About Game Quitters

Welcome to our guide on how to play video games in moderation. Continue reading or use the table of contents.

Life is too short, you should do things you enjoy, right? For me, that meant blowing off my work, and completely wrecking my sleep schedule. Why?

All because I wanted to play one more game, climb one more rank, waste one more hour.

The thing is, gaming is fun.

It’s a way to escape stress in your life, however, at some point you need to ask yourself… “Is this really worth it?”

After coming close to losing my job, I tried to find something, anything, to stop my compulsive impulse to close my work, and open up League Of Legends.

Believe it or not, being addicted to gaming is a real issue. The World Health Organization officially declared gaming addiction as a mental disorder in 2019.

Through this article, I want to share some of my tips to help others find the time to focus on more important things in life – such as your job, your family, and making new memories – while still playing some games on the side.

What Is Gaming Addiction?

The first thing to do is see if you’re actually addicted to gaming, right? I mean, an hour of gaming a day is far from addicted.

To give you some insight into my addiction, I used to play games for 15 hours a day, on top of my full-time job. How I managed that I have no idea. Just imagine if I spent that time on something productive!

Some common signs that you or a loved one is addicted to gaming include:

  • Compulsive/Obsessive Behaviour – As with most addictions, when you aren’t playing games, you may start seeing some red flags such as restlessness, irritability, and aggressive behavior.
  • Lack of sleep/signs of exhaustion – If you are addicted to gaming, you’ll know exactly how this plays out. It’s 12 in the morning when you see your cyber-friend from another country come online. So, instead of getting a good nights sleep, you decide to pull an all-night with them. Who cares if you have work or school in the morning, right?
  • Lack Of Interest In Other Activities – I struggled with this one first-hand. Working for myself, I always wanted to develop new skills. Be it programming or learning how to improve at my job. But, for some reason – I could never find the time. The problem was, whenever I was doing non-essential work, all I wanted to do was load up my favourite game and play until the early hours of the morning.

Now that we have a general idea of what it looks like to be a gaming addict, it’s time for you to figure out a strategy to help you break the cycle.

It’s time to focus on the things that really matter to you and take back your life.

Related: Video Game Addiction Test for Gamers

Tips to Play Video Games in Moderation

I’ve tried all of the strategies and advanced tactics to quit gaming. The problem is, you will never stop something unless you want it. Which means having the desire and willpower to stick to it.

Also, just like any other addiction, don’t expect to go cold turkey from day one.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try cold turkey, a lot of our members have found great success with it. However, that strategy might not be for everyone, which is why it’s best to experiment and see what works for you.

Just remember to take it slow, make sure each day gets progressively better, and you can’t fail.

Step One: Identify What You Are Losing By Playing Games

Until we take a step back, it’s difficult to see what’s being taken away from our lives when we’re gaming. Think about it, is your girlfriend always complaining that you are never talking to them? What about work, do you blow important tasks that could lead to a raise just so you can play an hour or ten of games?

Life really is short. The only difference between the rich and the poor is how we capitalize on each hour, minute, and second. I want you to put thought into what beneficial activities could replace the hours you spend on games, and where those activities could take you in life.

Related: 60+ Activity Ideas to Replace Gaming

Step Two: Think of Something You Really Want to Work Towards

Are you tired of struggling financially? Do you want that new car, perhaps even your first car? Or are you trying to study a new programming language to help you land that huge promotion at work?

Guess what…

All of these things require time. The time that is being taken up by all those hours in front of your console or computer. That’s why in this step, I want you to think about that one goal in life that you really want, and start working for it. Make a timeline of when you want to achieve that goal and a strategy of how you plan to go about it.

Try picturing your life after completing that goal. From there, try working backwards to where you are now and reverse engineer that life you’re dreaming about. Break it up into small, manageable steps and you might realise you’re closer to achieving it than you think.

Step Three: Schedule Your Day For Balance

As fun as it is to play games all night, it really messes with you more than you know.

Did you know that no matter how long you sleep for, you can only recover one hour of sleep a night?

That means if you pull one all-nighter and lose 8 hours of sleep, for the next week you will be unable to work efficiently on your goals. That means you are putting your work at risk, your exams at risk, and even your relationships.

Moderation vs. Cold Turkey

life planner

For me, quitting cold turkey was too difficult. What I did instead was to learn how to play video games in moderation.

I would delete my games completely each Monday, and reinstall them on Friday evening for a weekend gaming session. This way they did not interfere with my work, which led to me being where I am today.

Find what works for you. It does not have to be perfect, and there will be slip-ups, but even cutting down 2-hours a day will put you so much further ahead in life than where you are at right now.

And if you are unable to play video games in moderation, you may want to try a complete 90-day detox instead.

Written by Thomas English

My name is Jaroslaw and I am from Canada.

I began my gaming journey at the young age of 5 with Final Fantasy 1 and Star Tropics.

For me, games provided a sense of achievement and a means of escape from the reality of my life. I wasn’t happy, and instead of dealing with my problems head-on, I escaped to video games to drown my sorrows.

About 6 years ago, I started realising that I had a problem.

Related: Video Game Addiction Test for Gamers

I was so miserable and felt like with all that I had suffered through, the world owed me something. I decided I didn’t like the direction my life was going and knew I needed to do something about it.

