Time Out Features in Video Games and the Effect Too Much Screen Time Has on Gamers

Link Zelda

Video games provide hours of entertainment, with single player, open world games being around quadruple the size of games released in the 1980s. 1 In addition to this increase of game time, global weekly hours spent gaming in 2021 averaged out to 8.45 hours a week. 2 With these statistics in mind, it might be refreshing to know that some video games implement a warning about the dangers of playing too long. Some of these mechanics are simply a message that pops up after a prolonged play session, while others involve actively interrupting the game by way of an action that pauses the adventure, like the phone call that Dad does in Earthbound.

Earthbound

Many of the games that implement a time out warning happen to be developed by Nintendo. A message in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker at the beginning of the game in Orca’s brother’s house warns: “Do NOT stay up all night playing!”. In Wii Sports, a message will pop up to advise players to take a break. In the lifetime of the 3DS, the Zelda franchise in particular used a few different means to remind the player of how long they were playing. In Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora’s Mask 3D, the fairies Navi and Tatl remind Link, “Hey, you’ve been playing for a while! Why not take a break?”. In A Link Between Worlds, the bird statue save points would issue a warning message to have the player rest their eyes, and would spin around and make noise to get the player’s attention.

Windwaker

What Medical and Psychological Advice Says About Screen Time and Children

While this mechanic of issuing a time out feature to a video game can be helpful in terms of reducing potential eye strain and encouraging more physical movement, particularly for children and their parents, who might be concerned about how much screen time their young ones are exposed to, the feature can annoyingly break immersion for older players who might not be worried about things like screen time. However, it is possible that using the time out reminder with older children or as an adult might prove beneficial as well. For example, older children could independently use the reminders to decide on how to schedule breaks from schoolwork, and adults could also make use of reminders to stay on task with responsibilities while allowing themselves to take a short break. The idea of reminders to take breaks while gaming likely comes from some of the research available on how much screen time is an acceptable amount to have in a day, especially when screens are everywhere. This research as well as what certain systems offer to keep track of screen time when there are not in-game reminders will be detailed below.

Screen Time Allotments for Young Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends about one hour of screen time a day, with around two hours of screen time on the weekends. This time limit is intended for children from the ages of 2-11. They offer the following as an appropriate guideline to consider:

“But the most important ingredients for young kids’ well-being are: That the content is high-quality (in other words, worth their time and attention, not just trying to sell them things or have them zone out), that they have opportunities to laugh, play, read, and move during the day, and that they have caregivers who are trying to help them understand themselves and manage their emotions.”

American Academy of Pediatrics

In addition to outlining the guidelines of screen time, there are further resources that warn against too much screen time for young children. Meta-analyses suggests that children given too much screen time might experience problems with sleeping, lower linguistic skills, though educational screen time was suggested to mitigate that, and that there may be a minor link between more screen time and more aggression in children. The conclusion that analyzing the meta-data led to is that, while monitoring screen time is important, it is minimal, as screen time is but one dimension of a young child’s day. It is deemed more important that screen time is spent doing something educational, and to balance out screen time with learning other skills and emotional expression. 3 These sources do not say much in regards to playing video games, but, there will be a brief analysis of what is available in a later section. For now, the potential health risks of the 3DS, where most of the examples of time out messages are come from, will be explained.

The 3DS and its Potential Health Risks

When the Nintendo 3DS released, there were worries about health concerns especially in regards to children. An abstract of a study published in 2013 reveals that “In adults excessive use may cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness or nausea. In children a visual impairment could be reinforced and an amblyopia could become manifest,” 4. This abstract could be part of the reason why warnings on taking breaks in-game appear in so many 3DS games.

Zelda Link

It is worth noting that players can turn off the 3DS’s 3-D effects, though, it is understandable why such in-game breaks were important for the 3DS after its release. In addition to this, a 2DS without any 3-D capabilities was released in 2013 and was marketed toward children predominantly, as evidenced by the following quote by Nintendo of America’s president:

“The Nintendo 2DS really focused on that entry level gamer…The four-, five-, six-year old that is just getting into gaming, but wants to play Mario Kart, wants to have a Super Mario Bros. experience, wants to play Pokémon. And we feel with Nintendo 3DS XL at $199 that it’s a fully-featured product, that it is, if you will, the Cadillac of handheld gaming. And then we heard from consumers, ‘Boy, I wish there was something in between,'”.

