About Game Quitters

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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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.

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

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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.

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.

Take a Stand

Game Quitters exists to help those who need help with gaming addiction challenges to get the help, and to spread awareness about the negative impact gaming addiction can cause. Want to help? Grab a t-shirt or hoodie and show the world you care about this issue.

cam adair game quitters

I booted up my computer. It was Friday and I had a lot of work to do, but hey, I kept the whole weekend free so it’s okay. I can start my work tomorrow, and play a game now. Before I knew it, it was 5:00 AM.

On Saturday I wouldn’t start on my university work either. I ate “brunch” at 2:00 PM and skipped dinner. I went to sleep at 7:00 AM on Sunday morning, and consequentially woke up at 2:00PM. By then I figured that my homework wouldn’t get done anyways, so I fired up my game. At 7:00AM on Monday “morning” I finally had a moment of clarity.

I Spent the Whole Weekend Gaming

dark keyboard

I skipped half of my meals and also a night of sleep. I failed to do my homework. I failed. But this time I didn’t return to the cycle of addiction. Normally I’d focus my eyes at the screen again to escape thinking about my gaming behavior. A paradox, but I fear a recognizable one.

Instead of running from the “fact” that I failed again, I put into doubt that conclusion. Was it fair to conclude that I failed? “To fail” means that you do not reach a certain standard. In this case, a standard that is set by myself. And that I had not met my standard was crystal clear: instead of doing homework, I wasted the weekend on a stupid game.

But this mismatch can also mean that the standard is the problem. And it was. Perfectionism is the disease of our time, and I am no exception. I wanted my life to be perfect, and in “reaching higher”, I had put so much guilt on myself that I went into hiding. Games merely gave me shelter.

So when I played games during the weekend, I didn’t fail. Demanding that I would do homework for the whole weekend at home was a ridiculous idea. Maybe the most disciplined among us can do such a feat, but it’s human to fail such a task. My standards were making me feel miserable so I did away with them and looked at my life. Without a standard, and without judgement.

My Life Was Miserable

man staring out the window depressed

I felt depressed. I seldom saw friends, or did anything productive. I skipped half of my school classes. And I played games, a lot of. And now that I wasn’t trying to hide from my own judgement I could finally look at this without fear. It was emotionless, rational. Gaming had numbed all my feelings.

Now for a solution I figured it would be too much to ask to shut down my computer right away. It would also leave me with a poor sleep schedule, going to bed at 8:00AM. So I decided that today would be the last day that I gamed. I also decided it would be too much to ask to not game ever, at least right now, so I decided to task myself with not playing any games for 30 days, after today.

When I shut down my computer at 5:00PM I felt a weird kind of energy. It was going to happen. I was going to break the cycle. And I was going to focus on that. Starting slow and easy: my goals for tomorrow would be to get out of bed, take a shower and not play any games.

30 Days Without Games

whatever it takes

The first day, Tuesday, was bad. Without my games there was no hiding from my loneliness. No reason to even get out of bed. No escape from the fact that I had about 3 weeks of homework waiting for me, due next week. But somehow I got out of bed and took a shower. Bought some breakfast at the grocery store, warmed up leftovers for dinner, and most of all, I didn’t play any games.

When I went to bed, for the first time in what felt like forever, I felt proud. Genuinely proud. And it felt weird, because by my previous standard I had achieved absolutely nothing. But for the first time in months, I made progress. And this feeling of achievement to look forward to is what got me through Wednesday. I was looking forward to lying in bed thinking: “today I didn’t play any video games”.

I Wrote My Family a Letter

writing a letter

On Thursday I decided that my parents and my brother should know about my situation. I shared details about my situation. About how terrible and lonely I felt. About my gaming addiction and interweaved depression, about my guilt. Writing this letter is one of the hardest things I did. It took me 2 days to write 500 words, but somehow I did it. I told my parents that I’d be coming home this weekend and I’d have something to tell them. They wouldn’t be too happy to hear that I might fail my class, but it had to be done.

I told my brother on Friday evening, I sent the letter to him online, and I called him on Skype. I read the letter to my parents on Saturday. I cried, my brother cried, my parents cried. But to have their support was important and the tears brought relief. With my parents watching me I made it through the weekend, and to my own shock that left me on Monday evening with the realization that I hadn’t played any games for a week.