My Life As a Gamer

gamer

When I used to play video games, I’d wake up feeling groggy because I didn’t get nearly enough sleep and go to school or work.

I’d usually come home and immediately play games until 2 or 3am, if not later. I would only take breaks to go to the washroom or eat – the basics.

My relationships with my family were not good. I hardly had anything to talk about with any of my extended family and I had no social circle whatsoever.

My health was deteriorating, both in terms of my weight and my ability to do basic tasks.

To top it off my finances were a complete mess.

I Couldn’t Keep Going On Like This…

quotes about change

6 years ago I decided to make that decision to quit gaming.

It was tough to begin with. I didn’t realize there was help available for video game addicts, and none of my family really understood what I was going through.

One day I ended up googling “how to quit video games” and found Game Quitters. I learned about the 90-day detox and decided to try it.

I went through a cycle of quitting and relapsing a number of times, with varying amounts of time between each attempt.

My Biggest Hurdle Was Myself

self reflection

The number one issue I faced was a lack of self-confidence, which never existed while I was beating up monsters in video games.

When you’re inside a game you feel invincible and nothing can stop you.

So, what did I do?

Along with visualizations and affirmations, the biggest help for me was creating a playlist with positive songs such as Firework by Katy Perry and You Gotta Want It by Roberta Gold.

I listened to this playlist every time I was in my car. The messages started to sink in… I deserve to be happy and confident in life.

The single biggest strategy that helped me get to this point, however, was to never give up on myself.

Even through my relapses, I held on to the idea that I need to quit video games and work on my goals and dreams.

As long as you don’t give up on yourself, you always have a chance to succeed.

I’m not really a morning person, so I was still waking up groggy even with the proper amount of sleep! However, after some early morning stretching and eating breakfast, that usually went away.

After work, I would eat dinner and either hit the gym, read a book, go on a hike, or watch some Netflix.

My Life Has Improved…

hamilton ontario

Here are a few things that have gotten better since I quit gaming:

  • My social circle is much better now and I’ll occasionally go and hang out with friends.
  • I’m much more willing to try new things.
  • I have much more confidence in myself and my social skills.
  • I have more time to spend on the things that matter most, like my family and my goals.
  • I’ve taken back control of my finances.

Pretty much every conceivable thing that could be better, is better.

“As long as you don’t give up on yourself, you always have a chance to succeed.”

I also like to read books and make music. Something I never had time to do in the past. I’m exploring the idea of turning one of those into a career, either becoming an author or musician.

I’ve always thought of myself as more of a technical person but I think I enjoy the creative side of things a whole lot more.

My Biggest Piece of Advice

focus quote

Don’t try to take on too many things at once.

Quit games and immediately find one activity that you can do that isn’t gaming. Commit to doing that activity at least once a week.

Download: 60+ Hobby Ideas to Replace Gaming

What you do for the rest of the time isn’t that important as long as you stay away from games and everything gaming related.

As you move further away from games, you will naturally get interested and involved in other aspects of life, depending on what’s important to you.

You don’t necessarily need to know what those things are at first, just slowly work on figuring them out. It’s easy to get super excited about doing everything possible at first, but if you try to do too much at once, you’re going to end up relapsing.

After your initial excitement fades away then you have to rely on commitment, which might be much harder than you realise. Goal setting, multiple activities and all that good stuff will come in time.

You have to remember that it’s a process that takes time. You won’t see results overnight and you have to be comfortable with that.

A Call for More Help

therapy

Video game addiction is a serious problem that is only going to get worse, and the world isn’t nearly set up enough to tackle this issue.

The real-life resources available for video game addicts are next to non-existent, at least where I live.

I saw a psychologist for a while, but I didn’t get the sense that she was treating the video game addiction at all.

People just don’t have enough experience handling the problem.

I think what needs to happen is we, as a society, need to accept that it IS a problem, and then maybe we can get to work on developing real-life strategies that will work.

If you want to find out more information about video game addiction, and how it might be having an effect on your life, check out the 90-day detox. Like Jaroslaw and hundreds of others on Game Quitters, you too can turn your life around.

I’m James, a 40-year old Dad living in Spain.

I’ve always loved video games and have been playing since I was 8 years old.

Recently, I’d noticed that I was playing games more often – but I was enjoying them less than ever. I would feel compelled to fire up the PS4 or my phone after work and just start playing mindlessly.

I’ve always enjoyed playing FIFA 19. But more recently, I’ve played mobile games that I used to despise such as Candy Crush and Gardenscapes.

Can Gaming Ever Be Replaced?

piano

The fact is, game developers use smart techniques to hook you to games that you’re not even really enjoying. You just feel compelled to get that loot.

I was so addicted that I realized there was nothing else that could possibly give me the same level of gratification.

Crazy, right? You might think so. But at the time it didn’t seem crazy at all.

Mindless gaming seemed like the most normal way for me to have fun. Only by taking a step back have I realized how ridiculous this notion was.

I did the 90-day no gaming challenge and it opened my eyes.

I assumed I would spend my evenings and weekends sitting on the edge of the sofa waiting for time to pass since there could be nothing to replace gaming.