5

This 2DS could also work for those who are negatively affected by the 3DS’s 3-D mechanics, in theory. From the in-game break warnings and the 2DS, it is noted that Nintendo took potential health concerns from overuse of the 3DS into consideration, at least to an extent. From here, how one should set preferred screen time and selecting games for younger children, in the age range of 2-4 will be touched on.

Setting Preferred Screen Time and Selecting Games for Younger Children

In regards to preferred screen time, it is suggested that parents find quality apps or shows that can be enjoyed in a routine while being played on or watched together. It is also recommended that the parent is aware of what emotions the child is feeling and does not allow their child to essentially reduce their stress or use the screen time as a primary coping mechanism, if they have not yet learned healthier ways to cope with their emotions. 6

With this in mind, it seems as though time out warnings in games, particularly if the parent is watching or otherwise participating in the game as the child plays, would serve as a good time to check in and monitor what the child might be learning from the game’s story or how the child is feeling. In addition, the parent and child may discuss any brief extensions in screen time allotment, if appropriate. Having moments to check in on a child’s well-being built into the games they encounter feels like good game design. Next, how screen time affects sleep will be explored.

How Screen Time Affects Children’s Sleep

Sleep is critical for development, and a lack of sleep can have bad effects on things like health and the ability to work or study. In the case of children and adolescents, it is recommended that “children between 6 and 13 years old get 9-11 hours of sleep a night. Teens age 14-17 years should aim for 8-10 hours per night,”. Screens can negatively impact a person’s sleep, so it is considered good practice to not allow children to have screens in their bedroom, to decrease the exposure to the type of light emitted by screens. This type of light has been shown to decrease sleep quality. In addition to all of this, it is recommended that children not be on screens an hour before it is time for them to go to bed. 7 To this end, an in-game reminder to take a break, depending on when it shows up in relation to bed time, could serve as a good means of getting children to engage in a different relaxing activity before going to sleep.

From here, after detailing what the American Academy of Pediatrics and some psychologists say about how screen time and video games affect children, it is important to see what more recent research and what options there are for parents to set the rules regarding screens. Fortunately, these days, a player need not be reminded in game that they should take a break as the only means of monitoring screen time. Nintendo and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) have a couple of solutions, detailed below.

Parental Controls Are an Option

If there is no in-game reminder to take a break due to health concerns, someone can use parental controls to ensure that children in particular are following best screen time practices. According to Nintendo, one can enable the Switch console’s parental controls by downloading their “Nintendo Parental Controls App” and using it to limit playtime, which can be set up based on time allowed per day, based on the allotted screen time per day. In addition to this, parents can automatically suspend the activity on the Switch once time to play has expired. They can also disable alarms for the day when needed. 8

Bowser

In terms of different consoles, the ESRB provides ways to control any console through detailing how to do a variety of activities, such as limit spending or time, based on a text walkthrough based on the console someone selected. They also have a guide on understanding the ratings of different video games, and they offer an app, so that parents can look up ratings, including the summaries for ratings while they are out and about. The use of Parental Controls likely makes an in-game reminder unnecessary, unless an older player might prefer an in-game reminder, as opposed to using something as rigid as parental controls to help them schedule their own screen time activities. 9 While screen time and limitations to it have been examined in a medical sense, it is also important to consider the psychological impact of children gaming. In lieu of that, a longitudinal psychological study surrounding gaming and children’s well-being, as well as a more conclusive study that examines gaming and cognitive functions in preteens will be discussed after observing different countries’ takes on time allotments for people under the age of 18, namely, those of China and Vietnam.

China and Vietnam’s Handling of Appropriate Screen Time for Minors

China has had a mandate in place since 2021 that people under the age of 18 will be allowed to play video games for no more than three hours a week. This caused a massive economic drop in Tencent’s profits, as they were making games primarily for younger audiences. The time allotment extends on the weekends, and potentially on certain holidays. 10 As China keeps track of minors via their ID, it is easy to stop children from overplaying on their own devices. However, some people have been getting around this legally mandated time allowance by playing on a relative’s device who is not age-restricted. There are concerns as to what using face recognition for stopping this loophole might mean for the privacy of minors. 11

Vietnam, similarly, has a 180 minute time limit for minors when it comes to playing video games. In addition to this, Vietnam has some strict guidelines in regards to ratings and what kinds of things could be included in video games targeted to minors, clearly defined below:

