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Staying Away From Addictive Games

June 8, 2011 · 12 comments

I like to waste time. In fact, I can usually be described as a lazy, unmotivated procrastinator. It might seem a bit self-deprecating, but it’s true. It is clearly evident in my lack of a consistent posting schedule, among many other things.

One recurring problem in this grand lack of productivity, I have noticed, is addictive games. Not all games are bad, mind you – for example, I don’t feel compelled to play Black Ops every day, nonetheless every hour that I’m not doing something else. Some games, though, just have a knack for sucking you in, and sucking you dry.

I’ve written before about my market-manipulating exploits in World of Warcraft as well as EVE Online. In both of those cases, my success in the game depended on being able to frequently check the markets for new opportunities. When I say frequently, I mean several times per day – right when I wake up, right before I go to work, right after I get home from work, and umpteen times thereafter until bed. The “right before work” part was probably the most destructive.

While those two were essentially one and the same, a new, different beast came along. It appeared quite innocent at first. I thought at first glance that surely, I’ll only spend a few minutes a day playing this game. It’s so simple, so cute, how could I possibly spend too long playing it?

That beast’s name is CityVille. Yes. Seriously. THAT CityVille. At first, my initial assumptions were correct, and I only played for a few minutes at a time, once or twice a day. Once or twice turned in to every hour. A few minutes grew to 15. Soon enough, I was one with the borg. I had let my guard down.

My previous experiences, though, became quite valuable. Just as quickly as I got sucked in, I was able to *recognize* what had happened. I didn’t immediately take steps to action, because hey – I’m still having fun, right? It was only when I began to look for solutions to my unproductive ways, and actually added up all the time I was wasting on a stupid FaceBook game, that I said “enough is enough.”

The amazing thing, to me, was that it turned out to be quite easy to quit cold turkey. I didn’t even have to take the stupid thing off of my FaceBook page, I just… stopped playing it. This isn’t an article about addiction, though, this is an article about wasting time. That one, simple game ended up costing me around 2 hours a day. Wasted time.

That’s not to say that I’m using that time any better, now that I have it back, but it certainly brings opportunity.

So now, the super-magical-awesome question of the day: Have you ever found yourself stuck in a game or other activity, that you ended up wasting your life away with, for minimal satisfaction (jobs don’t count!)? What opened your eyes, and what did you do about it?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Beagle June 8, 2011 at 0847

I think moderation is key. When I start playing a game, I’ll set a time that I want to be done by. Sometimes, I’ll go over a few minutes if I’m wrapping up playing that game, but it keeps me from letting hours pass.

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Jake June 8, 2011 at 1653

My problem with WoW and EVE was that going over a few minutes, meant being a few minutes late to work. And before bed, going over a few minutes meant going over a half an hour, even an hour.

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Holly June 8, 2011 at 0851

I’ve had tons of these…….I used to be addicted to Snood…….that was years ago. My most recent wastes of time are Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook and Poppit on Pogo.

The worst was online poker…….it’s a really good thing my site was shut down. I haven’t tried to find another place to play, and I don’t miss it in the least.

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Jake June 8, 2011 at 1734

Snood!!! I remember playing that back in school! I can’t really see myself getting addicted to it, but who knows. The ones I’ve had problems with thus far involved actual progression through what is almost like another life. Eventually, they stopped being fun, and more like work.

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Deneil Merritt June 12, 2011 at 2134

Me hear ya Holly, Bejeweled Blitz had me waste too much time from blogging. The hours I was suppose to be blogging I was playing the game. Now I play it like once a month.

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The Saved Quarter June 16, 2011 at 1648

Bejeweled sucks me in! I think, it’s just one minute, I can have a quick little game and then get back to work. An hour later I’m thinking, so close to being on top of my leaderboard! One more! It’s terrible. I try to avoid it if I have anything left on my to-do list, which is almost always. :)

I had a bit of a Sims addiction for a few years, before I started blogging. I got way too caught up in their virtual world, pushing them to be successful in their virtual careers, maintain optimal physical fitness, and woo mates, all while I was at home in my PJs at 2 pm, covered in Cheeto dust. I stopped playing altogether and my personal success has increased substantially. :)

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krantcents June 8, 2011 at 1228

Apply your addiction to something positive. For example, I take my stubborn ways and turn it into determined and tenacious. I then apply it to goals. I achieve much more because of my determination.

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Jake June 8, 2011 at 2313

Yeah, I’ve been trying to take the same approach to quitting smoking. Something I saw on Zen Habits, among other places, is to replace a bad habit with a good habit. I haven’t found an ideal good habit to replace smoking with yet, but then again, I haven’t been looking very hard lately either.

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the1chery June 8, 2011 at 1628

I used to be addicted to chatting online. For about a year (I’m guessing, it might have been 5 years that’s how addicted I was) I was tied to my computer. I didnt eat much, sleep much, bathe much, I just chatted. All day, all night, never ending. I’m not sure what made me stop, maybe it was the divorce ;) or maybe because I had to get a job, or maybe I just woke up, yeah let’s say it was that one. I had serious withdrawal symptoms like I was quitting a drug. I’m not kidding, I had the shakes, depression, stomach problems, mental problems. It wasnt pretty. But today I’m totally chat free! I cant even remember what drew me to all those strangers. Bleh. A lot of time wasted.

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Jake June 8, 2011 at 1747

Yeah, I know how it was – first with the old AOL Online chat rooms, then came MUDs, and then with IRC. Probably not surprisingly, I just did a little digging, and it looks like there are quite a few MUDs still running…

…and here you are today, still drawn to strangers, just on their blogs instead of a chat room :-D All that time wasted could’ve gone in to your own blog! You know, that one you haven’t started yet? Now blogging, this here is one of them “healthy” addictions, right?

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Hunter June 9, 2011 at 1630

When we first bought our xbox 360, I couldn’t stop playing Lego Indiana Jones. Not really a gamer (der), but it brought back memories from seeing the movies as a kid. The kids finally kicked me off their toy.

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ross @ great credit June 14, 2011 at 1856

I do play a little xbox, but i try to avoid the world of warcraft type games, because i’ve seen what they do to people’s lives.
They’re fun, but unfortunately they never end :)

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