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5 tips to Prevent Problematic Gaming Patterns From Forming

Do you feel like you might be playing games just a little too much but haven’t quite reached the point where you think professional intervention is needed?  

To help ensure every gaming experience is a good one, it can be helpful to create your own boundaries. 

Here are some tips to help keep your gaming behaviour under control. 

Set time limits for play and stick to them 

Good games, well designed games, put players in a state of flow, or “in the zone”. It can be easy to lose track of time and play for three hours when we only intended playing for one. A good way to help “break” the “zone” is to set a timer. Whether it is an oven timer or one on your phone, having the audible buzz or ding to remind you that it is time to stop playing can help keep you within your set limits.

Install an app that can limit play time  

If setting a timer isn’t proving effective, there are always ways to more forcefully keep you within your pre-set limits. Sometimes this is possible by using parental controls through the game playing device itself. Other times, it requires installing a third-party application such as QTIME.

Recognise triggers 

For some people, certain kinds of games are more likely to lead to “longer than intended” game play sessions than others. Are single player role-playing games more likely to keep you glued to the screen all night rather than a hypercasual title? When you are trying to limit your time, avoid those kinds of games.

Find an accountability (or “success”) partner 

Reaching out to a friend or an online support group for accountability can help increase your likelihood of success in sticking to your goals. Research has found that publicly committing to your goals gives you a 65% chance of completing them. Having a specific accountability partner increases this chance of success to 95%.

And if you think you need professional help, here’s what to do:

There is a common misconception that you need to hit rock bottom or be in dire need before reaching out to a psychologist. However, this is not the case. Reaching out to a professional can help you discover what function games are serving for you and develop new supports and strategies to help you find alternative activities that can help serve that same function. Many clinicians also offer free initial phone consultations. See our resources page for some suggestions of where to find a clinician in your country.  

Top Tips

  • Set a timer to help you keep within your time limit

  • If that doesn’t work, try using an app that will force you to stay within your limits

  • Identify and avoid the games that keep you playing for longer and stay away from them

  • Let a friend or support network know what you’re doing so that you have some external encouragement

  • Getting professional help is a really good decision that will give you some great strategies to work on 

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