For over 5 years I lived with a gaming addict. This is my personal story.
When I met Joe (not his real name) he seemed like a good guy. He was caring and funny. We would do things together. But each night he would sit in front of his computer. I didn’t realize at that point how his addiction controlled his life.
Weeks passed, then months, and I saw how much the computer and his virtual life meant to him. He felt like his friends online were his real friends. He knew things about them, and felt connected to them. It drew him in every evening.
I would hear him yelling at the computer. He would be getting mad because his virtual friends didn’t like his gaming style, or he got the group killed.
World of Warcraft (WoW) was his first game of choice. He played it each day as he needed to keep up his numbers. It kept him coming back over the years. The new extensions had him talking about them every day.
He Wanted Us to Game Together
Well that wasn’t the case. He got bored because I wasn’t at his level. I on the other hand, couldn’t sit in one spot for 10 hours a day. Joe would sit a lot longer than that. He had his step dad start the game, and then his mom. So now there were two others who played. At dinners with his family they would just talk about gaming.
His gaming progressed to Rift, and League of Legends (LOL). I am sure there are more games he played, but I stopped trying to keep track. Joe even watched live streams of a couple who played games. The games just never ended.
One night I asked Joe if we could set up a weekly date night. I had to pick a night he wasn’t in a WoW raid. That was tough. He would do a date night, but sometimes he would say I need to cut it short as the guys want me to join their raid.
I was always second to his computer and virtual friends.
I remember once just wanting to smash the computer with a baseball bat. I hated the fact I didn’t matter. My anger took several years to get to this point. I am a patient person, but even I was running out of patience.
Joe would sleep all day and be up all night. Things around the house were being ignored. I took care of everything. I was turning into a mom. I had to nag him to do anything.
It was like dating a kid. Even when we did do things the talk was always about gaming. I began to tune him out. It would seem like I was listening, but it was a lot of head nodding and not a lot of talking from me. When I did talk, he appeared to care, but couldn’t remember what I said.
Joe ate, breathed and slept gaming. 24/7 gaming was apart of his life.
Eventually I said it’s the computer or me.
He said, “I need to be in this raid… the guys really need me.” I knew then that this was much bigger than me. I couldn’t help Joe. We went to counseling twice. He wouldn’t go after the counselor said to him you have a great smart woman here who just wants to love you and spend time with you.
He Lived in a Virtual Life.
I began to live my own life. He was more like a roommate. Sex never happened. We never slept in our bed at the same time. He made me feel worthless and I felt helpless.
Once his mom said to me, “oh in a few years you will want him to go and game, to leave you alone.”
In my mind I said, “nope, not going to live a life like this.” I longed for him to just spend time with me and to love me. I couldn’t understand what was so wrong with me. Why he wouldn’t be with me even once a week for a date night.
I went to Alberta to see my sister in 2014 and it was the first time I was away from him. That is when I saw my sister and brother in law having a healthy loving relationship. I knew that things couldn’t continue this way anymore. I decided during that trip it was over.
In the months to come after the Alberta visit I decided to tell Joe. He wasn’t happy. He couldn’t believe I wanted more. After all what was wrong with gaming?
Gaming made me so angry, so hurt, so frustrated. I cared about Joe still. Did I love him? Not anymore. My love turned to resentment. I now actually had pity for him. I felt sad that he thought those people liked him that they were his friends that they cared. I felt sad he would settle for such an incomplete life.
I Am Now Married. Joe Lives with His Parents
He is still gaming. I knew I wanted more. I wanted to see life that is beyond a computer. To feel the sunshine on my face to feel the rain on my cheek. To get my hands dirty in the garden.
I married a guy who is present, who lives a life here in this world. Not a virtual life.
For those struggling with a partner who is gaming, my advice would be to look at what you want in life. What are the pros and cons of staying with your partner? Seek the support of a counselor.
In the end, you need to decide what you want for your life. What do you want from your relationship? What are you missing out on?
It’s a tough choice to move on. If you do, do it for you. It’s a personal choice to leave someone whom you care about. At what point do you begin to lose yourself? At what point are you no longer going to be second best? Those are all the things I thought about when I made the decision to leave Joe.
