In a contest between reading dry journal articles and playing immersive RPGs, there’s always a clear winner. In actuality, there is no contest because of how skewed this competition is at the start. You’d much rather be gaming than studying, but you’re on campus for a reason and that’s to earn a degree — which can be next to impossible if you don’t put down the controller and crack open a book. That means you’re going to have to learn how to strike a balance between work and play, so you don’t stay up until dawn tooling around Hyrule Castle the night before an important test.
If you think gaming is cutting into your academic life, here are three tips to help you find a better study-game balance.
Ideally, you should only use your desk as a place to study and complete assignments. Having a separate place where you study and do nothing else is an essential practice to help keep you focused. It can cut down on distractions, so you’re less likely to abandon your work for something much more fun.
When you’re living in a dorm that’s smaller than a parking lot, the idea that you can split your space into different areas is laughable. It’s not like you live in a mansion with an east wing where you can stash your gaming library. That doesn’t mean this rule is inappropriate for gamers living on campus. When a college dorm is your HQ, your space is much more than just your bedroom — it’s the cafeteria, library, computer labs, and student lounges.
Designate an area of campus as your place to study. The library and computer labs are obvious choices, but you shouldn’t overlook the quieter student lounges and cafés as a place to find some peace and quiet. Though you can bring your Nintendo Switch anywhere, you’ll pick up on the social cues of these places. You won’t want to disturb other students, so you’ll replace the Switch in your hand for a textbook.
Whether destroying your friends in Mario Kart or surviving the battle of Azeroth, your time in front of the screen is way more fun than your time in front of a book. It can be difficult to drum up the same level of enthusiasm for your studies as your next MMO session.
Some of us are born with the thirst for knowledge, and they love to read nonstop to quench it. Others, not so much; it can be a slog to get the absolute bare minimum done. If you’re a part of the latter’s camp, then you might not be able to make studying more appealing, but you may be able to make gaming less so.
The trick is all about making gaming harder to do, so it’s actually the least attractive use of your time compared to studying. Sound impossible? Don’t be so defeatist! One way you can do this is by putting away your consoles in a hard to reach area every time you finish with them rather than leaving them out. There are more steps involved in pulling out your gear and games, plugging it in, and booting it up than just taking out your textbook to study.
If you play on the computer, another way you can dissuade yourself from playing games is by creating separate profiles — one for games and one for work. The one for work should be stripped of every program that could distract you from studying. There’s also a website blocker like the StayFocused extension that locks you out of websites that are too distracting.
Now that you’ve set up deterrents to stop you from gaming, it’s time to think about how you’ll reward yourself for sticking to your plan. The anticipation of gaming at the end of a long day full of classes and studying can be a powerful motivator to work more efficiently at the time, so your moment before the screen arrives faster. For weekends when you’re free, try interspersing an hour of gaming for every two hours of chores or studying you get done.
You can apply a macro view to this method to help you earn higher grades in challenging classes. While gaming itself is a minor incentive meant to reward you for sticking to your daily schedule, a larger reward can help you stick to these habits long-term. For this, switch out time in front of the screen for special accessories, games, or even consoles on your wish list.
For example, if you’ve been meaning to design Switch skins that match your favorite Mario Kart racer, your reward for an ‘A’ in Philosophy 101 can be a skin in Wario’s yellow and purple, Mario’s blue and red, or Yoshi’s green and white. Themed Switch skins are easy when you shop from a company like dbrand because they use the highest-grade materials possible for this accessory. dbrand has Nintendo Switch skins made from authentic 3M vinyl, so it’s color fast and safe for your console. As for a deeply challenging course, like, let’s say Cellular Biomechanics, you can upgrade your reward to a suitably impressive prize, like a brand-new gaming monitor or the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate due out December 7 of this year.
For this to work, you need to find out what you want, so you can choose a reward that motivates you to hit the books all semester long. Like any attempt to change your behavior, you need to personalize your technique, so you’re more likely to stick with it. This guide only builds the framework. Success relies on your ability to fill in the blanks and make it work for you. Find what resonates with you. It’s a simple way to strike the perfect balance between school and games.