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Moderating, and changing the types of games I played (success)


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My name is Josef, and about three years ago I participated in the 9 month detox from gaming. I am 28 years old, and have a job I am very happy with, a great marriage, and enjoy a lot of outdoor activities. Throughout my life however (especially childhood), I chose gaming over almost all activities. Although I was able to control my gaming to a decent degree as an adult, I still found myself strategizing around my life in order to maximize my gaming time. It started to create a rift between me and my wife, and I realized something had to change.

After my successful 9 month detox, I ran into the issue where a lot of my friends were still gaming, and I began to feel left out (and in the height of COVID as well). I wanted to be able to casually game with my friends, but was worried about being dragged in to the deep end once again.

The answer I came to was to change the types of games I was playing. This meant no more MMOs or any type of game that required me to put in hours in order to fully enjoy the game. No more games with weekly challenges, special one-time opportunity item drops, or any type of serious competitive play.

After discussing this with some of my gaming friends I was able to convince a couple of them to join me in this effort, and it has been a totally different world since (for the better). We now only play on free weekend nights (if no other plans outside of gaming), for just a couple of hours, and we have been enjoying ourselves far more than before.

It's my firm belief now that video games should not ask for anything more than what you decide to put into them, and I feel my dedicated switch to this philosophy has very positively influenced my relationship with gaming and is something I can still enjoy with my friends who live far away without any strings attached.

Curious if anybody else has thoughts on this or has had a similar experience with gaming. I've listed the gaming activities I now participate in with others.

Edit: I think moderation can be really really hard for some, and obviously for those who have serious struggles with gaming need more than just somebody saying "oh just moderate your gaming," because I know personally it takes much more than that when you are in a bad place.

- Halo story modes (sometimes online if just for fun)

- Monster Hunter

- Lego Star Wars

- Nintendo Switch games with my wife (Mario Golf, Mario Kart, etc.)

- Golf with Friends (a really fun, super casual game)


Edited by Joesulc
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  • Joesulc changed the title to Moderating, and changing the types of games I played (success)

Married. That will do it right there. And I'm not just talking about video games. My best friend recently got married. Even though we never played video games together, it was for lack of better words, game over for him. I eventually stopped asking him to events, because it had to be approved by the wife. No thanks. 

Hanging out with the boys for me was just card games, darts, and watching sports, but for you it was multi-player video games. I see both, as the same. They are both social events. No different than if you and your fiends met at the park daily or weekly to play sports together. Or watched sports together. Or went to the movies... Or went to a bar... Or went out to eat.

I never was into multi-player games, for me, video games were an escape from people. Single player, story rich. Now, I too am Moderating, and changing the types of games I play. Just for different reasons. Glad to hear about your success! 

Edited by Sysop
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  • 4 months later...

This subject got my attention because I wanted to know: Are fun, relaxing activities totally programmable? What is it that makes a certain activity arouse interest and others not?

At a Gaming convention event I once saw a middle aged man given a chance to play a beta version of an upcoming triple A rating video game. He spent a few minutes at the computer and left. On his face I could tell he was absolutely not immersed. So what was it in this man’s experience that didn’t excite him? I think he grew up in a setting where values were so different and so he was wired differently, the experience didn't produce any interest.

Which brings me to the issue of setting yourself up in youth to like things which are not sustainable. Whatever the stage in life, don't set up  friendships and habits about harmful things.

This sunk cost fallacy that Cameron talks about isn’t just about an expensive rig or “game library”. It is about memorable events from childhood that set up such a trap. The transition can be very lengthy. Cam even mentions that his attachment became so strong he even has nostalgia as he thinks about gaming days.

But, the time invested into forming new habits soon stars forming new connections in your brain and hence new values and allows you to be content without harmful activities.

I discussed the similarity between shooter games and paintball and there is a lot of overlap. The only thing is paintball cannot be abused. As I played non-stop for over 4 hours, the physical strain is a controlling element that disallows the kind of harmful relationship that one can have with games. And so I need a week to recover from the match until the next game.

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  • 6 months later...

This is me as well. Quit playing gacha games about 3 years ago and am for the better now.

The detox from them gave me a new perspective on how I wanted to spend my time, and what I wanted to do with my life. It gave me a chance to apply at another company that I found more fulfilling than the one I was working for before. I rediscovered hobbies that I had once enjoyed - such as reading, writing, board games - and I also got to spend more time with family. Overall, I analyzed how I could improve my quality of life, and I came out a much more fulfilled individual.

