Is there life after gaming? My seven-month update discusses my experience during the year.

It has been seven months since I posted that I was going to quit gaming for 2023. A whole 12 months of no gaming on any platform or device. How have I held up to the challenge so far? This post will go over the ups and downs and why I am still succeeding. My post is a cumulation of journal entries and things I have recorded in Twos app.

The beginning

I stepped into the challenge with great determination. There were so many things I wanted to achieve in 2023, and I knew by quitting gaming I would have more time on my hands to focus my attention on my goals. Completing my coding course through an online college was my priority. I also wanted to start learning how to be a full-stack web developer, even if I didn’t take it up as a full-time job.

Everything was going well. I managed the month of January with ease. No distractions and I managed to complete one assignment of my coding course within two weeks. For context, each assignment was taking me five weeks to complete before I started this challenge. Unfortunately, something major happened. Nintendo and Xbox announced Golden Eye 007 was coming out at the end of the month. What? This was one of my favourite games growing up. I had bought a Nintendo N64 when it came out with my money (life goal). Now, I knew the challenge was on! I managed to watch one or two reviews of the game and moved on with my life.

The next hurdle came when I realised I had a habit of going to my phone when I was bored. As a Apple One subscriber, I enjoyed the games out on Apple Arcade. Nothing exciting. Just the casual games such as Stitch, Alto’s Odyssey, Jetpack Joyride 2, Asphalt 8: Airbourne+, Skate City, Charrua Soccer and Sonic Dash+. Instead, I had tools that served a purpose, and my iPhone became a phone. I knew. Crazy!

Positive outcomes

Because I was focused and intentional, I managed to complete my coding course in record time. I got great results back and I felt accomplished. The weight of the course kept me distracted from the gaming. The relief of completing something I had set myself up to achieve was incredible. Before the challenge, I completed another course through the same college. I missed deadlines (a lot) because I did not have enough time to fit college work in. This was a complete lie. I had plenty of time, but I was pacifying myself through gaming. I managed to get through my business administration course. However, the number of extensions I had was embarrassing.

If anything, the challenge allowed me to be more present. I wanted to spend more time with my family and friends. Instead of ignoring my son’s pleas to go outside to shoot some ball (his words), I went outside and played basketball and got to know my son’s interests more. Prior to this, I would say I was busy, surfing the web aimlessly and gaming on my phone or Xbox. I feel so bad for the missed opportunities with my son due to my selfishness to find instant gratification. My wife appreciates the time too. I am helping out more at home and talking more.

My sleep has improved. I am not gaming before going to bed. In fact, I spend at least an hour away from any screen before going to bed. I think the process of gaming last year before bedtime kept my mind racing when I slept. I never felt like I was getting quality sleep. I use the hour before bedtime to get everything organised and ready for the next day. This means I am not rushing in the morning and I know what I am doing. In turn, I can sleep better knowing everything is sorted.

Cost. I must mention this part. Coming off the gaming bandwagon has financial positives too. I would not like to admit how much money I have spent over the years on games, hardware, and subscriptions, but I know it will enough go on a nice holiday. There were a few games I saw this year that would easily have set me back £400 in total. I resisted. I don’t have to worry about having the latest and greatest any more.

Challenges

One word comes to mind from the challenge so far — boredom. I love gaming. I’m not an avid gamer who spends hours on gaming, but I enjoy the dopamine hit it gives me. There have been temptations along the way. I have a few favourite games I liked to play before the challenge. Forza Horizon 4/5, Fifa 23, Minecraft, NBA Playgrounds, Stardew Valley to name a few. The urges often come in the evening when I have more time to wind down. That time is now replaced with reading, meditation, exercise and reviewing my workload.

Ironically, one of the issues is my son wants to play some games together. With the summer holidays coming up, it will be difficult for him because we would usually spend time bonding while playing Minecraft, Roblox or another of his favourites together. I’m sure he can cope with playing physical games outside this summer.

New titles that came out have tempted me this year, and there’s more to come out later in the year that will certainly challenge me. Street Fighter 6, Mortal Kombat 1, Super Mario Wonder, Turnip all look incredible. I will have to hold out.

Post 2023 gaming

As much as I have liked the challenge, I won’t be continuing with it into 2024. What will be different, however, will be where I focus my attention. I will allow games on my iPhone again. These will be little brain puzzler games such as Sudoku, Stitch, Tetris and SpellTower+.

My son’s aging Xbox One will be replaced at Christmas with a PlayStation 5, which he is excited about. I’m sure I will be tempted to play a game with him when he gets it. I won’t spend my time on the games console alone, though. Furthermore, I know for sure that I want to keep that barrier in place.

Both my time on the PlayStation and phone will be timed. Possibly 30 minutes per day maximum? As boring as it may sound, I want to schedule this time into my calendar and stick to it. I think three times a week is enough.

The challenge has shown me the power of intentional living. It has highlighted how productive, creative and determined I can be when I apply myself. I have five months left. These months will be important leading up to Christmas. I want to complete my web development course on Udemy by then and have a .dev domain set up with my portfolio on.

I feel I am succeeding with the challenge because I set out goals and intentions from the start. I had an idea of how I was going to accomplish the challenge, as well as why I wanted to achieve my goals. My life was ‘busy’ without anything been completed. My life wasn’t busy at all. Instead, I spent time procrastinating over games, social media and YouTube to realise I had enough time. The desperation to reach my goals outweighed the need to procrastinate like I had all my life.

I will make another post about the challenge when it is complete. As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post.