Unless There’s a Valid Reason, Don’t Feel Guilty About Playing Video Games
The last time I played Dota 2 was January 8th, 2018. If you asked me to describe my experience with Dota 2, I would have to say that Dota 2 is the high-grade prescription amphetamine of video games.
Like a crippling drug addiction, you don’t realize how far you’ve gone until your room is trashed, your bones ache and you manage to look at the clock. It’s 2:00 AM and you realize that you started playing at around noon. Where has the time gone? Your friend, sitting in the voice chat with you, asks if you want to play another game.
On most nights where I didn’t have school the next day, it wouldn’t be uncommon to play until the sunrise. Dota 2 is just that good when you get into it. Now, I’m not trying to say that every person who plays Dota 2 has this issue. It’s just that this particular game had that effect on me. I couldn’t stop playing. However, when I stopped, it was always the same.
There was that overwhelming sense of guilt — the feeling that I had wasted an entire afternoon or day in a world that was so far disconnected from my own. Reality would come crashing down after I logged off. All of my problems were still at the front door, and I had done nothing to address them.
I never was, and I’m still not, a good Dota player. As of today, I’ve only put in about 1,600 hours into the game. That’s about 66.7 days or a little bit over 2 months of game time. Despite this, I’m really bad at the game. When I played about two years ago, my friends would constantly remind me about how bad I was.
And no, this isn’t some success story where I kept playing and ended up at the international. Nothing like that ever happened. The truth is that I ended up going to college and stopped focusing on video games as a source of validation. Despite this, I want to address the existential dread that can sometimes hit someone after a long play session.
You’re Not Wasting Your Time
When I used to play Dota 2 on a daily basis, I would sometimes confess my feelings of dread to my online friend. He would often quote the same piece of advice to me “Time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted.” When you rage as much as I did in Dota 2, this is debatable, but he had a point.
When I was talking to my therapist about the guilt associated with playing video games, I had a sort of epiphany moment. Whenever I played video games, I had a voice in the back of my head that told me I should be doing something else.
We talked for a while, and then all the puzzle pieces started to fall into place. All throughout my childhood, my parents would constantly be telling me that I should do something — anything else besides playing games!
I must have heard that pretty often because now there always seems to be some sort of guilt inside me associated with the act of playing or spending time on video games. Part of the first step in getting rid of the voice or at least decreasing the intensity of it is to understand the source of your guilt. If the source of your guilt is that there are some serious things you’ve been putting off changing in your life, then it’s probably there for the right reason.
I Stopped Playing Dota 2
I stopped playing Dota for the reason that I had mentioned earlier. I started college and a lot of my new friends weren’t into video games. Or at least, they weren’t as into it as I was. So, I explored different things and got caught up in hanging out with people and focusing on my studies instead.
If Dota 2 was so incredibly addicting, how did I not come back to it after the end of the school year or after graduating college? I did in bits and pieces, but I found that it didn’t have the same pull that it once had. To put it more accurately, I was aware of the pull and the negative consequences of giving in to the game when I had more important things to deal with. I played for the first time since 2018 last night and I had an urge to play today after work.
I knew that, ultimately, it would not leave me feeling good at all. I knew I would regret forgoing the work for a couple of games. Of course, Dota 2 is always going to be here for me in some respects. If I find myself at a time where I don’t have anything else going on, I might hop in for a game or two. Right now, I know that there are other things for me to focus on. When I do finally come back, it won’t be with a heavy heart.