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“Just one more game!”

We’ve all said it at one point or another, whether we’re playing 2048, Civilization, or Dota. You sit down for a bit of play after dinner and the next thing you know, the sun’s coming up. It’s always surprising – or not surprising at all – how quickly time can fly when gaming.

If any of that sounds familiar to you, you may be shocked to know just how much time you actually lose in these circumstances. It might feel like “a few hours here and there” but the truth is not so merciful. These tools will show you those numbers as plain as day.

Steam

Valve’s Steam platform tends to be pretty divisive amongst PC gamers. There are horror stories regarding their customer service (to be expected from any platform as large as theirs) and some elements of the Steam Terms of Service are questionable Why I’m No Longer Buying Games On Steam [Opinion] Why I’m No Longer Buying Games On Steam [Opinion] Steam is now approaching 10 years old. Its impact has been undeniable. Millions of gamers enjoy the service’s seamless community services, low prices and excellent selection. I have been one of them – until now.... Read More .

On the other hand, Steam is incredibly convenient and it has plenty of awesome features 8 Steam Features You Didn't Know You Had 8 Steam Features You Didn't Know You Had You probably think you know how to use Steam pretty well. As with any piece of software, there are features you use everyday, and those you don't know you have until you look. Read More that are found nowhere else, including the Early Access Program Steam Early Access: These 5 Games Are Worth Buying Early Steam Early Access: These 5 Games Are Worth Buying Early Would you like to play games before they're even released to the public? With Steam Early Access, you can! Read More (though that too tends to be a point of division).

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One reason why I use Steam: it tracks your time spent per game. Steam won’t limit your play time even if you want it to, but you can use the time-track data to see which games are soaking up most of your time. It may even lead you to the possibility that you are a video game addict Video Game Addiction In Teens - What Is Too Much and How to Curb the Problem Video Game Addiction In Teens - What Is Too Much and How to Curb the Problem Video game addiction is a serious issue. I know this because I am an ex-video game addict. Read More .

You can even check out the Wasted On Steam website Do You Want To Know How Much Time & Money You've Spent On Steam? Do You Want To Know How Much Time & Money You've Spent On Steam? Steam's annual holiday sale just recently ended and I know some of your wallets are really hurting right now. Day after day, flash sales and daily specials hit us in the face and it was... Read More for aggregate data trends for Steam users. Who plays the most? Which games are the most popular? Where does all the time go? It’s fascinating.

Available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Xfire

Xfire was once the king for managing game libraries, facilitating game communications, and tracking of play times. Nowadays, most of its functions have been replaced with better alternatives, leaving Xfire to be but a shell of its former glory. However, for recording play time, it’s still somewhat useful.

There’s a feature called “Activity Report” which is a consolidated stream of updates that tells you how much time you and your friends are spending on various games.

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If you go into your Xfire profile – or the profile of a friend – you can view the time spent on all games in the respective library. Time tracked is split between “Hours This Week” and “Hours Total”.

Xfire’s popularity is on a downward trend, so if you don’t already use it, you probably won’t want to install it just to track game time. However, for those of you who do use it, it’s a good feature to know about.

Available on Windows only.

Raptr

Raptr turned out to be one of the better choices in our roundup of gaming social networks 3 Awesome Social Networks Just For Gamers 3 Awesome Social Networks Just For Gamers Gamers are a sociable bunch and gaming social networks are proof of that. Read More . It has a lot in common with Xfire as far as features and functionality go, but the execution is much better and it feels more like a proper community.

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Usage is simple. All you have to do is run the Raptr desktop app while you play your games and it will automatically keep your Raptr social profile updated, including the time you spend playing. It can even tap into other gaming networks – such as Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam – and pull data from there.

Between Xfire and Raptr Xfire vs. Raptr: Which Should You Use To Track PC Gaming? Xfire vs. Raptr: Which Should You Use To Track PC Gaming? Statistics, metrics, and achievements. This is what new-age gaming has taught the average person to look forward to. In the early '90s, PC gaming was nearly non-existent and a real shining achievement was being able... Read More , I have to agree with Craig’s conclusion: Raptr is the winner as far as time tracking and social networking is concerned.

Available for Windows only.

Gameplay Time Tracker

If you don’t want to commit to a gaming platform (e.g., Steam) and if you don’t want to join a community or social network (e.g., Xfire, Raptr), then you should really consider Gameplay Time Tracker. Most people don’t know about it, but its feature set is quite impressive for what it’s meant to do.

