are video games a waste of time?

Are Video Games a Waste of Time?

I don’t normally write about video games but I received an email from a reader a few days ago. He is currently following a lot of my advice on improving himself in life.

He wrote,

“I’m really working hard in gym, in school, in my social life and working on my appearance. But at the end of the day I still got a lot of time leftover. I only get to the gym a few days a week and i’m taking college courses so literally half of my day is free time. So I’ve developed a habit of coming home, eating, and then playing my PS4 for hours on end. As a kid I was practically addicted to World of Warcraft and Runescape. Now I don’t feel addicted but I feel like I have to play because i’m really good at the game I play now which is Destiny. I guess my question is should I limit my time playing games or quit completely?”

I’m similar to him because I was also a huge gamer as a kid. I was glued to my computer from the ages of 11, to about 14 playing Runescape nonstop.

I was obsessed and also obese. Sitting in front of a computer screen was my favorite hobby, exercising wasn’t even a thought.

Even though I was just a kid, my mindset was that “gaming was fun and I had nothing better to do.”

It’s not just kids that think that way, some adults also think like I did. They justify their actions in anyway they can without thinking outside of the box. 

If you asked me a few years ago, I probably would’ve said “It won’t hurt in moderation”

However, my opinion on Video Games has changed, actually it has changed a lot.

I used to think it was fine for me to play for a few hours a day, but I don’t believe that anymore.

For me, Video Games were the Ultimate Waste of Time. And they absolutely didn’t benefit me in any possible way.

At 14 years old, I wanted lose weight, make more friends, and finally get a girlfriend. Sitting in front of a screen for hours a day wasn’t helping me accomplish either of those things. 

I will say this, if you’re making money from gaming, then keep on going. But the majority of you are not. 

The main problem we all run into is quite honestly, boredom. You likely have nothing planned that day, so you turn on your computer or console and play for hours.

When you think about it, most (if not all) things in entertainment are solely for killing some time. 

Watching TV, Watching Netflix, Playing Video Games, Using Social Media and Aimlessly Browsing the Internet are all great ways to kill time.

People get bored and then they turn on the TV. They find a good show and eventually developing a habit of watching it everyday.

Ask yourself, what is that truly accomplishing?

And that’s where Video Games get you.

They give you a false sense of accomplishment by setting up new levels, ranks and achievements to keep you striving for more. To keep you striving for video game glory. You’ll play a game for a few hours and soon enough start fantasizing about being at the highest level and being better than the rest.

People who don’t have a lot going on for them in life, often naturally seek out video games so they can feel like they are doing something important and worthy of their time. Certainly that doesn’t mean all gamers are like that, but some of them are. You might be one of them. 

You might even invest a bunch of your money into a game just to get an advantage over others, I know I did.

I would buy a premium membership for a game and pay with my parents money. It was to upgrade my character, so that I could feel superior to other people in a fake virtual world. 

Overall, gaming was a huge waste of my valuable time and often my money as well.

I could have spent that time playing sports, making friends and having a great time outside of the house. I could’ve exercised more and lost the fat at a younger age.

My grades in school would’ve been better too. I remember that I usually skipped homework or procrastinated until the last minute because I was so absorbed into whatever game I was playing. 

Ryan, are you trying to say I should never play Video Games at all?

If you play Video Games often, that means you have a lot of free time.

And if you have goals in life, you need to replace some of the time you spend gaming with working towards your goals.

I’m not telling you to give it up for the rest of your life.

Instead, think about what is more important to you… a game, or reaching your true potential in life?

I own an Xbox One, and use it a few times a week mainly to watch Netflix. And I’ll spend at the most, 1-2 hours in a whole week actually playing video games. Most weeks, I don’t play video games at all. I’ve found that going to the gym is a much better stress reliever. 

I spend my time at the gym, at work, socializing, working around the house, reading self-improvement and overall just keeping myself busy.

Whether it’s Video Games, TV shows, or even addicting pornography, they put you in a different place mentally.

You might completely forget about things that you have to do that day. You’ll probably ignore troubles you’re having in life because you’re absorbed in some fantasy world.

Someone wise once described gaming and TV shows as “Anti-Meditation.” 

