Why I’m Taking a Break From Playing Video Games
I’m a self-described gamer, and proud of it, but lately I’ve realized I’ve probably been playing too much.
Two weeks ago, during online church services, we talked about fasting, including from things beyond food, such as social media and TV. That raised the question with me of why not trying a fast from video games? The hours I spend playing probably could be better spent anyway.
So, for the next week, I’ll be mostly video game-free, playing only in a limited capacity for work-related projects.
Quitting video games cold turkey — or at least vastly cutting down — seemed dramatic, especially for a streamer and esports journalist, but I also noted possible benefits, including more productivity, additional reading time, better sleep, rest for my weary eyes, and a renewed connection with reality. Frankly, I was spending too much time in the world of Call of Duty.
While I won’t be quitting video games forever, my hope is that when I return from the fast, I’ll be able to set boundaries and learn to be content with time offline.
I’ll admit that I sometimes play video games when I should be working. Playing isn’t as enjoyable when a work deadline looms, as stress carries over into the game. But now that I’ve decided to pause video games for the next week, my time has opened up, and I can produce better quality work.
Many of us have decided to read more during the pandemic, but have fallen short of our goal. If you have hit your reading goal, I applaud the effort. I am in the camp of people who fell short, and much of that was related to video games, which seemed more stimulating than reading. The more I played, the less I wanted to read. Now, with more downtime, I’ll be much more likely to pick up a book I’ve been meaning to read.
I’ve mentioned previously that sleep is extremely important for people with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. We need extra time to recover from straining our muscles during the day. Scientists believe that bright light — such as that emitted by video games — can interrupt sleep or increase the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
And video games don’t necessarily help us sleep better anyway. Plus, I already struggle to fall asleep using my BiPAP machine, so any additional help I can get is welcome.
A sabbatical from video games also allows my eyes time to recover after looking at a screen all day. Everything I do for work is on a screen, and to return to a screen at the end of the day is sometimes too much. Extended screen-viewing can cause the muscles in our eyes to strain and cut the rate we blink in half, causing dryness, according to CBS News.
As of this writing, I’ve been off video games for only a half-week, so the verdict is still out regarding any benefits. But it has allowed more time for me to operate in reality. I can talk to my parents face to face, and take my wheelchair outdoors for a spin. It’s not that video games prevented me from doing these things before, but now I’m more aware of the need to get away from my desk. I’ve realized that being cooped up in my room is not the right way to be spending my time.
I’m not done with playing video games forever, nor am I against playing them. But pausing them in my life has given me more respect for the things we do outside our computer monitors.
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