In the case of playing in moderation, I came to that decision after the end of my detox, when I was in a much fresher state of mind to think of how I consume media. I actually quit with the intention of not playing any game ever again; I only analyzed that playing was still okay for me as I pinned down that the problem for me were specific types of games, rather than all games as a whole. I still default to calling it a "Gacha addiction" but really it's more of a "predatory game design" addiction for me, which is a bit difficult to explain in a few short paragraphs, and which I have to call it as that now because a lot of console and even single-player games are implementing the same predatory mechanics that used to be exclusive to Gacha games just a few years back.

As I've spent more time reading through the articles in Game Quitters and reading past topics here, it's also possible that I may not have been fully addicted to gaming as a whole to begin with, but maybe more obsessed with gaming. Still, I was not at a good place when all I did was play phone games, and I still get a very strong urge to go back if I think about the Gacha games I used to play for too long - my whole back tenses up and my arms get tense, my heart pounds and I get very worked up when I think of the puzzle-matching mechanics from Empires & Puzzles and the constant Poke-stop spinning I used to do. It's almost like my body is reminding me of why I shouldn't go back them moment the thought hovers too long, and I calm down after I reject it out of instinct.

Essentially I also did the same as you Joesulc, I made a list of games that I identified as problematic. I also defined "what do games mean for me" which is what also helped me change the types of games I play too.

Personally, I still see video games as a form of art. When I define art, I define it as something that can be observed, consumed, analyzed, and critiqued. Thus, I play in moderation because I want to engage with it as well, not just while playing, but also after playing to think about it and discuss it - with my wife and friends, for example. I play video games as one of my hobbies for the same reasons I also read books and watch TV shows as some of my other hobbies; to be entertained, to expand my perspectives, and to get new viewpoints. This does mean that now, I tend to go for games that will provide me with a narrative or gameplay vision, over games that are more focused on spectacle and creating a show. I do make an exception for multiplayer games if and only if I am playing them with IRL friends, and preferably games that promote local multiplayer over online too. Real life friendships are my priority now, over online only friendships.

I do stay away from any Gacha, live service, battle pass, grindathon, etcetera infested game. The summoning portals, lootboxes, daily challenges/quests and rewards, season pass subscriptions, excessive grinding for resources and cosmetics, slowly dripped content - among their multi-tabbed menus with tons of pop-ups that remind me of how casinos are designed to purposely be very confusing to navigate, to keep their guests in as long as possible - don't exist to elevate the narrative or the gameplay at all. They simply exist to prolong the game and keep you around, because it's exciting to spin the slot machine to see what you'll get and keep watching numbers go up. Games which emphasize these mechanics are the ones I avoid, because they are emphasized for the sake of continuing to update, prolong and drag out your time playing the game; not because they boost the artistic value of the narrative or gameplay vision. These games for me are not games as art, and so I avoid them because they don't fit my definition of how I think of games now.

It also means I am a lot more picky about what I play, but there is nothing wrong with defining your own high standards. Call me a tight-arse if you want 🙂 I stand by this, doesn't mean you have to, it's just my perspective.

But anyways, what has really helped me in summary has been:

  1. doing the detox to get my life together first,
  2. reshaping my approach on video games (and media in general), and
  3. identifying the problematic types of games and mechanics to stay away from

Other things that I didn't note above, but also help me keep gaming as a hobby include:

  • Setting screen time limits and bedtime reminders 1h before going to bed (parental controls in consoles help enforce them)
    • I stick to 2h a day on weekends, barely an hour (if any) during weekdays
  • Making peace with not playing everything, ignoring trailer hype
    • even in my "non-problematic" game types, not everything out there is worth playing; some games are simply better than others, facts. I rarely check summer or boxing day sales now cuz of that too, because I know I probably won't play whatever I get right away anyways and often it could just be an inferior experience to something I've already enjoyed. Good mindset to have for not wasting my time and money.
  • Listening to my body and health
    • no playing if I'm tired or if not in a good mental space, it's not fun anyways and ignores the way I'm feeling rather than addressing it


On 12/29/2022 at 10:55 AM, Amphibian220 said:

This subject got my attention because I wanted to know: Are fun, relaxing activities totally programmable? What is it that makes a certain activity arouse interest and others not?

Hey Amphibian, I greatly recommend reading Death by Video Game, an excellent book by Simon Parkin. It's one of the most insightful books on the subject I've read myself; he covers tragic deaths of people who died playing video games, the success some players have found in video games with a sense of discovery and belonging, along with others who have escaped and used games to hide after traumatic events. It's not going to give you a clear cut answer on why video games are played, but it's going to give you several viewpoints to consider. From the preface, these are the questions he explores:


What provoked these young people to emigrate from reality into their virtual dimensions beyond the natural limits of their well being? What convinced their brains to ignore the physical warnings in order to keep playing a video game? And - more fundamentally - what causes billions of humans around the world (the vast majority of whom don't wind up injured or dead) to revisit [video games] week after week after week?


Edited by D_Cozy
clearing up
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