Halfway through week three I was starting to struggle. The emptiness had caught up with me, and I still didn’t have a whole lot to do in my life. But I had something to look forward to.

I would go on a holiday to meet my brother who was studying abroad. I talked with him extensively about my problems, my addiction and depression. It made me understand my problems much clearer. And last, but not least, it was a break from doing nothing. Doing stuff is great, and my time with my brother was surrounded by his friends, whom I got along with.

With this newfound strength I finished the fourth week. My life slowly began to take shape. I went out for daily walks, I hung out with flat mates and I joined a club. Slowly but surely the void was filling. But also day 30 was coming up.

Resource: Need activity ideas to replace gaming?

I Tried Gaming Again

shiny computer

On day 32 I decided I’d play a game again, and it went quite well. I quit it exactly when I meant to. But on day 33 I didn’t. However I realized not all was lost. 30 days without gaming had taught me that there was something worth quitting for and I wrote a program that would shut down my computer if I exceeded a time that I set for myself. With this “gaming-clock” it was possible to moderate.

However I made sure that I kept filling the void. I signed up for a sport (a team sport!) and another club. I hung out with friends and flatmates. I even started being productive again. And by asking myself every time before I turned on the PC: “Is there something I could do that would make me happier?”, the time that I spent gaming decreased. And with that for the first time that year I saw a glimmer of happiness. But then Christmas came.

Christmas is great right? Well not for me. The holidays broke my rhythm completely and I stayed at my parents where there’s a whole lot of nothing to do. I went back to gaming out of boredom and frustration. It took me quite a while to recover, but the 30 days clean and subsequent introspection gave me the tools to do so. I never sunk as deep as I had in October. By February I returned to my schedule. Whether or not you beat an addiction is decided by how you bounce back.

Related: About to Relapse? Consider This First

In March I got a part-time job which started to take up more and more time, to my liking. With school I was starting to become a “busy” person. Things were looking up again. I started being invited to parties, being the “fun” person I once was. It’s funny to look at my calendar and seeing it fill up from February to now, getting busier and busier.

I had some more minor setbacks, but in general I always made more steps forward than backwards – progress. I filled up the summer holidays with trips funded by my job and I met a wonderful girl. (Too late) I consulted a psychologist who diagnosed me with “depression in remission”. And that brings me to today.

One Year Later

boy reaching for the clouds

Today it has been a year since I made that decision on Monday the 9th. A year since my moment of clarity. A year since the best decision in my life. And for the occasion I wanted to write out my story. To tell you, StopGaming, because hanging out in the discord is one of the many things that filled the void initially. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one kept me from going insane.

I hope my story helps at least one person. I wrote the whole story, not only the end result. Because I wanted to be more insightful. I wanted to explain how I was finally able to decide that it’s enough. And how I followed through on it, with both the ups and downs.

Questions I wish I would have been able to ask the future me a year ago:

  • Do I really have a problem? Yes. Unfortunately. You’re not a crazy person though, it’s common enough. And you can get out of it. But not without work and pain. Take it seriously, never let your guard down.
  • Shouldn’t I set myself the goal of never playing a video game again, instead of 30 days? If you can do that, go for it. But it is crucial that you believe, truly believe in your goal. 30 days seems like a good place to start for now. You can also do 30 and then evaluate!
  • What on earth do I do with my time? It doesn’t matter. Before you know it, another day is gone. But don’t play any games. In general: put effort into upgrading the quantity and quality of your activities and you’ll see that eventually your calendar starts to fill with appointments, meetings and parties. (There are a ton of ideas for new activities here.)
  • Is school important? School can help you get into a rhythm. Having some kind of rhythm is vital to recovery, attending a class in this respect is more important than finishing an assignment, because it gives a rhythm to your day. Recovery is the main objective, grades will come eventually. Contact your school about your problems (at least in my country they are understanding).
  • When will I see the light at the end of the tunnel? You won’t. It’s as if somebody slowly turns off the dimmer on a light. First you’ll see where you are, and then you’ll realize this place isn’t so bad after all.
  • What is the one thing you’d want to say to me? You don’t have to do it alone. Call your brother, tell your friends and go in therapy. And when you feel bad, tell someone before you feel the urge to fire up a game. And when you do feel an urge to, ask yourself; “what am I feeling bad about?’, then tell someone.