“18 and up (denoted as 18+): Games with continuous protest and combat activities using weapons of a violent nature; no sexually explicit activities, sounds, images, language, or suggestions.
12 and up (denoted as 12+): Games involving resistance and combat activities with the use of weapons, but the weapon imagery is not displayed in close-up or clear detail; there is a moderate amount of sound and weaponry during combat; there are no activities, images, sounds, languages, dialogues, default character imagery, explicit content, or scenes that draw attention to sensitive body parts.
Players of all ages (denoted as 00+): Animated simulation games in which there are no weapon-based activities; there are no eerie sounds or imagery, horror, or violence; there are no activities, sounds, languages, dialogues, default character imagery, explicit content, or scenes that draw attention to sensitive body parts on the human body.
The draft decree released in July 2023 also adds an additional ’16+’ age category:

16 and up (denoted as 16+): Games that involve protest and combat activities using weapons; no activity, imagery, sound, language, dialogue, sexually suggestive characters, or content that draws attention to sensitive body parts.”

Vietnam Briefing News

The gaming market in Vietnam is somewhat difficult to get into, as gaming companies looking to get into the Vietnamese market must be part of a Vietnamese company as well. This likely allows these censorship laws to remain to the national standard. Regarding playtime for minors, the new draft for Decree 72 would limit the 180 minutes per week to an hour per week. On top of this, the draft proposes that a warning should be displayed every half hour about playing for more than 180 minutes a week could badly impact one’s health. 12 However, unlike China or Korea, Vietnam does not keep track of its minors on a stricter national scale, thereby making this limiting of screen time harder to enforce. 13

On one hand, rigorous regulations should help improve minors’ health in terms of making it easier to stick to recommended guidelines given from the sources above. On the other hand, the methods that are used to maintain these regulations may make it harder for minors to protect their identity on the internet or while they game. This potential lack of privacy could, in turn, concern parents of these minors, at the very least. In worse, albeit, extreme scenarios, minors could potentially either get into legal trouble themselves, or, if they were found to be using an adult’s device to game, potentially cause trouble for that adult. Of course, this depends on how the law is carried out in regards to these time limits and minors finding loopholes around them. This possibility of legal trouble could certainly be a deterrent for over-indulging in screens. Either way, while it is nice that some countries are taking screen time seriously enough to impose cut off times or reminders themselves, which would help children form better screen time habits, there needs to be a balance between collecting the identities and data of minors and how these cut offs are enforced.

What Psychology has Actually Determined About Children Who Game

Psychology has taken how video games affect children into consideration with quite a few studies. Some of these studies suggested that video games make children more aggressive and violent. 14 However, within the past ten years or so, psychological studies have drawn different conclusions in terms of how video games affect children.

According to a clinical psychologist in an NPR interview, children can benefit from video games. Generally speaking, a video game can allow someone to feel grief or shame in a space that makes it safer to feel these emotions and explore them. In addition, video games can be a stress release for kids, as well as a way for them to socialize. Time spent gaming is also not a mental development indicator, and it is recommended that parents engage with their children when they game in order to better understand their kids and why they game. The activities that children engage with are often complex, an involve a matter of planning and creative thinking. 15

Stylized image of the psychological impact of video games
Stylized image of the psychological impact of video games

With regards to the amount of time children spend gaming, a study, summarized by the University of Houston, has found that:

“The team looked for association between the students’ video game play and their performance on the standardized Cognitive Ability Test 7, known as CogAT, which evaluates verbal, quantitative and nonverbal/spatial skills. CogAT was chosen as a standard measure, in contrast to the teacher-reported grades or self-reported learning assessments that previous research projects have relied on.

‘Overall, neither duration of play nor choice of video game genres had significant correlations with the CogAT measures. That result shows no direct linkage between video game playing and cognitive performance, despite what had been assumed,’ said May Jadalla, professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University and the study’s principal investigator.”

16

Furthermore, a longitudinal study that was done in the form of at-home visits, spaced one year apart. The study examined the psychosocial health of the children participants. The measurements involved parent reports on time spent gaming, and how often the children reported gaming. A questionnaire was also administered to see how the children recalled their gaming sessions. This study revealed that violence was not influenced by the time a child spent gaming. However, a child’s prosocial behavior could be negatively impacted by excessively gaming competitively, for more than 8 hours a week, specifically. 17

In addition to this, a study was conducted in Vietnam with adolescent middle and high schoolers to determine if there was a link between gaming disorder, parent-child relationship, and discipline style. Out of over 2,000 participants, 11% were determined to have gaming disorder, meaning that their life is affected by “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning,”. The factors that led to gaming disorder were theorized to be harsh physical punishment, or, on the other extreme, no supervision on the child’s screen time. The study also concluded that it was possible that gaming disorder formed in the affected participants due to a need to either socialize in a purely digital context during lockdown, or, in the case of a negative parent-child relationship, as an escape from their home situation. 18

With all of these studies in consideration, it would likely be best to monitor the time a child spends gaming, which an in-game take a break reminder would aid with. In addition to having an in-game reminder to take a break, or with the use of parental controls, playing games with one’s children seems to be effective for both understanding one’s child and for spending time with the child in an engaging activity. Next, there will be a conclusion of why it is necessary to monitor one’s gaming time, despite the impact or social aspect that gaming could have on one’s life.