His reasoning was that you aren’t doing very much thinking at all, you’re simply glued to the screen and it becomes a barrier to yourself. You focus on the outside instead of dealing with your own reality.

Some people are alcoholics and drug addicts to “dull the pain” and forget about their problems in life.

Of course gaming a lot isn’t the equivalent to being a drug addict, but you aren’t exactly living in reality if all of your time is spent in some pixelated fantasy land.

If I wanted to be nice, I’d tell myself to cut back a little on the gaming.

But I want to be brutally honest.

Do your best to cut out the games completely. Find other things to do.

I went from playing 4-6 hours a day as a kid, to barely an hour or two a week. 

Most days the thought of turning on my Xbox doesn’t even cross my mind. 

With all that said…

For most of you gamers, your life can improve drastically by cutting down the time you play. 

If you cut back even a little bit, you will find so many different things you can do to improve yourself and have more fun in life. 

Like I mentioned, Video Games aren’t the only distraction people use. 

If you watch so much Netflix that your eyes hurt, it’s time to give it a serious break. 

Lift some weights. Hang out with some friends. Go on a date. Pick up a rewarding hobby. Read a book. Work on yourself. 

Stop making excuses and distracting yourself from your real goals in life.

Some of you might be so absorbed into gaming, and identify with it so greatly that you’ll completely disregard everything I’ve said. Eventually you’ll realize exactly what I’m talking about.

You might be someone that can manage to do everything they need to do and still play games on the side.

There isn’t anything wrong with spending the rest of your free time gaming a little bit. But that’s only if you’re working towards your goals in life, and gaming isn’t significantly interfering with those goals. 

I thought I was the King of the Mountain…and then I realized I was just playing a game. 

TFFK Logo

If you have any personal questions, leave a comment or email me at ryanformerfatkid@gmail.com, ask me on my Contact page, maybe I’ll even answer your question in an article.

You may also like...

49 comments

  1. Thanks for the post. I recently decided to quit gaming completely and reading this reassured me that I have made the right decision.

  2. This reads like a teetotaler’s opinion on drinking alcohol.

    It might as well say at the end “my true advice is to never drink, because then you can have optimum health, never be drunk and never get addicted”

    Fact is, you clearly had a lack of self control with gaming when you were younger and now to you it’s like backsliding. In my experience I’ve found that gaming culture has introduced me to some great friends (male and female) who I socialise with. It gives you common ground with a lot of people and can be one of a repertoire of things that you can enjoy with others. People who are only into activities permitted by the cult of self-help are very boring to be around.

    1. A teetotaler would imply that I’ve never played video games and I’m bashing them. I have played and they negatively affected my life. Once I cut them out, my life improved. I did lack self-control and so do many others. That’s why they can’t get off the couch and do something about their lives. Like I said to the others in the comments, if gaming makes you happy then keep on playing, but realize that your whole life shouldn’t revolve around some fantasy land.

    2. The only benefits of gaming you mentioned are socializing, and having gaming in common with other people. In real life, you can socialize and still find common ground with other people (i.e., with things besides video games).

      It’s presumptuous to make a judgment about the author’s level of self control, or to characterize his former indulgence as some kind of relapse. Some people come to the realization that video games truly are a waste of time.

      Life is short. For me, life is too short to spend playing video games several hours per day, or even per week. Video games are a fun distraction and that’s about it. Every benefit video games offer — stress relief, socialization, critical thinking, logic building, improvement of medical conditions, etc. — can be gained doing something constructive in real life.

      In the end, I’d rather be in the company of someone who lives actively and works hard, rather than someone who is devoted to virtual realities and — emphasis on this word — games.

  3. I’m sorry. I know this is your opinion, but you act like games have no actual benefit. THAT IS BULLCRAP. A story has revealed that playing super mario 64 30 minutes a day increased a man’s brain mass. What about all those stories where video games saved LIVES. You cant just go shitting on the stuff we like to do like this. I dont shit on your favorite thing to do in your free time do I? Why dont you hate on the old people who spend all day watching soap opera? I get it. Its not the best thing to do. BUT YOU CANT JUST SAY ITS THE ULTIMATE WASTE OF TIME.