Join me for another 30 days without gaming.

Story written by OneYearAtATime0

Join our Movement

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

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.

Take a Stand

Game Quitters exists to help those who need help with gaming addiction challenges to get the help, and to spread awareness about the negative impact gaming addiction can cause. Want to help? Grab a t-shirt or hoodie and show the world you care about this issue.

cam adair game quitters

“Gaming was my escape. All I did was work and game.”

Since I was little I loved to play games. It became more intense when I played World of Warcraft in 2005 and since then, there were not two days where I did not play a game. At some point it did not even matter what I played, it was just important that it kept me busy.

I denied the bad side effects this addiction had on my life a long time. But it got more obvious day to day.

I had a relationship and a job which I really do like, however over the years I could really tell my social life was becoming near non-existent. I tried to stop, but did not manage to stop for more than two days. All the emptiness and loneliness became apparent when I had nothing to distract me. However, the last months of my addiction were the worst.

Panic Attacks

purple hallway

Every weekend after extensive gaming sessions I got panic attacks, knowing that this behavior leads to nothing and that it did not bring me any step closer to my dreams… to a life fulfilled with happiness and things which I really want to do.

I came to the sudden realization, with my age of 27, that if I do not stop gaming right now, this will be my life… forever. The panic attacks, the feelings of not accomplishing anything. I will get old knowing that I did nothing to become the best version of myself.

I Quit Gaming!

decision

Right there. Oddly with my sudden realization (which took me years to get to) I did not have any trouble with quitting.

On day one I went to the gym and got a workout plan. I had a gym membership for the past year I had only used twice. I had anxiety attacks just thinking of going to the gym, worried of embarrassing myself in front of others, however I pushed forward.

I also implemented other things in my life which helped me a lot and allowed me to stay focused. I thought of useful habits, and used an app to track everything. Besides tracking my fitness and no gaming, I implemented a morning routine (including a skin routine), and was got back into books and painting miniatures. For the first time in years I played board games at my home with some friends.

111 Days Later

freedom

For the first time in over 10 years, I really feel I have my life back. That I am in charge of my own fate. For the first time in years I know what I want to be.

I am proud of myself that I finally took this step. I know that it’s only small progress, but it’s progress. And this keeps me going. I will promise right here, to my future self, I will not stop! I will do my best to improve every day, one step at a time.

If someone is reading this, all I want you to know is if I could do this you can do too. It is never too late to claim your life back! I believe you can do it… so should you.

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“The online scene that swallowed me whole also provided the tools to get out of it.”

My name is Rou-Hun (Lowen Flowen) and I’m from the Netherlands. I started gaming around 6 years old with a Nintendo handheld, then the Atari came, Gameboy, Snes, and eventually PC with internet.

On consoles I played action games such as Mario and Zelda and RPG’s like Secret of Mana and ShadowRun. On PC I always played shooters: QuakeWorld, TeamFortress, Quake3, Q3: Urban Terror, and some Counterstrike.

I also played Magic: The Gathering for a couple of years and became a pro (top 50 in the Netherlands as a 13 year old). I wish I hadn’t sold those cards back in the day. What I liked about gaming was the challenge, the stories, and the community.

Escaping Online

“The problems really started when I got into online gaming.”

I was about 14 years old and I hated school. I hardly had friends, and the ones I did have were quite toxic and not very accepting.

Then I found online chat programs like ICQ and gaming communities where I could be myself. Nobody judged me, I felt accepted, and could just be who I was under an alias. That made me feel so connected and it became my new social network.

My grades went down. I didn’t want to do anything else but play and be online. Chatting online for hours was better than being out in real life. My outlet became the online world.

I was around 24 years when I acknowledged that gaming was a problem and decided to quit. The epiphany came when I realised I had to get a job some day. My parents were adamant that I finish college and reluctantly, I did. But I hated work as much as school so I figured I better find something that I can enjoy, and slowly started looking into other things.. online of course.

