If you look at my bio, you’ll see that I’ve always loved video games. From the time I was little, I’ve always played games, most of the time everyday. From Hearts of Iron IV to Overwatch, I’ve been markedly consistent in playing games. There aren’t many times where I’ve taken more than a couple of days off without playing something.
However, a couple of weeks ago, I decided that it was time for a change. I felt like I was too busy and needed a break for some clarity. I had a lot of decisions coming up and needed some time to think. That’s when I decided that I’d try to go a week without playing any games.
It turns out, quite a lot.
I was More Active
When I was a kid, I never liked going outside all that much. It actually took a video game, Final Fantasy XIV to be exact, to show me the beauty of nature and the wonder of exploration. Without games to play during the afternoon and early evening, I found myself going over to my local park and playing a lot more pickup basketball, spending more time with my siblings outside, and taking the time to appreciate the fact that the weather was actually really nice this time of year.
I Spent More Time with My Other Hobbies
I’ve always been a big fan of the NBA and, since I was a kid, watching professional basketball has always been one of my favorite things to do. The week I was off from games just so happened to be the NBA’s free agency period, which saw a bunch of high-profile players, from NBA champion Kawhi Leonard to my favorite player, Russell Westbrook, change teams in the span of a week or two. Being able to observe it firsthand was something really cool that I might have missed with my normal gaming schedule.
I Read More
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been an avid reader. From Robert Jordan’s monumental fifteen volume Wheel of Time series to Herbert P. Bix’s Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, I’m always reading something. However, during my week off from games, I had a lot more time to not only read books, but other long-form content that I enjoyed. I found a sports journalism website, The Athletic, that I really enjoyed and even subscribed to their content, something that I probably wouldn’t have tried before.
I Learned More
With all the extra time that I had, I decided to pick back up on learning Japanese. Now, I’ve been “learning” Japanese since 2013, but between college, work, graduate school, and just pure laziness, I hadn’t been able to devote as much time to it as I’ve wanted to. During my week off, I dedicated more of my time to punching ahead and starting back on it. Getting back on track was hard, but after I’d done it, I felt great. For the first time since 2016, I devoted a substantial part of my day to learning a language that I feel has a great role in my future. That felt amazing.
I Had More Time to Think
Given that this was the very reason that I took a week off from playing games, this wasn’t a surprise. What was a surprise was that I was able to spend my time in deep, constructive thought. Being able to focus on just–well–thinking proved a lot more useful than one would think. Of course, if you spend more time on your phone or on the computer in general, this might not apply as much to you, but given that I spend most of my downtime playing games, it helped a lot.
I never thought this experiment would be as helpful as it ended up being. I mean, it seemed sort of silly at first. However, by the end, I was really happy with the progress that I had accomplished in just one week. Sure, it was hard to go a week without so much as looking at my Switch or seeing if I could conquer the world as Communist China in Hearts of Iron IV. In the end, though, I was happy for the mental, physical, and spiritual clarity that the experiment provided. It’s something that I’d wholeheartedly recommend to those feeling similarly overwhelmed with the blessings of modern society.