    1. It was an ultimate waste of time in my life. It can be an ultimate waste of time in other people’s lives as well. Just because a study showed they can increase a man’s brain mass doesn’t mean that you should play them all day. Regardless of your stance, whether you play games or not, you should be working towards other things in life. That’s my message. Play games if it really makes you happy.

      1. If it’s a waste of time in YOUR life then so be it.

        It if it’s NOT a waste of time on people not you, then so be it too.

        If video games are a waste of time in free time, then what you like to do is a waste of time then.

        And I’m sorry, but I’m not going to agree with your bigotry that what I been doing for a while in MY life, being Inspired, etc. Is a “waste” just because they were learned from video games.

  4. In this whole article you never actually said why gaming is a waste of time. You said that if you are not making money you are just wasting time, so money is more important than enjoyment now? what are you planning to do with that money? What else do you want out of your time other than enjoyment? And why? Saying that tv and gaming is anti-meditation because you don’t think while doing these things is just ridiculous, meditation is not about thinking it is quite the opposite. And why would the real world be more important than a fake one? You didn’t even touch on that.
    You also talk about goals and reaching them, why can’t I have a goal of getting this and that in a video game?. And what is the intentions behind a “good goal” according to you? I have to say this is one sloppy article.
    I don’t even play video games that often but sometimes I just wonder what goes threw peoples heads when to go out and talk passionately about a subject without backing it up at all, and just talking out of their asses.
    If you have any answers to these questions I would love to hear them and maybe gaming is a waste of time but your article is certanly a waste of time because it is just your opinion without any reasoning behind why you think so

    1. You have completely misinterpreted the message of the article. You’re obviously upset enough to write this long of a comment so I’ll tell you this. Accomplishing goals in “Real life” is far more rewarding than reacher a higher level in a game. If you haven’t realized that by now you are either very young in age, or so absorbed in whatever game you’re playing that you can’t think in any other way. Life isn’t all about money, but making money is much better than playing a game. Hey, if playing video games makes you happy, then keep playing. But, my life drastically improved when I cut out games and other distractions.

      1. making money is better than playing games? if someones well off and happy in their position and don’t care about more money and want to enjoy games who are you to say? who are you to say what is a waste of someones time? who are you to say what are important goals and what are not? how is reading a book or watching tv shows any better? its the same exact thing. its funny how you talk about having an xbox and using it mostly for netflix…soundskind of hypocritical. i get your message, your closing statement is fine, but theres a lot of bullshit in here. basically all you needed to say is “work towards your goals whatever they may be”. if someones goal is to play video games theres nothing wrong with that.not everybody values what you value

        1. I don’t think you see my point. If video games are interfering with your goals in life than you should spend less time playing them. For me, watching netflix a few hours a week doesn’t interfere with my goals.

  5. This is an excellent article. I appreciate you writing this up for all to see because it is true.

    I am a pretty hardcore gamer, although I’m pretty sure there’s worse. I spend hours daily on videogames, and hours during the night at times too. It’s been like this for a long time for me. I’ve done a lot of research on video games, and they provide a lot of positive effects for us. I’ve written articles on video games regarding the positive effects they have on us. The major point of conflict is where your time is being spent, and whether or not that time is being spent wisely. Much of the respondants to your article seemed to have missed that piece of information.

    The writer does not condemn gaming completely. Instead, he states that we should control how much time we pour into things that more or less pass time. It’s a wise thing to pass up game time for things that actually matter in life. This article was a great reminder for me, and I thank you again for writing this up.

    1. Thank you Ash, I appreciate that you took the time to really look for the message I was trying to send here. It would be great if you could link me to articles you’ve written on the positive effects on gaming. I’ve always been of the opinion that people should go after what they want in life. If video games are something extremely important to you, then keep on playing. But if they interfere in your life, you need to cut down the time spent playing them.

  6. Ryan, thank you for sharing your experience with us.

    YES – you can waste a lot of time gaming, but Its not wise to say that gaming IS a waste of time, but I understand what you mean and 100% agree with you. I just don’t understand how people misinterpret your article.