Ironically, during my gaming time, I had my own clan and someone in my clan built our website. He taught me HTML and I started to code a bit. I created a few websites and learned Photoshop and Dreamweaver. These days I’m a front-end developer and a writer.

What Helped Me Quit Gaming

Have a firm commitment

For me, the realisation was so strong. It was my inner realisations that convinced me to stop. Instead of playing I would try to learn these tools to code and make things online. I saw it as a new challenge and, completing challenges is something I enjoy.

Find new friends

I also made new friends which really helped. They still played games, but with this group of friends we would go out to bars and cafés. We were a small group, but very inviting and not judgmental. Gaining new friends gave me a good excuse to go out and socialise. Though I was always quiet and introvert, it definitely helped me in opening up to other people.

When I was gaming my typical game would be to wake up, take my food and sit behind the PC and start playing and eating simultaneously. Then I would go to school half-awake. Once I was back home I would play again until bedtime, which would total about 10 hours a day.

Get out of your comfort zone

Since I’ve quit over the last four years I have been traveling mostly in Europe and Asia while working as a front-end developer. The last year and a half I’ve been traveling with my girlfriend to over 20 countries.

Other than that, I’ve also written a fiction book where a young man in a unified Korea slowly loses his sense of reality from futuristic drugs and forgotten Korean mythologies. The book is available on shinbyeong.com, and I’m in the midst of finishing it.

Dive into new projects

Being able to do projects like this makes you realise what freedom feels like. If I was still gaming, I would’ve limited my world to digital experiences, and not allowed myself all the adventures of the real world.

Benefits of Quitting Gaming

“Being able to be the real me in real life is better than any video game.”

Besides the obvious benefits such as more time, more experiences, new friends, and a girlfriend, the most important thing is that I started learning who I am.

As a young person, you don’t have a strong identity and I would focus on the negatives instead of my positive characteristics. That really turned me into quite a depressive kid and I would run away by indulging in these games – where I could be someone else. In a sense, the real me was more apparent in a game or chatroom than in actual reality.

My Advice to You

Understand why gaming is so addictive for you. Also take the qualities from gaming you like and apply them in real life. I believe games, though based in a fictional setting, are based on human realities. The challenges, the villain, the good guy. We can be the hero of our own game, of our own life.

Some of the qualities I took from gaming into real life are:

  • Relentlessly pursue excellence: it took me years to master a shooter and I became really good in it – if I was born later, I would’ve been a pro-gamer I think. I realised I could apply this to front-end development and other skills that would benefit me in real life instead.
  • In the real world I was introverted, shy and quiet. Online I was continually making jokes and having fun. Opening up to people made me realise I could do this in person too.

Even though gaming was a huge part of my life, I don’t regret any of it. Strangely enough, it was a way to find myself. I could be myself in this digital world. But an addict is not usually aware that they are an addict. I didn’t have a care in the world – living with my parents, hating school, and not doing anything but gaming. In hindsight it’s easy to think that it was good for me, but I am probably quite lucky I found a career through all of it.

One thing I hadn’t mentioned, is that due to the low grades, I had to redo my year. This actually also opened up my world to all kinds of new people and new friends. People who I am still friends with. The change of perception and being able to build up a new identity is very powerful.

I had new people around me, I could act different, show a different or new side of me. I was able to do the same in the online world. I could do this when I had to re-do my year. I was able to do this when I started living with friends in a tiny room. I did this when I started to travel alone.

There are so many opportunities to change yourself and open up to the world. Looking back on it, these were all tiny steps to solidify my own identity and become who I am today.

Written by Rou-Hun (Lowen Flowen). Find him on Twitter. Buy his new book, Shinbyeong.

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gaming addiction story

“I am a 30 year old guy who stopped gaming last year. I hope my experience can help others.”

I got addicted to gaming from a very young age. My parents bought me a Nintendo console when I was around 5-8 years old. Damn that thing got me so excited! I still remember shooting those ducks with a fake gun on the screen!… Slowly they bought me more and more games. I got better at them and then I moved to Playstation 1. My favorite console ever.

Tekken 1 was my first game ever, then Tomb Raider Lara Croft 1. Then tons of others! I also bought the Playstation magazine that came with demo games every month! I was so competitive! I was getting so mad when I lost… To be honest my parents never thought my passion for gaming was unhealthy. They thought it was funny. “Let the kid be a kid and we go do our adult stuff.”