Life is so sweet when you are with the right person. Don’t settle.
“Thank god my parents always kept an eye on me. I don’t know what would have happened with me if they didn’t.”
My name is Dominik and I’m a 15 year old freshman high school student from the Czech Republic. I’m here to talk about my past addiction to video games and how I overcame it.
My story with video games starts in December 2005 when I received a Playstation 2 for Christmas. When I was younger I didn’t play games that much, but gradually year by year I played more and more, and it turned into an addiction.
The thing that I loved about gaming was how much fun you could have with your friends, and sharing your common interest in games. I also loved the sense of progress, and rewards.
My addiction wasn’t that bad early on, but that all changed when I had access to my first computer with internet. I suddenly had access to a lot of very addictive video games, and a greater community of gamers.
The game that got me into my addiction was League of Legends (LOL). I played all night long, and even denied that I did to my parents. Almost all my free time was spent on games, and I really didn’t do much to improve at anything else. I lived in Spain at the time, and went to school as any other kid.
I was lying to my family, didn’t try hard at school, put aside my friends (only hung out with the ones that played League of Legends), and I also became a little myopic (2.5 my left eye and 2.75 right eye) – all because of games.
On July 1st, 2016 I decided to quit. I couldn’t continue to go on like this. I was going to go to a very hard high school, and I realized that gaming made me a person that I didn’t want to be.
I decided to stop playing forever.
During this period I was trying to get my hands on every advice I could to learn how to stick to my decisions, and quit gaming forever. Naturally this led me to find great channels on YouTube like Game Quitters, and Brendon Burchard.
I didn’t relapse thanks to all the support that I got from everyone. I really owe a lot to everyone that helped me.
It has been 9 months since I played.
My life is great! Here is a list of things that have improved since I quit gaming:
I became healthier (exercised more and ate healthy)
My grades improved in school
I improved my relationships with other people
I started chasing my dreams
I improved my physique
I learned programming
… and a whole lot more.
I’d like to say that it all starts with yourself. Nothing is going to change without you being willing to put in the effort. Work hard and enjoy life, the struggle is worth it. You will become who you want to be, I can guarantee you that.
I am a designer and am lucky enough to be pretty successful. If travel is any mark of success; I have lived and worked in a few countries, Japan, UK, and Turkey. I’ve done projects all over, from Africa and China to the US.
My Gaming Has Always Been Pretty Secretive
It’s not good for my image as a designer, and I know it’s a waste of time. Despite this I have managed to sink hours into gaming, culminating in a couple of years in an MMO. I stopped playing that about 4 years ago.
Luckily for me I have always been pretty ambitious which has kept me in work, subsequently having work deadlines in a highly competitive field has kept my gaming in check. But there are two areas affected by gaming that aren’t often mentioned that I want to share with you:
Every job I have ever had has been through someone I know, or a recommendation of someone I know. Creative work is all about trust, companies put a lot of money into a job usually with short deadlines, and part of the future of their business rides on the success of your work.
They will hire someone with a personal recommendation every time. Social media sites do not count. Networking isn’t anything special, it’s just a fancy word for friends.
Computers kill creativity, and gaming most of all. Any time spent staring at a screen, even if it is a ‘creative’ program like Photoshop, is time not thinking for yourself. At best, you are just thinking within the confines of the software.
With gaming I found this spills over, sometimes I would think about a game even when not playing, but more often it is a subtle effect. I wouldn’t think about a game, but equally I wouldn’t be thinking very creatively or have much motivation. It is very insidious, and I would only really notice when I had time away.
A week without using a computer, and my mind would start racing with ideas, not only that I would have the motivation to execute them. Just like when I was a kid. Gaming isn’t just about the time spent gaming, it impacts the rest of your time as well.
I remember my rock bottom — I was playing Fallout 3 and I was stuck. I couldn’t get past a certain area without being annihilated. I was backed into a corner and I didn’t have a save that helped me out.
In the game you can see how many hours you had put into the game. My count was 57 hours. I had put 57 hours into a game that was now fruitless. I remember setting the control down and thinking 57 hours.
How did I get here?