Wow, it feels weird saying that now but that’s really how I felt!

In reality, I instantly found new things to do during this time.

I started doing crossword puzzles. My son and I would go play soccer in the park. I spent more time with friends, took up swimming, and I’m proud to say I’ve learned the piano and can now play some songs.

It’s been a real eye-opener to realize how your sense of fulfillment can get twisted playing video games.

Download: 60+ Hobby Ideas to Replace Gaming

There’s More to Life Than Video Games

father son time outside in nature

It becomes easy to forget that the real world is, in fact, a massive multiplayer open-world sandbox. And one where you’ll find much more meaning and value than you will on a hard drive.

Since finishing the 90 days I have gone back and played a few games.

And you know what? They don’t really do it for me anymore.

I’m much happier spending my precious time on other pursuits these days.

I’d like to thank Cam for being such a wonderful inspiration for those of us who are needlessly losing huge chunks of their lives to gaming, never stop what you’re doing.

If this story has resonated with you and you think you might be addicted to gaming, take a few minutes to try out our free quiz for gamers.

Not a gamer? We also have a video game addiction quiz for parents that can support you if you are concerned about a loved one.

Giving up video games isn’t easy, especially when it’s such a huge part of your life. But once you realize you can spend your time leveling up in real life, you will begin to see that anything is possible.

If you want to find out more information about video game addiction, and how it might be having an effect on your life, check out the 90-day detox. Like James and hundreds of others on Game Quitters, you too can turn your life around.

Tanner Guzy

I just finished my 9-day social media and email fast.

And it was even better than I expected.

Significantly easier, much more satisfying, and even more relaxing than what I was hoping for.

I was nervous to do this because my business depends entirely on my contact with my audience.

If I’m not posting content – on social media or sending emails – I’m not getting new clients.

But I knew I had a problem…

I Was Always on My Phone

social media detox

In between sets at the gym, stopped at a red light, taking a leak in the middle of the night, it didn’t really matter – I was always on my phone.

All because I got a constant dopamine hit from it.

My twitter account is active enough that every single time I hit “refresh” on the notifications, there’s something new – even if I just refreshed a few seconds ago.

Any time I wanted to, I could pull that proverbial lever and get a punch of dopamine to my brain.

The problem is, like any other addiction, I was needing more intense stimuli to get the same effect. Likes and retweets were no longer enough – it had to be comments or quote tweets.

If my open rate on emails wasn’t high enough I was discouraged and my mood was affected for the day.

If an Instagram post had fewer than 400 likes I was so frustrated that I was ready to just bag that medium altogether.

I was no longer in control of social media – it was in control of me.

I needed to step back and recalibrate.

Social Media Detox

social media likes

When I first decided to do this I was planning on it being incredibly difficult.

And it wasn’t.

It helped that my first full day was also a day in which I had a client in town and shopping so all of my mental energy was there.

And day two was a Sunday where I was already used to logging out of this stuff on Sundays to spend more time with family.

But Monday rolled around and, surprisingly, it really wasn’t that tough.

I got a lot of actual work done because I wasn’t able to push it aside and procrastinate on Twitter.

I learned quickly that, as important as creating content and marketing are, I’d allowed them to become a crutch.

Why focus on the tedious, long-term things of my business when it was much more enjoyable and super easy to justify the work of creating more content?

It was work after all, but it often came at the expense of other things that were equally (if not more) important but weren’t as fun or as urgent.

Monday night I realized I was enjoying the process when we met my parents to pick up my kids.

They’d taken them for a couple of days and we were meeting up with them at a Wendy’s halfway between us to make the pass off.

We’d been in the restaurant for nearly 45 minutes before I realized I’d left my phone in the car and hadn’t even missed it.

That was a fantastic feeling.

It Wasn’t All Fun, but…

tanner guzy

There were a couple of times throughout the week where I’d catch myself sitting in my office and realize that I’d just been sitting there thinking for half an hour.

There were still too many times throughout the week that I’d check my phone for notifications out of pure habit.

And the last two days were actually really hard compared to anything prior.

If you plan on doing this yourself, I definitely recommend keeping some books or magazines in the bathroom during the first couple of days.

But all in all, it was totally worth doing.

So much so that I’m not adding these apps back onto my phone.

No I’m not leaving social media and I’ll be back to writing more frequent emails, but I’m not adding any of my social apps back onto my phone.

By just keeping them on my iPad, it means I only use them when I want to.

They won’t get in the way of date nights, or gym sessions, or traffic, or any of the other stuff that really should be getting my full attention.

I’m excited about that balance.

Tanner Guzy is the author of The Appearance of Power and a men’s style coach. He teaches men how to improve their lives by learning how to dress better. He’s based out of Salt Lake City, Utah where he lives with his wife and four kids.

I have been gaming my entire life. It has always been my true passion.

I’ve had other hobbies over the years to make my life more interesting and meaningful, but gaming has always been the thing I went back to.

I don’t regret this time. I have fond memories of playing multiplayer games with friends and cousins, and finishing single-player games with my younger brother watching.

I loved spending summers playing immersive role-playing games. I had a ton of fun in university playing multiplayer games; sharing adventures with online friends, being a valued member of my guild, and becoming a part of gaming communities.

