In this article, we are going to tell you how to game responsibly and the top 2 cognitive benefits of gaming responsibly.
As we get older, responsibilities seem to be stacking up, making it significantly harder for us to do the things we love without feeling a tad bit guilty. Gaming is one of those activities that has an especially strong stigma attached to it — too addictive, childish, a waste of time, a waste of money in some cases…and so forth. However, I think we can all say that times are now changing. Gaming has now been proven to actually improve brain function, and some even claim that it can better the world. Let’s a look at two of these benefits of gaming before we get into how you can game responsibly. But remember, these benefits only remain so if video games are played in moderation — anything is excess is unhealthy.
Cognitive Benefits of Gaming Responsibly
Here are two benefits highlighted in one study. If you’re interested in learning more about the potential benefits of gaming, check out these Ted Talks.
Scientist Daphne Bavelier and her team measured the impact of gameplay on the brain. Bavelier’s lab actually found that playing 5 to 15 hours a week of video games correlates with better vision — and the ability to see more detail in the context of clutter.
Bavelier’s data also shows that people who play video games are better able to keep track of objects around them — while the average person can track three objects effectively, video gamers can track six to seven objects. They’re also better able to multitask in general.
Initial studies suggest that these benefits may be trainable. In one study, Bavelier’s lab gave participants a test, and then asked them to play 10 hours of video games over a period of two weeks. When they came back for a post-test, their performance improved — and the improvement was still measurable five months later. Bavelier’s lab hopes to use these findings to create games that can improve eyesight or help keep the brains of senior citizens sharp.Your Brain on Video Games, Daphne Bavelier
10 Tips to Game Responsibly
It cannot be denied that a lot of people are actually far too addicted to video games, which is not good. But, there are ways to prevent this from happening. So, here are a few tips one could exercise to prevent sliding into the traps of addiction and thereby game responsibly. This way, as a gamer you can be productive whilst making time for your favourite activity.
Here’s a crazy statistic, just for fun: When Call of Duty: Black Ops was released in 2010, gamers around the world played it for more than 600 million hours in just the first 45 days. That is the equivalent of 68 years.
1) Set Boundaries
Well, the first rule has to do with discipline and therefore probably the hardest of the lot. It is essential to set rules for yourself and enforce them, allowing you to learn self-control. This is important because when your gaming time limit is up, you can stop and move on with ease to any other tasks that you might have.
Of course, you may mould your rules to best fit your personality. So for instance, if you notice yourself playing games for too long right after you finish school or class, and you think this is a problem, then set a rule to not do that — at least not until you have finished whatever else it is that you wanted to do. Here are a few examples of rules you can set for yourself:
- Play games only on the weekends and holidays
- Don’t game for more than two hours on any day
- Only game for an hour on weekdays
- I’ll only game with friends
- Only game after finishing chores/work
- Only game till 11pm (or whatever time you think should be the limit), and no more
While it is natural for one to break rules every now and then, try your best to stay disciplined as often as possible. To help with rule following, you can ask your friend or parents to enforce them. So, ask them to check up on you and hold you accountable, reminding you of why you have those rules in the first place. If you are responsible for your own things, you can set up some form of punishment for breaking the rules.
Perhaps ask a friend to confiscate your gaming console, or set a timed lock if you’re playing on your computer. It certainly is harder to break habits as an adult than it is for children. But it is not impossible. Here is a list of habit building apps you can use to help you out. It might even help to set an actual timer that buzzes when you’ve exceeded the time limit for your day.
2) Track Your Gaming Time
It cannot be denied that video games are engaging. As such, it is very hard to realise how much time one spends playing. They are meant to be this way, designed to make players want to keep going just a little bit further.
In fact, sometimes you find yourself thinking, “okay, five minutes tops,” but when you look up, three hours have gone by. This has happened to me before, especially with games like Mario Cart.
This where tracking your game time will help. An article in PsychCentral states, “jot down in a notepad when you start and stop game play. Keep the journal for a week’s time, then review the amounts of time you’re spending on each game, or if it’s just one game, the activities that keep you in-game for so long.”
This sounds like a healthy way to keep track of exactly how many hours you spend gaming and set reasonable limits on yourself. You might be surprised at how long you actually spend gaming when you add up your hours. On an unrelated note, you could also do this for social media usage or how many times you look at your phone — the results can be kinda scary.
