Sunday Firesides: Restraints Vs. Constraints

In the world of survival games, there are two types of players; those who choose to be confined by walls and fences and those that seek freedom. It is important for designers planning a new game to decide which restraints vs constraints will fit their vision best while still keeping players engaged in their experience.

“Restraint” is a word that has many meanings. It can mean the act of restraining someone or something, or it can be used to describe an action that limits someone’s freedom of movement. “Constraint” is another word for restraint, but it also describes something that limits freedom. Read more in detail here: restraint meaning.

Sunday Firesides is a new series of brief meditations to help you begin your week.

Recent research on willpower have shown that, contrary to common assumption, persons with greater self-control aren’t as good at applying discipline as those with less. Instead, they reduce the amount of temptations in their lives by 1) pursuing behaviors that they like (if you haven’t read our article on using Motivation Over Discipline, I strongly suggest it), and 2) arranging their surroundings in ways that eliminate the need for willpower.

The concept of restrictions vs. constraints, which Ian Bogost coined, is a great approach to think about how to achieve the second element.

Restraint is a trait that people use to keep themselves from doing something they don’t want to do. A constraint is a restraint imposed by one’s surroundings.

It’s tiring and unproductive to constantly restrict oneself from harmful behaviors. In a study of college students, those who practiced self-control felt more exhausted, and as a result of their depletion, they performed worse in accomplishing their objectives. Those who exerted self-control less often, on the other hand, were more effective.

Rather of depending on restriction, add limitations to your life on purpose. Rather of stocking up on junk food and forcing yourself not to consume it, don’t purchase it at all. Remove all of your phone’s distracting applications instead of preventing yourself from glancing at it as much.

I know that when I nuclear-blocked access to distracting websites on my computer, I felt a tremendous sense of relief; the constant hum of temptation in the background stopped; the fragmentation that occurs when you repeatedly feel an itch and choose to ignore it vanished, and greater focus took its place.

If at all possible, eliminate the possibility of making a poor decision. Constraints are preferable to restrictions.  



Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between restraints and constraints?

A: Restraints are used to attach objects together. Constraints are a natural phenomenon that can create force and stress in an object due to the forces of gravity, friction or other factors.

When to use constrain or restrain?

A: The difference between the terms is that constrain means to limit something, whereas restrain means to put a stop or restrict.