We love video games. We do. I know it’s not just me. In fact, I’m pretty sure that video gaming is now the number one leisure time activity around the world. Seems pretty strange to me, being from a generation that didn’t have much in the way of computerized games when I was a kid, but hey, who am I to complain, right? I love ’em. Heck I listed “Play more video games” in my “Why Get Things Done?” post.

As much as I love video games they are probably the biggest detriment to me getting things done and staying productive. As you can imagine this can be quite a problem. They’re a “life” danger to my work/life balance. Anyone play World of Warcraft? If so you probably know what I mean…

Since I enjoy playing games, and in large part they are a great stress reliever and a welcome release from work and such, I’ve come up with a few productivity tips for those who love to play games. I’ve been using these for awhile now and they seem to be working out well.

* Set aside time to play. Make a “play date” if you will. This keeps you from just picking up a controller willy-nilly.
* Rent. I find that if I buy games I tend to want to make sure I get “the most” out of them, whatever that means. I feel almost guilty if I don’t play to the end. Kind of defeats the purpose.
* Play the “easy” version. This can be huge. It’s usually just as fun, probably less frustrating, and it takes less time.
* Play when you know you’ll have to stop. Like an hour before you’ve got to go somewhere.
* Don’t play at night after everyone has gone to bed. This is a hard one to do, as it’s the best time to just play, but if you’re like me, this can keep you up all night. I still do this, I just try and do it less often. I need my sleep to be productive.
* Don’t let yourself feel guilty for bailing out of online play. If you’re tired or have something to do, just buck up and bail. Keep in mind the folks on the other side of the lines are probably 16 years old, don’t work and have nothing better to do. (Actually, they probably aren’t 16, have a job, do have something better to do and are probably just like you, but if you pretend they aren’t, it’s easier to get away!)

Anyone else have any tips for gamers wanting to be more productive?

16 Comments on Quick Tips For Gamers

  1. If David Allen was an Undead…

    From the folks at Ta-Done, some Quick Tips For Gamers:
    Don’t let yourself feel guilty for bailing out of online play. If you’re tired or have something to do, just buck up and bail. Keep in mind the folks on the other side of the lines are probab…

  2. Scott says:

    I don’t know if this tip works for anyone else, but here’s how I do it:

    When I have something important to do, (school, work, etc…) I just don’t play at all. Then, when I finish a major project and have some time, I pick one or two games that I’ve wanted to play, and play them to death for a couple of days. That gets the video gaming out of my system for a while, and I’m ready to focus on something else afterward. I guess I’m a binge gamer. It’s not so much a tip as an alternate style of life, but there it is.

  3. Play the easy version?!? Are you kidding? No way did I put in an ungodly amount of hours on no end of first person shooters to play the easy version any more – give me hard/challenging/tough/you’re crazy/etc any day!

    Actually, I often find playing the medium level gives you a good balance between challenge and making progress. Not sure I bring myself to go any lower though – call me old school or something ;-)

  4. VERiON says:

    Since I have a job I don’t have much spare time.
    So I developed my just-one-hour rule. I simply don’t play longer than 1 hour per day (make it 2 hours when you have a lot of time i.e. weekend). It is a great trick (for me) – I don’t feel guilty anymore. It is like a little reward after the [place your task here – day job, cleaning the house…etc].


    I second “Play the “easy” version” tip.
    This is what I do. Additional bonus – you can play WITHOUT saving game in hard-to-play area which makes you more involve in the game. Only checkpoint save or end-of-level save. Of course “easy” works for me – for you it could be “medium” if you are difficult/nightmare level gamer.

  5. I agree with playing the easy version…I also use all the hints/walkthroughs I can find on the net. When you’re trying to play games and have a life, you’ve got to have some compromises, and I find that these don’t dilute the game “fun” for me as much as a hard-core gamer might think.

    In fact, I think all game companies should include an “auto-play” feature (no kidding)…this would allow you to almost “watch” the game like a movie with the computer controlling the main character/s through all the levels of the game, in a quick play-through mode.

    Strange idea, I know, but I think it would also expand the appeal of games to mainstream audiences…those who would NEVER play a game, just because they think it’s too childish/geeky/silly/or just don’t get it.

    thanks for a good post.

  6. *mp on IT* says:


    AS TIME GOES BY I like playing PC games over console games, even in my forties.

