The Problem with Video Games is Leisure-Time Shaming

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.

*Groan.*

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.