Thoughts upon uninstalling "Temple Run 2" from my phone

I have a confession to make.

Temple Run logo

Two years ago, when I finally got my first smartphone, I downloaded a free game, Temple Run, and quickly became a bit obsessed with it.

This was the first computer game I had played in twenty years, actually; although in college I played a fair number of games (including actual physical arcade games in the basement of the college dining hall), including Dark Castle, which I commandeered friends’ Macs to play (I owned only an Apple IIe in college, for word processing purposes), the last time I played computer games was in grad school twenty years ago, when I conquered a Mac game called “Kung Fu Chivalry”. Somehow, after actually winning that game, I totally lost interest in playing computer games again (despite being annoyed about never finishing “Beyond Dark Castle”).

I noticed that my reaction time and coordination were quite rusty after twenty years away from this kind of game, and was determined to get good at Temple Run. I was really bad for a while, but then everything started falling into place, and I got good enough that I got a bit bored. I forgot about the game for a long time.

Months later, Temple Run 2 came out, and I got that, and deleted the original Temple Run. The graphics were much better and the action was more interesting, but again, I got good enough that I got bored. Eventually I stopped playing the game. It’s probably been almost a year since I last played it, actually.

But I still had it on my phone, just in case I got “bored” or wanted to check up on my reaction time to see if I had retained my improvements. I never did end up playing it again though. Finally, I just deleted it, to free up space on my phone and to commit to saying goodbye to the game.

Thoughts flashed through my mind as I deleted the game.

We are always choosing how to spend our time; we must own our choices

I felt guilty every time I played the game on the phone (or the iPad, on which I had also installed the game, but I didn’t play it often on that). Part of me thought it was a waste of time. Part of me rationalized that I was “training” my brain and fingers to improve my overall reaction time and motor coordination.

I don’t like feeling guilty about anything. I’d rather just do the thing in all good conscience, or not do it at all. At some point, I resolved the dissonance for good by no longer playing the game.

I noticed how I had let the smartphone intrude on my life

Obviously, upon getting my first smartphone, I was excited by all the things I could do that I couldn’t do before. I could check my email anywhere, read my RSS feeds, Facebook, etc. I even loaded up some of my books onto the phone.

I found myself pulling out the phone to play the game when I was “bored” while riding in a car or something. Then I realized that I was missing the scenery, or just plain quiet time away from technology. Eventually, I decided to minimize the use of my phone when away from home or work, where I’m already in front of a computer most of the time already anyway. Yes, I can spend several hours without checking my phone for email (especially if I’m in the middle of nowhere with no reception).

I got sucked in by fear of losing my accumulated “wealth”

I took so long to delete the game because I kept thinking that if I ever wanted to keep playing, I had racked up a lot of points and “unlocked” various powers, so I wanted to keep all that “just in case”. So keeping the game wasn’t even really about my enjoyment of it any more; I just liked the “wealth” I had accumulated. I was hoarding what was really worthless. The only thing I could do with my unlocked powers was continue playing the game to earn more powers.

What was once fun and useful may become stale

I still believe that it was worth spending some time playing the game. It really did improve my mental functioning to a degree. But there were no further benefits to be gained. It is worth periodically evaluating whether old activities or habits are still doing us any good, even if they once did.


I had my fun with Temple Run, learned some things about myself along the way, and now am done.

How do you feel when you uninstall a favorite game or app, or declutter in some other way? Do you feel sadness? Relief? Regret? Pride?

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