Socializing Through Gaming and Why you Should Monitor Screen Time

Gaming can be seen as a safe social space, especially for those who might be othered by society in some way by giving the player a way to be anonymous or potentially erase the need for picking up on cues that might leave them anxious or overwhelmed in an in person setting, and this obviously extends out to teenagers. While gaming can be seen as isolating by some, it can also give players the ability to reach out and talk to others, depending on the game. For example, it could be common to hop online and play with a friend at a certain time each week, and, in fact, it has been noted that in particular, boys do set aside time to do this with their own friends. In fact, people have a tendency to meet their online friends that they game with, though this can be potentially dangerous to do. 19

Furthermore, a cross-sectional study in the Netherlands sampled over 9,000 adolescent students over the course of four years to determine if heavy gaming without or with an online social component, including social media and instant messaging use would result in gaming disorder, when measured against psychological well-being facets like depression, social anxiety, loneliness and self-esteem. The participants were also given the Videogame Addiction Test to see if they met the criteria for gaming disorder. Surprisingly, while male participants who had high game use, defined in this study as for longer than four hours a day and for six days or more in a week, and only online friends reported being more depressed, male participants who had high game use, but online friends and friends they met with in real life had lower depression scores and did not suffer the adverse affects observed in the Videogame Addiction Test. Female participants, however, were not able to replicate similar results when accounting for their online and real life friends, though female participants who engaged with games with a social component were less prone to social anxiety than their non-gaming peers. However, loneliness and low self-esteem were also present with high gaming use. So, it is recommended that diagnosis gaming disorder of takes the criteria of into account with other social aspects present in the person’s life. 20

Why not take a break?

In addition, there has been a small positive finding on video games improving well-being in adults. 21 The finding comes from one study and needs more research done to replicate and verify the finding, however, it also seems to be pointing to gaming disorder being a complex case, when examined in conjunction with the previous studies. In this regard, then, gaming can be seen as a potentially positive social act, rather than one done in isolation. However, gaming can also cause harm to psychological well-being if it’s done too much or too often, as has been repeated in previous sections, potentially leading to gaming disorder, especially in adolescents, so, having a timer in place for you to be more aware of your screen time is recommended.

In conclusion, in-game time out features could be a fun reminder for children to stay within healthy limits for their allotted screen time. They could be useful reminders for older players to keep more aware of their potential online or gaming habits. However, having a reminder pop up during a particularly action-packed moment, or, having a reminder in general can break the immersive nature that video games need to effectively present their narrative. Should the time out function be more like an in-game feature, like the phone call in Earthbound, or, is the method of a pop-up message sufficient? Regardless, while gaming can be a social activity, and there is evidence to suggest this aspect of gaming as a positive thing for most people, it might be time to set limits and heed those time out suggestions if you notice that your gaming habits might be depriving you of a fulfilled life with meaningful socialization in real life in addition to the socializing done during gaming, slipping education or career goals, or if, despite socializing with online gaming, you start to feel lonely, stuck, or depressed in your day to day life.