    I am a hard-core gamer, at least used to be, and it scares me to think that I spent over 1000 hours getting a sword that no one – NO ONE – gives a shit about. Now what?
    How does my wife , son , or my little girl benefit from my 1000 hours of gaming. How many times did I ignore my little boy because I might lose a PvP match…?
    I am a bad parent – that’s what I am…but realising it in time and do something about it – that what matters.
    My best friend’s entire family are gamers and every time I visit him – they sit in different rooms with their headphones on, without talking to one another.
    People have a “black hole” inside of them, all of us do – some decide to use that “thirst” for good – others will fill that hole with any crap that life throws at them.

    Its not gaming that ruins people’s lives – people ruin people’s lives with wrong choices or addiction ( games, money, TV,…fishing…literally anything ). But like you already said : if anything influencing your life in a negative way – stay the HELL away from it. It doesn’t have to be a BAD thing as it is…but it is bad for YOU.
    Life is about choices – we all have the same amount of minutes per day, how you use it – is up to you.
    Keep sharing the word Ryan, those who want will listen .

  7. While this article has merit, it has one huge flaw – in that it categorizes entertainment of itself as a “time killer” or “waist of time” and in the same sentence then says “if you’re making MONEY from it, it’s ok.” It can be argued that the entirety of life itself is a game of sorts. People have been conditioned into thinking that MONEY is the most important thing – this in itself is false empty premise for money is a game in itself. I know many people who are so obsessed with money that to them making the next chunk of cash is just the same addiction as “leveling up” in an endless RPG. You also say read books but some would call that a “time killer” as well. Who is to say what is actually valuable in life except the person living it? Just something to ponder. I can play some games and appreciate the art, laughter, fun, and things you can do that as of yet can’t be done in real life. Sometimes I’m in the mood to mount up in armor and slay a Dragon, and if I get enjoyment out of that – who is to deem it a waist of time? Many an older person has all the money in the world – and is miserable. Just something to ponder.

  8. I think gaming is like anything else. If you let it define you, then it’s a problem. The person who goes to work, takes care of their family and does other things then maybe plays a little bit of video games instead of unwinding with tv or a movie like others, would be considered appropriate.

    An example of wasting away are some of my family members. My cousin is 30. He doesn’t even have a job right now. He sits in front of his computer 12-18 hours a day. He complains he doesn’t have the motivation to do anything else. Gaming has actually made him depressed. That’s an addiction taking over his life. He’s just wasting away in that room. He doesn’t know what’s going on in the world. He’s grossly overweight. He’s always sick. Drinks. Smokes. No girlfriend, but then who would want him in this state? What does he have to offer anyone? Nothing… I have a label for this type of person and it starts with an L.

    My sister and brother in law work then play video games, sometimes together. It’s kinda ok, but not really and here’s why. They are both morbidly obese (350 lbs or more). My sister complains of constant migraines. Hmm, maybe it’s all that screen and no sun or exercise. They are so big now, they can’t or are too do anything else. It’s a vicious cycle.

    People like this demonstrate to me all the time, how precious life is. When you’re old, you’ll have plenty of time to sit and stare at a screen, and it may not be by choice. Is this the kind of legacy you want to be remembered for? Nobody will give two “F’s” that you gamed you’re life away. “He accomplished so much…gaming.” Riiight, lol. Nobody will say that.

    In my opinion, the nature of gaming invites the potential of being sucked in to the fantasy world to where the real world begins to cease to exist. In being brutally honest, I’ve never met a satisfied heavy gamer. All those I know (many) only know how to talk about games and nothing else. They aren’t following the world. Are watchers as opposed to being doers. Are sick more often. Have more incidence of depression. It’s a fact that humans were just not designed to sit and look at a screen for hours on end. It will always take its toll and the human will lose.

    I suppose I will never understand though… I’m a doer. I do enough sitting and staring at a screen at work. The very last thing I want to do on my weekend, is look at another screen.

      1. im also a doer. i work outside doing physical labor in the hot sun all week and am in good shape. on weekends i like to sit inside in the nice a/c and play some video games and sit on my ass. lives about balance. i hate the assumption here that people who play video games aren’t doers. in fact the whole article is full of bias and assumptions

  9. When you play video games you are doing nothing because its a virtual reality, it doesn’t exist is a completely waste of precious time, try doing some sports it doesn’t matter if you suck at it, your body will be grateful and you will feel much better everyday, i left this dumb games and now i invest my money and real things that can help me to lead a better life. people create video games because they make real money of it its a business they don’t care for your health.

