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I see all kinds of people (including some of my friends) that simply don't know when to stop playing (for instance, wake up, play WoW, eat , play WoW, eat, play WoW , sleep). Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

I realized that myself spend way to much time on games.

Thus, I'm interested in what are some good ways to organize your time while playing games so this doesn't become a problem for you. There are a lot of more important things (clearly), but after you start playing it gets like: "one more level" or "let me just check that", and it gets on and on and you start wasting a lot of time, and then you realize how much time you lost.

The problem is this gets in the way of many other more important things.

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

What I consider important in this matter is:

  • Try to reduce peer pressure / obligations to other gamers as much as possible. Play with friends instead of joining a clan.
  • Try to compete locally instead of globally. Try to beat your brother / friend in some game instead of #1 in world rankings.
  • Try to say no. If someone asks you to help him (in an instance) and you don't feel like it or have something to do, just say no. Don't feel ashamed.
  • Make fun your focus instead of reaching some arbitrary goal like getting a specific item.
  • Stop watching / following pro gamers all the time. Watching replays or streams takes a lot of time.
  • Choose social games where you can hang out with your friends while playing and there are huge downtimes where you can talk. Sport games like FIFA, NBA or Football or fighting games like Street Fighter are better than WoW or Starcraft.

If you still want to play competitively:

  • Focus on one aspect of the game. e.g.: Starcraft: Instead of playing all races, pick only one and stick to it. Instead of learning all build orders, pick one and try to make it work. Depth beats breath in games.
  • Try to optimize your time. Get things done instead hanging around.
  • Try to learn the required skill sets (combos, shortcuts build orders, micro, macro etc.) in isolation. e.g.: Starcraft learn all shortcuts and units before you play. Learn a build order against a computer before you play online etc.
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Best answer in my oppinion. Good job. – Fofole May 12 '12 at 8:42
Great answer - I think it's much easier to change your gaming habits than to impose limits or keep records. The great thing about this is that any reduction in gaming time won't feel forced, and you might not even notice it. – Seyren May 14 '12 at 2:12

I am not a gamer myself, but when I focus really hard on something, it is easy to lose track of time. It is not that I want or have planned to spend all that time, it just happens since I don't look at the clock.

Since you want to cut down on your gaming, you are aware of the situation. In that case, I guess that the most simple solution would be to use a timer or alarm (use your mobile phone or what have you). Decide before your start to play how much time you want to spend and set the timer accordingly. When the alarm rings, stop playing immediately. "You snooze, you lose..." - the same way it is easy to turn off the morning alarm and then oversleep, it is easy to turn off the gaming alarm and then immediately lose track of time again, ending up spending an extra unplanned hour. Be disciplined!

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Thanks for your answer. +1 – Fofole May 11 '12 at 12:13
+1 for timeboxing – Atif May 11 '12 at 14:03

The first thing to do is to start keeping a log of your time spent gaming. Do it for a week or a month. Also side by side keep noting the things that you missed out on due to your addictive gaming binges. This will help you get a big picture of the things you are missing out on while gaming.

Once this is done, don't stop gaming immediately. From your normal gaming routine, try to shave off hours. Like lets say you play around 6 hours in a day: shave off an hour every week, till you reach like an hour or two in a day.

Now start doing other things with those extra free hours, and also note the things that you are doing. You will eventually realize the benefits of dedicating more hours to other activities.

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Thanks for your answer. +1 – Fofole May 11 '12 at 12:13

One thing that I find helps me govern my time is to set the computer to automagically attempt to shut down at a certain time. You can also set alarms or timers on your cell phone or something else. My computer's upstairs and if I was to set an alarm on the oven downstairs when it went off it would force me to get across the house to shut it off. Once I've done that I'm probably dead in whatever game I'm playing :)

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The key question is to ask yourself why you are playing in the first place.

I think that spending 30 minutes per day on Anki gives you most of the rewards that playing farmville does. Both are very monotone processes. In both cases you get a sense of accomplishment when you are finished with your daily load.

Anki however makes you feel like you did something productive.

Dual-n-Back would be a game that you can play where nobody gets addicted and at the same time the player get real life benefits.

In the case you don't want to quit immediately get RescueTime to know how much time you are actually playing.

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There is something about games that you may exploit : ALL games consist of tedious boring parts - except some shooters.

Meaning, you will have to travel from point x to y in wow, you will have to grind for dailies, you will have to grind alts, crafting.

Or in Skyrim, you will have to go from place to place, find a NPC, then grind some crafts, or tediously grind some mobs.

The enjoyable parts of any game is when you are in action, doing something NOT repetitive, which requires your mind to be at work.

This, results in a very useful effect : Temporary boredom during gaming.

You may force yourself to continue until the tedious part passes, and grind on, but this will create accumulating irritation/stress/boredom on you over time.

So dont do it - instead, the moment you notice that you are experiencing tedium and your subconscious tells you 'im bored', alt+tab out of the game and do something else - like, coding, reading, researching, working or anything else you can do with your computer, OR on your desk.

For example you may be coding a wordpress plugin while also gaming in the meantime. Or, researching on making a 3d Printer, while gaming. Or, you may even be reading/studying while gaming.

Alt tab out of the game, spend some time on the alternate activity, and the moment you notice that you are bored/stressed with THAT activity, or your subconscious tells you that it wants to return to the game, alt tab back in again.

I found out that this can alleviate a LOT of stress during coding/workday. That is if you are fortunate enough to be able to working while gaming, however that is not relevant : everyone has an activity they have to do, or can do, while gaming in front of their computers while gaming.

Very beneficial too - see, for example when im stuck solving a problem during coding, and cant push on, i just alt tab into a game. I loiter around, do stuff while my subconscious rests. And when its rested, i am back to work.

And sometimes voila - while loitering pointlessly in the game, i suddenly come up with an idea regarding the problem - yay !

Of course, everyone has their own characteristics, methods, styles, strong points and weak points, however, the general method of multitasking/switching in between mental tasks/entertainment, may be something which can be made work for anyone in their own style.

Do not repress your strong points or afflictions - INVENT ways to work WITH them, and THROUGH them.

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