This program sits in the background and automatically detects whatever games you’re playing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a standalone game or one that was installed through a digital platform like Steam – it will catch all of them. It will even detect browser-based games like Quake Live with support for IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.

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Gameplay Time Tracker has a leg up on its competition because it doesn’t just track total time, but also individual play times, average play times, and the number of actual sessions per game. Games can be grouped by various criteria (e.g. genre).

The downside is that it won’t detect games in windowed mode. However, specific processes can be added to the watchlist (or blocked from the watchlist) to work around this deficiency.

Available on Windows only.

RescueTime

While it’s not an application designed for gaming, RescueTime is one of the best tools out there for automatic tracking of program usage.

It’s simple: the data collector runs in the background and monitors running applications, visited websites, and open files. Tracked data is uploaded to RescueTime so you can view it anywhere. This may sound like a privacy nightmare, but RescueTime gives you the freedom to delete your data on demand.

It’s available for free, but you only get the basic features (which is enough if all you care about is time tracking). For $9/month or $72/year, you can unlock advanced features like blocking distracting websites Focus! 4 Best Tools To Temporarily Block Facebook & Co Focus! 4 Best Tools To Temporarily Block Facebook & Co You're not alone, we have all done it - wasting hours browsing the web instead of getting stuff done. Need a spike in productivity? Find the best tools for escaping social media here. Read More , producing detailed reports, and logging daily accomplishments.

For a deeper look at the features, check out Bakari’s RescueTime review Accurately Keep Track Of What You Do On The Computer & For How Long With RescueTime Accurately Keep Track Of What You Do On The Computer & For How Long With RescueTime If you spend a considerable amount of time working at your computer with no Corporate Big Brother to monitor what you're doing, you may find yourself spending a bit more time than you should be... Read More .

Available for Windows and Mac.

Final Thoughts

Which one is the winner? My personal favorite is Gameplay Time Tracker because it’s highly specialized for this specific purpose and offers more features than Steam, Xfire, or Raptr. If you need time tracking elsewhere, definitely go with RescueTime as it can help improve work-related productivity 10 Daily Distractions To Improve Your Productivity 10 Daily Distractions To Improve Your Productivity Contrary to popular belief, there are some distractions that could actually make us more productive. Distractions need not be roadblocks...with these deliberate ways, they easily can be catapults. Read More too.

Unfortunately, non-Windows users are limited between Steam and RescueTime.

Which one do you like best? Is there another application that performs better but wasn’t mentioned? Share with us in the comments below!

  1. The Real Life
    July 4, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    like a Grass Hopper!
    That useless can be Called
    As a Screen Hoper! Gumming his life to Games
    As an Internet Parasite!
    He spends his life Watching & Watching
    He looks at others performing
    And never perform anything of his own!
    A Useless to himself
    He is a burden to the whole of universe !

  2. Marius Eriksen
    December 23, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Om my steam acnt it says 127 hours played the last 2 weeks (i really need a life)

  3. Bob
    September 24, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Generally, I get to play 3-5 hours per week my FPS and maybe 2 hours a week on a Euro board game.

  4. KT
    September 23, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    I expect Steam's new version of Gauntlet (I pre-ordered a 4 pack for my friends and I) to eat a lot of my time. Since Diablo 3 is making you buy the whole game to get a little DLC, Gauntlet it is.

  5. Logan M
    September 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    at the time of writing i've spent 119 hours of my life playing Garry's Mod

  6. Bboy T
    September 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I spend my time for playing about 6 hours

  7. Suleiman
    September 23, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    You are a smart person to post this article today, for today is the release day of the most anticipated game Fifa 15 in North America.

    To answer your question:

    Yesterday night I went to Best Buy in downtown and lined up. At 11: 50, they let us in and at exactly 12:01 am purchase started. Fifa 15 was officially released. I got my hard copy at 12:15, headed home and started to play it at 12:58 am. At 8:00 pm I called work and call it sick :) Went back to my game. Around 8:10 took a nap and walk up at 12:00 pm. While eating my "break fast" , I checked your website, which i do the first thing every day, and I read your article. Once I am done writing this, i am going back to my game. Cell phone is off. It is going to be a heck of a long long day of Fifa 15 gaming.
    Usually, my average gaming per day is 2 hours.
    Happy Fifa 15 madness week. UK you getting it on 26th, so hang on there comrades!

    • Joel L
      September 25, 2014 at 12:29 am

      That's quite a lot of Fifa to be playing. I don't think there's anything wrong with a gaming binge every once in a while. Enjoy!

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