I looked around my apartment and it was thrashed. Dishes hadn’t been done, garbage hadn’t been taken out, and my apartment looked like a fraternity had blown through it.
57 hours. I could have started a small business, got in shape, and on and on. Ten minutes after I set down the controller, my ADHD wanted me to pick it up once again. One more try. I sighed, deleted everything and realized that I had nothing, absolutely nothing to show for those 57 hours.
Except a lot of regret.
ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
11.Wiki: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder×
, is something that affects 17 million people and to many of them, video games are a serious addiction. Video games constantly feed our ADHD’s need.
When you make a mistake in a video game, you know it. You turn down the wrong corridor, take the wrong path, fight the wrong monster. Done. Game over. Our ADHD loves immediate feedback because it knows what it needs to change.
When things are ambiguous and obtuse, our ADHD wails like a 4 year old who didn’t get a piece of candy. Video games offer that feedback and we can make adjustments quickly.
In many video games we can gain levels. We improve because of the work we put in—we see the results of our effort and we can then have better and harder challenges. We learn exactly what we need to do to earn experience points. Unlike our job or relationships, we can quantify our actions and risk to see the benefits.
When we are playing an MMORPG, we have a guild, and “friends” that we talk with. But this is the equivalent of eating Milky Way bars for dinner. It tastes great, but the nutrition it provides us is lacking.
In those relationships there is no give and take, no doing life with each other. We are living in a virtual world that ends once the power is cut off, once a simple button is pressed. Those relationships have zero risk and therefore, zero reward to them.
Video games provide level after level of challenge. They prod you to keep conquering, gaining and winning—and when you figure it out—you get rewarded.
But it teaches that in life, the risk can fail, but you get to try again and again. This isn’t true. We have consequences to our failure. Risk is good, but video games don’t let us have a healthy prediction of risk.
I felt a bit lost.
When I detached from my video game addiction, I wondered what do I do with my time now? So I started a couple of things.
I joined a board game club. I started learning about all the other board games that were out there. I loved the challenge, learning the rules, but I found that there was a much stronger social cohesion there. I was actually making more friends. We even went on a cruise together, just to play board games.
I also started making money on the side. I needed a challenge, an area where I could “level up” myself. I started editing writing for people. I soon got better and better and got more (and better paying) clients.
I didn’t have the immediate results from video games, but I could spend 2-4 hours editing and have something substantial to work on.
That was years ago. Since then I’ve been able to travel with my side money, hitting Australia and most recently, China. I’ve started expanding my side hustle into coaching. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never played another video game since, but I only play in social settings (party games) and I don’t have a system in my house (or will I ever.)
My ADHD railed against the thought of being without my video games. They fed my ADHD’s worst traits. But the time I’ve gotten back, the freedom to things that actually make an impact has made all the difference.
Today’s guest post is by Ryan McRae. Ryan is the founder of ￼The ADHD Nerd￼, a blog dedicated to helping people with ADHD be more productive, focused and happy. He recently wrote the book Conquering the Calendar and Getting More Done (￼which you can get for free here￼). He has spoken all over the world, including Afghanistan. He can be reached here.
“I believe that in any fellow game quitter lies a potential so great that nobody can summarize it. But we won’t be able to unfold our specialty as long as we waste away in a fluorescent light.”
So, the day has come. Day 90 of 90 days of a personal gaming detox. What do I have to say?
Well for starters, it has been a tough ride.
First of all, I want to show my gratitude to Cam, who created this site and ignited a spark in many fellows. In a time, where we are supposed to consume, where it is so easy and comfortable to just fade away in a virtual world, without leaving any proof of our existence, he showed me and many others, that the predetermined way is not the only option. So, thank you Cam.
You might know the story of the Pied Piper, who came to town and led away all the children with his stilling tune, leading them all into oblivion. Well, every story, even the ancient ones, have at least two points of view. While the people of the town witnessed the Piper pulling away the youth, they labeled him the evil in this world. But halt, there is more to this.
The view of the young people who have been pulled away is quite different. In a world where everything is focused on consumption, a soul needs a safe place to expand. The Piper, with no bad intentions, led away the youngsters and showed them a world that grants exactly what they needed. A space, large as necessary, to unfold.
