality of my work.


(Source: Pexels)

I read and write every day (plus, I learned to brew coffee)

During the video game years, I would wake up and jump into a few turns of Civ V, XCOM or some other unending strategy game.

With the games out of my life, I made a habit of waking up and getting out of the house. I'd wander down to a coffee shop and reading or write for several hours.

This year I've written three screenplays on top of hundreds of pages of fiction and non-fiction. I've also read 50+ books. My favorite: Angelmaker, by Nick Harkaway.

While at the coffee shop, I became more and more interested in the process. Eventually, I had them teach me about brewing. I'm now part of the LA coffee club and brew my cups with a Chemex, scale, and grinder. It's delicious.

My relationships improved. All of them.

Video games were a drain on my relationships. I'd spend hours phased out of reality. I'd come away with that grogginess that one gets from too many hours staring at the screen, not eating and drinking enough, and sometimes stressed out from adventures gone wrong.

Without them, there's been more love, more attention, more listening, more energy, and more sex -- It may just be the best part of the whole experience.

In addition, the only games I was allowed to play this year were tabletop games. I've done more board and roleplaying this year than any other. Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Numenera, Star Wars: Edge of Empire, Fiasco, Microscope, and Dominion, just to name a few.

The best part about this, was that I was interacting with friends, and leaving every session with great memories and stronger friendships.


The year is still going strong, I've got about three months left, and then I'll have the choice to go back to games.

In the end, I still love video games. Many of them are modern works of art, intensely fun, and have fascinating stories. Total War: Warhammer and XCOM 2 came out, and last year, I would have been itching to play. This year, however, I feel like I can wait.

I have a plan for where I can fit video games into my life and I'm going to test it out when this challenge is over.

I will only play when I’m flying somewhere.

In other words, if I want to play a video game, I need to get myself on a plane and head somewhere. The longer the flight, the more gaming I get to do. It's probably a bit drastic for some of the more serious gamers out there, but for myself, I know it'll be motivating. The point is for all the time I spend playing, even more time will be spent exploring the world.

If you're the kind of person that spends hours a week gaming, and doesn't get out of the house much, consider taking a month off every year to explore the world. I can only speak for myself, but it's been an amazing experience.

(Top Controller Image Source: Pexels)


I’m Decimus.


I write, I teach, I tell stories. Read my intro post.

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

Awesome stuff, man. I wonder what guilty pleasure I can give up to achieve more. I spend a good 2 hours a night binge watching shows so that might be it.

·
  ·  3 years ago (edited)

Just pick one show to watch a month and try not to binge-watch it.

·

I gave up all social media for a 3 month test, and the results were awesome. My wife and I like to binge watch on Netflix too... and since we've scaled that back we've read a ton more books, taught our 6 year old daughter to play chess, and talked a lot more. It's awesome.

·
·

That's awesome. I'd like to try cutting social media for a few months. Sounds great. Thanks for sharing!

I've got a three-year-old and a wife with some health issues, so I don't have the time for gaming that I had in my youth either. The time I can and do carve out is usually mobile gaming whenever I have down-time (waiting in the doctor's office, etc) or, like you, gathering around the old kitchen table with real people in the real world. My opportunities are fewer and more far-between, but I've found they're certainly more rewarding!

Video games can be a great hobby and a fantastic distraction, but like anything else when taken to extremes can take over. Your life can and does suffer from it. Cutting them out as drastically as you did certainly changed your life for the better, which shows just how much time and energy the old you was sinking into playing them.

I think it's really interesting that you replaced these single-player strategy games almost exclusively with activities that require other people. Getting together for more tabletop gaming, sitting down with your friend regularly to teach you French, hanging out at the coffee shop long enough to get an inside track on how to brew, joining that nerd-centric gym (holy crap that is awesome), heck even reaching out to Jason - they're all things that rely on interpersonal connections to some degree or another. No wonder all the relationships in your life have gotten better!

·

Yes, @beowolfoflegend. Connecting with others in real time is what we are made for. And it makes life all the more meaningful to nurture those connections. That's all that matters in the end.

·

You know -- I didn't realize that they were all interpersonal in one way or another. Thanks for pointing that out, and thanks for reading!

"I've improved all of my physical stats" this is great lol !
Great article! I have also been a big tabletop and video games fan. I have found that at some point, having just better things to do replaced my video gaming time. Then my console was just gathering dust and after a year or two, it was just obvious that I should sell it.

I am curious about what was the trigger for your one year challenge. Do you remember how you felt or was there a specific event or thing you realised that made you start this experience ? You mentioned a "pit", was it like a wake-up call or is there something you said to yourself ?

Keep the good articles coming !

·
  ·  3 years ago (edited)

I was playing Civilization V, and had just finished reading Cicero, by Anthony Everitt.

Cicero had done so much in his lifetime, and I was sitting around watching time disappear six-hour-chunk by six-hour-chunk, with nothing to show for those hours spent.

It was one of those anxiety filled: there's-so-much-I-don't-know-and-I'm-wasting-so-much-time moments.

Thanks for asking!

