3 Great Online Time Wasting Options

There are moments in life when there just isn’t anything to do. You’re stuck waiting at a bus station; your friends are taking longer than normal to come over; you’re supposed to be working or studying but you’ve embraced procrastination into your life. Hey, we all do it. Don’t feel bad.

You find yourself with - for whatever reason - a spare slice of time. The internet is in front of you. The entire knowledge that humanity has ever amassed is at your fingertips; think of what the science and arts masters of old would have done with such a portal! And then think: yeah, but… I just want to do something fun instead.

Again: we all do it. Sometimes you don’t want to learn; you don’t want to use the time productively to catch up on your emails; you just want to waste some time and clear your head for awhile. If that sounds familiar, then here are a few ideas to keep you busy without you actually being very busy at all.

 

Online Games

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Flash as a whole might have died out in popularity (coming across a website built entirely from Flash is an immediate “back” button dealbreaker, for most of us) but it does still have a use: games.

They’re free - well, if you ignore the many ads that might be flashing across the screen. They’re not complicated and in-depth like your normal gaming choices might be. You can start, stop, forget they exist, or spend many hours going through the same repetitive motions. Or you can chance your hand if you’re feeling lucky, by tracking down the best online casino and seeing if your luck is going to bear out. Or if you just want something simple, it’s pretty hard to turn down a classic like Bubble Shooter when you just want something to distract you.

 

Help Solve Cold Cases

Think you might be a detective in the making? Then you could help solve cold cases, thanks to the Murder Accountability Project. For the moment it just features US crimes, but given that some of the most famous crimes of all time have happened in the States, that shouldn’t deter you. You can hunt for clues, read old files, and see if you can come up with a theory no one else has.

 

Citizen Science

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Citizen science seeks to harness the power of the internet for good. All sorts of scientific fields are involved, outsourcing the bulk work that would otherwise be done by overqualified researchers who are best turning their brains elsewhere. There are plenty of studies online; there’s a good overview here at the BBC for some ideas. Some of the most popular projects have helped identify galaxies in deep space images, understand the way we perceive age for psychology, or helped to map the neural connections in the human brain.

If that all sounds like you need a lot of time - you really don’t. This is the kind of activity you can pick up, do for awhile, then put down. And for once, your procrastination will have actually been useful - it’s hard to say fairer than that!

Understanding the Theory: The Games You Just Can't Quit

Whether it’s a console game or just an app, every once in awhile, you find yourself immersed in a game that you just can’t let go of. No matter how much you play it, it sticks in your mind, keeping you coming back for more even when there are other games out there demanding your attention. Sometimes it happens on a national level - remember the crazes for Candy Crush or Flappy Bird? - or it can just be a gem of a game that only a few people dedicated to gaming innovations play, but those that do are devotees.

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Have you ever wondered how games manage to do this; turn normal people into those on the verge of a game addiction? If you fancy finding out how things work behind the curtain, then read on…

 

#1 - Games Aren’t Designed To Be Fun

Sound difficult to believe? It might, but think about it: fun is transitory. What we have a tendency to enjoy at one point might not be the same thing that makes us happy another day. We can get tired of fun; we can want to move on to something more exciting, something different.

If, however, a game developer can tap into something deeper in our psyche, then their game has the potential to be a fixture for years to come. It’s interesting to note that the driving purpose of a game is not for users to enjoy it, but for users to want to keep coming back to it. These might sound like the same thing, but they are actually activating different parts of our brains.

Some of the most popular games of all time aren’t particularly fun, but they are rewarding. Understanding how rewards work in game creation is essential to understanding the behavioral psychology that they manipulate.

 

#2 - At First, Games Are Highly Rewarding

The first, and perhaps most important, attraction factor to a game is that it rewards new players quickly and often. That’s why when you first begin to play a game, leveling up and obtaining rewards is incredibly simple. Perform one basic task? You level up and get a ton of XP points!

