The Problem with Video Games is Leisure-Time Shaming


There are so many articles out there about the problems with how millennials spend their time - the real problem? Is all the leisure time shaming. Everyone deserves downtime.

I’ve been working pretty hard for the past few weeks to get Zero to Investing Hero live, including some days that were part of my week-long vacation. So this past weekend, to celebrate the launch of the course, I gave myself basically the whole weekend off.

I spent time with family, ran errands, went to the gym, and then – horror of horrors – I played video games.

Not even like, for an hour. For an entire afternoon.

I went full gamer.

And I’ve done it before. In fact, I actually took a vacation day when Stardew Valley came out, because I was so into it that I wanted to spend a full day vegged out, gaming.

It was glorious.

So, given all that, you probably won’t be surprised that as a millennial who plays video games, I had Some Thoughts when my friend Bobby went on an admittedly epic rant about video games and millennials.

But they probably aren’t what you think.

Bobby’s key points are that if you’re spending all of your time playing video games, when you could be improving your life – by side hustling, building a business, etc. – then you need to take accountability and stop your whining.

Which, ok, I get.

I disagree when we got down to brass tacks though, because at the end of the day, no matter who you are, no matter how unhappy you are with your situation, leisure time is a non-negotiable. Yes, for everyone.

You Deserve – and Need – Leisure Time

Let’s get one thing crystal clear: with absolutely no downtime, you would be a burnt-out, unproductive mess. It’s science.

There are studies that show that in the long term, working more than 40 hours a week won’t actually make you any more productive. It’s just not sustainable. (And I probably do upwards of 60 if you count how much time I spend on the blog, so I mean, I need to read that article again probably.)

Plus, can you imagine how miserable you would be if you spent every single hour of your life trying to make more money, and then sleeping, and then repeating? Even as a committed side-hustler, who admittedly works way more than 40 hours in a week, I treasure my leisure time.

Without it, I would have burnt out on this blog and my day job long ago, and I like this blog and my day job.

So yes, you deserve – and need – leisure time, even if you have student debt, or consumer debt, or aren’t thrilled with your current salary, or about a billion other ways we are all not in the perfect financial situation.

There are a lot of things you don’t deserve, like a brand new financed car, or a dog if you can’t afford one.

But leisure time? You definitely deserve that.

You Need to Manage It Responsibly

But just because you deserve and need it, doesn’t mean you can just ignore everything else in your life.

Obviously. You knew that.

Just like a fun budget is an integral part of a balanced approach to your money, leisure time is a necessary part of your balanced approach to your time. And you know what they say.

Incoming cliche alert.

Time is money.


In this case, though, it was worth the cliche, because you should think about your leisure time exactly the same way you think about your fun budget. It’s not unlimited, and it can’t get in the way of your other goals, but it is there, and you should use it.

And of course, if there are big problems in your life that need fixing, you should spend some time fixing them, whether they’re money related or not. Got debt? Want to earn more money? Want six-pack abs? Great, make sure you allocate time to that in a sustainable way. It will be more than worth it.

But for the sake of your sanity and future productivity, make sure you leave some time for leisure.

You Get to Decide What Matters to You

But in your leisure time – which you deserve?

Do whatever you want to do.

I’m not here to qualify what counts as “time wasted.” You are an adult, and you can do that for yourself.

Some people would argue I wasted my vacation time because I spent a good chunk of it working on Zero to Investing Hero, or that I wasted a vacation day to play video games. Those are both judgement calls, based on what they value doing in their leisure time.

But here’s the real point: whether I’m working during my vacation, or playing video games, they are equally valid ways to spend my leisure time.

Because they’re what I wanted to do. Yes, even working.

Here’s why.

I genuinely, for real, love writing this blog.

When I get emails about Zero to Investing Hero telling me it’s an amazing resource, and that you guys find it useful? It just about tears my heart open I’m so happy. (Confidential to everyone who has emailed me: I love you guys.)

That’s why I “work” on vacation.

But it’s also why I play video games on vacation.

That time is my time, to do with as I see fit. Just like my fun budget is mine to do with as I please, even if what I want to do is buy a ridiculously expensive paper day planner, or join a gym.

So go boat, travel, read, build LEGO, play Pokemon Go, write for fun, write for profit, side hustle, whatever you want to do with your leisure time.  

Even if what you love is something that I think is a total and utter waste of time and money that will get you nowhere in life.