·
·

It's 11 PM, I can take just one more turn... one more turn... one more turn... why is it 4AM??? Been there. LOL

This post has been linked to from another place on Steem.

Learn more about linkback bot v0.4. Upvote if you want the bot to continue posting linkbacks for your posts. Flag if otherwise.

Built by @ontofractal

Thank you for taking the time to share this! I feel inspired to look at my own habits with a critical eye and see where I can get out there and do more of the things that count! You've also strengthened my resolve to encourage my 11 year old son to start growing out of the video game phase.

·

That's a huge compliment! Thanks @rebeccamorgan.

pretty awesome i dont think you nessarily have 2 "quit " video games as we are in one right now that we can change simply by changing ourselves. hell i even made a hail storm with that kinda shit and filmed it....... but cool story!

Good read . Having personally given up video games about a year ago it quite refreshing to see how many real people and experiences I had in my life and just how important they really were. As somebody who had been consistently playing video games since the mid 80's it seemed unnatural to just toss out. Definitely worth it though. Congratulations on living life!👍💪

·

Yeah, it changes things quite a bit. Thanks for reading and well done on your part too!

After I quit playing Eve Online after an almost 3 year hard addiction i learned to speak more Chinese, used those hours to work more part time almost doubling my monthly income and still not work weekends.

Oh and i'm studying how to use and designing a Photo Biroreactor.
I do miss my gaming though. lol

·

So many people that quit gaming -- this is so interesting. Great work. I would love to learn Chinese one day. Thanks for reading!

Followed and resteemed. Thank you also to whoever resteemed this to my feed. There's a lot of people that could benefit from reading this.

·

Thanks, I appreciate it.

Inspiring article, congrats!
Nerdstrong is a genius idea, you have a new follower and a resteem :)

·

Nerdstrong is amazing. Thanks for reading, resteeming and following -- Hugely appreciated!

That's a cool post. I'd like to play games, but don't find the time these days. It is a fun activity, but anything can be bad if it's all you do. My son loves his PS4, but he also spends a lot of time working with his horse, so I don't worry too much.

My obsessions are playing guitar, writing songs and programming for fun. I don't watch much TV, but I need to cut down on idle web surfing. Time is precious and we should make the most of it.

·

For sure, idle web surfing is definitely a time killer. I've had a number of people tell me to install web blocking apps to assist. Also, being new to Steemit -- this is pretty addictive too.

Cool post... I was hooked on my XBOX too. Having two kids changed all that. lol Anyway, good read.... You have a new follower. :)

·

Yes, I suppose that would change things quite a bit. Thanks for reading !

quit video games 10 years ago because of tendonitis. i have learned innumerable things. some pleasant, some not. most have been useful, much more useful than anything i learned staring into that worthless game screen. good post.

·

Yeah, I was surprised at just one year looks like -- and the year isn't even over yet. Thanks for reading!

Video games are a great way to kill time and should be treated as such. I agree that they take away too much time but I guess that they are only good when played sparingly. If someone spends a lot of time gaming, he has a problem.

Great job on your accomplishments!

·

For sure -- again, I love them. I can recall quite a few storytelling moments from video games that I'll never forget, but like you said -- play them sparingly. Thanks for reading!

Thanks for this, @decimus. Such a relevant post for me - I get so frustrated with my own teens and their screen time. It doesn't even have to be video games.The problem is checking out of life in general. You are so right about how many things we can accomplish when we walk away from technology. Cheers to you. I'm so happy to see you pursuing interests that have been lurking under the surface.

·

Thanks -- Appreciate the read!

I never was really that intensively into games, but I have been really caught up in this Steem thing and right at the moment it's really doing far too little for me, the flip side of this is that I'd be doing nothing at all, in my situation I have to take a pretty big leap to upgrade my opportunities. Again. Oh well.

I'm selling up what I can and getting on the road to Amsterdam, I have a ticket to SteemFEST I know the dam pretty well so maybe there's something new I can bump into there.

Thank you so much. This has inspired me, I have played video games for years and years. I hope to cut down and focus on learning piano.

Awesome, man. I had a similar experience, although significantly less productive than you! I vowed that I will not play video games again until I publish my first boardgame. I spend time now working toward a real-world goal instead of wasting time and energy growing the greatest illusory digital empire worth literally nothing but lost time in the end.

Loved this article @decimus! I am still a gamer but have drastically cut down on the time I play based on so many of the same revelations. Good for you for showing such impressive discipline and drive! Thanks for sharing and stay awesome! P.S. Watch out for PUBG - it may truly test your conviction!

  ·  last year (edited)

I dedicated the last 6 months playing NBA 2K18. My goal was to make it into the league and start an esports career. Made it to the top 72000 players.

Reading your article really helped me put things into perspective. Thank you.

interesting post. As someone who writes about games (and some fiction too) i still find some time to play them. But I'm looking at more meaningful ones or useful VR apps these days. Although you can achieve things like what you describe, most people can find if they can limit gameplay where possible, they can have more energy for other things. I think it's about content, and keeping balance. Some games can still be stimulating /inspiring stories etc that take us into new places - and even learn new things.

Glad you are now living life to the full :) Upvoted

·

Thanks!