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Every time we level up or receive some form of reward from the game, our brains get a shot of dopamine - the happy hormone. Even if we don’t fully understand the game or haven’t decided to play it for long, we’re still delighted by this evidence we’re apparently good at it. As the game progresses, achieving the same rewards becomes harder and harder. With Facebook games, for example, it might only take 10 XP to get to level two, but it’ll take 7,000 XP to move from level 58 to level 59. Yet we still do it, because when we reach that level up number, we get the same shot of dopamine. If anything, it’s even sweeter when we have to wait and work towards something.

 

#3 - When You’re Hooked, You’re A Consumer

Many games like to ease you into them gently, especially those that don’t have a purchase cost like some app games. They get you in, leveling up, training you to enjoy that dopamine rush every time something goes right.

Then comes the next stage; transforming you from a gamer into a consumer. As you progress, learn the game, and what it takes to be good at it, you’ll then be offered some dangling temptations. An example would be something along the lines of: you could keep working to improve your armor, which will take time, effort, and skill… or you could just throw a couple of dollars at the problem and have your armor be perfect in an instant.

At first, going with the paid approach often seems valid. In many ways, that’s because it is. There’s no harm in spending money on virtual goods if they help us to enjoy the game more. It’s no different to spending on a cinema ticket or paying to download a movie; it’s all about enjoyment, so there’s no harm.

Of course, the problem comes when you are deeply immersed in a game and have been playing it for so long, it throws your judgment off. Then, the in-game purchases switch from being about enhancing your experience, to being necessary. There are many games where, effectively, you have to pay to win. Developers don’t throw this at you to begin with, of course! They ease you in with the leveling up rewards, the improvements for low cost, and then hit you with bigger and bigger requests for money.

This might sound like a harmless progression. It can be, if you manage it in moderation. However, the problem comes when people find themselves buying more and more because they’re trapped in a cycle of doing so, and feel they need it to continue enjoying the game. That’s when there’s risks of game addiction, people stretching their finances as they look for online payday loans and similar products that can allow them to keep buying.

 Again, there’s nothing wrong with this in theory if you genuinely enjoy a game! You’re paying for a form of entertainment; that’s legitimate. But it’s always worth asking if you truly enjoy the game, or if you’re just used to playing it now and want to continue.

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#4 - More Rewards

We’ve touched above on the importance of rewards to keeping you coming back to a game. This truly can’t be overstated.

Have you ever heard of the rat experiment, where a rat had to press a level in exchange for a morsel of food? This is a popular experiment on which game developers rely. We humans will keep pressing the lever (i.e. playing the game) if we think there’s a reward for it.

That’s why games give us trophies, buttons, badges - they’re rewards for pressing the lever over and over. Even basic games like Words With Friends will give you badges for starting a set number of games or playing a certain number of opponents.

Of course, when you press the lever enough to get your reward, you’re delighted by it. It’s this, perhaps more than anything, that keeps us going back to a game. If we have to work for something, we enjoy the rewards of it all the more. It makes us feel good; like we have achieved something… even if all we’ve done is level up, win a trophy, or suchlike on a game we enjoy.

Take Your Gaming To The Next Level

We all love to get a new game for our console or computer. After all, we can then spend hours trying to complete the new game to keep up with our buddies. However, it can feel like we are getting nowhere fast when it comes to our gaming experience. And it can feel like we are falling behind while others are progressing through the levels. However, there are some ways you can ensure you become a whiz at the game. In fact, here is how to take your gaming to the next level.

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Watch a stream online

It’s always good to get some tips if you want to get further ahead with your game. After all, you might get the knowledge you need to enable you to whiz past the levels and keep up with your mates. And rather than heading to get an old school manual, a lot of people are watching people playing online now instead. After all, following their gameplay can help give you the tips you need to get through difficult levels. And it can give you a heads up of what you can expect as the game progresses. There are a lot of streams for specific games that you can watch. Just search for the game and you should be able to find ones to follow. In fact, you will find a lot on Twitch which can help you get through the game. And you never know, you might become so good that you become a streamer yourself!

