Controlling your habits

Computer gaming during prime-time essay season can become an issue without the right time management (Joseph Tunney/AQ)
Computer gaming during prime-time essay season can become an issue without the right time management (Joseph Tunney/AQ)

Whether it’s Flappy Bird or Angry Birds all I know is, in this video game era, we’ve all got a firm handle on our birds. Why is it so hard to put video games down? Isn’t there a call of duty to go through that portal we call a front door, look around at the amazing 3-D high-definition graphics and go, “WoW?”

Dave Steeves is a gamer from Holy Cross who spends about five to six hours of the day mashing down the A-button. He’s a nocturnal gamer, preferring to fight terrorists and raid castles when the people around him have settled down.

“I don’t really think it ruins any social aspect because if I didn’t have gaming I‘d just be doing something else,” said Steeves.

For Steeves, it’s in his nature to stay up late. It’s not just gaming. Whether it’s drinking with friends or hanging out at McDonald’s, you’ll find him wide awake at 4 a.m.

“If there is nothing going on, and I’m just gaming out during the night it is kind of difficult to just say, ‘Alright, that’s done. I’m going to go to bed’ … Gaming doesn’t really tire me out.”

Luckily Steeves’ university schedule has been forgiving with his sleep patterns. He doesn’t have classes until 11:30 a.m. at the earliest. He’s no fool either. Last year when he had classes at 8 a.m., he adjusted his dragon slaying schedule to allow for a good night’s sleep.

“You got to set goals if you are going to keep track of your work.”

Some games make it easier to quit than others. League of Legends is an online team-based game with each session lasting up to an hour. If you quit midway, you’re banned from playing another game for a time. The more you quit, the longer you’re banned. Rules like this have caused Steeves some problems socially. If his friends are leaving to do something fun and invite him along, sometimes he has to just let them go.

Shauna Foote, an academic advisor at STU, has been giving talks about time management for the last 12 years. Although she wouldn’t agree with Steeves’ sleeping patterns, his understanding of setting goals has affinity with her message.

“We’re not born being great time managers, so it takes lots of trial and error to get it right. When students learn to manage time effectively, their grades improve and stress tends to decrease significantly. Also, this is an important skill for life beyond university, whether it be in employment or in our personal lives,” Foote wrote in an email.

But even with exams approaching, Steeves isn’t worried. He knows what he needs to do to succeed.

“A few night that I could be gaming I’ll probably go down to the study lounge. What I normally do is play a game or two and then head straight to bed and that’s not really good for you. You shouldn’t have a computer be the last thing you see before you go to bed. What I’ll probably do is play a game and then take an hour or so to do some work and then go to bed. That way my work is on my mind,” said Steeves.

His late nights may not be ideal, but even Foote knows ‘ideal’ isn’t for everybody.

“Time management is personal – we all have to find what works best for us.”

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