When I was younger I played too many video games. It held me back from learning useful skills and pursuing a career in earnest. When I wasn’t playing them all I could think about was the chance to get back to them. I had a few games on rotation. Before I get into my one strategy, a note on some preventative measures.
In order to avoid game addiction from the start:
- Don’t play online games. The more competitive, the more addictive. Play offline mode if you must. You will also avoid a lot of toxicity and frustration. Some games I got very good at, but I was never the best and it was a waste of time to even try. None of the games I spent hundreds of hours perfecting are even playable online anymore. The servers are gone, the communities dissapated, the websites archived.
- Don’t play mobile games. This also goes for any other type of game that has in-game purchases, meaning pay-to-win. Why? Because these games are designed to hold you back, to frustrate you and delay you so you end up spending money on them to “save time” and progress, or, I guess, to win. At one time I played Clash Royale, got addicted to it, played every day and progressed almost every card to max level. I hated the game but kept playing out of habit and the sunken cost fallacy. I ended up deleting it and never returned. You know why I never returned? Because the phone that played it well died and my next phone couldn’t play it. Get yourself a phone that can’t play your favorite mobile games if you can’t get yourself to delete them.
- Don’t buy any systems. I once had a wad of cash ready to buy the PlayStation 5 the year it was released. I forget how long ago that was, but because the system wasn’t available I simply held out. I held out so long I lost interest. It turned out I didn’t need it. I didn’t buy any other systems at that time, either. When my PlayStation 3 died (never got the four, decided to hold out to the five) that was it, that was my last system. Don’t buy a system, your desire will go away.
- Last preventive strategy: watch the game on Youtube. I used to fantasize about having time off to play Luigi’s Mansion and its sequels. Then I thought, let me just watch a playthrough on Youtube, so I can see what the game was like without having to play it. I did the same for Last of Us, some Batman games, and some Mario Galaxy games. That’s all it took and I stopped thinking about those games.
And now for my one strategy to get yourself off a game you keep turning back to. Randomly, about a month ago I was having hankerings to play Civilization 4. It’s on my computer, it runs fine, I have all the expansions. I started to play almost every night. I began to think of the game. I’m certain now I was trying to distract myself, but I kept going back to the game, wanting to try things.
I enabled cheats.
That’s what did it, that’s what killed the game for me. By enabling cheats I could dominate the game and do all sorts of crazy things. At first that made me want to play more, but as soon as I got it out of my system I didn’t go back. I don’t think about the game anymore, I’m not interested in it now that I’ve experienced all of my fantasies with it. There’s nothing left in it to intrigue me, to overcome.
So if you have a game you’re playing and you’re struggling to get it out of your system, try enabling cheats. If cheats aren’t available, lower the difficulty level all the way and play through it and be done with it. If the game is online, then your only salvation is to force yourself to stop playing online, which is a lot harder to do. You know how I stopped playing online games I was addicted to? My gaming computer broke and I didn’t have the money to fix it or replace it. By the time I got another computer (5 years later) the communities from the games I played were gone. But I didn’t have the desire to play by that time, anyway.
If you can control your gaming habit, have at it, enjoy yourself. But if you can’t control it, if it controls you and you know you are wasting time on it that could be spent preparing yourself for adult life, then try some of these strategies out.