Works Cited

  1. Amenabar, T. (2022, March 18). Video games keep getting longer. It’s all about time and money. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2022/03/18/game-length-open-world/
  2. Clement, J. (2021, April 23). Average time spent playing video games worldwide | Statista. Statista; Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/273829/average-game-hours-per-day-of-video-gamers-in-selected-countries/
  3. Screen Time Limits for Young Children. (n.d.). Www.aap.org. https://www.aap.org/en/patient-care/media-and-children/center-of-excellence-on-social-media-and-youth-mental-health/social-media-and-youth-mental-health-q-and-a-portal/early-childhood-questions/early-childhood-questions/screen-time-limits-for-young-children/
  4. Pallas, A., Meyer, C. H., & Mojon, D. (2013). Nintendo 3DS: Technologie, Physiologie und mögliche Risiken für Kinderaugen [Nintendo 3DS: technology, physiology and possible risks for children’s eyes]. Der Ophthalmologe : Zeitschrift der Deutschen Ophthalmologischen Gesellschaft, 110(3), 263–266. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00347-012-2696-7 Translation accessed via: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23224123/.
  5. Nintendo Explains Why The New 2DS XL Exists. (n.d.). GameSpot. Retrieved November 9, 2023, from https://www.gamespot.com/articles/nintendo-explains-why-the-new-2ds-xl-exists/1100-6449760/
  6. Preferred method of screen time/Selecting best shows/games for toddlers. (n.d.). Www.aap.org. https://www.aap.org/en/patient-care/media-and-children/center-of-excellence-on-social-media-and-youth-mental-health/social-media-and-youth-mental-health-q-and-a-portal/early-childhood-questions/early-childhood-questions/preferred-method-of-screen-time/
  7. Screen Time Affecting Sleep. (n.d.). Www.aap.org. Retrieved November 2, 2023, from https://www.aap.org/en/patient-care/media-and-children/center-of-excellence-on-social-media-and-youth-mental-health/social-media-and-youth-mental-health-q-and-a-portal/adolescents/early-adolescence-questions/screen-time-affecting-sleep/
  8. How to Set Play-Time Limits | Information from Nintendo to Parents and Guardians | Nintendo. (n.d.). Nintendo Official Website (Singapore). Retrieved November 2, 2023, from https://www.nintendo.com/sg/parents/switch/time/settings.html.
  9. Parental Controls. (n.d.). ESRB Ratings. https://www.esrb.org/tools-for-parents/parental-controls/
  10. Ye, J. (2023, January 20). China’s video game makers come in from the cold as crackdown eases. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/technology/chinas-video-game-makers-come-cold-crackdown-eases-2023-01-20/
  11. Yang, Z. (2023, August 9). China is escalating its war on kids’ screen time. MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2023/08/09/1077567/china-children-screen-time-regulation/
  12. Huld, A. (2023, September 12). Vietnam’s Regulation of Video Game Services: September 2023. Vietnam Briefing News. https://www.vietnam-briefing.com/news/vietnam-moves-to-tighten-legislation-on-video-game-industry-insights-for-foreign-investors.html/
  13. Are Vietnamese people under 18 really only allowed 180 minutes of playtime in games by law? What happens if you break the law? (n.d.) [Online forum post]. Quora. https://www.quora.com/Are-Vietnamese-people-under-18-really-only-allowed-180-minutes-of-playtime-in-games-by-law-What-happens-if-you-break-the-law
  14. Lobel, A., Engels, R. C. M. E., Stone, L. L., Burk, W. J., & Granic, I. (2017). Video Gaming and Children’s Psychosocial Wellbeing: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(4), 884–897. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0646-z
  15. Noguchi, Y. (2023, May 30). The impact of video games on child development is often misunderstood. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2023/05/30/1178919273/the-impact-of-video-games-on-child-development-is-often-misunderstood
  16. Strong, S. (2023, February 7). Study Finds Video Game Playing Causes No Harm to Young Children’s Cognitive Abilities. Www.uh.edu. https://uh.edu/news-events/stories/2023/february-2023/02072023-video-gaming-research.php
  17. Lobel, A., Engels, R. C. M. E., Stone, L. L., Burk, W. J., & Granic, I. (2017). Video Gaming and Children’s Psychosocial Wellbeing: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(4), 884–897. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0646-z
  18. Cuong, V. M., Assanangkornchai, S., Wichaidit, W., Minh Hanh, V. T., & My Hanh, H. T. (2021). Associations between gaming disorder, parent-child relationship, parental supervision, and discipline styles: Findings from a school-based survey during the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 10(3), 722–730. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.2021.00064
  19. Fishman, A. (n.d.). Video Games Are Social Spaces: How Video Games Help People Connect | ResponseCenter. Www.jcfs.org. Retrieved January 10, 2024, from https://www.jcfs.org/response/blog/video-games-are-social-spaces-how-video-games-help-people-connect
  20. Colder Carras, M., Van Rooij, A. J., Van de Mheen, D., Musci, R., Xue, Q.-L., & Mendelson, T. (2017). Video gaming in a hyperconnected world: A cross-sectional study of heavy gaming, problematic gaming symptoms, and online socializing in adolescents. Computers in Human Behavior, 68, 472–479. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.060
  21. Gaming may not be as bad as you think – Oxford research | University of Oxford. (2020, November 16). Www.ox.ac.uk. https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/arts-blog/gaming-may-not-be-bad-you-think-oxford-research

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61 Comments

  1. Marlee
    1

    I don’t see what’s wrong with doing an activity for 6 hours, sometimes. We all have odd days when we just need to just get away from it all and be antisocial. Maybe if it goes on for weeks there’s a problem, but a day or two? Where’s the harm?

