Setting limits on yourself


Hi all,

I wanted to generate a conversation between all ADHD brains that play video games. Especially those who gamed when they were children and having their parents either setup limits on their play time or allowed them to play as much as they wanted.

Reason why I wanted to start a conversation is because as an adult, I feel like I have a much better hold & self awareness on how long I can play, managing tasks and forcing myself to do chores or other adulting activities. With so much talk about people getting addicted and with concerned parents thinking their kids are playing too much, I wanted to shed light on other ADHD experiences.

I wasn’t given limits on how I could play… “I turned out fine.” I hate saying that phrase because I feel that doesnt do justice telling parents that it’s fine to allow their kids to learn how to limit themselves.

I feel like gaming is a very core and important part of brains lives if they really enjoy it. It’s extremely interactive. It keeps ADHD brains engaged. It does things that no other form of media does. We need to harness and allow ADHD brains to feel like they are allowed to use it.

Forcing limits and restricting kids doesn’t feel like the best way to teach children. But how can we teach children to enforce themselves? So I’m asking the brains here.

  1. How do you setup limits on yourself?
  2. How did you feel when growing up with your parents’ rules when it comes to gaming?
  3. Do you have problems with setting up limits?
  4. Are there certain games you avoid now because of previous life experiences? Could you try those type of games again?

I myself had a problem with World of Warcraft. It’s well documented in my interview video. But I’m trying it out again. Its been a long time but I’m finding out that I’m stopping myself from playing too much on my own. I’m cooking dinners, I’m engaging with friends still, I’m still going to play sports. Why am I able to do this now? Is it because of previous failures?

What I want is to get those brains, those young impressionable brains that love to game but don’t know how to limit themselves or if they are using gaming as an escape, to teach themselves with managemable failures so they can self teach themselves on keeping a hobby/passion they love in their life.


How do you setup limits on yourself?

I don’t, and I should in some ways. My biggest issue is occasionally ignoring things that need to get done because I’m engrossed in a game. However, it’s not just games…I’ll get distracted with any media and leave late to pick up my kids (never too late, but at least a few minutes past when I wanted to) or not cleaning up when my wife asked me to do so, etc.

How did you feel when growing up with your parents’ rules when it comes to gaming?

At the time I didn’t like it, but they were pretty fair in retrospect…much like most of the other rules. More or less, when I finished my homework I was allowed to game, but I wasn’t allowed to stay up late or anything. Also when it was “Family time” after dinner when we’d watch a show together or do a puzzle or whatever, I couldn’t just leave and go game.

Do you have problems with setting up limits?

When it’s something that I actually want to do, then no. However, as much as my wife complains sometimes I game a lot…she surfs pintrest a lot. And watches TV a lot, and so forth. I think gaming has some kind of rap about being mindless and stupid and a waste, while those same people that criticize it have no issues watching hours of “say yes to the dress” or whatever.

Are there certain games you avoid now because of previous life experiences? Could you try those type of games again?

Not really. I know some games can be more addictive than others and I have so many games I want to get through that I usually try to avoid playing the “endless” games, such as world of warcraft or the Civ games.


When I was growing up, so were computers. It was never really a “concern” in my house, whether I was gaming too much, or what that would do to me. I played for hours, everything from Loom on our old Amiga computer, all the way up to Legend of Dragoon and Ocarina of Time on consoles. It was how I passed the time at home, sometimes well into the night.
As an adult, I still do enjoy hours of gaming. It’s relaxing, it’s a nice way to pass the time doing something engaging, interesting, keeping me thinking. I find that, personally, I tend to think about other things while I’m doing the “boring stuff” of gaming, like grinding levels or, in Stardew Valley, just farming. It’s a time when I can relax, but not engage with my anxiety, or my defeatist, depressed, and catastrophic thoughts.
When I was working, video games were a way for me to relax. Now that I am not working, they’re a way to enjoy myself.
Setting limits is… sometimes an issue, and sometimes not. If I’m in my hyperfocus, I can pass days, and weeks, playing a game and “getting nothing done.” If not, then a few hours pass, and I eventually become bored and move along to something else.
I don’t see video games as different from, for example, reading books. You’re still engaging in a story, even if it’s quite rudimentary. What’s the difference between World of Warcraft and a nice Fantasy novel? Other than our belief that reading is a “worthwhile pastime” and WoW is not, by very arbitrary measurements, there is no difference, really. Games are more interactive, sure, but books are seen as the thing to do.

