Quitting gaming helped me refocus my attention on creativity

At the start of the 2023, I set out on a quest to remove gaming from my life completely. I, personally, had doubts about it being a success because gaming had been a considerable part of my life and identity (sadly). However, I knew I had a problem with working on my priority tasks over gaming. “One more go,” I would tell myself. Or the classic — set a timer for twenty minutes and hit the repeat button enough times to rack up over two hours of gaming.

I knew it wasn’t healthy, but I did anyway. I also continued to get stressed when I was behind on my work due to my lack of available time. Not only that, but I had lots of time, but I chose to waste it on gaming. Similar to the website I referenced in my first post, I thought about a 90-day game detox. However, three months would not be enough for me to complete the goals I wanted to achieve in 2023. I needed much longer than ninety days. Let’s go for the full 365 days!

It’s called procrastination.

It’s called procrastination, and I have a lifetime full of it. I completed plenty of jobs and projects in my day before the challenge, but I don’t enjoy it, even if I would benefit from putting in the effort. Procrastination, to me, is prioritising what I want to bring me joy over everything else. However, procrastination is not always a good action to take if it causes stress further down the road. There have been countless times when I have looked helplessly at the clock while staying up late to complete a piece of work that should have been done earlier in the day.

How quitting gaming helped me refocus my attention on creativity

I believe I have mentioned in another post somewhere I had put off the act of creating a blog for nine years. I went on a pursuit of happiness instead. Gaming, YouTube (of games), and listening to music were my preferred choice to chasing my aspirations. These habits were toxic for me. I don’t believe any of them are bad in moderation.

To say I was bored throughout the year would an understatement. Boredom can be uncomfortable. Boredom can also open up your mind to becoming creative. I had read in several articles, books, and University lecture notes while studying pedagogy.

No gaming left a void that was filled with creativity.

With no game to turn to, I had one choice — look for something else to do. I spent hours researching how to blog, what platform(s) to use, and what skills would be needed. I signed up for a few courses and developed a style of blogging that I knew I could keep up consistently.

I read a lot more than I have ever in my life. Furthermore, I drew ideas and thoughts from these books that fed into my blogging. There were more hours freely available to read the bookmarked articles I had stored up to through the years. Some articles were not relevant any more, so I deleted them. I even managed to clear the 48 articles I had saved on Medium.

It’s remarkable what you can achieve when you make the time to follow your aspirations! Well. It has been a year since I posted that post (and the seventh month update).

How did I do?

The good news is I kept to my promise and stuck it out for a whole 365 days. I achieved something I knew would be the hardest challenge to date. I love gaming. It is the one thing I remember growing up and hanging out with my friends. We had our other adventures, bike rides, late-night kickabouts, but gaming always crept into the conversation.

The hardest part was breaking a habit I had relied on for a long time. Time blocking and revisiting my note of how I was going to achieve my goals helped me massively. I wrote a personal journal about the experience, reflected daily, and kept a closer eye on the other goals I had on my list. The experience was difficult from the start. There was no rational reason why I should have chosen to game over my goals. Gaming would not help the process of gaining what I truly wanted.

Temptations

Yes. There were many temptations because I’m human, after all. Gaming had been a habit for more years than I would like to acknowledge.

These temptations were directed at specific games, not gaming in general. In fact, it was three games I wanted to play: Minecraft (Java edition) on my MacBook Air; Forza Horizon 4 on my Xbox; and finally, Mario Wonder for the Nintendo Switch. I abstained.

I was exposed to gaming through online posts, friends, and my son gaming at home. I decided to unfollow users on X (formerly known as Twitter) (sorry) and gaming topics because I would rather not read content that was not relevant to me. Bookmarked links in my browser were removed, and I made sure there were no games on any of the devices I used. Apple must have known because the top suggestions on the App Store were games. Nothing was ever creative or productivity related.

My friends were understanding for what I wanted to achieve. Unfortunately, there were evenings when they all FaceTimed, and I was excluded. I was like the green bubble in the group.

My son wanted to show me something he was doing on a game. These requests slowly reduced over the year as he sensed I did not want to be around him while he was gaming. I felt bad. I want to show enthusiasm in what my son finds interesting. He also missed the times we would game together. Now that the challenge is over, I can sit with him and play something like EA FC24 or Minecraft together.

Around the tenth month mark, I started to get twitches. The gaming industry started spewing out new titles. My son made a list of what he wanted for Christmas. He mentioned what his friends were into and why X game was going to be a great hit in 2024.

Office gaming setup in 2022

Moving into 2024 — Will I start gaming?

Absolutely! I have been excitedly counting down the days. I won’t, however, be going back to my old ways. The difference being I will be selective and schedule the time in on my calendar. I have chosen a Friday evening for a maximum of one hour. I consider it to be a reward for working hard through the working week.

I will allow myself to have one game, preferably a puzzle game, on my iPhone. I’ve seen a few on Apple Arcade, but I haven’t decided which one I want to pick. Stitch looks like a good one to go with.

On my Mac, I have decided to continue with Minecraft because it is one of my favourite games of all time. Survival, in particular, is the best option for me, as the challenge of playing on hard mode gives me enough endurance.

I bought Super Mario Bros. Wonder for my wife and son. I want to try it out because they rave on about how good the game is. My wife, who is not a gamer by any means, has not put the Nintendo Switch down over the festive holidays. She absolutely loves this game and recommends it highly.

Final thoughts

Obviously, I can’t play all of these games at once. I am contemplating rotating them each week for variety. I’m sure there will be a time when I want to focus on a certain game. Either way, I won’t be going back to my old gaming ways.

Limited, but accessible gaming is the way forward for me. There is no way I would go through with this challenge again. The challenge was a success and I can say I have achieved what I set out to prove I can focus on other things.

My creativity, sleep, and motivation improved during the gaming challenge. I don’t want to let that slip in 2024.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post.

Mark @ CodeMacLife

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