Effective Jan. 1, I retired. No, I didn’t leave my nine-to-five job. I quit a brief, but illustrious, career as a zombie slayer.
You see, a couple months back I loaded an app onto my phone that launched me into a post-apocalyptic world where I had to survive zombie attacks and raids from opposing camps. I quickly learned the ropes and hardened into a grizzled survivor.
My team grew in strength. I collected better weapons. I annihilated opposing crews, leaving bodies in my wake. I joined a faction and rose through its ranks. Then, with one quick swipe of my finger, I left it all behind.
I realized that I had compromised my real life in order to build a fictitious empire that amounted to nothing. The goal of game developers is ultimately to get users to spend real money on virtual stuff. Because I’m so cheap, I refused to spend money on the game, which meant I had to earn stuff the old fashioned way, through the investment of my time.
When I started playing this game, I set out some rules for myself. I vowed that I wouldn’t play when I was spending time with my wife or kids, and I wouldn’t spend any money. The money rule held fast, but I let the other rule slip from time to time.
I found myself sneaking in quick battles during any moments of downtime. Then I noticed I was letting the game seep into other areas of my life. In my car before work, at lunch, in the bathroom, during my morning reading time, when I was supposed to be playing Barbies with my daughter, in bed at night — I was slaying zombies.
The beginning of a new year is a time when many of us take stock of our lives and seek to eliminate bad habits while establishing good practices. It became clear to me shortly after I started playing, that this was a habit that had to go. Not only was this game distracting, but it was a time stealer.
I shudder to think about how many hours I actually wasted building a kingdom of nothingness on my phone. The game tracked how many ‘raids’ I did, and I’m embarrassed to say that my total was around 1400. With each battle taking around a minute to complete, that is 23 hours that I threw in the trash can, not to mention the time I spent doing other actions in the game.
The moment I dragged the game’s icon across the screen of my phone into a virtual trash can was so liberating. My time is too precious to fritter away on empty pursuits. There is value in recreation, and video games are not inherently bad. But I had let this game get out of hand, and I let it steal valuable moments away from me.
What are the zombies stealing time from your life? Do you need to retire from something? If so, there’s no better time than now to make the change.
James is a regular contributor who writes about marriage, family, and faith. He lives in Tipp City, Ohio.