3) Start Cutting Down
Once you have figured out how many hours per week you spend gaming, you can start cutting back. You don’t have to do it all at once. So, start slow. Perhaps with the game that you least like, relatively speaking. The same article mentioned above suggests cutting down the time spent on that particular game or activity in that game by 10% for the first week. For instance, if you spend 10 hours a week on planning for battles, aim for 9 hours the next week. This, in turn, will you become more aware and conscious every time you game, which will be a helpful tool for long-term responsible gaming.
4) Limit Your Gaming Budget
Be careful because setting a gaming budget does not solely apply to large purchases. Small transactions like in-app purchases and such do add up. Be mindful of things like level boosters and extra coins on games like Words With Friends or Candy Crush. If you don’t keep an eye on such transactions, you could end up spending a ton of money unnecessarily. In the process, you are likely to waste more time as well.
Once again, self-control and discipline are important to set limits on your gaming budget, both large and small. There are a number of ways you can do this. Here are a few examples:
- Set password protected lock checks on app stores
- Use a different bank account for game spending
- Be aware of one-time purchases
- Make sure you set a limit on your one-time purchases
- Set a limit on how many games you can buy per month
5) Spend Time With Real People Too
A lot of people find that playing video games is a necessary part of connecting with others, even if it is just to move forward in a game. While in some cases this can be true, it can certainly go too far. If you find that a game you are playing seems to promote this sort of outlook, it is best to check yourself. This is because, in the long run, you might find it harder to form meaningful relationships with real people. Some people might even find increased levels of anxiety in daily interactions. Indeed, excessive gaming can increase social anxiety. It is important, I believe, to have a relationship other than the one solely with a screen. So before you go down the slippery-slope, catch yourself.
6) Choose Your Games Strategically
Again, this is hard to do but it is helpful. As a gamer, you probably know what kind of games tend to take up more time and attention. In other words, you know what kind of games you are likely to get addicted to. If there is a particular game that you have real difficulty stepping away from, just cut it out — rip the bandaid. Play more games that you can pick up easily, that doesn’t require as much of a commitment but are still fun. This way you can play in short bursts rather than devoting too many hours of your time.
It is okay to indulge every once in a while. However, recall the rules that you set for yourself. So when you do sit down to indulge, you can stop yourself before you slide too far.
7) Make a Reward System
Don’t play a game until you’ve done something you need to do — running errands, doing laundry, cleaning your room, finishing work…anything that you need to get done. You can make gaming your reward for completely said task. The whole point of gaming responsibly is to incorporate gaming in your life without it being the sole focus. In this sense, gaming is a part of your life as anything else is.
8) Turn Off the Game
Well if you’ve reached a point where you feel that the games are controlling you, turn them off. Albeit difficult, this is very effective in the long run. Start with just turning off your console or computer and go do something different. On a deeper level, you are taking control of your life and not letting the game take control of you. You are calling the shots. Remember the deadlines that you set for yourself and abide by them. Once you turn your game off, don’t go back and check until whenever you’ve set your next playing time.
This going cold turkey with gaming, which is very hard to do. If you find yourself slipping too far, pack up your games for a while. And by pack up your games, I mean put them in a box, seal that box, and maybe give it to someone to hold for a period of time. Ideally, give it to a friend who you know will not crack under pressure from your pleadings. Over time, you might find yourself becoming less attached to your games.
Once again, you are in control here, not the games or technology. You may also find that you are doing more with your time than before, spending more time with the people you care about and finding different ways to blow off steam than gaming. Perhaps, just maybe, video games won’t be as important in your life as they once were. This is a very relieving feeling like you are free and can finally just enjoy gaming rather than feel guilty about it.
10) Take Responsibility and Control
It is important to recognise if and when technology is taking control of your life, causing anxiety or strain in your interactions and such. Take responsibility and control of gaming. The problem lays within you and not the game, accepting that is the first step. Like with any other form of addiction, the first step is acceptance. You cannot blame a game for being too addictive or “just too good.” Recognising this and regaining control is a long-term solution. A part of such recognition is to figure out why you tend to game extensively in the first place — are you escaping something, for instance? Video games are a convenient means to find temporary solace in issues that one wishes to avoid. These issues could be as small as having a tough day at work or needing to do laundry you’ve been putting off. Choosing to find solutions to your daily problems, instead of escaping in video games, really helps with reducing long-term anxiety.
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We have mentioned how to game responsibly and the top 2 cognitive benefits of gaming responsibly.