Pretty dramatic, right? I know. But if you think about it; if you remember the reactions of your fellow internet folks, you will notice, that they smiled at you in contempt, when you left the world you once loved so much. What seems to be pure evil and idiocy to one, might be redemption to others.
When I googled “how to stop gaming” on that lonely night, I took my own life.
Figuratively. I pulled the plug on my life, because I knew, it will pull the plug on me. Before I quit gaming, I felt lost, exhausted, always tired, mildly happy, and heavily forsaken.
I grew up with a computer in my room, which turned into my best friend. Where real people were complicated, my computer would always be there to serve me. But in the long run, I began to serve it.
I miss the words to express my eternal gratitude for what Cam has done. Only by lighting up a path that I was unable to see, he saved me. And even if I return to playing all day and all night; even if I give up my chances, my life and my future, I would have to do it entirely conscious. Because now I know what was cloaked.
If I give up my life, this time, I know what I do. But as long as there is any energy left, I will try to go my own path. Not the predetermined path.
I feel prepared for this path.
The detox was highs and lows. It was enthusiasm and depression. I felt like conquering the world, and in the next moment I thought I was falling down a 50 stories building.
It is tough to not compare my old life to the matrix. Because it is so close to the matrix. Being connected to a device that pretends to show me choices and options, while it silently pre-programmed my decision. A waste of life. That is what I was. An entire waste of life.
We do not have to be Christians to understand that life is a one time thing. This makes it precious beyond words. Sitting in front of a screen, drooling, like a machine is a waste of this precious gift.
I believe that in any fellow game quitter lies a potential so great that nobody can summarize it. I believe, that we all are special, creative, smart, gifted. But we won’t be able to unfold our specialty as long as we waste away in a fluorescent light, that will make our eyes go blind and turn our skin into greasy dough.
Don’t get me wrong. I still continue to work in front of a screen. But today, steam, origin, bigfish… none of that really interests me. I feel disgust when I think about how I wasted years and did not commit myself to any goal, any progress or any measurable sign of life at all.
Life happens offline, away from the screen. I know that. I feel that. And now I feel able to fight my way through this harsh environment that is this society. Now I see chances and will not be stopped until I reached them. And even if I fail, I will not go back to benumbing my inner desires. My true desires.
Because let us be real for a moment: You do not desire to reach level 30 in a world that will disappear once a guy pulls the plug. You do not desire to be “somebody” in a virtual world, where everybody can be what he wants to be without any need of work. In a world, where being special is handed out to anybody, nobody is special. You will be anybody; anybody will be you.
There are no heroes in this world, no interesting people. There are no people in this world. Only souls that slowly dance to a tune nobody can hear anymore because everybody is numbed by the drug they all took in order to get into the dance hall.
Nobody desires to be numb all the time. That is like waiting for death without the annoying annoyance of waiting without purpose. I do not desire to be that person, and I believe, neither do you.
This place is not redemption city.
You know that. I know that. You don’t sign up and feel relieved of all your bad decisions. We know that. We sign up for the tough work. If this was a game, it would be a survival game. But you know, most survival games out there have one major thing in common: they do not have a goal. Your only goal is to survive.
Imagine this: When you signed up, you were this one guy or girl, brave enough to raise his or her hand when the old leader asked if somebody is willing to venture forth to find a place to settle and to recreate society.
You were the one human that said: “I am not satisfied with surviving day by day, only to wait for my demise. I will not dwell in this limbo until my soul perishes. I will head out and I will fight my way through this mess that you people are afraid of. I will conquer back what is truly mine and when I disappear, I will leave a legacy behind.”
That person, my friend, is you. You and me. We took this step. We spoke the truth. We honestly admitted that we are guilty of the highest sin: Wasting our life. And we decided to change.
The 90 day detox is the first step. Now you are prepared. You took all the classes, finished all the lessons, and trust me, when you thought this is it, the real stuff only begins.
Be brave. Be great. Be honest. Be noble. Be conscious. Be you. You, my friend, have this under control. This is your life. Your choice. Your consequence. Even if you go out and fail once, twice, three times, everything is better than being numb and never trying. And rest assured, we are in this together!