Despite having spent so much time playing video games, I always had the discipline to not let them get the best of me.

I did well in school. I completed my master’s degree. I held several jobs and never had trouble keeping my bosses happy, or being a responsible adult.

I even got a girlfriend eight years ago who I’m now engaged to.

If gaming hasn’t ruined my life, why would I want to stop in the first place?

My Health Started to Suffer

mountains fog

As my interests in video games became more hardcore, it became difficult to find time to play without frustration.

With my work, relationship and other responsibilities, I didn’t time to play as much as I would have liked.

This worked surprisingly well for a long time.

A few hours every day spent playing during free time, or a Sunday afternoon here and there…

It still amounted to dozens of hours every month – just enough to keep up to date with the latest and most interesting releases in gaming for the past few years. I’d switch to a new game every few days or weeks, depending on the time it took to beat them.

In the case of games that you can’t really beat, spending enough time with them to get the gist, until you get bored and try something else.

But constantly being mentally stimulated and stressed about making the most of every single minute of free time, thinking about gaming all the time, normal responsibilities as an adult, and everything else life requires became stressful.

Both my mental and physical health began steadily declining.

I’m already spending all my day at work in front of a computer, and I’m doing the same at home when I’m gaming.

Every muscle in my body seems to be tense all the time, and I suffer from severe back pain.

Mentally I am a mess. Recently I started suffering from insomnia and panic attacks; I have more trouble concentrating, and feel like it’s almost impossible for me to just relax.

I feel irritable and depressed all the time and nothing about life seems fun or exciting anymore, even video games.

One Day I Would Have to Say Farewell

goodbye friends

Maybe some part of me always knew this day would come, but I don’t really enjoy video games anymore.

A few years ago my girlfriend went abroad for work. This left me with a lot of free time.

I had the idea of building a new gaming computer. I also purchased a Nintendo Switch to make the most of it. It was a lot of fun!

I played different games and got back into pure hardcore gaming. I took my passion to new heights and I loved every minute of it.

I beat the most epic boss fights by finishing the Dark Souls series and Hollow Knight. I explored the galaxy in Elite Dangerous, and sunk countless hours into Civilization VI.

I challenged myself with hardcore games like Celeste and Darkest Dungeon, and even tried to see why Fortnite is so popular by finishing an entire season.

I played the most incredible and immersive modern open-world games the world has ever known, and got completely lost in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

I got a rush from the past and became overwhelmed with nostalgia by beating the greatest challenges Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had to offer.

I took a look at the future of gaming by dabbling in virtual reality with an HTC VIVE.

I even got back into World of Warcraft – the game I spent the most time of my life on. After leveling up and exploring new zones, I took screenshots and explored old content before my subscription ran out.

Being a Field Photographer I gained achievements for exploration, as if I knew that this was some kind of farewell trip

There’s Only so Much You Can Take

man and woman holding hands

Like all the ones that came before, these memories are a part of me now and I will always cherish the music, stories, characters, environments, and mechanics that made all those games so great. But, there are only so many times you can save the world before you become cynical about it.

There are only so many seemingly impossible platforming challenges or difficult boss-fights you can overcome before you start becoming anxious and nervous about having to do it again.

How many epic hundred-hour open-world adventures can you finish before you’d rather not start another one from the beginning?

I am getting too old for gaming. I want to save my physical and mental health because I clearly reached my limit.

I plan on doing the 90 day detox which I will start today. It will finish on June 8th, 2019.

It’s Time to Level up in Real Life

level up in real life

I will use this time to focus on other hobbies I have; music production, photography, and video editing. All of which will benefit from my current gaming computer.

I will spend time renovating my home, and doing other stuff I never got around to doing these past few months.

I will get a Kindle and spend some time reading.

I will spend more time with my incredible fiancée who shows her love for me every day.

I’m tired of that voice inside my head telling me that I’m bored with her and that I would rather be gaming.

I am tired of thinking about gaming all the time and of challenging myself artificially on top of all the actual meaningful challenges life throws at you anyway on a daily basis.

I am tired of being depressed and bored all the time.

I am tired of being tired from gaming too much.

My 90 day challenge starts today.

Wish me luck.

Join our Movement

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Ready to quit gaming?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

The rise of PUBG addiction in India is one of the most shocking examples of gaming being taken too far.

It’s become an epidemic in India, receiving a huge amount of attention from the press.

The government has even attempted to put a stop to the problem, but with little success.

As I’m writing this, somewhere in the country there’s a child with a smartphone in their hands, trying to convince their parents that there are much worse things to be addicted to.

While that may be true, it doesn’t take away from the fact that PUBG addiction is having a catastrophic effect on today’s youth of India.

Why Are Kids Addicted to PUBG?

india taj mahal

As a member of the Game Quitters community myself, I can empathize with being completely oblivious to the effect of video games on our daily lives.

We all remember how hooked we were when we played our first online multiplayer game.

There’s nothing like that dopamine surge you get from the thrill and excitement of gaming. The same can be said here in this scenario.

In India many kids and college students have fallen prey to PUBG Mobile; most likely due to the easy accessibility of the game.

You no longer need to have an expensive gaming PC or console to play, just a smartphone and mobile data (which is currently very cheap thanks to a cellular company called Jio).

