A Birthday’s Resolution: Goodbye Gaming. Hello World?

A new year, a new experiment (one initially shared on Facebook)…

As the hour of my birthday neared in late October, I tried something different digitally: deleting the games from my phone. I’m constantly getting sucked into some casual game or another, seeking that dopamine rush of leveling up or completing a puzzle. So, what if I kicked the habit entirely?

The idea is to replace the bad habits with better ones, like personal and professional development, or just less gamified forms of entertainment, like music. No matter how much I read, I always have more on my Kindle and Audible apps that I want to get to. I like getting into Duolingo and other language apps but don’t use them enough. I can stay more current with Feedly, which rounds up most of the professional news I read.

I know the experiment is imperfect. First, I will always spend a bit of time with new games Рe.g. the next Pokémon Рas I need to (and enjoy doing) for work. Also, I risk getting sucked into Facebook and Twitter more, so trending topics and social posts replace Madden NFL (pictured here) and Wheel of Fortune.

Finally, I don’t think games are bad. I think they’re good – just a little too good. It’s like someone who wants to eat healthier and needs to give up eating cookies. For me, instead of going through a whole bag of cookies, I was going through 500 levels of Two Dots, so I’m removing the temptation. And maybe at the end of this process, a healthy balance will emerge.

Has anyone tried something similar? I’d love to hear about your experience.

The responses to the post on Facebook were fascinating, as so many others are grappling with this. A sampling:

“I’ve restricted myself to one game at a time, and it has to be against other humans.”

“I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. I keep going back through the mobile web. We always find a way to distract ourselves.”

“I deleted games a few years ago, and focus on reading. Also deleted the Facebook app, and only use mobile. I’ve alsl turned off all iPhone notifications except email; too noisy and never necessary. I was never a big gamer so it’s anecdotal, but I feel a little more present for it. If I want a distraction I read, walk or take pictures.”

What’s your take on such distractions, and managing them?