Gaming is hugely popular. There are over 3 billion gamers worldwide and growing every year. But, with so many hours spent playing video games, people wonder, is gaming a waste of time?
Watch: Is Gaming a Waste of Time?
It’s never been easier to play video games. You can play games pretty much everywhere – on a bus on your phone, at home on your PC or console, and even while on holiday on your Nintendo Switch.
Based on our internal statistics, members of our community spend 3-4 hours gaming daily on average while also spending another 4 hours daily on social media or other types of digital entertainment.
That’s 8 hours spent a day solely on entertainment!
Does that sound familiar?
If so, you might be asking yourself an important question: is gaming a waste of time?
If you’re not familiar with my story, I was addicted to playing video games for ten years, and after hitting rock bottom, I decided to quit and move forward in my life.
And since then, I started this website to bring together people who feel similar and want to get their gaming under control. We help people do that through awareness, resources, programs, coaching, and advocacy.
I need to state before we begin I’m not against gaming. I don’t think that all gaming is bad, and I want to shed some light on how we can have a more productive or positive relationship with gaming if that’s something that you’re choosing to do and if you want to move on, then we can support you to do that as well.
Why Are You Gaming?
The first question you need to ask yourself is, why are you gaming? What is the purpose of your gaming habit?
95% of gamers out there are casual gamers – and if that’s you, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re gaming and whether your gaming is aligned with your goals and the kind of person you want to be.
Now, if you’re a casual gamer, there must be at least one reason why you’re gaming. But, of course, if your goal is becoming a professional gamer and earning a living that way, then gaming might not be such a huge waste of time.
Watch: Why People Play Video Games
Some of the most common reasons why people play games include:
- To have fun and be entertained
- Game mastery
- To release the tension from stress
- To socialize online
To answer whether gaming is a waste of time, you must take a moment to consider why you play games.
While it is impossible to be productive every single hour of the day, you must choose healthy habits to achieve your goals.
For example, if the main goal of your gaming is to relax and kill time, gaming can be a decent activity – provided you play in moderation.
However, online games can also be an additional source of stress with the toxic communities and the competitive nature of these games. In that case, is gaming helping you achieve your goal, or is it making it even worse?
Gaming Comes with Trade-Offs
So if you now have a rough idea of why you’re playing games, it’s important to know that every activity comes with trade-offs. Some activities have bigger trade-offs than others.
Gaming, for example, can have negative consequences even if you do it for relaxation, especially if you do it excessively.
- You can become addicted
- Gaming can be stressful if it’s competitive
- You start neglecting your health and mental health
- Your relationships begin to suffer
- You start becoming toxic because of toxic online communities
“Over my life, I averaged between 40-60 hours gaming per week. Some days I gamed 16 hours a day on the weekend, and particularly during holidays. Since quitting, I’ve started multiple e-commerce businesses, made huge fitness gains, and been heaps more social. Rarely I might get a small urge to play a game, but honestly, it’s rather insignificant.” –Game Quitters Member.
Not every activity will be great at achieving your goals.
For instance, if your goal is to relax, you can opt to socialize in real life, play guitar, or read a book. Others like going to the gym. Of course, gaming can also work for relaxation, but it comes with far bigger trade-offs than some other activities we’ve mentioned.
When deciding if gaming is a waste of time, you need to consider your gaming habit’s ROI (Return on Investment).
The example I would give is that I love to DJ, and DJingng is an immersive activity. I get to see my skill improve. I get to have fun. I get to relax and be creative.
But if I needed to stop DJing and go for dinner with my girlfriend, I would do that very easily and come back to it. If I’m deejaying, I’m able to do it in more moderation. I’m able to do it just a couple of hours a day or not even every day.
Whereas with gaming, I have this feeling that I want to game more and more and more. It’s never enough. No amount of time is satisfying. I want to play more and more.
Watch: Every Hour Counts
Is YOUR Gaming a Waste of Time?
I’m not particularly eager to generalize. However, it would certainly be harsh to say that ALL gaming is a waste of time.
It is nice to be entertained. As we’ve already mentioned, our members spend 8 hours a day on average getting entertainment from digital sources, including gaming. And that’s a lot of time to be entertained.
But consider the trade-offs of these activities, including gaming: you’re neglecting your friends, family, your mental and physical health, as well as your career. If that’s the case for you, then gaming is a waste of time – just like any other activity with the same trade-offs would be to this extent.
“I booted up my computer. It was Friday, and I had a lot of work to do, but hey, I kept the whole weekend free, so it’s okay. I can start my work tomorrow and play a game now. Before I knew it, it was 5:00 AM.
On Saturday I wouldn’t start on my university work either. I ate “brunch” at 2:00 PM and skipped dinner. I went to sleep at 7:00 AM on Sunday morning and consequentially woke up at 2:00 PM. By then, I figured that my homework wouldn’t get done anyway, so I fired up my game. At 7:00 AM on Monday “morning” I finally had a moment of clarity.” –Game Quitters Member.
It would be best if you have a sense of balance when it comes to your activities.
Yes, it would be best if you still had entertainment, but you also need to deal with real-life and get other stuff done, like paying bills, staying independent, or staying healthy. So if you’re still living in your mom’s basement and spending four or five hours playing games every day while having nothing else going for you in life, then it’s time to take a step back and consider if this is the sort of life you want to be living.
Is gaming helping you achieve your goals in your life? Is it aligned with your aims and your vision for life? Or is it hurting your mental health, causing you not to exercise and eat a healthy diet?
Read: I Quit Gaming For 1 Year
If that’s you, that’s okay. I’m not here to judge you or shame you but to support you and call you forward. The best way to take a break from gaming is to hit the restart button from our experience.
Start with a 90-Day Detox
If you feel like your gaming is a waste of time and you’re starting to experience more trade-offs rather than positive effects, then it’s time to turn things around.
A 90-day break from gaming gives you a chance to learn more about your relationship to gaming, including the benefits and risks of playing. In addition, without the distraction of gaming, you have more time to develop healthy habits and improve your lifestyle.
Along the way, you’ll learn that there are many other activities that you can do instead of gaming to achieve your goals. In addition, you’ll start to find love in other activities, even everyday activities that you previously took for granted, like walking.
It would be best if you did not replace gaming with mindless browsing on YouTube or binge-watching Netflix. If you want to avoid wasting time gaming, then be careful not to waste time on TV and other entertainment. Focus on being productive instead.
Watch: How to Stop Consuming Content
Instead, you have to consider other, more healthy activities that you could use to replace gaming. Ideally, these activities should still achieve the same goals as gaming did before you started the detox.
If you need ideas, we have a hobby tool that you can use to find new activities. There are a ton of new ideas you can try. The key is to keep trying new things until you find a few that stick.
Be determined and persevere through the challenges.
Need Help to Quit Gaming?
At Game Quitters, we help gamers like you get gaming under control, either by moderating or by stopping altogether if you feel like gaming is a waste of time.
Our programs and coaching services are proven to solve gaming problems. Gaming doesn’t need to impact your life negatively. It’s possible to get it under control.
- Respawn program for gamers
- Reclaim program for families of gamers
- Community forum
- Hundreds of scientifically-researched articles and resources
We have a list of video game addiction therapists near you if you are looking for therapy or a professional to speak to.
If you’re a mental health professional and would like to learn more about gaming addiction and how to treat it, check out INTENTA, where you’ll find specialist training and additional resources.