Recently I’ve decided to give up computer games for the most part. I’ve been a huge fan of computer games since before I even got my first computer. Before I had a computer I went over to friends’ houses and played games on their computers. I can remember visiting a friend’s apartment when I was in college, and his showing me the game Civilization for the first time. I played for like 6 hours straight, completely tuning out the world. Not healthy. Anyway, what I find is that when it comes to computer games, I have an addictive personality and that more than getting joy out of them, they mostly trigger compulsive behavior that prevents me from doing stuff I enjoy more, like hanging out with my wife or going to the movies or reading books, and stuff I have to do, like get my work done.

What I’ve recently discovered though is I can exploit this compulsive aspect of my personality and use it to my own advantage. For example, anything that feels like the sort of game that I get addicted to triggers that same compulsion. For example, I’ve learned that I work best on projects that have a bug database. I find that I’m more motivated if I can get the psychological payoff of fixing bugs and seeing my bug count go down. By the same token, at my job where we review code, I found my productivity went way up when they added a graph to our code reviewing tool that shows how much progress each member of the team has made on a graph. The scorekeeping really helps keep me focused.

Once you become an adult, these sorts of weird personality quirks are pretty much hard wired, I think, so your best bet is compensating for them rather than getting rid of them.