 

Find some cheats

It can feel like failure if you do hunt down some cheats for games. After all, you can feel a real sense of achievement if you get through the game yourself. But if you want to take your gaming to the next level, you might need a few tricks to get past those challenging levels. And thankfully, there are lots of sites like I Want Cheats which have some great cheats which can get you further ahead in the game. And it can help you reach the finishing line sooner rather than later. You can find reviews for certain cheats online to make sure it’s a legitimate way to move forward with the game. And once you have completed, you might want to go back and try it without the cheat!

 

Team up with a buddy

You might be trying to compete with your buddies to finish the game first. But there are some games which can be more rewarding if you play alongside someone else. In fact, you are more likely to proceed and get to the next level quicker with a helping hand. And there are some easy ways to play together. For one thing, you could get them over to your house to play the games. Or you might want to play an online game together. After all, you can both play the game at the same time and communicate via your headset. You might make some new friends if you do chat in the game too which is always a bonus!

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And Youtube can be a godsend if you want to get further ahead with your game. After all, they put on gameplay of specific levels if you are stuck. Therefore, it could help you to finish that level and move on with the game by watching the video!

Awesome Buddy Nights In for the Financially Impaired Student

The friends you make at college are such an important part of the experience. But for a lot of people, the high-life of hitting the town and spending cash at all sorts of fancy establishments just isn’t a reality. It costs too much! But that doesn’t mean you can’t find the time and opportunity to just chillax and enjoy some company. Instead, let’s look at some of the three relatively inexpensive options to kick it with your buds.

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An old school multiplayer session

More and more people are getting into video games. There’s a good chance that some of your housemates and your inner circle are going to share that passion if you have it. We tend to gravitate towards people who have similar quirks to us, after all. One way to make those competitive and cooperative gaming sessions a lot more fun is to use it as an opportunity to take a good old fashioned nostalgia trip. Old school games tend to get people bonding over memories that they might already hold dear. To be completely honest, there’s a bit of ironic enjoyment to be found in the blocky characters of Tekken 2 and other little flaws of those much-treasured games, too.

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Netflix party

The chances are that you’re already going to be sharing some kind of TV streaming service with whoever you share a room or an apartment with. If you have a friend or two who spend a lot more time at yours than at their own place, it might be worth getting them to pitch in, too. With Secure Thoughts, you can get access to an even wider library of shows, as well. That way, you got plenty of fuel to keep these sessions going long into the future. Netflix parties (or Amazon TV parties or Popcorn Time parties) are a lot of fun, whether it’s binge-watching a series together or intentionally picking out a movie that looks awful to replicate the Mystery Science Theater 3000 experience.  

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Ye olde adventure

It might take a bit of cajoling to get those who aren’t quite as nerdy into this. However, if you overpower them, then they’ll buckle eventually. Dungeons and Dragons is becoming much more popular than ever before, thanks to Youtube series like Critical Role bring them somewhat into the spotlight. The simple fact is that the same is a lot of fun when you get a party on the same page. You can enjoy serious, epic adventure together or you can all play a much more comedic scenario where you loot, burn, kill, and wise-crack at everything in sight. One of the largest demographics for D&D players is college-goers as well. Meaning you won’t have much trouble finding winning players. It takes a little investment to get the books and the figures, but those are one-off costs that pay for hours and hours of entertainment after.

These kinds of nights in are going to become the bread and butter of your college friendship experiences. The best thing about most of them is that they prioritize actually spending time with people and developing or sharing interests. Otherwise, most options tend to become about drinking or social posturing, which gets in the way more than anything.

Turn These Geek Skills Into Job Opportunities

Just a few years ago, no one wanted to be labeled a ‘geek’. However, these days lots of people are proud to be called a geek. And you shouldn’t just be a geek in your personal time either. In fact, all of those geeky skills and talents that you have could translate very nicely into your full-time job. Want to know which skills it’s a good idea to try and cultivate in your geeky hobbies? Here are some of the best.