Gaming Became My Escape

digital prison

Onwards to my teen years gaming was my escape from the world. Escape from bullying, from bad family communication, from bad parenting, failed relationships, and psychological issues.

And then Lineage 2 came – an MMORPG similar to World of Warcraft. I hated it at the beginning, but then when I started getting the hang of it I got super addicted. My character was my life! I remember I used to daydream about the game during school time. Draw pictures of weapons and enemies! Making phone calls with my guild clan members. I even had my own guild. All those using dial-up internet! My parents paid so much money for internet back then.

Then faster internet came and everything changed. Unlimited internet made me start to lose the red lines. At 17 I did my first 24 hour grind leveling dungeon. Imagine playing 24 straight hours at the same spot to get one level! The sun came up and I thought “wtf did I just do… Is this real??” And went to bed.

Problems Started to Come

problems

My psychology started to change. I became more bored of real life, more avoidant of people, and sports started to get less interesting and more tiring. I became less fit and more fat. I had bad eating and sleeping habits, and poor posture.

I started to fight with parents a lot more due to them putting pressure on me for too much gaming. Sometimes our fights were escalating too much, and they would shut down the internet or electricity and I would rage. Boy those were really bad times but that game was my life. I was very respected and liked online. That was tremendous to me because in real life I was getting bullied and mistreated a lot, and thus had very low self-esteem.

Related: How to Build Self-Esteem

Off to University

university computer science

Guess what I decided to study? Computer Science. The reason? Gaming. I had this idea that I will make a game similar to Lineage. I wanted people to experience what I felt when I played it. I also choose a university that was far away from my parents so I could get away from their controlling pressure due to my gaming habits.

After starting university I discover I hate it! Physics? Math? Circuits? Tons of stuff I didn’t even like in the slightest. Extremely boring to me. Only programming was a little fun I can admit. But not so much to do it at my free time or grow an interest for it outside of university.

Courses keep piling up and so does my addiction. My social life suffers. I try to hide my emotions and anxiety to control myself but I barely can. My life starts to make me depressed. I attend half the lectures, I get such severe anxiety that I start to get stomach cramps. I rarely told my parents. I just tried to hide everything. Sometimes I did tell them they would make everything worse by escalating it. It took me 6-7 years to graduate from a university that was supposed to take me 3.5 years to finish.

Time to Make a Change

do something great

I start to learn more about myself and my way of life. At 25 I start to give up on MMORPGS. I am starting to wake up. I still played World of Warcraft, League of Legends and later, Hearthstone. Slowly I realize my mistakes. At 28-29 I give up on gaming entirely.

I still use a PC for work or surfing. I’m struggling to find work now because I hate my degree. I can’t stand working on a screen anymore. My back hurts. My neck hurts. My posture is awful. I go to a gym to fix it.

I still have self-esteem issues that I am working on. My family and I are working to fix our issues after all these years. I am inexperienced with relationships and still a virgin. I moved back in with my parents at 25 and still live with them at 30. I feel kind of stuck, but at the same time I am trying to move forward little by little. There are bad days and good days. I am learning every day more stuff about myself and the world. I am trying to help by volunteering.

Your situation might be better than mine or it might be worse, but for a moment, stop and think about how you manage your time. How does gaming make you feel? Why? Is it too much? Can you control it? I never could. I tried many times, and couldn’t. I never look back. My opinion is all those hours wasted, the escapism to a digital trouble-free world along with the psychological baggage being carried in real life is not worth it over some dopamine and virtual pixels in the end.

I hope you got something out of my story. Love to you all!

Related: Is It Ok to Play Games in Moderation?

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gaming addiction story

“It’s been 90 days since I’ve quit gaming. Boom!”

I’ve been a gamer for eight years. By far my biggest problem with gaming were games that featured a perpetual experience – that never ended. I accumulated 2,500 hours on Team Fortress 2, 1,000 hours across the rest of my Steam games, and god knows how much extra time I have on Minecraft and World of Warcraft. Conservatively I have gamed for over 4,000 hours. If I play six hours a day, that’s a total of 1.8 years of constant gaming, non-stop everyday.

