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I'm sure it's happened to all of you that around midnight you realize you've been playing for four or five hours more than you had time for tonight and it's not first time this week. (well maybe not all of you)

My question is how do you get yourself away from games when you know that you don't have time to play but you still really want to?

I have a few techniques which involve generally hiding the games in my sock drawer, but that means I need to keep my games on an external hard drive. Any other techniques would be useful.

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For me, it was having a son :) –  jmfsg Jul 11 '10 at 14:06
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@Juan, I don't think I'm that committed to curing my addiction :P –  Blorgbeard Jul 11 '10 at 15:42
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@Juan Marriage was enough for me. I'll probably give up games altogether after I have kids. –  C. Ross Jul 13 '10 at 18:21
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I have an advice on how to stop playing a particular game. In pursuit of effectiveness I usually dig up lots of information about the game, read walkthroughs and wikis, watch playthroughs... And before long I know all that I may encounter in a game, and have no reason to play it. Helps to find out about some severe bug or glitch, too. –  Orc JMR Oct 11 '13 at 11:18
    
How did this not get closed? This is on-topic? –  Snailer Oct 11 '13 at 12:31

9 Answers 9

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Rather than limit the time you spend on any one gaming session take a decision not to play at all one (or more) day/evening a week.

Do something out of the house - like going to a movie or the theatre - so you're not tempted. But if that's not an option just read a book or rent a movie. Invite some friends (or even work colleagues) over.

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It's how I managed to quit WoW! –  Ivo Flipse Jul 11 '10 at 16:40
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Go to a difficult college. That's how I managed to quit videogames altogether. –  Joe Philllips Jul 12 '10 at 1:15
    
@Joe about to start my PhD in less than a month, and I graduated from a decently hard (liberal arts) college, yet I still game regularly and do not fail. the problem is that on the margin I drop from an A to an A- etc. –  Mechko Jul 30 '10 at 14:54

It might depend on the type of game. For example, I quit my World of Warcraft (an MMORPG, massive multi-player online role playing game) habit cold-turkey by canceling my subscription and uninstalling the game.

If you just want to limit your play time, you could set an alarm clock to go off at a certain time. Put the alarm clock in another room of your home so you physically have to get up to turn it off.

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Thats how I broke my sleeping addiction. Drove my room mates crazy. –  Mechko Jul 11 '10 at 22:32
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Wouldn't work for me; if i'm "in the game" i can ignore all manner of alarm clocks :) –  RCIX Jul 11 '10 at 22:36
    
@RCIX: Set it to cut the power 5 min after if not turned off. You will quickly learn to turn it off, and your computer too while you re at it : ) –  DrakaSAN Jun 12 at 1:06

Try to make sure that your normal day to day activities are not interfered with by gaming.

Make sure you can see the time while you're playing games.

  • Brush your teeth and wash at the same times every day.

  • Eat food at the same times every day.

  • Go to work/school at the same times every day.

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

If you do those basic things at consistent times then you can play games as much as you like in between and you should be ok.

It's good to have other hobbies and pass times that you feel strongly about, such as watching films, television programs, making things, reading books/comics or anything else you can think of. That way you don't run the risk of burning out on your favourite game(s) and losing interest.

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Do what your parents would do if you were staying up late at night to play video games every day - Set yourself a bedtime.

I usually set my own bedtime to around 11 PM, but I give myself a space of 30 minutes after in case I need to finish something in a game I'm playing. This is usually plenty of time to reach a save point or otherwise end the game.

It also helps to make other routines for yourself during the day. Set an alarm clock to wake yourself up at a regular hour every morning, to help enforce your sleep schedule. Follow it, even during weekends, so that you don't ruin your carefully-laid-out schedule just because "it's the weekend". Make another activity party of yoru daily life. For me, it's work, but for you, it could be a morning jog, or reading a chapter from a book, or even an exercise routine if you're feeling like you REALLY want to get healthy.

Most important is finding something to do outside of your gaming. But it also definitley helps to find someone to do it with. Gaming can be a social activity, but so can anything else if you do it right. Jog with someone, get a morning coffee at a local coffee shop, or just talk with someone about your plans for the day each morning.

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I packed my xbox up and put it in a cupboard. The real trick is that when I felt the urge to play, the act of getting the xbox back out reminded me why I put it there in the first place.

Sounds like you are a PC gamer so you may not be able to pack up your games machine but that isn't really the point anyway. It's about putting some small roadblock in the way that will break your flow and remind you that you wanted some time away from gaming. Make it something physical too, not just hiding files but swapping your mouse to the wrong side of the keyboard or some such.

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Similar to Joe Phillips' answer -- find another project/thing to do with your time. Like the old saw: "Get a girlfriend."

Of course, replacing one addiction with another isn't really a solution -- if your problem is that you're losing productive parts of your life and it's affecting your relationships, then you just have to sit down and have a good hard look at yourself and decide what you want to do. Do you want to play games for hours on end every day, or do you want to to something else? As long as you're in that space that says "well, there's nothing really wrong with it", then you're not going to change.

Also, if you're asking on behalf of someone else -- that is, if the question is really "how can I get someone else to quit their addiction?" -- the answer is: you can't.

Old joke: Q. How many psychotherapists does it take to change a light bulb? A. Only one, but the lightbulb has to want to change!

Speaking of which, if the problem is to the point where it's ruining your life, you might consider professional help. Better now than wait until you've got 20 years of this behind you.

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Actually my gaming has increased with the getting of a girlfriend several years ago. I studied with my girlfriend 4 hours a day when we first met, but as a result spent most of my extra time in front of computer instead of chasing women by pretending to study in the library and then getting depressed at failure and actually studying instead... :-p I did get straight A's the semester I met her, though. –  Mechko Jul 11 '10 at 22:31

Personally, I find that replacing [parts of] my gaming addition with other addictions works well. But instead of just having one addiction I have many. It makes it seem like less of an addiction. If only I didn't have to sleep...

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+1 for "if only i didn't have to sleep" –  RCIX Jul 11 '10 at 22:37

I find if you force yourself to play less than you want it will only increase the itch to play. Instead of not letting myself play enough I do the opposite - play till overdose. After that interest in this game drops and it becomes nothing special, just like the rest.

So if you have a new game that you can't stop playing (but want to), find yourself a free day and dedicate it to gaming only and play for as long as you physically can, and then some more. You will burn all the excessive interest.

Maybe a bit extreme solution, but works for me.

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+1 for the "...and then some more" –  Dave Jul 12 '10 at 9:12
    
The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. –  jmfsg Jul 12 '10 at 19:14
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Hmmm. But with 7 games on my computer at the moment, thats seven weeks until I'm over these games, by which time I'll be ready for Counter Strike again... :D –  Mechko Jul 13 '10 at 1:01
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Hmm, isn't exposure therapy generally more common for phobias than addictions? –  Jaydles Jul 13 '10 at 20:21
    
I can't imagine that it can work in long term. –  Lukas Stejskal Jan 30 at 13:01

I would consider how long my "addictive gaming sessions" are (ie. 5 hours). Next time you start playing, set a timer/alarm to go off after 4 hours and 45 minutes. Try to stop early, but definitely stop when the alarm goes off. Next time, reduce the timer to 4 hours and 30 minutes. Continue until you're at a reasonable amount of time.

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