  7. Nick Coenen says:

    As a pretty avid Madden player, I have found that if I play a full game, I can get a lot done if I let the CPU play defense for me and I play offense. It might not be as fun, but it makes doing chores around the house a lot more bearable.

  8. Ste Grainer says:

    All good tips – my question is: what server do you play on in WoW? ;)

  9. Brendan says:

    Put an exercycle in front of the TV and ride it whenever you play a game.

    Works better with console games, obviously, although you could probably find an exercycle with a shelf for a laptop if you’re more into computer games.

  10. Xbox or wife? PS2 or kids? PC or job?

    If your gaming runs your life, have some advice from productivity site TO-DONE! Technorati tags: games / gaming…

  11. Harmony says:

    I tend to just leave gaming as the last thing in my day if I really want to play, eg – get home from work, do some creative/web work for a while, do chores, have dinner, and then play for 2-3 hours before bed (yes, I’m a WoW addict ;) ). Weekends I dedicate Saturday until lunchtime to doing my creative stuff, and then after that I take the rest of the weekend off to game. This system works well for me – I still get a fair bit of extra work done during the week, and I get enough time to chill out so I can keep it all going.

    On a side note, I’ve dealt with depression for years which I’ve recently learnt is a side-effect of too much work / information overload as well as other factors, and I’ve found gaming to be the absolute best way to chill out and recharge depleted seratonin levels. I used to produce a -lot- of creative work after my 40 hours of normal work every week (also creative work) and it just didn’t leave me in a good way, so I guess moderation must be key to all things, but in some cases more gaming can be better than less ;)? Works for me anyway (and I’m glad to see I’m not the only person trying to get heaps done and game as well!).

  12. Neal Dench says:

    Great tips, all! I particularly like the “play when you know you have to stop” tip, which actually I do practically every day of the week, but had never realised that was what I was actually doing: I set aside half an hour in the mornings before I go to work to play. This is actually my main playing time, and it’s an important relaxation point for me at the start of my day. Then, when I come back from work in the evening, I’m more interested in talking to the kids, having family time, than switching on the Xbox. (Apart from the odd evening after everyone’s gone to bed, but they are few and far between, and usually restricted to weekends.)

  13. Tiago Almeida says:

    This problably isnt my place to say but im gona say it anyway. Im addicted to gamming. I know I am and I like it. If you guys think you have a problem thats nothing. If I didnt have my 4mbit DSL connection and some “illegal download program” Id die. Pure and Simple. Im not 100% Warez as you may think I also buy originals. hl2, WOW, San Andreas (PS2) But thats not enough for me. I need more and more so I turn to warez when the wallet is empty and the mind is weak (most of the time :P)

    Plus Im from Portugal and the prices here have all been rising like hell this months but heres my tip.

    Play as long as you can during the weekend belive me youll thank yourselves.

    MegaTip: work at a gaming magazine and get paid to play and evaluate games

  14. QVAD says:

    video games is pure crack for me. i sold my system, screw it. takes too much time to keep my skills up to the point where i can even enjoy a fps. i’m much happier, i’m getting a lot of writing done, and pratice (music). seriously, if you want to be a productive person, if you think being creative is at all valuable to the world, get out of games. next generation looks awesome, and the one after that is going to be like tv. i’m not saying you’re messed up to be into games, i love that shit, i understand, but it’s evil, ultimately. seriously, get out while you still can.

  15. I found that i can balance work/family/game time by finding very “off” time, and taking advantage of it; i.e., i often play WoW weekday mornings, before 7:30AM. *if* i can get myself up early enough, then i get to play; otherwise, everything else takes priority.

    this has some interesting side benefits, as well; since im getting up earlier in general, i’m more productive in my first couple of hours at work, and i get to spend more time with my family during breakfast. Obviously, i get tired a lil earlier, but its a fair trade off.

    and perhaps, most importantly, my WoW server (blackrock) is much less populated then… i get more done in-game, as well. ;)

  16. Ben says:

    I try to strictly limit myself to games that I can beat. I love playing through long, interesting single player games which take about the same time commitment as a novel. That way even if I go overboard for a week or two, at least the problem goes away. It works best if I only get one game or novel per month.

    Now if I could only cut down on my blog addiction…

Leave a Reply