Creating limits, for me, is a matter of balance. If I only want to game for a little while, I’ll set myself a short goal: One, or two, days in Stardew valley (each day is around a half an hour, I timed it), or one level in DOOM. Get what you can done, and then put it down and move along. These are times where there is a natural break in games, so it becomes easier to pull yourself away.
Some games are harder to do this, like RPG’s, but that is where I feel a timer is easier than in-game goals.
Otherwise, I try to get my “work” done before I start gaming. Workouts, writing, and housework are my usual “work” activities, so I try to get to those before I settle in for some long gaming. It can be really tough to do, especially when the game is very interesting, or the housework is very… well, it’s housework. Not very interesting! But, if I get two of the three done, I’m still happy.

Also, yes, I taught myself my own limits. My parents were kind, excellent human beings, but they could not understand my ADHD brain any better than I could when I was younger. So, they didn’t know how to teach me limits. I figured it out as I got older. :slight_smile:


I’m maintaining a full-time remote career, so I’ve got the physical potential to play games literally all day.

For starters, the best limit I’ve set recently is getting up at the same time every day, WITH SLEEP. I listened to a podcast a few months ago about the importance of >7h and I’ve taken it to heart.

– 7+ Hours of Sleep, and Get up at the same time Every Day

– This leads to a TIME BUDGET. I only get to game for <3h a day total. I game socially with friends, so I have to use my time wisely.

— If I eat up all my gametime during the morning instead of working, I don’t get to game later, I have to play catchup.

I’d rather get immersed in my job. Once I do the first hour, I can lose myself in the work (command lines, problem solving, continued learning, spontaneous adversities aka “Fires to put out”).

– Once I get into my “Deep Work” zone, it makes the temptation go away.

Work-the-program a.k.a related recursive improvement in other areas of life:
– Curb the dopamine loops:

  • Cut out Facebook feed mindless scrolling
  • Cut out excessive dietary sugar. 25g or < per day, and you get it from healthy cooked food.

So that’s what working for me in terms of setting limits.

A bit more background about me:

Maintaining a full-time remote career, had to uninstall Fallout 4 after a 3-day time-slipping binge late last month, uninstalled it outright, still casually (<2 h a night) play PUBG/OW, didn’t get hooked all that much by Fallout Shelter (mobile game, kinda Sim-y, and buildy-stuff is always particularly engrossing for me), currently flirting with the idea of social WoW, partially because I don’t immerse in fantasy worlds as much as I do dystopic/futuristic worlds

Okay, enough procrastinating, back to the job.



How do you setup limits on yourself?

i don’t but i’m not really able to play too long or else i become bored easily. So there is that.

How did you feel when growing up with your parents’ rules when it comes to gaming?

I never had a lot of limits.
Oh they always thought i was playing too much and there was a time where i had fights every day about it. I was kind of addicted to the internet back then and i was furious about my parents trying to limit the only social interaction that i had. I eventually figured out to also take care of myself and today i am able to manage my life a little bit better while gaming.

Do you have problems with setting up limits?

Generally, yes. I’ve huge problems with starting work and stopping what is fun to me. i’ve tried it many times, but i was only able to stick to those limits for a week.

Are there certain games you avoid now because of previous life experiences? Could you try those type of games again?

Not special experiences with addiction or limits, but i avoid competitive multiplayer games because i can’t deal with losing. They’re just not made for me and i enjoy other games instead.
I’ve avoided WoW a long time because i was afraid of the time sink, but since i’ve bought it, i’ve been playing moderately.
And generally i avoid gaming because i’m afraid of the hyperfocus.


I use alarms. Every couple of hours I have an alarm go off and it’ll bug me to the point where I turn my focus to the alarm and not my game and do a wellness check. I should turn these back on…

I never had limits.

I do. I’ll admit, if the alarms really really bug me, I’ll turn them off completely.



Right now my two big games are EVE online and Kingdom: New Lands. Life with kid and wife means weekends are pretty much my only game time, and my wife knows and respects the fact I go a little stir crazy when I don’t get some gaming in after two weeks or so. I can do it, its just not very fun for either one of us.
Because my kiddo is under 2, and my game time is during the day, I chose Kingdom because it has simple art and isn’t super violent, unlike, say… X-com. (95% to hit? Miss! That’s X-com, baby!)
He likes the little going arf, and sounds from picking up coins and stuff. I get into the base building etc.
My wife and I have talked about boundaries and limits, but in the end I was the one who set them for myself.
I wish I could play more, but time just doesn’t work out for it. It I play late after kid goes to bed, I won’t sleep well and I’ll have a bad day at work.
I didn’t have rules growing up, I was homeschooled by two undisciplined parents, on with diagnosed, untreated, ADHD.
I will avoid some games if I know time will be a factor. Civ. X-com. Eve. Rimworld. But if I know I will be home all day, and no chores? Yeah. I can plan to sink myself into a long game session. The deal with my wife, though, is if she needs me I need to be ok pausing the game and helping her. (And sometimes, if kid is napping, that just means some cuddles to just fill that need for touch.)
Hope that answers things.


