I live in Maryland, and I’m 17 years old. Two years ago, you changed my life forever. Now I’m finishing high school, doing my dream as a job, and traveling the world by myself!
You probably don’t remember me, but when I was 15, I was addicted to video games. I would usually play for 6-8 hours after school. I’m home schooled, and I would sneak in game time in my school hours when my mom wasn’t around. It got to the point that my next door best friend would come home from school, and instead of going over to his house to play video games or go outside, we just stayed in our own homes and talked over Xbox Live.
It got really sad. All I could talk about was the game. It was on my mind all the time.
I would go and sit and watch a sunset, and all I could think about was the game and how I wasn’t leaving my gun up.
I was 15, and I really didn’t have much of a plan for my life. I kept telling myself when I got older I wouldn’t play anymore, but the truth was, as I got older, I actually played more often. I would drown my frustration, boredom, and sadness in video games.
One rainy Saturday, I got on the game. It was the perfect conditions for me to play. My family was gone all day, my friends were gone, and we had just stocked up on snacks. I played for about 10 hours that day. When my parents came home, they asked me what I did all day, and I felt ashamed to tell them I had been playing video games all day.
They weren’t mad at me. They weren’t even sad. They were disappointed. I could see it in their eyes.
I stayed up all night that night lying in my bed wishing I could change my life! I hated feeling that way!
The next day I said, “This isn’t how I want to spend my life.” I went online and typed “how to quit playing video games.”
I love watching videos and the first one was “How to Quit Playing Video Games.” It was a TED talk.
Homeschoolers love TED talks! I thought, “This is going to be great!” I watched it and thought, “This is just what I needed!” I read comments and the guy responded to all of them! I commented, and he responded to me within an hour!! It turned out to be YOU! You were starting a YouTube channel called Game Quitters!! I was hooked!! I remember your first video! I decided, “I’m going to do this!!!!” I got the (older version of) Respawn, and it was amazing as well!
The next day my friend come over and asked why I wasn’t on Xbox yesterday. I told him I was taking a break for a bit. He was confused. He kept talking to me about it, and I was tempted to break my commitment on my first day off! I decided to write him a long letter telling him what I was doing and why.
The next day he agreed to join me in quitting! It was so cool! We started our 90-day journey, and we ended up building benches, tables and forts together, playing sports, riding our bikes, and having WAY more fun without the video games!
Eventually, the 90 days was over, and I felt so amazing!
Not too long afterwards, you asked for volunteers to do a test survey, and I decided to participate. I started my 90 days all over again! It was great!
——————–That day changed my life! —————-
I started to find that life wasn’t boring; it was amazing! I started working harder at my job. Sometimes I would just sit outside and enjoy the sunsets. I learned how to budget and wisely use the extra money I was earning! I got a second job, and I worked harder than ever. I started investing in the stock market! I read and learned. I picked up my family’s camera and started snapping photos because I had all this free time, and I was so bored sometimes!
Fast forward to today.
I’m sitting here in New Zealand. Yes, New Zealand! I am interning at a camp with missionaries, and I’m growing and learning so much! I travelled here by myself from the United States as a 17 year old. I got to tour the South Island for a week by myself taking photos, and I have been here at my internship for a month and a half already. I still have a month left. The amazing part that I wanted to share with you is that my video game quitting story is the thing that got me INVITED to come to New Zealand!
I have changed some lives through telling my story of quitting video games, and I have been invited to speak at youth groups. I think when I return I will begin to accept those invitations and speak to kids all over Maryland about the problem of video game addiction and how to fix it!
I am thankful for your help overcoming the hold video games had on my life. I have people waiting for me to come home so I can take their senior pictures and they’ll even pay me to do it. I have started a little business with photography, and my dream is to be a National Geographic photographer! I now have 4 jobs: dishwashing, woodworking, mowing and photography! I’m in my last year of high school, and I’m going to finish my school when I get back from this once in a lifetime trip! I have talked to so many wonderful people and told them about my story!
Cam, Thank you for changing my life forever! I feel so blessed right now!
I’m so thankful for you! I cannot thank you enough!
Andrew J Lawlin
Want us to help more Andrew’s in the world not only overcome a video game addiction but live a meaningful life? Donate today.
Here are the three ways to beat procrastination after you quit gaming:
You may not find the perfect replacement activities right away. Don’t worry about that. Keep experimenting and you will find them over time. It took me a few years to find surfing. But if I kept gaming during that time, I would have never found it. The transition from gaming (something you are very good at, and something you know you like) is different than these new hobbies you’re trying. So be PATIENT.