Because what I think about your leisure time?

Really doesn’t matter if it’s what you want to be doing.

Also, because I just can’t not say this, the next time you read an article shaming people for playing video games, replace “video games” with your favourite leisure activity and see if you’re so quick to agree. “The Problem with Millennials and Reading” just doesn’t have the same ring to it – I wonder why that is.

Desirae is on a mission to demystify and un-boring financial info for millennials, so that we can all save more money, spend on stuff that matters to us, and still have a latte or two along the way. Money is literally why we can have nice things, and Desirae is committed to helping make sure you know just enough to make the right calls for you. (She’s also committed to her expensive dog, her side hustle, and her retirement fund.)

22 Comments on “The Problem with Video Games is Leisure-Time Shaming”

  1. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies

    Video games are easy to villainize. Plain and simple. But as long as people can maintain balance, developing hobbies is fantastic. I could have been doing more work yesterday; instead, I chose to work on a 1000 piece puzzle in the evening. I still ate. I still got work done. The world kept turning.

    A slightly different take on this is my career. Teachers get SO MUCH leisure time. We only work for half the year. Cue the side eye. It’s really hard for us to ever know how anyone is actually spending their time. I do get summers off. That’s true. But when you attend 12 meetings and teach summer school for 6 weeks, you tell me how much time off that actually is. But people don’t see that, right? It’s easy to look at a FB status or a tweet and try to extrapolate to how someone spends every second of their day, but it’s just not possible.

    1. Desirae

      Oh my god Penny puzzles are my nemesis. This one time, The Boyfriend and I went to Maine and were all “let’s do a lighthouse puzzle, because we’ve only been dating for a year and the whole thing is just shades of freaking blue, what could go wrong?!” It was a 1000 piece puzzle as well, that I, puzzle expert that I am, assumed we could finish in an hour or two.

      My hero boyfriend carried on without me and spent weeks on that thing, and when we (he) finally finished it we glued it all together. Never again, lol.

      Anyways, this was a huge sidebar and not at all your original points, all of which I totally agree with! And girlllll, anyone who knows a teacher is not ever going to say you get “so much leisure time.” You work your butt off! Lesson planning and wrangling a ginormous number of kids every day and marking and and and. I’m so happy that you actively find time for yourself, on top of all that, plus running a great blog, plus selling your clothes, plus tutoring!

  2. Pia @ Mama Hustle


    I would add that people should prioritize creating more leisure time if, like you and me, they work a lot. There’s this whole stigma around taking time off that just rubs me the wrong way. Compared to a lot of other places in the world that value work-life balance, the fact that I get to take 10 paid days off is really very little. That means that my leisure time (whether after work or a vacation day) is going to be spent doing WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT – because there’s just not that much of it.

    Because I don’t have endless leisure time, I have found that I need to prioritize activities that actually make me feel restored. I’ve found that watching TV isn’t relaxing (for ME), so I need to prioritize adding in some reading time or exercise to manage my stress levels.

    1. Desirae

      Thank you so much Pia – I completely agree! It’s so, 100%, all about finding the activities that feel like real time off for you and making time for them. And your point about valuing leisure hits the nail on the head – when you tell people from Europe that 10 working days of vacation is considered good here, their eyes just about fall out of their head! We need to make sure we’re protecting that precious, precious few weeks.

  3. Amanda @ My Life, I Guess

    I purposely avoid video games because I get hooked way too easily and get nothing else done. I can see why people “pick on” video games, especially, but your point is right on – it could be reading or travelling or whatever! If it helps you unwind and enjoy yourself, you absolutely need it.
    I think for many of us, that’s what blogging (writing and reading them) started as. I remember jumping out of bed early on mornings where I had a new post scheduled just to check on it, back when I first started. It wasn’t work, it was fun! It was exciting and it made me feel accomplished, even others see it as only a “hobby”.

    1. Desirae

      Hahaha that’s me and fiction books! I know that if I start a good book – and let’s be clear, good could just mean trashy beach read that happens to have a cute story – I’m the “Just one more chapter!” girl all the way. It’s never just one more chapter, lol.

      PS. Congrats on your two job offers, btw! So excited for you!

  4. Bianca Schmitz-Culbert

    “… replace “video games” with your favourite leisure activity and see if you’re so quick to agree. “The Problem with Millennials and Reading” just doesn’t have the same ring to it – I wonder why that is.”