my ways — very important to me because bringing gaming back into my life has been a huge benefit to my well being, but only because it is able to stay manageable —

  • restrict myself to console gaming. I work as a programmer so I don’t need more time at a keyboard getting tunnel vision. I even avoid opening a laptop (sticking with a clunky tablet) when I’m doing a basic digital chore, to avoid this.
  • I use only a projector not a TV. This was an interior design choice initially — a powered-off TV is this monolith that the room gets organized around, and when people come over etc it’s got this draw that it needs to be turned on. Projector disappears (we just project on the wall). This is lower resolution (no 4K here), but we got by with lower resolution for quite some time :slight_smile: Anyways tending more towards indies and such, they’re not usually needing high rez.
  • speaking of TV: no cable in our house and minimize netflix etc, games give me greater satisfaction and there is only so much time in the day
  • I try to keep windows open etc (not just for gaming) whenever weather permits. Fresh air wafting in is a great reminder that a walk would
    be nice
  • Dogs can help pull you away (and are great reasons to go on lots of walks)


  • I avoid games which are designed to addict and give you tunnel vision. This is basically anything that is free-to-play but with in-app-purchases (even if you’re not buying the IAPs). I pay upfront for a well rated game, and get a better reward for my cost and my time. In my opinion, the best games are designed to be enjoyed then set down… The best games are part of life not trying to dominate it.


I love the idea of a projector instead of a tv, but how do you do that? Can you plug a roku or PS4 into it? We don’t have cable, but we do use streaming services like Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime. And what do you use for a screen? Just blank wall or have something you pull down?


We use a wall, we did so in two previous apartments but now in our house we’ve moved it to the basement, which we finished. Basement works great because it isn’t conspicuous that the wall is bare otherwise, and so we set the projector up such that the “screen” is HUGE, far bigger than even the biggest big screen tvs :slight_smile:

Plenty of folks use roll-down screens though! If you don’t have a big blank wall that’s a good option.

We have this one and no complaints about it being 720p. Got it for $200 used in 2016. Note that it does have a remote, so we don’t have to disturb its focus to turn it on etc. Though we do sometimes disturb its focus to take it on the go … it is portable and battery powered!

There are plenty of other models though. I looked at review sites and reddit’s where people care way more than me about a $1000 projector, then find out what THEY think is a good budget pick :slight_smile: (I use same approach when finding headphones etc; what do the hobbyists think is the budget pick?) I think I also saw a post about projector options on /r/Frugal

As for connections: it has an HDMI which carries audio, but also has an Aux out. So typically hdmi in and aux out to a speaker (it has its own crap speaker if you take it somewhere and forget the speaker). We use an HDMI hub to have two game systems and a Roku plug in to that hub. The hub chooses what audio to route on its own by whatever is active. The hub even switches which device is active on its own! iArkPower 3 Port HDMI Switch with Optical Toslink SPDIF & RCA L/R Audio Out, 3x1 HDMI Audio Extractor Splitter with Remote, Supports 4Kx2K@30Hz, Full 3D, 1080P, ARC


OMG thank you! This is incredibly helpful! I finally have a solution to the TV stand that I hate so much! I can fill a wall with art and just pull down a screen if I really need TV! I have so many ideas now!!! (Goes to write it down in her Bullet Journal so she won’t forget.)


I was not allowed to play video games growing up. I just turned 50 so the games available back then were like the original Atari games or video games at an arcade. I would occasionally go with my cousins and liked to play Ms. Pac Man and Dig Dug. We also didn’t have cable TV EVER, or a VCR my mother was convinced if we attached something to her TV it would ruin the TV.

In 2009 I discovered Farmville. Love the game but it got to the point where unless I was at work all I wanted to do was play. I had rotator cuff surgery in January of 2017 and stopped playing while I was recovering. I haven’t been back, I don’t want to get sucked into that void again.

I still play games on my phone but I have made a conscious decision not to play anything that requires daily time commitment.