    Personally, I still love spending an occasional weekend doing absolutely nothing except a a 3000 piece jigsaw for 14 hours a day.

  2. Trenton
    1

    It does feel as though the makers of games (including ones aimed at quite small children) are deliberately trying to make them addictive and hard to stop playing.

    • Casey
      1

      I know that for quite a few games it is a conscious choice made by the developer, it prevents people from “cheating” their way through a challenge by saving every second or move, some game designers think a lot about the pacing of a game and how a level or quest will satisfy a player.

      I think the only instance where it is actually a software issue is with online MMO style games where a quest or battle is generated for the participants and it would be near impossible to organise for the participants to continue where they left off.

  3. Georgia
    1

    Perhaps computer games should take a tip from board games, which often say on the box how long they take to play – than at least parents could make informed decisions about whether they’re suitable.

  4. emma
    1

    It’s an interesting topic because in other media, the decision about suitability for children is made only on the amount of sex/violence/drug use or whatever. No-one gives a film a 15 certificate just because it’s far too long for a 5-year-old to sit through.

    • Randy
      1

      I think the problem is that even games which are suitable for children are played by adults, so they are designed on that basis too – and, of course, children are playing games which are intended for adults.

  5. Talia
    1

    The weirdest thing for me, especially in this game, was that it was telling me to take a break after like 20 minutes of play. It’s like they don’t even want me to play it or somethin’

    • Cruz
      0

      I understand their reasoning behind the message, but I just wish that shutting the lid to put the game into standby would reset the playtime clock. It pisses me off when it’s been sat on my desk overnight and I pick it up on my break for a quick game, open it to find myself stood by a save point and save the game just in case I forgot last time, and it tells me to take a break – less than 30 seconds after I started.

  6. Mclean
    1

    Guild wars 1 would remind you every hour how long you’d been playing. At I think 5 hours it would tell you that you should probably take a break. Nothings a slap to the face like a video game telling you to get off!

  7. Antoine
    1

    MetalGearSolid 4: Guns of the Patriots had a similar message on the loading screen between chapters…completely ignored them.

    • aiffff
      0

      Yeah, in MGS4 I believe, I was playing late into the night and got a mesaage saying aomething along the lines of “Snake, its passed 2am, don’t you think you should stop playing and get some sleep?”

      • HeMan
        0

        I remember playing MGS2 for the first time, and towards the end of the game when it gets all weird, the Colonel called me on my Codec and advised me to “take a break, you’ve been playing for too long”. I had literally been playing for about 5 hours.. I was a little weirded out.

        I switched it off, had a drink, turned it back on, and he told me the same thing. It was all scripted. I felt foolish.

        Needless to say I ignore any and all in game advice nowadays.

  8. pollym
    1

    I’ve never taken the advice, but these reminders do kinda help me keep track of time.

  9. Landry
    2

    I mostly need the “You’ve been slacking of for too long, why don’t you go back to work”.

  10. Melany
    1

    In Animal Crossing, it can’t tell if you had the console in sleep mode. I open mine out of sleep mode for several hours, and it immediately prompted me to take a break.

    As long as it doesn’t automatically force you to take a break, it can judge me all it wants.

  11. a9aa
    1

    A game told me to stop playing like half an hour in. I had barely even scratched the surface of the game. I need this kind of advice at work. “You have been working hard for a while, maybe you should take a break.” Don’t mind if I do.

    • JHak
      1

      Ugh, Animal Crossing New Leaf does this. “Hey, you’re looking tired! Why don’t you take a rest?”

      NO! You are a fucking hippopotamus. You don’t know my life.

  12. Jenkin
    1

    I wonder if mobile phone games are considered gaming (I certainly think so). I see people go from one device i.e. playstation, wii, straight onto another like a tablet or iphone. They’re all wired up and when there’s nowt left to play, they get bored.

  13. Dorsey
    1

    When I was a kid I always used to feel really sorry for those kids with parents that only let them watch telly for an hour or play computer games for 30 minutes after their tea, I suspect my parents trusted me and knew me enough that they were aware I might spent three hours reading ‘proper’ books with actual education in them, then three hours playing football, have some food, three hours reading comics (some pure entertainment, some classics of literature like ‘Charley’s War’), food, playing down the beck or on the swings or whatever, telly, computer games, board games, tig, finding mucky magazines dumped in the woods, making stuff, playing with physical toys, pretending to be a soldier or a knight or a cowboy or moon about after girls because I could self moderate and balance between activities without being constantly monitored and chivvied along all the time.