Number of smartphone users in India from 2015 to 2022 (in millions)*

Source: Statista

There are more than 222 million active gamers in India as of 2017, making it one of the top five mobile gaming markets in the world!

I thought that the “PUBG Craze” would fade in time but it looks here to stay.

Is PUBG Addiction in India Really That Bad?

india flag

I woke up to the news of the “Gujarat Govt bans PUBG in their state”, and I thought this was an extreme measure to take.

A lot of people were upset and many decided to keep playing. 10 college students were even arrested for playing PUBG.

A woman told the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, that her son used to be good in school but is now completely engaged in his smartphone and online gaming. This is just one parent among many others who are worried about their boys.

There are many more overlooked factors such as anxiety and depression, personality changes, and other health and social problems associated with gaming addiction.

A friend of mine told me that a guy living in his neighbourhood was addicted to PUBG, and had a mental breakdown after an argument with his parents. He ran away from home without letting anyone know.

I used to believe that this was just a temporary trend of gaming and people will just get bored with it, but I was wrong.

Seeing all of this happening makes me sad and concerned about the youth of the country.

Even the PUBG founder had set the game time limit to 6 hours per day. But, is that really a viable solution? Apparently not, because it was removed shortly thereafter amongst outrage.

Moving Toward Solutions

happy kids in india

Do we blame the Indian Government? Parents? Gaming addicts? The makers of PUBG?

Or, do we need to take a step back and address the addictive nature of these video games, which are now proliferating like bacteria to our mobile devices and getting us hooked?

In my opinion, the best way to come out of all of this is to be more self-aware and mindful of our own gaming and technology use. We need to come together and treat this as a real issue so we can combat it collectively.

We need to address the root cause of addiction and build awareness of the issue across India (and the world).

Only then can we start getting the systems in place to deal with the problem, instead of implementing temporary fixes such as bans.

I just want to say thank you to Cam for allowing me to share my story of what’s happening in India, and I hope that it helps you understand that the issue of video game addiction is widespread across the world.

Join our Movement

SHARE this story to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Ready to quit gaming?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

Written by Skandh Dev | Edited by James Good

The game that took hours of my life and made me return again and again was Lineage 2. I was drawn to the fantasy world of elves and dragons.

I used to play it in high school using the PC that my parents had gifted to me for my studies. Several times I stopped playing because of my exams and every time I returned.

There was a period of my life when I needed to find a job. I spent a lot of effort trying to pass software development interviews in order to get a good position. To make time to prepare for the interviews I quit Lineage 2.

After a while, I downloaded it again. It didn’t work on my PC anymore so I considered it a sign that I should stop playing the game and forgot about it for years.

Besides, I didn’t have the time to sit in front of my computer to play video games. I wanted a more active life.

Then I Got a Smartphone

lineage 2 revolution

After a couple of days using my new phone I discovered Lineage 2 Revolution. While remembering all of the great moments I had from Lineage 2 nostalgia got the best of me and I downloaded it.

I enjoyed the process of playing it wherever possible: on the bus, in queues, while eating, during meetings with friends, and even during work!

Every day I became more and more addicted to the game.

Related: Video Game Addiction Test for Gamers

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the game was P2W: Pay-to-Win. The more you invest (financially) in the game, the easier it is for you to win. I spent some money in the game, a little amount, just to thank the game developers, but I did not want to spend thousands of dollars as top players allowed themselves.

I tried to reach a gap in combat power between me and top players by doing all of the daily activities. One day I joined a powerful clan that motivated me to play more and more. But I was still worse than average.

I Decided to Quit Lineage

man playing piano

Why did I want to quit gaming?

First, I am annoyed by lugs and bugs in the game. I hate the rat race to get more and more combat power, and I don’t like the aggressive ways that the game creators make us spend an unreasonable amount of time and money.

I feel like I’m in a prison cell.

Instead of doing things that can help me to improve myself in my life such as painting, piano, and reading books, I must complete the game’s quests every day. If I don’t complete them today, then tomorrow it will be too late, and I’ll lose an opportunity to become a little bit stronger than I was yesterday. My friends and, even worse, my enemies will be ahead of me.

I want to stop it. Today is the day when I will say “goodbye” to my clan mates. I don’t care that I still have five days left on my subscription, or that I only need five more coins to upgrade my Lion mount from grade R to SR, or even that if I spend one more month in the game then I can upgrade my Strider mount from grade S to R.

I don’t want to spend any more time in the rotten fantasy world of Lineage 2 Revolution.

It doesn’t make me happier, and it definitely doesn’t make me better.

Thank you for reading.

Join our Movement

SHARE this story to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Ready to quit gaming?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

My name is Jeroen, and I’m an addict. Well, I used to be.

Today I am a Belgian personal coach and IT student, I am 24 years old and I used to game 10 hours a day whenever I had the time.

In high school I didn’t really have to work very hard to get decent grades. Well, for the first few years at least. When I was 17 I had to stay in the same grade for another year, due to poor grades – mainly caused by my severe gaming addiction.

I would wake up early and game a bit before going to school. At school I would think about gaming and my goals (in the game), finally return home, and continue gaming until my parents arrived from work. I ate my dinner and then went back to my room, gaming until bedtime. Rinse and repeat. This was my typical day from the age of 14 until I was 21.

