Why I Don’t Use My Computer for Gaming

Entertainment Videogames
Image: Daniel Dudek-Corrigan via Flickr

Sometimes the game I want to play is only released on Steam or a similar platform. Luckily it hasn’t happened very often. Most game makers release an iOS or Android version, giving people the option to play on a mobile device. I say “luckily” because I don’t have a Steam account, and as of this moment, I won’t make one. I reserve the right to change my mind in the future if the greatest game in the world comes along.

But so far, it hasn’t.

Sometimes I wonder what would be the tipping point to forego my favourite device for playing games in order to move myself to where I definitely don’t want to be playing games: the computer. It would have to be the perfect combination of graphics and sound and storyline that would get me to build an account at Steam and hit purchase.

*******When you work out of the house, it can be difficult to separate work time from play time, especially when work and play use the same tools. At the heart of this conundrum is the computer. If I’m sitting in front of it, I get the feeling that I should be working. Sure, I use it to surf the web and read blogs and check Twitter. But mostly, I’m working.

It would certainly be easier to play a game on the computer. The screen is big, and it’s a more powerful machine. I’m aware that some games likely need the computer because they can’t run on an iPad in their current form.

But I can’t get over the fact that if I’m sitting at my desk, I feel I should be working. The few times I’ve tried to play an interactive fiction game on the computer, I’ve found my attention wandering and I’ve stopped playing to check email, add a sentence or two to a manuscript, or jot down a few ideas to use in future articles. It detracts from my enjoyment of the game.

For me, games are a means of escape. I definitely don’t want them associated with a tool I consider part of work time.

So I play games on the iPad and work on the computer.

Even if it means sometimes missing out on something very very cool.

*******I should note that it wasn’t always this way. Until 6 years ago, I didn’t have a mobile device, so all non-console games were played on the computer. Was I more productive back then because there were fewer overall distractions such as social media? I don’t remember it being a huge issue, but once I could separate my game play from my work space, I never went back to using the computer for gaming again.

When I recently told someone about this division of work and play, she stared at me incredulously. She pointed out that I was missing out on really cool games because I was focused on where I was playing them. This, of course, is true, but it’s not as if there are a dearth of games on the app store. If anything, this helps to limit the number of games I could potentially start.

But it made me wonder how many other people limit the devices they’ll use for games. Meaning, if you don’t own a Playstation, you obviously can’t play a Playstation-only game. But what about the devices you own and yet don’t want to use for a certain purpose?

Are you mindful about separating your work space from your play space?

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8 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Use My Computer for Gaming

  1. I have games on my laptop bit I can never work from home, if I want to get work done I go to a cafe. I cant play games on my laptop there because there is a social stigma about gaming in public places, idk could just be me.
    I also dont play games on my phone as I don’t want the distraction wherever I am.

  2. Really? I have the exact opposite problem. When I sit down in front of the computer and try to get some work done… I get the feeling that I should be playing games instead. That’s what the computer is for, after all. 🙂

  3. I work on a PC all day long and I game on a PC as well. I also game on consoles and my tablet, but PC is still my favorite platform. I just don’t have a problem with work/life balance when it comes to my equipment. *shrug* When I work I work and when I play I play. Easy as that.

  4. You bring up a very interesting, and poignant, observation about the current state of human/technological interaction. More and more people are turning their focus and energy towards devices that consist of 1) a screen 2) a microprocessor and 3) a worldwide network interface. Now, in your situation, when you say “computer” do you really think you are talking about the machine itself or is it in reality actually the space? Because whether or not you refer to a mobile device as a “pad” or “smartphone” or a gaming system as a “console”, in actuality they are all three, the “computer”, the mobile device, the console, essentially the same things: screens that display what is being processed and also usually connected to a wide area network. We are at the point in our cultural development where these screen/processor/networked devices are ubiquitous in the extreme. You can’t turn around, or reach into your pocket, without encountering one. So I would instead argue that it’s not really the machine but rather in actuality the SPACE that is defining what sort of activity you do or do not do. In reality, what you are really saying is “This desk in this room is where I do my , this couch in this room is where I game, and when I go outside, these are the things I choose to do when I am physically ambulating from place to place.”

    I enjoyed your article very much. Very interesting observations. I would genuinely like to hear your thoughts on the things I mentioned. Thanks again for posting a very thought provoking piece. I leave you with a quote from Arthur C. Clark that you no doubt know: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

  5. Addendum: You may be on to something very interesting from a psychological standpoint, Mellisa. Does the “label” that we give a particular device cause these constraints you have? An interesting experiment would be to setup identical “machines” in both your work space and your play space and see if they provoke any sort of almost Pavlovian response with regards to what you can or cannot do with each one. Again, I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts. 🙂

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