    Mind you, our dad used to get pretty much thrown out of the house on a morning and told not to come back until tea time when he was a boy, so it’s all relative.

  14. Isaiah
    2

    Is my husband spending too much time playing video games?!

    • Shaw
      2

      Nah, he’s fine, just poke him with a stick if you need him to actually do something.

  15. lyric
    1

    Here’s a tip! Be a parent and set your own limits rather than constantly looking to others to do it for you. Same goes with censorship, don’t want your kids playing a violent game? THEN DON’T LET THEM

    • Winston
      1

      I was shocked to find out my 7 year old had been playing GTA5 at a friends house. We told the friends parents to put the game away when he was over.

    • higg
      1

      You nailed it. Parental responsibility. Pretty simple really, or at least you’d think so.

      On YouTube there are videos of parents in games stores, with their kids clutching their brand new copies of GTA5. Some of them can’t be older than eight?

  16. Koen
    1

    I spent many hours and days “gaming” in the mid to late 80s, then 90s. Of course then, online was zero, so it was basically solo. Dark rooms, late nights, “anti-social!”

    Now I have spent the last 25 years working successfully in the IT industry, creating products that anybody in the UK will be familiar with.

    Still various “aunts” and “uncles” say – ooh you were so weird as a kid, how did you turn out OK.

    It’s their problem, not mine.

  17. Carlie
    0

    Loved these messages in the Anno series. :3

    You are now playing for 2 hours, might wanna take a break?

    You have been playing for 4 hours! Your family is starting to miss you.

    • Roth
      1

      I remember seeing this in Aion, and after 24 hours, it will force you to log out.

  18. haiam
    1

    I have severe ADHD and I can super easily lose track of time. Guild War 1 was like “Hey buddy, stand up! get a drink. Stretch!” – loved it.

  19. Dixon
    1

    Assuning the parents have time to spend with the kids and are actually around for most of it. While parents should be around and should have kids when they have time for them, the reality is a lot are stuck working all the hours they can to earn engouth to feed their family that controlling how long their kid plays a computer game is hardly their first priority.

    • Siothrún

      This is a fair, and sad point, and I wish it could be different, because kids really do just want our love and attention a lot of the time. And, it can be so enriching to be able to engage with them, instead of stuck trying to make sure everyone survives with the basic necessities for life.

  20. LilBoo
    1

    When I was kid we played outside a lot, then at around the age of 12 we all started to get computers, Spectrums, C64’s Amiga… at the same time all of the kids I knew also began to get Video recorders in their homes… we immersed ourselves in these new items of luxury, our eyes were filled with more images, our fingers tapping away on keyboards and clutching controllers.. oh Atari how you gave me callouses betwixt thumb and forefinger.

    Again at the same time we all began to get Sony Walkmen, if our eyes were not glued to the screen then our ears were being assaulted by music, 81 was the year of Afrika Bambaata and then the Street Sounds Electro collections and we listened and listened and played and played, we watched TV, we chatted about music…. and yet we still made camps in the woods and rode our BMX bikes around half finished council bike tracks.

    We were not limited to hoe much time we did these things, we were kids these things were what made being a kid great, providing we did our homework, which in all was viewed as a distraction from our real job… that job being to be a kid to play.

    I had a TV in my room from the age of 11, I had a computer in my room, I had a CB radio in my room a Stereo and a Walkman on my head every time I left the house, did this negatively affect me in any way?

    No it did not, I finished School (intact I also had 2 part time jobs whilst at school, paper round in the morning and shelf stacker at the local Indian grocery store in the evenings 3 nights a week and Sunday afternoons) I got a job at 16 and have been employed ever since.

    If we spend all of our time worrying over our kids we will not appreciate that they are just kids they are supposed to have, they are supposed to frustrate us and they are supposed to learn life lessons as the grow up, let them be, let them play and as adults we should play along with them and engage with them.

    • Siothrún

      Interesting point, and thank you for sharing your story in these comments! I agree that kids should be engaged with and likely asked how they think their time on screens/with other hobbies affects them, especially if there is something that they’re motivated to do, but feel overwhelmed by. A lot of the research I did for this article surprised me, because I know that, when I was growing up, video games where certainly demonized in the media to a certain extent, and, no one really considered the connections one could make online through such shared interests as the same as “real” connections or friendships.