Gaming Had a Huge Impact on My Life

escapism

While there are negative influences that came from gaming, it did also have its benefits.

Gaming was an escape. I used to get bullied in high school, and that’s exactly when the addiction became out of control. Through my game I could stop thinking about the bullying and other stuff that troubled my mind. Online I was just an anonymous boy. I could be anyone, and I was respected (most of the time).

At one point I was so good at RuneScape that I was ranked 25th best in the world in PVP. This is the kind of hype that kept me drawn to gaming. The progress and sense of achievement is what makes gaming so addictive. The unlimited amount of dopamine that’s sitting right in front of you.

Related: Why You Game: Your Need for Accomplishment

College Helped Me Quit Gaming

denmark

While in college, and getting my Physical Education Degree, I had some experiences that caught my attention and got me away from gaming.

My favorite experience was the 6 month Erasmus studies I did in Denmark. While being there we had a lot of little projects, and I got to meet new people and interact with several different nationalities. It was a very cool experience, and it kept me from gaming. I think the main reason here was the fact that I actually felt useful, and I could really contribute to a lot cool projects that also had social value.

I’ve always been fortunate to have good friends around me and caring parents. I played soccer and went to the gym. These are things that really helped me when gaming started taking full control of my life. I mean there were still bad parts, where I would game 10-12 hours a day for a week, which is very unhealthy, but without sports or friends, it could have been a lot worse.

Is Productivity Sustainable?

productivity

3 months after my Erasmus experience I graduated college as a sports teacher and fitness instructor. I got my first job, and started my own business on the side as a personal trainer. The first month when I graduated I actually spent a lot of time gaming between looking for a job. Luckily it didn’t take me to long to find one.

When I signed my contract I made big decision. I was going to put all of my effort and time into this job, and creating my own business. Not one minute would be wasted. I was going to be successful in real life. I had never been so motivated.

6 months later I soon realized that this was not a sustainable pace to live my life. I would wake up at 07:00, workout, work on the business, go to work, and get home at 23:00. I also had to work weekends.

Most people would say I was doing amazing. Freshly graduated, got a decent paying job, and I was growing my own business on the side. What else could a man wish for, right? Well, that’s not entirely true. I just didn’t feel too well. The long hours, and tons of physical activity started taking its toll. I would have the worst migraines in the middle of the day, and sometimes even get dizzy when I stood up. I realized I was working too much and it was hard on my body.

Finding Balance

netflix

I needed to take some time to relax. Life is not just about working your butt off and making money, it’s about balance. Doing what you love, working on projects you’re passionate about, spending enough time with friends and family, watching a Netflix movie, or any other things that you may enjoy.

After spending 7 months without watching TV or playing a single video game, I started watching some Netflix shows and started gaming. Not when I had other things to do, but when I felt like I deserved it. I think gaming and watching TV are a good activity if they actually help you relieve stress and if you enjoy it. But one thing I have learned is that it is all about moderation and balance.

Related: How to Relax Without Playing Video Games

Present Day:

I quit my job as a fitness instructor 4 months ago. I decided to go back to college to become a front-end developer. This course will take me 3 years, but I know it’s the right choice. I am still working as a personal trainer for my own business, which I really like because I help people become more active. The goal is to one day combine these passions of mine and make a living out of them both. These goals are what keep me going.

This is my story, and this what I have learned from my addiction. I wanted to share this with you guys who are suffering from something like I did or who have been through this as well.

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I haven’t played a video game in two years and counting.

Quitting video games isn’t an unlocked achievement I put in my trophy cabinet to never think of it again. It’s an endurance training program. The goal of my program isn’t summarized in fighting back the craving every time I feel it until I win and relax (and repeat) – it’s how I don’t get used to relaxing because you never know when your gaming addiction will sneak back into your daily life.

I don’t mean that I’m at war 24/7 with myself, sweating anxiety and panic attacks. Things get easier when you do them on a regular basis. Gaming and not gaming follow the same rule.

My Gaming Addiction Started at 8 Years Old

teenager playing games

My gaming addiction started at 8 years old with Counter Strike. I loved how you could work as a team to achieve a common goal and have fun, show your abilities and self-declare ‘the best’. I desired to be the best at everything, recognized and valued.

As the majority of people who struggle with this addiction, I didn’t have an idea of how much games hooked me and made me believe they were the only ones who wanted to make me happy. When you’re a kid and a teenager, what matters is being recognized by groups. Why should I care about real life?

After Counter Strike I went to the world of MMORPGs. I still recall how sad I was because I couldn’t play a game because my PC specs were too low. At this time my parents never said a word about it – according to my mother, “it was fine because I wasn’t in danger outside.” We hardly knew the consequences of playing 10-12 hours per day.

I dedicated half my day, every day, for 15 years straight to playing MMORPGs. I felt I needed to play games for hours and hours – if not, someone would surpass me..

Grades Were Fine, Depression Was Not

teenager depressed

Games were a piece of my heart and soul, but my school life remained intact. My grades were great, I talked to people (although being shy) and had a minimal social life outside academic walls. When I got transferred to another school at 14 years old I met a new friend named Depression. We held hands for 6 years.