Realizing this destroyed me. Gaming has worsened my academics significantly, forcing me to retake a year. I was making a mob farm in Minecraft the day before an important chemistry exam, having not revised at all for it. What was I thinking? I would never meet up with my friends, I had social anxiety, and my brain felt jacked on something.

Related: A Guide to Quit Gaming for One Year

Failing to Quit

I had casually tried to quit a bunch of times, and then ‘seriously’ some more times, but I never made the cut and I’d always go back. I would unplug my PC from my room, move it to another room with my monitors, and then put a laptop in its place.

Then within two weeks, I would replug-in my PC and all of my monitors, and then proceed to binge on gaming for the next 10 days.

I Finally Quit for Good

On May 10th a switch flicked in my brain. Enough was enough. My parents and my online gaming friends all thought this was another futile attempt to quit – and any other time they would have been right – but this time I did something different: I disassembled my PC and sold my graphics card ASAP. Then I formatted all of my hard drives.

This completely cut me off from going back, as the main games I was playing at the time were PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Rocket League, both of which required a dedicated graphics card, or an amazing laptop, and now I had neither. This strengthened my belief that this time was different, as I had never gone this far before. I was, and am, far too frugal to begin a cycle of rebuying an expensive graphics cards and then reselling them at a loss repeatedly. My decision was final.

I had never played mobile games, but I did have some on my phone. I deleted those too and didn’t feel a thing. I unsubscribed from all gaming channels on YouTube.

Watch: Should You Watch Gaming Streams?

A Slipup?

Around 30 days in I played Riven: The Sequel to Myst. I did lose a lot of free time to it, but the immersion and lateral thinking involved made it feel a world apart from the 4,000 hours of throwaway repetitiveness I had mostly experienced up to this point. I then played Myst and beat it in a day.

Now I know that saying I played a game during my 90 day detox and thought it was beautiful is a horrendously unpopular sentence to say in this community, but just like the best novel I have read (Moby Dick) I found it to be a magical experience. A one-shot, well made experience that makes you think, just like a good book, or a good documentary. It doesn’t compare to real life, but neither does any form of media. I still think most popular games fall into the abusive category and you should avoid at all costs, as they are skinner boxes and will not help you succeed in life. I have no plans on going back to those.

My goal in quitting was to avoid spending six hours a day for weeks on end on perpetual experiences that don’t change the more you play them (as I had been doing for seven years straight), so for my purposes these games were not relapses.

Has My Life Improved?

I took my exams (still waiting on the results), and believe I have made a massive improvement over last year. My mind fog, anxiety, and moodiness are at lifelong lows since quitting. I have more motivation. I feel like everything is better in many aspects. I have a surplus of free time now. I want to go out and meet up with friends. I’m in a better state of mind than ever before. The most important benefit I’ve received is presence of mind: being able to have initiative on new things I might want to do, or ways to think.

Yes, it’s amazing, and after a while you get used to how good it is, but I had to bring myself back to how bad it was originally to remember how good I feel now. Nothing will substitute doing it for yourself in real life. It’s like putting the human experience of consciousness into words, you just can’t. Just believe me, and the many others here who believe it will change your life.

My Advice to You

Build yourself up to sell your gaming paraphernalia. Disassemble your PC, and sell it if you don’t need that processing power. Format your C drive. ‘Downgrade’ to a laptop. If you’re a console gamer sell all of it. Uninstall all your games. Uninstall Steam.

It will feel bad for two weeks, but it will get better. Three months in feels beyond great. Build your way back up appropriately. Most importantly, you have to start and not give up. Just do it!

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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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gaming addiction story

“I was a state-level tennis player before entering college, but that went right out the window.”

I’m a 29 year old male, working as a Senior Software Engineer in Washington DC. I got introduced to gaming around the age of 14-15. Road Rash, a very old Windows 95/98 racing game, and then a few years later Age of Empires. I was hooked, AoE2 was (and still is) one of the best games I’ve ever played.

I played alone, because online gaming hadn’t taken off yet. Even LAN gaming wasn’t popular back then. I also dabbled in Quake3 and UnrealTournament, with a bit of Command and Conquer here and there. A couple of years later, right before I went to college, LAN parties exploded. I got introduced to Warcraft. College brought in DotA. This is where my gaming addiction really kicked in.

