About Game Quitters

“My parents just wanted me happy, though they didn’t see the monster that was evolving inside of me.”

Games: a fun past time to play with family, friends, or by yourself. Gaming has evolved into something incredible in contrast to the early 90s. In my early days it was Commodore 64, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Game Boy Color, and PlayStation.

I remember how much I loved to get off the bus, run inside, drop my backpack, and turn on my gaming system. I’d usually be interrupted by “You have homework”, or “supper’s ready”. I enjoyed games from the Super Mario franchise to games like Riddick Bowe Boxing and Donkey Kong. I didn’t have one certain interest, I just loved to play.

It was my only ambition at that age: Play the game, beat it, and be the best at it out of my siblings. My competitiveness and poor sportsmanship showed greatly in games like Mario Kart or Madden Football, as I’m sure it did with anyone at that age.

Related: How Your Need For Accomplishment Keeps You Gaming

Gaming Wasn’t A Problem (Yet)

I was an energetic young boy who loved the outdoors just as much as I loved my games. I loved spending time with my family also, whether it be a game of baseball or a game of Super Mario 3 on an early Saturday morning with my brother and two sisters.

But my interests continued to grow in gaming, especially when I got my first taste of online multiplayer on my Dad’s PC. I’ll never forget the game that I indulged into: Delta Force 2. I loved working my way to the top of the scoreboard, becoming better each time I played, and meeting other players along the way.

My addiction to gaming went into full force with the introduction of this game. I day dreamed about playing while I was in school, drew pictures of battles I imagined myself playing in, and stayed anxious on the way home to bring my computer to life so I could once again battle it out on one of my favorite games at the time.

My attention to my education took a dip and stayed down for the years to come. Years later after I got bored of Delta Force 2, my uncle gave our family a collection of old computer games, and in that collection lived another first person shooter that once again sparked my interests.

Half-Life

When I first read the front of the case, I didn’t think much of the game. A man with what looked to be a hard plastic suit with a symbol on the chest didn’t really excite me, but then I turned the case over and read that this game was a winner of over 40 Game of the Year awards. That made my jaw drop a bit, and without a second thought I began to install the game onto my computer. Amazed by the storyline I was instantly hooked.

Years later my uncle gifted us an Xbox with an inclusion of various games from Halo to Ghost recon. I went through game after game, defeating one after another, wanting to buy more games as I went. I’m sure I put a hole in my parents pocket with the interest I had, but I know in the end they just wanted me happy, though they didn’t see the monster that was evolving inside of me.

Down the road, my Dad bought a game that without a doubt was another cause of my obsession with first-person shooters: Call of Duty. Little did I know that, once again, I would be immersed in the multiplayer world.

The gaming world in Call of Duty was so in-depth compared to the other games I had played. Players took losing seriously and was adamant on becoming the greatest gamer they could be. Clan after clan existed throughout the community, and I was excited to become a part of it. I convinced my parents to buy me a stand up microphone and I found headphones my sisters used to use to listen to their portable CD players.

If I would be able to go back in time and stop myself from becoming addicted to games, this would’ve been the point where I would’ve tried to convince myself that there was more to life than gaming.

Are you addicted to gaming? Take the quiz.

Xbox 360

I was in awe of the graphics compared to my previous system. I couldn’t believe what the new generation of gaming had produced. My dedication to becoming the top gamer doubled, and so did the amount of time spent playing. My attention to education dipped further than ever with my focus on the gaming world as I fought to become as great as I could be, perfecting my kill/death ratio, win/loss ratio, and accuracy percentage.

Let’s step out of the story for a moment. So far I had been in my obsession with gaming for about 8 years, and I had no realization that I was working towards nothing in a literal sense, but in my eyes, I had made this my life. I felt like I was someone in the gaming world. It was my reality, and the world outside was just a nightmare in my eyes that I couldn’t wait to get out of when I picked the controller back up and continued on my journey to being the best.

I had a circle of gamers I played with and as a result stemmed to playing other games, as my brother took over the Xbox as basically his own to play. This was the beginning of the crumbling of our relationship. Before, we were close. We played games together on Xbox, PlayStation, and all the other systems we owned. We played outside together, and pretty much did everything together, with the exception of arguments that escalated quickly to physical or verbal actions, but all in all, we bonded.

With my interest in PC gaming, his interest in Xbox 360, and our passion to be competitive, we parted ways with playing together. We both would spend hours upon hours on our beloved games, only to take breaks for dinner or whenever needed. We talked less to each other and more to our friends of the gaming world. My social life in school was already an empty shell, and gaming kept it at bay.

Gaming at School

boy at school

In the mornings before school began, I would go to the library, boot up one of the computers, and play games such as Quake 3 or the Halo demo. There were a group of kids like myself who liked to game early in the morning and we would all get on computers and play. The sad thing was I didn’t even know who the others were I was playing with, nor did I try to find out.

