How to develop healthy gaming habits

Healthy gaming habits

League of Legends offers a lot of time to work on our healthy gaming habits. It's breathtaking how much can be accomplished in the minutes between games or during death timers.

The math behind League of Legends free time.

We spend around 8 minutes to begin a ranked game and around 5 minutes to begin a normal game.

If everything goes as planned, we need to sit through one queue and one champion pick. But wait, there's more:

  • We can expect anywhere from 30 seconds to 4 minutes in queue time based on the game mode we choose.
  • Time in champion select varies between blind pick and draft pick. Blind picks take 100 seconds and draft picks take 530 seconds .
  • Loading time can be as quick as 30 seconds or as long as 5 minutes if somebody hasn’t updated from a wooden PC.

Additional time we need to take into account.

This is something we cannot predict and varies between games:

  • If somebody decides to dodge the champion pick, we wait even more. The new queue time won’t reset to 0 and will be noticeably quicker; however, the champion pick will reset.
  • Death timers range from 10 to 78 seconds. The first death is manageable, we simply buy new items and go back feeding. When the game progresses, the timer increases and we have more free time.
  • Remakes happen. If somebody fails to connect by 3 minute mark, we usually type /remake.

There is a lot of time that we spend not-gaming.

I have been playing League of Legends for 5 years now and for the first 3 years I didn’t have any healthy gaming

habits during these pauses. I browsed internet, I ate junk food, I smoked or I simply fell back in my chair and waited for action time.

I should have realized early on that my gaming wasn't surrounded by healthy habits. I spent a minimum of 30 minutes per day on nothing that would improve my gaming skills or my life. 30 minutes per day may seem too little to bang-my-head-against-the-table about, but when it's compounded over days or weeks the problem becomes visible.

30 minutes per day is 182.5 hours per year, 7.6 days per year, 26 school days per year and so on. I think you get the message. That’s a lot of time!

It’s enough time to reach an intermediate level of any skill you can imagine.

What it takes to develop healthy gaming habits.

Over the past two years I have been working on new healthy gaming habits and I’ve been successful in most attempts. Here are some insights on what is necessary:

Effort.

I would love to say that it was easy, but it wasn’t. It takes time to develop healthy gaming habits and it takes effort to keep away from bad gaming habits. Keep pushing and keep your finger off the Ekko’s ultimate.

Consistency.

It took time and I had to be consistent. “Repeat, repeat and repeat” is what I told myself daily. Habits are developed by creating routines, and routines are created by repetition.

Growth mindset.

I needed to start believing that everything can be achieved sooner or later. I used to think that I was smoking because it was in my genes, and therefore it was impossible to quit. Whenever I couldn't quit, I would blame it on my genes rather than acknowledge that I didn't try enough or didn't use new strategies to help myself.

It's like playing Teemo - super easy while we're in Bronze, but it gets harder once we go further. People that play at a higher level know how to deal with basic Teemo strategies and can easily shut it down. That's when we quit playing Teemo and blame it on not being good enough for Gold or higher. It is in fact good enough, but we need to learn new strategies and mechanics to make Teemo work at higher levels.

As soon as people realize that the game is balanced and every champion can do the job, they start to become better players.

Changing Habits.

This is the main part. I will talk about this more below as this is what we all need to understand before we begin our work.

What are habits?

Some of the actions we perform daily are automatic, for example, breathing, pressing the right button to launch and ability or walking. Our brain makes every repeating action automatic, forming a routine.

Do you remember your first steps in League of Legends? I bet you couldn't remember which button to press to launch the ability you want, however, now you don't even think about it. Your brain does it for you.

For example, you're playing Lux. If you see a champion and want to use snare, your brain automatically moves the cursor toward the enemy and presses Q. You don't have to repeat the process of finding out what is snare, what button needs to be pressed and where you need to place the cursor.

Our brains recognize actions that are repeated over and over and “save” them to make our lives easier. The bad thing is that our brains don't filter the bad or good, therefore, everything we do repeatedly becomes a routine. Be it running at 8 am or smoking before every game.

The structure of performing habits.

There are three things that are always present when we perform a habit: a trigger, routine and reward. I'll use the same example I used before with Lux to explain this.

  • Trigger.Trigger gives a signal to our brains to perform the routine we have done multiple times before. In this case it's knowing that we need to use snare.
  • Routine. Our brain performs the routine we have done so many times before: moves cursor towards the enemy and presses Q. This is what we call a habit.
  • Reward. We use the ability.

Understanding bad gaming habits.

We need to understand why we do what we do, or in other words, we need to understand what triggers our bad gaming habits.

Luckily for us, the triggers while gaming are quite simple:

  • Trigger. We die, because we stepped into Teemo's shroom.
  • Routine. We take a sip of Coca Cola and use every swear word in our vocabularies.
  • Reward. We did something during the death timer and get back to the game.

Or:

  • Trigger. Game ends and we press “play another one”.
  • Routine. We go for a smoke.
  • Reward. We did something to pass the time.

As you can see, whenever the game stops, our brains respond to that and begin performing a habit.

Developing healthy gaming habits.

The easiest way to develop healthy gaming habits is to replace the bad gaming habits. We decide what we want to we want to work on, and we grind it until it becomes automatic:

  • Trigger. We die, because we stepped into Teemo's shroom.
  • Routine. We do our healthy gaming habit.
  • Reward. We did something during the death timer and get back to the game.

Or:

  • Trigger. Game ends and we press “play another one”.
  • Routine. We do our healthy gaming habit.
  • Reward. We did something to pass the time.

Okay, it's not so simple. This is where effort, consistency and growth mindset comes into play.

It is very easy when we begin, but gets harder after some days or weeks, because of these reasons:

  1. We protect ourselves - when it gets hard, we instinctively look for the easiest road. This usually means refusing a challenge and doing what we feel comfortable with.
  2. Inconsistency - we forget to work on a habit. 
  3. Lack of quick results - it is hard to valuate gradual progression

A tip of mine is to write down these things:

  1. “Why did I decide to do the habit”
  2. “How will it help me”

When our mind gets occupied with problems, we tend to only analyse the present moment rather than the past or future. This means that we give in to the issues and forget about the benefits.

To make this easier, I keep a notebook to my side and always write down my progress on every healthy gaming habit. I write down how many days in a row I've been consistent and write down anything that can be counted, for example, the amount of pushups I did. This helps me to stay on the track and to compete with the past version of myself.

I also use additional triggers when I'm developing new healthy gaming habits.  You can read about it here.

What now?

There is a lot of time available to learn something new while playing League of Legends. As soon as you understand that great things come out of hard work and patience, you’re good to go. Write down what you want to achieve and go for it!

Please write a comment below or contact me, if you need some tips.

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