I didn’t want to talk to people, not feeling understood by society. Depression was now friends with games too, who could tell…They seduced me to play MMORPGs over and over. At 18 years old, I went to college guided by my mom’s feelings. I don’t blame her – how could I if I simply shut down my mind to live in a virtual world?

“My decisions were based on how I could be better at games, not at real life.”

I wanted to overcome depression. I sought professional help with a psychologist. She recommended posting more on Facebook to start making friends and being visible to the real world. I can’t explain how a professional would recommend the virtual world as the solution to the virtual world itself. I felt misunderstood and undervalued.

Note: Do seek help. Only you can solve this mess, however don’t neglect professionals. There are good and bad ones. Find one that works for you.

Suicidal thoughts chimed in. I was nothing in real life. I wanted to be a gamer, one of those streaming on YouTube and Twitch, or a professional gamer, winning millions of dollars and proving that I was ‘the best’ to everyone. I even told my mom I wanted to be a gamer, she was like: “do whatever you want, but I don’t agree with it”. Of course I interpreted as my family was against me and my ‘dreams’.

Related: Why Your Parents Don’t Believe in Your Dreams

I Decided to Quit Gaming

inhale the future exhale the past

At 20 years old I tried to stop playing games over and over, unsuccessful. At 23, I discovered Game Quitters. Someone decided to share his experience, to say we were not alone and yes, it was possible to stop for once and for all. I watched all the videos and interestingly, my doubts were answered where no one could help me.

November 1st, 2016: the last time I said ‘I won’t play games anymore’. Cold turkey, ‘all or nothing’. Each day taught me about who I was and what I could learn from others.

Not everyday is the same, so there isn’t a single formula to solve all your problems and questions. If you believe in a single formula, you get used to it. I adapted this sentence to ‘getting used’ to new experiences, solutions and interpretations about myself and my life everyday.

Even if you use an old formula today, you are actually using it for the first time. As, Heraclitus’ says: “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”.

When I finally started to live this phrase, I got used to learning everyday, to use my addiction to learn about myself, and about itself. It was hard, shaking in my bed and the impossibility to think about anything outside ‘you have to play games, you are losing time’.

Related: How to Deal with Cravings

Where I Am Today

man walking on hills

At 25 years old, reading books, walking for the sake of walking and gathering knowledge is what define me, for now. I study Psychology (oh the irony) because I love it, I want to help people live their lives with passion, with what they can and have in the real world. I’ve never been so happy and motivated in my whole life, virtual or real.

I have a path, I pursue goals, and I make decisions. Bad moments happen everyday, but now I have a choice in how I respond to them.

More than 2 years later, I still haven’t played games. I decided to quit games by sharing my story with you, as Cam shared his. Thank you, Cam.

Fifteen years later I see myself out of the world of games. As I said, I’m the ‘all or nothing’ person, dedicating my time and my life in goals that matter for the better of people. Please never give up. Thank you for reading my story. Thank you for those who choose to share their stories as well.

Join our Movement

SHARE this story to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Ready to quit gaming?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

Playing games has been a huge part of my life since I was six years old. I started my gaming hobby at my early age, which later turned into addiction, from Playstation 1.

When I was first introduced to Playstation 1, the console looked nothing more than a mere gray plastic box which magically reads CD and displays moving pixels on TVs. Being a naive child I was at the time, I grew up fondly with Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Tetris Plus, Pac-man World, and many more.

Time moved on, and the golden times of Nintendo Gameboy, DS and Sony’s PSP came. I remember how everyone in my elementary school had a Nintendo DS and we played Mario Kart together. I also borrowed my father’s PC to play Starcraft: Brood War, and Age of Empires III. Those two games would later define Real Time Strategy (RTS) as one of my favorite gaming genres.

Early Signs of Gaming Addiction

ps1 controller

As I also had Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii, I would go to a gaming store and buy around five games a week and play them one at a time. I remembered one moment where I woke up early in the morning everyday just to feed virtual dogs in Nintendogs. To this day I still cringe remembering that I would comply to my own addiction, and knowing that timed-event games just use their on-device clocks.

I carried my gaming hobby-turned-addiction to high school, where Starcraft II was recently launched. I was really happy at the time, and ended up playing the Wings of Liberty chapter immediately. This is where my addiction worsened. When I was on my campaign streak, my father came in and said something that would ring in my mind years later: 

“You won’t achieve much of what you want in life if you keep on playing games. You are just sinking all of your time into games that do not translate into real life.”


Certainly I was pissed because he ‘ruined’ my gaming mood. I understood what my father was saying – I could be doing something more meaningful than just playing games. But if I stopped playing games, I would be losing one of my favorite hobbies since childhood. So I kept on playing quietly without my parents knowing.

Over the years, I also joined a band of friends playing Dragon Nest. I recalled the time where we spent sleepless days completing the highest raid available from 40 cap to 93 cap level era. I grinded gears, watched YouTube videos, read future content, and got as many achievements as I could in the game. 

I did keep my school grades above requirements, but only for a short period. I was almost out of my mind at that time. I neglected my future academic life and only applied to one overseas university. The addiction hurt my grades badly and I barely passed my exams. Still, it was not the end of my gaming craze.

