Will We Eventually Regret The Hours We Spent Playing Games?

Will We Eventually Regret The Hours We Spent Playing Games?

Game designer Jane McGonigal has been thinking about whether those of us who love to play video games will regret it in the end. She keeps meeting people who think gamers will. She keeps meeting people who doubt any of us will wish we played more games.

So…the question she’s been asked: “When we are on our deathbeds, will we regret the hours we spent playing games?”

She takes that on in the video here and comes up with a counterintuitive twist.


  • Will I regret the hours i spent reading? Watching movies? TV? Reading Kotaku? The web? No. I do these things because I want to and they’re part of my life. Each to their own and live how you want to live.

    • Well said!

      I think I will regret the time spent commuting, working, standing in line, etc. more then the time spent gaming.

      • That’s why you should be gaming/watching tv/reading Kotaku while you commute, stand in line etc – and especially when you’re at work. No regrets then 😀

  • “Most games are just toys. You pick them up, look at them from every angle and see what they do. Then you put them aside, give them to a friend or take them back to the place you got them from for something more novel.

    But some toys you keep with you your entire life.” (http://retreviews.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/toys-story.html)

    I cherish the games and gaming experiences that I’ve been through, I go back to the games I loved over and over again. I don’t regret growing up and I don’t regret the things I did doing it.

    I know I never will.

    • Yup… exactly. There are some games that have stuck with me, in my imagination, for over 20 years. I remember playing this one game on a friend’s Apple IIe and other games on SNES.. still other games on other systems and so on..

      Those are fond memories and many of the reasons I play the current generation of video games is an attempt to recreate those fond memories in the now. Unfortunately many games don’t justify the time invested these days.. but there are a few that stand up to these ideal.

  • This question’s a bit silly. It’s like asking will people regret how much time they spent playing sports or working or spending time with their families or whatever. People are always going to look back on their lives and wish they spent their time better, no matter what things they achieved during life. Why make the question specific to gaming?

  • Did any of you watch the video? It was really supporting that playing games, especially social games have very positive outcomes. Watch her 2010 TED talk and you cant help but be inspired. Good job Jane! Keep it up. 🙂

  • I dont know if I will regret the time I spent playing games but I did feel a little sick when I looked back and calculated what I spent on games, consoles and high end PC parts.

  • If I could get all those hours back I’ve spent playing video games I’d sit down and have a massive video game session.

  • I think that in my final moments I would have liked more time to do more of the things I loved doing. That is playing games among other things!

  • I don’t regret it, I have been on some amazing adventures within the worlds created by video games. I think it is good to maintain balance though, in my younger years I spent 75%of my time in front of a console or PC, now it is more like %25, and I get outside and have taken’ up some physical activities. But I regret nothing! 😀

  • It depends on the game.
    Do I regret playing Metroid Other M? Yes.
    Do I wish I could have back the hundreds of hours spent on Dragon Quest 9? Hell no.

  • Hmmmm. I do and don’t regret the time I spent. I have such fun playing games over the years, and despite the time I have spent I am still completing a Masters and working in domestic violence prevention and my church, but I guess I don’t play them for more than an hour a day.

  • I know as I get older, I’ve got less time to play video games. I don’t REGRET not having more time with them/ or having less. But I do hope to play as many games as I enjoy, as I can, for as long as I can. It’s my hobby, my getaway, my little bit of pleasure/ fun away from usual life stuff..

    Do I regret hanging out/ drinking with mates, sinking endless dedication into a band despite the not so apparent rewards etc… No! We do these things because we love them/ enjoy them at some point or another. If you get over it, no harm. But I don’t think anyone would regret it. Some of the key changes/ points in my life happened to coincide with certain games I played, and I remember them fondly and affectionately. If anything, I’m super proud of the time I’ve spent on games and the affect they’ve had on my life 🙂

  • The amount of my life that has benefited from gaming far outweighs any regrets. I owe my life successes in part to gaming, much of my travels and almost all of my direct social circle consists of gamers (be they just casual or professional). I worked in the industry so I am a truly bad example. I still get to count right?

    A Casual gamer may regret the addiction they feel to things like farmville or Fruit Ninja and the hours they utterly lose to silly stuff that literally means nothing but wasting hours. Those who feel “sucked in” would surely regret it. I play nothing I didn’t sign up for, knowing what I would get out of it… 200 (and counting) hours in Skyrim, hundreds of hours in multiple other open-worlders, over 150 hours with mates in BF3 (and hundreds more for the previous BF games including hundreds of work hours QAing BF2 expansions while at EA). Currently about 120 hours in DayZ… a frustrating but fun alpha mod. I only regret losing saves and having to work back to previously achieved levels :p .

    I have so much fun but I balance well and I manage my time. Hundreds of hours over say 3-4 months roughly works out to be 2-3 hrs a day. I don’t really watch TV and I game the most on free weekends. Any family, and RL stuff always comes first, if gaming suddenly didn’t exist tomorrow, I would regret that more, but live with it.

  • The trick is to enjoy the things you do, as you do them. That way you cannot regret anything, by definition.
    Nothing anybody does is of any value in the grand scheme of things, so you might as well enjoy your pointless existence.

  • Completely dependant on your intrinsic view on what is ‘important’ or ‘worthwhile’ is life. If deep down you have the view that your success is determined by how much money you make or how high you can get your social status then sure, you probably will. If you think enjoying life to the fullest, in whatever way happens to float your boat, then more than likely not. Games bring me joy, honestly I think I’d be more likely to regret working my entire life to own a worldwide succesful busines if doing so meant I was never able to stop and smell the roses. Ultimately everything we do is pointless, nothing lasts forever, eventually even Plato will be forgotten, eventually our species will cease to exist, I don’t mean that as a downer or to imply you shouldn’t try to do anything ever, simply that when you truly consider the universe at large people’s obsessions with ‘being remembered for something’ or being ‘succesful’ look preetttyyy tiny.

  • I can’t watch the video at the moment because I’m at work but I do know that Jane McGonigal is an extremely clever woman. I think that this is a valid question. I think social interaction is an important part of life and I get this from games. Whether I’m playing simultaneously with friends or strangers or even just talking about games with my mates – games are hugely social and becoming more and more so.

    Personally, I don’t think I will regret the time I have spent playing games. I’m also a big movie watcher and book reader. Cooking and photography are also large interests of mine. Out of all of these things, video games are probably my most social hobby and I can’t imagine that time spent with other people – physically or virtually – will be something I regret on my death bed.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!