      1. What about the fact that gamers figured out protein folding a previously unknown piece of protein and are pushing scientific research for more discoveries and visual novels and esports are making people millions of dollars by just playing league of legends and DOTA 2 oh and don’t forget gaming youtubers.

  10. Really great article, I actually laughed out loud reading some of these dragged out rationalizations by gamers in the comments. You gamers are so deluded that you can’t see what’s right in front of you.

  11. I admit this is a great article,try to wake up people to face the reality like me.But for me I do play video games and spend money to buy new games nowadays just follow trend, started learning record them, editing and upload for youtube and etc. I do understand some people disagree about video games is total waste of time, this is why some people try to make gaming for life like other youtubers as well. This is why twitch or patreon exist as well. Sorry for bad english, I hope u get my points 😀

  12. Liste over hvad der skal tjekkes fra testerne
    Hello there,

    The last 3-5 months I have spent a lot of energy and time thinking about life and the big questions. I have a lot of issues figuring out what I want from life, because my belief is that there is no life after death. I can feel like I am slowly moving towards a nihilistic way of mind, which I really don’t like.

    I love to play video-games, and do so as much as possible. At the same time I am starting my own company, which also takes a lot of time. In connection with the latter, I have read a lot of literature and articles on self-development and how to optimize your business/get success. I think this has affected me in a very negative way. At this moment I am very torn.

    All the things I just wrote is to make it easier to understand where the following question(s) are coming from. You write in your article that instead of gaming, you should: “Lift some weights. Hang out with some friends. Go on a date. Pick up a rewarding hobby. Read a book. Work on yourself.”. I understand your point, which is to do things which are more socially accepted activities, in the sense that these are somehow “productive”. I never understood the “read a book” instead of watching TV or playing video games. In my mind this is just as much waste of time. “But you can read self-developing books!” – “Yes, but you can also watch a documentary”. Also, I pretty much do all of the above except reading books (I do read a lot of these online articles and a book once a year or so..)

    My question is.. What is waste of time? Why is it that gaming is a waste of time, but lifting weights 3×2-3 hours a week is not? Why is reading a book seen as more “productive” and “socially acceptable” than watching movies or playing video games? Why is walking along the beach looked upon as a healthy way to procrastinate, while smashing your friends in bowling on your WII is seen as “unproductive” and a waste of time?

    Please don’t get me wrong, I do get your point, and I have had the thought myself many times that it would be best to quit gaming all along.. but then i ask myself why? Why is this so bad compared to other ways to kill time? In my mind, working in your garden is a waste of time, but when people tell other people that they planted 5 trees/bushes today, it is seen as an achievement, but when I ace an enemy team all by myself, it is seen as a waste of time. When someone has learned to do a back flip on their skateboard, it is an achievement (Yes, that is pretty damn impressive), but when I get a perfect score in Tetris (does that exist?), it is not that impressive to most people. I would love to hear your opinion on this matter. What is waste of time, and why is it a waste of time?

    1. You make some great points. Here’s how I see it…

      Something is a “waste of time” only if it isn’t leading you towards a certain goal. The reason games are a waste of time to me is because I don’t have any goals or dreams associated with them. Compared to lifting weights, where my goal is to get a better looking body and to become stronger. So lifting is not a waste of time because I’m working towards that goal. As far as reading a book goes, I say that because it will help you learn more about the world and different schools of thought. Yeah you can watch a documentary, that’s fine, but sometimes reading self improvement can be better than watching the limited stuff about it.

      1. When you’re 80 years old and buff from all the weight lifting what will you do when he die? Your body will rot. The work you put in could be perceived as a waste of time.

      2. Well for me, something is a waste of time if you don’t enjoy it. You could have something very special, or be able to do something amazing, but if you don’t enjoy doing it, then you don’t really benefit, but if you are really devoted to something, then your view on that changes.

        1. I agree but that same logic could apply to anything. If you enjoy drinking and partying, should you do it all the time? On the opposite end. A lot of people don’t like working, but working pays the bills and it isn’t a waste of time.