      I will also openly admit that, according to the research, I likely would have been one of the “at-risk” kids, because I wasn’t really encouraged to socialise much with my peers/it was an aspect of my life that was made inaccessible due to some very adult situations going on in my childhood that impacted my development, so, the games very quickly became one of my outlets and a way for me to socialise more, or at least a way to gauge who shared interests with me that could be safer than my home life. So, I think a lot of whether or not the amount of time spent on devices, etc., comes down to engagement factors and if your child feels well-rounded and clearly isn’t suffering in other key areas, like learning and being responsible, for example.

  21. Chung
    1

    Neither of my kids spends much time “on screen”. One is a very talented artist who spends his spare time drawing and painting, the other plays lots of sport, is a keen photographer and has an allotment. There may be conflicting evidence about the value of spending time online – but there isn’t about drawing, painting, sport, photography and growing vegetables.

    • Bryan
      1

      Your teenager has their own allotment?!? I suspect they may not be representative of the whole.

  22. Amanda
    1

    You’ve been playing for 1,567 hours… Please uninstall and seek help.

  23. Moss
    1

    The most widely ignored advice in gaming! 😀

  24. Sparks
    1

    Pre high school kids should spend a minimum amount of time glued to VDUs , pre teens should be spending vital social interactive time with friends and family.

    It’s those physical, emotional social interactions that hold the fondest memories, let’s not deny our kids of those.

  25. Will
    1

    I can understand that a game has to be sufficiently well paced and interesting to encourage players to buy the next instalment, but the designers are assuming that the players are discerning adults who a) appreciate the resulting challenge and complexity and b) are responsible for making their own decisions about how long they play for.

  26. Eliza
    1

    We preach balance at home. If I feel any of my kids have spent a lot of their day playing video games, I ask them to turn it off and go and do something else. We’ve always explained it to them along the lines of doing any one thing excessively is bad, so it’s not just games. I’d also rather they were playing games than just watching TV.

  27. August
    1

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with anyone playing video games for long periods of time, if they’re free they should be able to choose how they spend their time. However it is important for them to learn on how to prioritize, if chores/homework/family time is being ignored due to playing then I would say there is a problem.

  28. Stark
    1

    I think it is just a case of common sense. Everything needs moderation. Nothing wrong with playing games, but if you play games for long periods, it can be a hard habit to get out of. In my opinion that is.

  29. Alfonso
    1

    Too much computer time would indirectly be the equivalent of too much candy or wine or tobacco …because there are only 24 hours in a day so too little time is left for exercise or studying or sleeping.

  30. YuYu
    1

    I’m unemployed at the moment so I see the time out screen at least twice a day. 🙂

    • Amiyah
      1

      I usually play Runescape for 12 hours a day so yes. But i keep playing.

  31. Donovan
    1

    I often forget to take breaks and it’s not good to be sitting for long periods. Having a little reminder every now and then would be good.

    • Grant
      1

      It’s not good for your health to be sitting at all. Sadly, there is nothing you can do to compensate for it. And sitting is just part of our society.

  32. Maya
    1

    I actually want to decide by myself when i want to take a break.

  33. Figueroa
    1

    I wish there was a parental option to turn this off – I’m 35 if I want to play Zelda for 4 hours straight I am going to play.

    This game is amazing I am loving every second so far

    • h0mer
      1

      Exactly, I’m at Lorule castle bitch, I’ll break with it’s done!

      • aubree
        0

        Walk out and save when you’re almost done the castle, you’ll appreciate it later.

  34. PETER
    1

    Fuking earthbound. if you picked OK, the game would lock up and you would have to reset the console.

  35. samantha
    1

    If I want to spend my entire weekend playing Link Between Worlds from beginning to end, that’s exactly what I’m going to do… And that’s exactly how I spent last weekend. Two sittings. No regrets.

  36. Reyna
    1

    Surprisingly this time out messages have made me stop playing for a few hours.

    • hemp
      0

      I actually got this warning today while I was playing. I actually did stop. After my first boss battle that is.

      • Triston
        0

        The only reason I not playing right now is because of this message.

  37. Jared
    1

    This is kinda annoying at times in games, and since the games are so great you’re bound to see this message a lot.

  38. Stanley
    1

    The game telling me to take a break is just motivation for me to play at least another hour.

  39. Sullivan
    0

    I’m thinking it’s Nintendo covering their asses from some kind of legal action from overprotective mommies, who noticed little Johnny has fatigue from excessive video gaming.

    Nintendo’s rebuttal: “Ah, but we recommend all players should take a break every so often. So don’t come bitching to us, Soccermom McGee!”

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