Related: From 60lbs Overweight, to 6-Pack, Married, and 6-Figure Business. How Quitting Gaming Turned Nicholas Bayerle’s Life Around

Social Gaming

LAN parties at college were legitimately social experiences. Everyone was playing DotA and Counter-Strike. I was a state-level tennis player before entering college, but that went right out the window. LAN and internet gaming helped me make so many friends. And, that’s all we did together. Play and talk video games.

I was fortunate enough that it did not impact my grades. I did end up graduating with a Computer Science and Engineering degree with a 3.7 GPA. But if anyone asked me what my hobby was, I would proudly say a gamer. Hell I even wasted $3,000-$4,000 dollars of my dad’s money building PC gaming rigs. Even lied to my parents saying it was needed for course work. GPUs were expensive back in late 2000s.

I got into University of Penn, for a Master’s program in CS in 2010. This is where the gaming addiction reared it’s ugly head. I graduated with a 3.4 CGPA in 2012- half my grad school hours was spent on DotA2. Ended up getting a decent job, but was totally unfocused at work.

Just A Mild Addiction?

So far gaming was mildly addictive, but there were other things happening in my life which made me feel like I was progressing in those fronts. So I did not pay too much attention to excessive gaming.

Then in 2014, I decided to pick up an XboX one and a TV for my new apartment because I had lot of cash to burn and never owned a console, so I wanted to dabble in it. A few of my old college buddies were on Xbox Live. It was fun, and it allowed me to keep in touch with them (we are all geographically distant – DC, Seattle, New York, EU). They introduced me to Destiny. God! That game almost ruined my adult life. I had 2,000 hours in Dota2 and Dota over 7 years. And I managed to put in 3,000 hours in Destiny within 2 years.

I had gotten out of a 7 year relationship, and used video gaming to cope with the break up. I was in a depression – 27, lack of focus at work, no friends, no intimate relationship with a significant other, gaming addiction, suffering a major health issue (dental) and asthma, and absolutely lacked exercise or physical activity. Rock bottom. Stress and anxiety followed.

Video Game Addiction Quiz for Gamers

Life is Better Now

What snapped me out of this addiction, was last Christmas I ended up meeting a few of my grad school friends, and they were so far ahead in life. They had better paying and more fulfilling jobs, most were either married or in relationships, and overall they were all really happy. Some were in great shape as well. Everyone had thriving social circles and plenty of friends. None of this just happened for any of them. They all did the time, and reaped the rewards. I did the time as well, just got the rewards in the virtual world.

Today I don’t own a gaming console, or gaming PC, just a basic Intel NUC with Ubuntu/Fedora for programming at home which my profession demands. I have no Steam account, no BattleNet account, and no Xbox Live account. They took a month to permanently delete. I followed Cam’s advice – replaced gaming with activities that target the same highs which video gaming provides as a proxy:

  1. Strength Training – There is something raw and primal about lifting weights. I’m a skinny guy.. But even lifting 185lbs deadlift makes you feel really really good. Also this prompted tangible, measurable progress that I had been substituting “leveling” up a character in the virtual world with.
  2. Tennis – I suffer from asthma, and cannot engage in long duration endurance activities. I tried long distance cycling and running, but went back to playing tennis. It’s an activity with short movement bursts and allows me to recover in between points. I’m currently a 3.5 on the NTRP, and would like to hit 4.0 in two years time. Again, measurable progress.
  3. Being Social – Still working on making friends in my city. I have good friends, but they are all far away, and we can only meet once in a few months.
  4. Completing courses on Coursera and Udemy. Learning and resharpening my coding skills, which I will see benefits from in my software engineering interviews at top tech firms I plan to apply for soon. More progress that can be tracked.
  5. Dating – Managed to get a couple of dates with some really well rounded and beautiful women. Nothing has worked out for the long term, but hey, some progress on this front. Someone finds me attractive, which is a great confidence booster when you are trying to recover from low self-esteem.
  6. Day trading – Making my money grow. I was living paycheck-to-paycheck, and as an engineer you make decent pay, but my money wasn’t growing. I have been investing mostly in tech stocks since this is a industry I understand well, and have made a few hundred dollars in a year after taxes.
  7. Wood work and carpentry classes – I started with the free ones at Home Depot, and then enrolled in a local community college for weekend classes. I like working with my hands, and hopefully spending time with like-minded people will lead to friendships.
  8. Animal shelter volunteering – I had a wonder Alexandrine parrot for a decade, she passed away in 2017. I reached out to the local shelter and asked if they could use a hand with basic cleaning, moving boxes, and bookkeeping activities. It’s a minor contribution, but I really feel giving back to the community is cathartic.

