Quitting video games for a week didn’t change my life

May 19, 2022 — by Vinay Gollamudi
Photo by Vinay Gollamudi
Quitting my Xbox hurt me more than it helped.
I initially hoped that getting rid of this pastime would boost my productivity, but the results showed otherwise.

After forcing myself to get out of bed at 5 a.m. on Friday, May 6, to finish yet another homework assignment right before school, I concluded that I should put an end to this  counterproductive cycle. My plan was to stop playing video games in the evenings so I could actually finish all my work before morning. After an intense internal debate, I decided to challenge myself by cutting video games out of my life for a week.

On Sunday, I unplugged my console and stored it in a box, hoping that it would indirectly reduce my stress about school. I had also been sure that this method would make me an ultra-efficient homework machine, but, to my surprise, it didn’t.

 I had a relatively light workload on the Monday of my detox experiment. Normally, I probably would have played video games for a couple hours before getting started on my work due on Wednesday; however, without the allure of video games calling me and encouraging me to work faster, I simply found other ways to waste time: browsing social media and YouTube on my phone. 

To no one’s surprise, I went to sleep unsatisfied with my performance and still anticipating a mountain of unfinished work for Tuesday evening.

The next day, my decision to not work on Monday came back to haunt me. Gone with the warm embrace of video games was also my incentive to finish early, so I worked slower than usual. Instead of going to bed at 9:30, I actually ended up sleeping an hour later than normal.

Although I was anxious to get back to gaming, I had already resigned myself to the fact that the console wasn’t coming back until Friday. I missed the feeling of freedom that came from driving around in “Watch Dogs” and “Forza Horizon,” as well as the pure joy that came from smoking someone in NBA2K or Madden. Instead of serving as a fuel for me to finish my work, my video game detox had already started backfiring on me since I kept getting distracted.

Wednesday and Thursday went on similarly. I still couldn’t finish my homework and had to work during tutorial and lunch to complete everything. At this point, I realized video games were probably more of a benefit to my life than a detriment. I was tempted to break the detox, but I wanted to stick to it until the end to confirm the results of my experiment.

After what seemed like an eternity, Friday finally arrived and I eagerly got back to gaming. A feeling of relief washed over me as I indulged in my favorite pastime. My week had been even more unproductive and stressful than usual without the additional source of enjoyment.

The lesson I have learned: Not all distractions are bad. Sometimes we need a brainless pastime to keep us going, and that’s why I won’t be quitting video games, no matter how many times people tell me they’re an unproductive waste of time.

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