Video games are my vice. The one thing I can indulge in just way too much and be surprised when I look at the clock and see how much time has passed. It could be on my phone. It could be on my PC. It doesn’t seem to matter. If it’s a game then I can play it. Except sports. I’m a scientist. Most sports don’t interest me in real life or in the game world (Unless it’s something goofy like Deathbowl).
However, one thing I was never away of as I blew through my childhood and much of my adulthood were the various psychological trickery that games used to keep me playing like crazy. Right up to the point I wasn’t even having fun with the games I was playing.
Oh boy these are the worst. Nothing like a surge of dopamine in your brain every time you get that little popup on your profile that said Achievement Unlocked or Trophy Unlocked. Counting those trophies or gamerscore or the level of your steam profile. It all feels awesome. It’s also all useless. I spent so many hours grinding for 50 points of gamerscore only to lose the entire profile (120,000+ gamerscore if I remember) because I used false info and deactivated both recovery email addresses and Microsoft won’t let escalate the issue. However, losing all that made me realize how pointless those points are. I wasn’t going to get another Xbox console so it would only work for Windows games that had them (very few of which do in my steam playlist). Then, as I further understood this, I realized many of those achievements were hours or work. Hours or work grinding at something that wasn’t fun for the sole purpose of getting that 100% clearance on the game. Yet games are for fun. If you’re not playing for fun, you’re still wasting your time. If it’s a game you’re really enjoying (Dark Souls), then feel free to keep pushing for achievements but if something requires a grind that’ll take longer than 8 hours, you’re better off playing something else.
Energy Limits and Time to Recover
This one is pretty much exclusively for mobile games. You get a certain amount of “Energy” that takes approximately 5 minutes to 1 hour to recover. You can play the game for 30 minutes tops before your energy is burnt out and you have to wait. Part of this is the money gets generated by forcing impatient fuzzbutts to spend real money for fake energy refills. Another part is to keep you coming back for more and expose you to more ads. You’ll get notifications every time you finish “crafting” something, your energy recovers, or whatever. This low energy threshold keeps you from accomplishing your goal with the game so you have to keep checking in so you can make progress. You can see now how insane of a distraction this becomes. So many times I get locked into a cheesy mobile game that I can be at my PC and its wealth of games only to fool around with bad graphics on an old unreal engine to play on a game that is obviously about profit more than telling a story or creating a fun experience!
These are just a couple of the ways games eat into your productivity. Not saying that you should never play games (Though our lives would probably be greatly improved if we didn’t spend so much time on them) but more than you need to keep self-assessing. Just like your health or anything else, you need to stop yourself and ask “Is this game still fun? Is this achievements actually worth the hours it will take? Is there something else I need to do?” If you do this, coupled with the understanding that game achievements are nonsense to begin with, you’ll find yourself enjoying your play time much more as you explore other options and then increasing your productivity as you put down the controller more often.
Good luck out there fuzzbutts!