    Believe it or not, my dad always said I read too much when I was a teenager – he thought I should be out interacting with other kids.
    My friends` dad said she was out playing too much and was never seen reading a book.
    I never watch telly, because I fiercely dislike the quality, but I know I spend too much time on the internet.
    Some say excercise more, others say excercise less because that`s vain.

    To me it`s not a question of what`s an appropriate passtime and what is not, but a matter of not imposing your values and interests onto others.

    1. Desirae

      Totally! And I love that you brought up exercise because man oh man do people do this in the fitness world as well. I am by nooooo means a muscular human being, but my focus right now is on lifting weights because I love feeling strong for once in my life, and the amount of “well, careful you don’t bulk up” comments is unbelievable. Total sidebar, haha, but along the same lines!

      And YES people who read too much are the best! My mom’s favourite joke is that she said “put the book down” to me more than any other thing while I was growing up. I’d try to sneak books under the kitchen table, lol, so I 100% know where you’re coming from on parents thinking you read too much!

  5. Julie@ChooseBetterLife

    Nothing is a “waste of time” if it makes you feel recharged and lets you be your best self. It’s worse to keep being stressed out and grumpy.
    As long as it isn’t hurting anyone, do what you love!

  6. Alyssa Fischer

    I’m obsessed with down time. So I’m going to go right ahead and say I agree with everything you said. I normally jam pack my weeks so full that I don’t even have a minute to myself, so when I have a few week nights off, I am certainly okay with playing COD, eating Doritos, and then watching a documentary.

    It doesn’t always have to be work work work work work work (quote Rihanna here). Because if you’re doing your work right, you will have a good balance.

    1. Desirae

      It’s almost as if you’ve been running and building a successful blog, freelancing, building a business and planning a wedding, Alyssa. I guess you probably also “make time to see your fiance” or something crazy like that. So yeah, I think you probably have earned that downtime, lol.

      PS. Quoting Rihanna is 100% the right thing to have done here and I love you.

  7. Andrew

    Down time is critical, it’s only being away on holidays that has made me realized how out of whack things can get. I’m a huge supporter of down time. That said I agree with you, blog “work” doesn’t feel like work it’s more of an interest/hobby/business/passion. I find myself having to force my mind away from it but I’ve found that the last 10 days away have given me a much better perspective on things. Great post Des!

    1. Desirae

      Right?!?! So much of this came from how insanely productive I was when I got back from my internet sabbatical on vacation! It was just night and day, and that break probably prevented some major burnout for me over the summer. (And thank you!)

  8. Financial Samurai

    I’m not a big gamer, but I do have Pokemon Go, Clash of Clans, and Clash Royale on my iphone, all free, and all fun to play when I’m killing time at the airport or walking around. They are fun. I don’t see what the big deal is. Just do so in moderation.

    If one is consuming, one isn’t producing. And if you want to become financially independent and not produce, well that’s where the problem lies!


    1. Desirae

      Totally! It’s all about balance – and man oh man the impact of producing is so huge. I’m consistently glad to be producing, not just consuming!

  9. Our Next Life

    I am so totally with you! Time to veg out and turn off the “work” part of your brain is so essential. And even though I wish everyone would get away from screens and get outside more, I will totally confess that I have an app game that I play every single day, and we have a Wii and definitely go down the Wii hole for hours at a time some weekends. I produce a lot — for work, for the blog and for myself — I enrich myself a lot, and sometimes I just want to do something that’s purely for fun and no other purpose. Is it a waste of time? Maybe. But I don’t believe every second of life has to be dedicated to making more money or learning more. To your point about swapping in other activities instead of gaming, we also love going to concerts and music festivals, watching high brow and low brow movies and TV shows, and doing things outside that don’t make us better athletes or even burn all that many calories. It would be easy to call any of those things a waste of time, but they all counterbalance our crazy demanding worklife and feel essential to me. So no judging of Millennials for gaming here! 🙂

    1. Desirae

      “But I don’t believe every second of life has to be dedicated to making more money or learning more.” YES THAT OMG 100%. Thank you! And that’s exactly it re: the other activities. Leisure is leisure, and if you’re spending a ton of time producing and exercising and doing all the things, you deserve some time to just do something fun and silly.

  10. leisure time activities

    I would like to add that with video games the brain doesn’t develop to the fullest. With video games child and people of all ages remain confined to themselves. So, it is necessary to find and play different leisure time activities that will help people to engage and socialize with other people.

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