My Secret Money Draining, Time Wasting Addiction

time wasting addiction
Civilization 3 Source

Isn’t it beautiful? In the picture above, you are looking at the capital city of an empire. I successfully constructed the Pyramids, Colossus, Hanging Gardens, Great Wall, Oracle, Great Lighthouse, SETI Program, and the United Nations. I’m talking about my secret time wasting addiction I’ve struggled with for years: the video game series Civilazation. 

Never Have So Many Hours Been Spent For So Little Productive Use, With the Exception of Television

time wasting addiction
Civilization 4. My computer never had a good enough graphics processor to handle it. So I bought one that could handle it.  Source

Everyone has an area of their life where they have an addiction. For some people it is something innocuous like Diet Soda. For others it is something unhelpful like food or shopping on Amazon. For others, their addiction might be something destruction like drugs, alcohol, or pornography. My deep and unhealthy addiction is video games, particularly this one Civilization series.

My girlfriend pointed out in my article Do You Have House as a Work of Art Syndrome? that I was unfairly targeting a habit preferred by females while leaving male vices alone. I realized that she was right. I discovered Civilization 3 in middle school while staying over at a friend’s house. I saw how he founded his civilization and sent the Arab horsemen units to explore. The idea of sending them off into the unknown and discovering new land to explore and settle was intoxicating to me (my ancestors were frontier settlers).

I learned more about the game. You built up scientific advances, buildings, and Wonders of the World to gain influence and improve your armies. Then you could invade your opponent’s lands and conquer their empires. I loved the idea of world domination and developing a kingdom without dealing with the democratic process. I was a little dictator waging war to build my own Roman empire.

The problem is that I played for hours. I must have played Civ 3 and Civ 4 for around 2,000 hours growing up. Once Civilization 5 came out, I must have played about 1,000 hours of that version. Malcolm Gladwell says you need to practice 10,000 hours at a task before you are an expert. I was on the verge of gaining ultimate skill at a completely useless task of playing board games.

Imagine if I had learned German, or read more finance books, or exercised, or worked on a side business during this time. I would have been smarter, stronger, and richer than I am today. I had a great time playing Civ growing up, but ultimately the siren call to build my empire from scratch remains too strong for me to resist. I had to delete the Steam video game program off my computer to force me to have more time to do other things, like write my second book, keep up with this blog, and work out.

Many Men (and Some Women Too) Have a Time Wasting Addiction to Video Games that We Don’t Talk About

time wasting addiction
Civilization 5 Source

The proliferation of modern graphics, online play, and high processor speeds have gotten us addicted like never before to playing video games. While some experts say a degree of game playing is good for our brains, there is no getting around that I would be better off if I had never heard of Civilization. It is still my favorite game of all time, but I wish I had never known it existed. To this day, when people want to suggest a video game to me, I avoid trying it for the same reason that I avoid smoking a single cigarette. I am afraid that I might like it and get hooked.

In the 3,000 hours I gave to Civilization, imagine if I had been able to work instead and receive a modest $10 an hour wage. I could have had $30,000 available to do other things. That money could have been invested in the stock market, and by today it would have at least doubled to $60,000. That is enough to give me $2,400 a year in income for life. I literally spent the equivalent of a new luxury car on this video game.

If a woman spends $100 on a pair of curtains, she at least does not waste her time. She might spend a few hours buying them and installing them, but would not wake up at 11am and play until 10pm and wonder where the day went. I have done something pathetic like that before. In fact, my time wasting addiction of playing video games is perhaps the least Millennial Moola thing I have done in my life.

If you are in college or are a recent graduate, you might want to fill your free time with video games, I get it. Your life is stressful and you want something to unwind and just mindlessly have fun without interacting with human personalities in real life. However, after the hundreds or even thousands of dollars you spend getting the equipment, you waste hundreds or even thousands of hours you could spend doing something else. I even gave up my Chromebook to have the ability to play video games better. Do not give in to the temptation.

Having ‘video games are my life syndrome’ is much more costly than ‘house as a work of art syndrome.’ If you or someone you know has this addiction, get help. Consider deleting the game off your computer, or giving away your copy so you will not play it. You may suffer from withdrawal, but your life will be enriched by giving into the desire to play. You will have better interpersonal relationships, a more edified life, and more money in your pocket. If you are addicted to a game like I am, you have to actively fight back against it or you will continue to spend thousands of hours staring at a glowing blue computer screen increasing your risk of brain cancer and carpal tunnel. Go for a run instead.

What was (or is) your video game addiction? Has anyone spent more money than I have playing a game? Comment below.


3 thoughts on “My Secret Money Draining, Time Wasting Addiction”

  1. Hahaha! Yes! I am in the same camp. Grew up with this game and still love it (although I really only play the iOS version now).

    I have a solution for you though: a stationary bike (mine is actually my normal bike on a bike trainer). I have one set up in my house and I only play Civ when I’m riding the trainer (or on a long flight). It will do wonders for your fitness as the time just flies by!

  2. I understand completely the part about working instead of playing video games, I played Final Fantasy XI for 7 years, I had over 9000 hours played, when I read your article I felt the pain.

    Unfortunately, we did not have Youtube or Twitch to make money while playing video games, I often visit these websites and sometimes I envy those young kids making more money than me while playing video games all day long.

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