I Wanted to Quit Gaming

university cafeteria

Before going to university, I said to myself I won’t be playing video games anymore. One of my friends just said “That’s BS, you’ll be playing again in a few months. Otherwise you’ll burn yourself out.” Again, I brushed it off as if nothing happened.

Before ‘cutting myself off’ from gaming, I went on a full-gaming month playing Tree of Savior. I slept from 2am to 10am and played the game as soon as I woke up. I made sure I got the most satisfaction out of gaming before quitting. After leveling up my character to level 200, I stopped playing, but only for only four months before buying Overwatch and getting addicted for another year.

Initially I was enjoying the game, reliving the fun I had playing games with friends. However, as Overwatch is an online multiplayer game which is heavily dependent on teammates’ performance, its nature slowly drew out the toxicity within me.

I would get frustrated and often blamed strangers on our team. I tried really hard to not blame my friends, accept criticism and feedback from them, although sometimes the toxicity still got the best of me. This would go on for weeks. I was sleep-deprived, frustrated, and wanting more of those PotGs and worthwhile wins. Looking back now, I am still happy (and surprised) I did not flunk my grades during my addiction.

Related: How the Toxic Gaming Community Made Me Quit Gaming

Things Were Getting Worse

man working on startup

This continued on until summer 2018. I was doing an internship at a startup, while all of my university friends were having internships at big and well-known companies. I felt inferior to them. I was not even enjoying my internship.

What was I doing in my life? Just play games and sink all of my time in them? Those thoughts haunted my mind, followed by the insulting jokes from my university friends. On top of that, my family notified me that my grandmother recently passed away. I cried that evening, thinking of how all the life events turned around against me at once. I was burned out from my internship, looked down upon my friends, and lost a family member whom I was very close to.

I felt worthless and depressed for two to three weeks. It was my lowest point in my university life. I was helpless, and decided to seek help and shoulder to lean on from my friends.

Suddenly… It Happened

pursuing goals

I had no urge to play video games anymore. I stopped feeling guilty for not playing games. The whispers inside my head went from “Why are you not playing your games?” to “Those rewards and statistics you’re getting are meaningless in real life.”

One time my friend invited me to play Starcraft II and I joined. While I was clicking around, making buildings and controlling my army, I felt nothing. That proud feeling of having strong base and army, satisfaction when I crushed the enemy bases. Those feelings were just not there. I could not continue after around 20 minutes and I told my friend I was going to stop playing for a while. And that was the first day I stopped my addiction.

Results

guy meditating on mountain

Ever since I stopped my addiction, I have been meditating every morning, expanded my social circle with people and being in tune with my friends’ emotion. I listen more to my friends about their life and spend more time laughing with them. I also spend my time going out to live concerts, and I’m on my third book now.

Currently I am on exchange at a university with a rigorous Computer Science program. I struggled with the academics at first, and I felt like giving up. But I pushed on and kept going.

After getting a hang of my courses, I went on to meet people in tech events and conferences in various cities, while expanding my professional network. I also applied to tons of internships worldwide, and, to my surprise, I got my first interview offer from a well-known company. Even though I have not received the offer yet, I feel more confident in applying for internships around the world.

I was still shocked with the fact that anyone could achieve dreams that were once their fantasy. Applying for worldwide internships was never in my reachable goals while I was addicted to games.

What I am really grateful for is that, after putting my effort and time into real life, I get to see the tangible rewards and experience. My lifestyle and studying habits become more organized and productive. I become more confident. My emotions are more stable and I rarely lash out with anger at somebody else. Looking forward, I believe better things will come as long as I put in the effort into my life, families, and friends.

Conclusion

this is the sign you have been looking for

To those who are still struggling to end their addiction, I want to note that stopping addiction may happen differently for everyone. Some will stop when they are their rock bottom, and some will stop when shit just happens. Others will stop when they have something to fight for. 

Stopping an addiction is not about ending the gaming streak glamorously, or saying “Just one more game and I’ll stop”.

It is about realizing the harsh truth, the negative impact you have been carrying along with your addiction. It is about confronting your real life fears. No more making excuses, no more what ifs, no more “what happens when I stop playing.” You need humility, mental resilience, and commitment. There will be people who disregard your addiction, and people who acknowledge your burden. Seek those who will help when you really need it.

I really hope what I share here will be an inspiration to those who are still finding the motivation to stop playing games and start a new phase in life. One way to picture life is as an MMORPG. You grind experience, develop skills, take on new challenges, and get the actual rewards. Real life, in my opinion, is more challenging, fulfilling, and rewarding if you put the necessary time and effort into it.

For those who are on their no-gaming streak, I also had moments where I relapsed within this period. I played some mobile games when I really had nothing to do and wanted to have a dopamine boost.

Upon playing for 15 minutes, I got bored, and uninstalled them immediately. Although I plan to play casual RTS games after my exchange, I also filled my future schedule with physical activities and socializing with my family because I know I get bored fast playing games now.

The important thing is when you realize that you can’t play games for extended hours without getting bored and you have more important things to do in life, you are already set for a better life.

Good luck!

Story written by Slitz_Treaver

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Need help?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

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