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Simple Rules to Keep Games Fun

Table of Contents

Introduction

When you're playing a video game, you should be having fun and enjoying yourself. Unfortunately, like many other things in life, there's always the possibility of things going wrong. People can be very blind to how other people are feeling, and this can lead to fights or other unwanted problems.

By being responsible about how and when you play video games, and by being respectful towards other players, most of the common issues can be avoided. Ultimately, the key in all of this is communication between the people playing and the people who are not.

General Safety

Like it or not, but even something as innocuous as a video game can injure someone if you use it improperly. This guidelines here should be obvious though, so don't worry too much about them.

Ensure your computer room is properly lit
Watching stuff on a brightly lit screen in a dark room is a great way to strain your eyes, so be sure to leave enough lights on. If it's getting dark while you're playing, pause the game and turn the lights on rather than allow yourself to sit the dark.


Posture does matter
You've probably been told not to slouch or to sit upright when at the computer. However, studies are starting to come out that sitting upright might not be the best position for your back. Instead of trying to stay bolt upright, just focus on not leaning into your computer screen.


Take breaks every so often
Playing games for hours on end might be fun, but it's not really good for your health to sit there all night. Every so often, get up and stretch a little. It needn't be a long break; just long enough to flex and perhaps grab something to drink or use the restroom.


Stay hydrated and keep your sugar up
Human bodies are basically chemical engines, and they function best when there's enough fuel circulating to keep them powered. Keep yourself going strong by drinking some cold water and having a little snack once in a while. Ideally, the snack should be something light, like a little bit of fruit or juice. Sodas and candy provide a lot of energy, but this type of chemical energy burns very quickly and can even leave you with less than you started with, so don't rely on them alone.


Guidelines for when you are playing a game

Be mindful of your time
Learn how long it takes you to reach a save point or the end of a level and plan your time accordingly. If you're not sure, guesstimate 30 to 60 minutes for most AAA games or 15 to 30 minutes for simpler games like casual games and sandbox games. If something in real life will come up before you can quit, do not start playing.


Avoid situations where you become frustrated
Frustrated players are likely to be crabby and unfriendly, so keep an eye on your own behavior. If a game is getting frustrating and you've been trying for a while, stop and take a break for a bit. It needn't be a long break: just stretch a little, grab a drink, use the bathroom and settle back down. A simple refresher like this can make a huge difference in your gaming ability. Additionally, don't add stress you don't need. For example, don't force yourself to play at an uncomfortably high difficulty level. Practice lower difficulties first or be prepared to lose gracefully.


Know when and where a game will allow you to pause or quit
There's a very real chance that you need to be able to put the game on hold for a moment, so be familiar with when you'll be able to do this. Since most games will pause when you have the inventory menu up, that's likely all you'll need to do. Other games have explicit pause features or areas where nothing will be attacking you. Learn where these spots are so that you can handle interruptions gracefully.


If someone interrupts your game, acknowledge them quickly but politely
Simply asking them to wait until you're ready to answer them can go a very long way in avoiding fights. Obviously, once you've asked them to wait, be prompt in getting to a stopping point and let them know you're ready once you're there.


Don't let your game interrupt someone else
If someone is talking to you or may do so in a moment, wait for them to finish before doing something in the game that requires your attention (for example, don't trigger a cutscene or boss fight). This is usually easily done: just wait outside of the boss room or mission hub while you chat.

If something you need to pay attention to starts unexpectedly, politely let the other person know you need to focus on the game for a moment and apologize for the inconvenience.


Your game will always be there later
In the end, real life is more important than your game and should be treated as such. It's not something any of us wants to hear, but it's an honest truth and we really should act accordingly.


Guidelines for when someone else is playing a game

Try to avoid interrupting key points in their game
Most of the time, the player should be able to stop and answer a question or two. However, during some portions of a game, such as cutscenes and boss fights, this may not be possible. Just be patient and wait for them to be ready before engaging them.


Treat video games like a phone call
Unlike movies or TV, it requires a fair amount of concentration to play a game, so don't just walk over and start talking to someone that's busily engaged in a game. Just get their attention and wait until you're sure they are ready before talking to them.


Aim to defuse, not escalate, situations
Players can get frustrated by events in a game, and may vent some of this at you if you provoke them. If this happens, back off for now and just let it slide. There's a good chance they weren't aware of how harsh they sounded, and if so any retaliation (raised tone, punishments etc) will appear arbitrary and only escalate the situation.

However, if they remain cranky or otherwise hostile after they've been away from the game, then there's a problem that needs to be addressed.


Additional notes for parents

Do not impose unrealistic demands on games or players
Most video games can't be shared like a doll or skateboard, so don't try to force children to share one. There are genres aimed at multiple players, so if you need children to share games, suggest and provide these.

Likewise, some games expect the player to be able to play for long periods (perhaps up to an hour), so try to give your children enough time to make progress in their game when allocating gaming periods.


Most issues with a game will be restricted to that game alone
If a problem develops when someone plays games, restricting the use of that particular game can be more effective than revoking all gaming privileges. The key here is that children need to understand why there is a problem and that the problem is their reaction to something about that game. Once they understand it, they can work on dealing with it. A blanket ban just makes it look like you have something against games rather than a problematic behavior.