Be vulnerable. Sharing your story in this community and sharing what’s coming up for you (good or bad) is really important. You don’t need to be PERFECT every day, you will have some good days and some bad days, hang in there.
Don’t wait for MOTIVATION before you take action. Take action NOW, that’s what leads to motivation. Motivation comes and goes, you can’t rely on it. Even now after so many years of not gaming, I still struggle with motivation some times. But if you focus on ACTION first, you’ll find far more motivation than you ever imagine.
“The lies allowed me to continue with the bad behaviour. Play games all day, lie about shit I needed to take care of, repeat.”
Growing up, school was easy for me. I got well above-average grades without much effort.
Gaming was an integral part of my life, I’d play on my Gameboy all day and later I moved to playing purely on PC. I’d combine playing with paying attention in school and that worked until I was about 16 years old.
I had to choose my major and continue in that, but in higher education, I noticed that I had to put in the effort. What the schools would give me was not enough to succeed, so my methods didn’t work at all.
I didn’t notice how bad my behaviour was.
I’d game all day, sometimes go to school, notice that I wasn’t going to make the cut, so to escape I’d game, and game, and game.
Instead of changing things up I just continued, because the world of games was all I knew and everything else was boring, not as exciting and just couldn’t hold my attention.
I’d play to be the best, and try to join a more competitive scene… which sucked up even more time and attention.
I slowly started to notice a pattern where I ran away from anything as soon as I had to act like a responsible human being and take action. No matter how small the thing I needed to do was, whenever I had to take action I just felt like there was this sort of barrier that I couldn’t get through.
This caused me to not take action in just about anything, and this started to penetrate my social life as well.
I turned to lying after some time to avoid dealing with people.
It felt like the lies allowed me to continue with the bad behaviour. Play games all day, lie about shit I needed to take care of, repeat.
It took me too long to realise it pushes people away. People don’t want to deal with someone who points fingers all day. Someone who acts irresponsible and never takes responsibility for their actions. Someone you can’t rely on. All traits of a despicable person when I look back.
It gets comfortable, never having to deal with anything. And man, practice makes perfect, so constructing lies got easier and easier.
This got to the point where I’d photoshop a report card so I could avoid disappointing others and fake success.
Gaming allowed all of this.
It allowed me to keep up this lie and avoid thinking about it. Gaming just let’s me avoid feeling bad and often a motivation for lying would be having more game time. It was a vicious cycle that just built upon negative things and caused even more negative things.
6-14 hours a day of game time at a time.
I took a wrong approach. I was trying to look for the reason behind the barrier and I couldn’t find it, so the barrier stuck around.
I Needed to Stop Lying
That helped me a ton. My social life slowly got better, however, I still kept fucking up my education. This should’ve been the first realisation that I needed to take action, instead of just thinking about it.
Five years later, a year back from when I’m writing this, I started talking to others more. I started to listen more. People said to me that my gaming habits were unhealthy, that maybe quitting might be the right thing to do.
I tried moderation, failed horribly, and I got so so sick of myself and my own behaviour that I decided that a change was long overdue.
I’m 21 at This Point.
20th of June 2016. I quit smoking and gaming on that day. I’ve changed so much for the better.
I’m getting compliments from people around me, setbacks now motivate me. I’ve learned that life can hit me in the face and I can still continue.
I’m no longer a zombie. I am now honest towards others.
I must admit, over the last 7 months there have been some difficult times. I’ve had days where I fell back into the old behaviour of avoiding everything. I’ve learned that if I can remove two huge addictions in my life on the same day and keep at it for 7 months (and counting), then I can basically eliminate any other bad behaviour and keep the good stuff around.
This is one of the major reasons this has been such a huge success for me. Eliminating the bad forces me to deal with myself, which in turn allows me to think and deal with bad habits.
Confronting myself and being honest with myself allows me to be a better person.
This all turned the second half of 2016 in a year where I deal with being responsible. Being responsible towards both myself and others is now something I take pride in. I no longer point fingers and blame others for my own mistakes. I confront myself with that head-on and I learn from that experience.
I’ve been growing since day 0 and I’m still growing on day 222 and I do not plan on stopping. Part of my growth can be attributed to this community. Thank you, Cam and everyone else, especially everyone in the Discord Chat!