Some people really enjoy video games and consider them a hobby.
(Everyone’s got a hobby and I’m not here to bash video games in that capacity.)
But for some people, video games are an addiction. It may be an addiction by degrees, but at the very least, video games are always distractions, time-wasters, and thieves of time, taking away precious attention from work, family, goals, or even just other hobbies that you would also enjoy.
The trouble is that video games are hard to resist. They draw us in, especially if we are tired or on “auto-pilot.” We can just sink in and “relax” (that’s what we tell ourselves), rather than doing what we know we ought to be doing or actually relaxing, like reading, taking a walk in nature, or just sleeping. It can become a default activity whenever we sit down in front of a computer, no matter what our intentions were before we put our ass in the seat.
At least, this has been my experience.
Whenever we struggle with self-control, the best thing to do is to control our environment, reducing the cues that trigger the habit-sequence we are hoping to get rid of.
For me, this meant deleting Steam entirely.
If you are also tired of surrendering too much of your time, money, and attention to video games, here is how you can do it too:
1. Go to steampowered.com
You should see a screen that looks a little like the one below.
2. Click “Support”
As shown above, at the top of the screen, just right of center. It will take you to a screen that looks similar to the one below.
3. Select the “My Account” Menu Option
It will be listed below your games, as shown above. This will take you to a screen like the one below.
4. Click “Manage Account Details.”
It should be at the very top of the page, as shown above. It will take you to your account settings, as shown below.
5. Delete my Steam Account
Scroll all the way to the bottom of the account details page, and this option will appear as it does above. Click the link and it will take you to the screen below.
6. Proceed to Account Deletion
Like most digital products that make their money off of attention and continued usage, Steam requires the user to go through a surprisingly long series of steps to escape their influence. Steam is not as bad as, for instance, Facebook, but it’s still a process designed to reduce complete withdrawal.
Click on the “proceed to account deletion” option, and it will take you to the next screen below to submit your deletion request.
… because apparently you have to request to leave.
6. Enter Your Information
You only need to enter your email and a reason (why a reason?). After you submit your request to be allowed off the reservation, Steam will take you to the following page:
After that, you’re basically done. You just have to wait thirty days.
You know… in case you change your mind…
You should get a link via the email that you entered with a confirmation message that looks something like this:
And that’s it!
You’ve done it. You’ve escaped.
The trick is, you can’t go back and re-install it in a moment of weakness during that 30-day period.
Again, that’s why they put it there.
They know that some percentage of users will — in a moment of weakness during that period — go back and reinstall everything. By lengthening the period from intention to complete deletion, Steam creates time for relapse.
Behavioral economists call this a “nudge,” creating situations that require people to opt out of something, rather than requiring them to opt in. By adding that 30-day wait, Steam extends their nudge back towards the games.
Even after you “opted out.”
The morality of this technique is debatable, but regardless of your thoughts on the legitimacy of “nudges,” too many nudgers will eventually rob you of everything — all your time, all your money, all your attention.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave…
If you know that video games are taking up too much of your time, kick your addiction.
If you are going to play games, keep it from becoming an addiction. Take control of your time and your attention, and be aware of how video games are influencing your other habits. If they eat up more of your life than you are comfortable with, rein them in again.
My advice is this: get Steam out of your computer and you will be shocked by how much of your life you get back.