Forge your own path in the real world, folks. Life is too short to be lived in the virtual one. Good luck.

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Game Quitters exists to help those who need help with gaming addiction challenges to get the help, and to spread awareness about the negative impact gaming addiction can cause. Want to help? Grab a t-shirt or hoodie and show the world you care about this issue.

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gaming addiction story

“I would sleep all day and game all night. My mom said I lived like a vampire.”

I’m Adam and I’m 26 years old. I started gaming early in my childhood, and loved to play FPS games, especially Battlefield 3 and 4! I was very good at it, hitting the top of the scoreboard most of the time. I really liked the sense of achievement, skill, and being a bit of a show off.

The biggest draw to gaming however was playing with my friends. I was very easy to log in and socialize, without having to leave your house. I don’t regret those memories with my friends, they were some great moments! And really for a long time I saw no harm in playing, even until five or six in the morning. There seemed to be many more upsides than downsides to gaming, however looking back now it was because I had no greater vision for my life at the time.

Read: A Guide to Quit Gaming for One Year

My Wake Up Call

I would sleep all day and game all night. I became a cave animal who hated sunlight. My mom said I lived like a vampire. Life became too big and scary to face so my big comfort blanket was gaming, and it was so familiar to me as it was part of my life since childhood. This continued until one day my girlfriend left me. I was devastated and completely blindsided, which happened because I was blind to her and everything and everyone else around me.

This was a major blow and took me a long time to get over, but it was also a wake up call. I suddenly got on my own side again and decided I wanted to live! It wasn’t until much later that my mom and I would really clash. Our fights and falling out made me much more aware of the toxicity of this habit.

Video Game Addiction Quiz for Gamers

I Discovered Game Quitters

It was around this time that I came across Cam’s TEDx talk and his YouTube channel. What struck me the most was a video showing how much of the world I was missing out on.

This incredible beautiful planet we live on, all out there for me to experience, suddenly gaming looked much smaller, and real life much larger. I’m feeling quite emotional actually as I write this because I realize it all happened for my own growth, as painful as it was at times.

I decided enough was enough, and committed to the 90 day no gaming detox! Half way through I actually sold my PS4 console so there really was no going back for me!!

I have not played a game since!! The most powerful leverage for me was simply this, disgust. Jim Rohn has talked about disgust being a powerful emotion to inspire change, and it really is. It wasn’t until I was truly disgusted at my habits, my way of living, and gaming itself that I really wanted to be free from the addiction. Cold turkey worked!!

I’m quite the lone-wolf type so I didn’t seek extra support, but always watched Cam’s videos on his channel and he gave guidance and emotional support through the whole thing. Plus a vision of who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to have post-gaming which was just as important.

The Benefits of Quitting Gaming

jade rice fields

Since I’ve quit gaming my self-esteem has improved a lot, I have much less social anxiety, and a greater confidence overall. I have more interest in people and the real world.

Click to Tweet – The Benefits of Quitting Gaming

Plus a real deepening of my involvement with personal development! I work on my life purpose, I care about myself a lot more, the world, and people in general. I have a lot more free time to do what really makes me happy and fulfilled, and my sleep is obviously much better! I could go on, the results mean that I know I will never go back. I have realized life is simply too short and full of possibilities to hide from it anymore.

I really hope this helps anyone who is looking to quit, or has already quit and inspires them as well. Thank you Cam in helping me get my life back :).

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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.

Take a Stand

Game Quitters exists to help those who need help with gaming addiction challenges to get the help, and to spread awareness about the negative impact gaming addiction can cause. Want to help? Grab a t-shirt or hoodie and show the world you care about this issue.

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