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Tinkering With Hard Drives

Lots of geeks are very good with their hands. They use them to play around with hard drives and other hardware. But you shouldn’t leave this as just a hobby. In fact, there are now lots of companies who are desperately searching for IT workers who have practical skills in building computers and other machinery. To take this skill further, sign up for a college or night school course in computers and hardware.

 

Exceptional Knowledge

Lots of geeks are highly knowledgeable and have an incredible amount of information stored away in their brains! And, more often than not, all of this knowledge can be very much focused on one very unique subject. Why not use this to your advantage? It can certainly help you get some well-paid, niche work. For instance, if you know a whole lot about biology and the human body, you might want to start the Ultimate Medical Academy's Health and Human Services Program. Or, for example, if you are well-versed in the economy and finances, then you might want to join an economics program and become a financial advisor.

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Computer Data Whizz

Geeks often know about common computer data and software. As a result of this knowledge, they are often highly skilled in wiping computer data and protecting it from potential hackers and virus attacks. This is another skill that many companies now want their employees to have. As hackers and other online security threats are becoming a lot more sophisticated, businesses want to hire people who are always one step ahead and can help to protect their computer networks. You might be surprised to see just how much this knowledge can raise your salary by!

 

Developing Apps

Quite a few people have now taught themselves the skills that they need to develop their own apps. For many people, this is just a hobby that they do in their spare time. If this sounds like something you do in your free time, have you ever thought about making more of a go of it and carving out your very own career in software development? You could start off as a freelancer first and then, once you have gained some experience, could start to apply for full-time work with a company.

As you can see, your geeky skills and talents don’t have to be something that you keep to your spare time. There are plenty of chances you can turn them into a very lucrative career! Got any more ideas? Let us know!

Solving Your Study Stresses

Student life is often harder than we expect. Nothing can prepare you for the amount of work you’ll have to get through, especially in the lead up to exams. Of course, just how much work you face depends on how much you do throughout the year. The unfortunate majority of us think we have plenty of time, only to find exams coming up. So, for the most part, things get busy. It may seem counterintuitive, but during that last minute rush, it’s important to give yourself time off. Small breaks will actually help improve your attention. Burning yourself out will stop you absorbing information, and won’t help anyone. Here are a few ways you can take a break when you feel the need.

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GET YOUR GAME ON

Chances are, you’re already a gamer, else you wouldn’t be here. But, have you considered using games to help you escape the study strain? Many of us pack our consoles away during exam season. But, if you have enough restraint not to spend hours on them, they can be a huge help. Nothing is quite so good for taking your mind off work than getting into a good game. Plus, you can use your sessions as a reward system. Allow yourself an hour of gaming if you manage to study for two hours straight. It works wonders! Of course, an hour can quickly turn into more. Make sure to set the alarm and stop playing the moment it goes off. You don’t want to lose all your study hours! You could even get to grips with gaming on the go and take it with you if you study elsewhere. This is a fantastic way to achieve short-term escapism.

A GOOD BOOK

Chances are you’ll be sick of the sight of books right now. So, why are we telling you to read more? Because it’s fantastic for escapism. And because you can still enjoy personal reading, even after all those hours of staring at a page. It’s a good way to keep your brain engaged, while still kicking back a little. Break your academic reading up with five-minute personal sessions, and see how much of a different it makes. Your eyes will still be focused on the page, so returning to your studies won’t be a huge leap. But, you’ll still get some much-needed rest.

FRIENDS FOR ESCAPISM

Chances are, your friends also lock themselves away when exams are coming. But, it’s important you still take the time to see each other. None of the above will help you as much as time with friends can. If you don’t get out to see anyone, you’ll start going crazy. Plus, when you’re home, studying will always be in the back of your mind. You don’t have to go out for hours, here. Who has time for that? Instead, arrange to go out for a drink, or a meal with friends. They’ll understand if you have to leave early. They’ll probably need to do the same.