  13. Hello,
    I came by this article after I asked myself the question; `ARE videogames really a waste of time?’ Currently I am saving for a new gaming pc but my parents disagree with it. It is making me unsure about what I should do; should I just buy it ( It is my own money, I saved and worked for it the last 10 months) or accept my parents advice?
    I’m not a hardcore gamer and I mostly game with my friends. It gives me a good feeling to know I’m doing better than average in some games and I really like the fantasy world settings. After reading your article, I agree with you. But I still like games and I don’t really have the feeling that gaming is a obstacle to my goals. I have other hobbies too. I like reading, chatting with friends, sports etc.
    I’m really uncertain and I like to hear what you think.

    (Sorry for the long post and my weird English )

    1. I think you need to consider how expensive that gaming pc is. From what I’ve heard some gaming pcs are very expensive and if it took you 10 months to save up for it, it must be an investment. Think about what else you could do with that money. Why do you need this specific pc, can’t you use the one you currently have?

      1. I’m 16, that probably explains why I have been saving so long. This gaming pc is like 900,- euros. I want this pc because then I can enjoy all games I have in high settings. I forget to mention I won’t use this pc for only gaming. I will edit photos, and I’ll use it for art ( I have a drawing tablet). It is a good question which I should ask myself, my parents asked it too. I could go to concerts or buy myself a new longboard (another hobby of mine) but I think I still like the idea of a new pc more.

        (also thanks for the really fast reply)

        1. The decision is up to you, I look back on some things I bought when I was younger and they were a complete waste of money. But if that’s something you really think you want and will be useful, then go for it.

  14. What about art?.Unless you’re one of the lucky few that hit it big without at least dying first.Would painting that picture be a pointless endeavour?.Who’s to say?

  15. The pertinent question here is: What are the activities you do instead of playing video games?

    If you stop playing video games, to watch tv, series, movies, read brainless books, doing always the same shit with the same people, having boring conversations about nothing with someone, facebook, mindless net browsing, etc, then this solution becomes completely irrelevant or turn things worse.

    I see art and culture in video games. You´ll just deny in your life one of the most amazing art expressions of Mankind that is electronic games. And it´s interactive, it´s fun, you can even socialize with them, develops your creativity and mind.

    Getting rid of video games is a very radical solution and you´ll miss a brand new world of sensations, mind stimulation and limitless that is coming to this industry in a very high pace (VR, AR, etc). Only if you were truly addicted in an extreme level (like you dont study or get a job because of it) that solution would be comprehensible in a certain way.

    1. I haven’t completely stopped myself, I only play occasionally when I have free time and have finished most of my work for the day. I’ve noticed that if I play I can’t seem to focus on other things after. I become scatter brained, almost like ADD. Regardless, you have a point. If you’ve got nothing better to do then go ahead. But maybe you should find something in your life that is more important than a video game.

  16. This is a really well thought out post. The people who have a strong negative reaction are going to miss the fact that you aren’t saying this applies to all people. They need to realize that it does apply to a LOT of people though. I have had several people in my life (room mates, family members, friends) for whom their gaming habit actually made them depressed. They weren’t happy about the amount of time they spent gaming, but were stuck in a loop they didn’t know how to get out of. Or on a more basic level, would finish 8 hours of gaming and actually feel bad they missed out on something else going on and just weren’t aware.

    A simple problem with gaming VS some other hobbies is that spending a ton of hours gaming can result in some health issues or at a minimum not help with them. The author is discussing gaming affecting certain goals. People are focusing on his mention of money, but glancing over the fact that 2 major things he’s discussing are socializing and losing weight. If you have a goal to get healthy in life, gaming 8 hours in a day isn’t really going to help with that. There is a type of socializing with gaming, but in general it’s not a type of socializing where you are out meeting people face to face (and again, there are exceptions). For some people, not having that face to face socializing with people can cause some major issues. This specific issue is the one I saw with some people in my life.

    There are plenty of people who’s gaming habits will not negatively affect their life. But the author is pointing out that if you are feeling bad because you aren’t accomplishing something else in life you’d really like to because you are spending too much time gaming, then you should change that. He’s telling his story and about how gaming was affecting his goals.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.