Any opportunity I had to play a video game at school, I would take it. I would skip out on doing work assignments also. I remember lying to my teacher, telling her I had an essay to do online, so she allowed me to go to the library where I played Quake 3 for the remainder of the class.

When I was 16, I got into my first serious relationship and took some of my focus off of gaming (I still played a lot). I grew up a little, got a job, and came back into reality. I continued to focus on my relationship and left little attention to gaming. Time went on, and when the year came, I graduated high school (somehow), and began college that following fall.

My gaming obsession quickly slipped its way back in during my short lived college life. I wasted my reimbursement given back to me from college on a $2,600 gaming laptop. I would skip out on class to play my favorite PC shooter, or literally be in class at the back row playing a game. Yes, I literally ignored listening in class and ignored focusing on my career goals to game. I failed several classes due to skipping class and playing video games while I was in class. When I was about 18 I found out I would be having twins and that my whole life was about to change, and that it did.

My Girlfriend Got Pregnant

I dropped completely out of college and began working towards a career in the underground coal mines. The job paid well, but it wasn’t the ideal dream occupation. Gaming went to the back burner for the time being until I landed a job at a local company.

During the pregnancy I began developing a want, or a need in my eyes, to occupy myself. Maybe it was the fear of what was to come, or just the stress in general, but my obsession with gaming made its debut in full force once again in my life. I had the money so I bought myself a nice Xbox 360 with all the accessories and rejoined the community that I had secretly missed and been away from for too long. My girlfriend didn’t mind much, since at the time we didn’t live together and through the week I pretty much stayed at my house.

I worked 2nd shift and she was still in school at the time, so I seriously had a lot of free time to do whatever. I said I would quit cold turkey when our kids arrived, although I should’ve known I was kidding myself.

Related: How Joe Became the Father He Always Wanted to Be (And Quit Gaming for One Year)

I had my laptop setup playing an online MMORPG in the hospital room when it was getting close to delivery. When my twins finally did arrive, I stuck to my word to not game, but as time went on, I went back to my old ways. I would skip out on going over to her house to see them to play Modern Warfare, or would be on the Xbox while they were at my house.

I sadly even have a picture of one of them in my lap while I was playing Xbox when they were a year old. I was hooked again, and by the time we had got married and moved in together, I had spent over $1,000 in gaming gear such as a headset, video recorder, custom controllers, and games. My relationship with everyone around me suffered greatly, more than it ever had.

My Relationships Deteriorated

I was already distant from the family that I grew up with, and now I was separating myself from the reality of my family that I created. After I had got a full time job all I did was work, game, eat, and sleep. I never talked about games much at work because frankly, I was embarrassed by myself. I had been since I was young and knew I played video games way too much. I remember when I was younger my dad was asked by someone if I played any sports, and he told them “no, he likes to play computer games though”. I think my face got so red from embarrassment that it could’ve popped.

The sad thing is I couldn’t honestly tell you what the first few years of my children’s lives were like. I was working 12 hour shifts, but when I had those few hours of cherished time with my kids, my priority was leveling up on whatever game I was playing.

I’m left with regret of missing out on the most memorable times, and there is of course no way to get it back. As time went on, I began battling myself to quit gaming and focus on life. I knew I was making a negative impact on my family and realized there was no way for me to manage my time with gaming because I didn’t have the self control.

Unfortunately, I would always find an excuse to stop myself from getting rid of everything permanently. The excuses would be from “I can make money gaming by playing in cash leagues” or “I’ll only play a few hours a week”.

I Missed the Wake-Up Call

I had a lashing out over losing in a game that it should’ve been my wake up call. I remember it clear as day, I was getting owned in a team deathmatch on Modern Warfare 3. I was already cursing at the screen like I had done in the past ever since I began multilayer gaming, and got to the point where if I died again, I was done. I, of course, got shot in the face and in that same second, I quickly stood up, threw my controller, and then threw my headset from my head so hard that it broke. Then I took my Xbox and slammed it to the ground not once, but twice. It was beyond pathetic.

After that incident I didn’t game for a little while because well, I couldn’t, due to a broken Xbox. It wasn’t long before I made the excuse that I’ll buy another Xbox and eventually repair and sell the other to get my money back… yeah, that made a lot of sense.

After spending another $500 or more on new gaming equipment, I had everything back. I had the most expensive headset, the new version of the Xbox, a game recorder, and a custom scuf controller. I went straight back into gaming for six hours a day on the weekends and when I could through the week, ignoring what mattered in my life most.

I strayed further and further from the person a father and husband was supposed to be and dove deeper into the gaming world. I began trying to start a YouTube channel (which was a joke), that consisted of reviews for gaming gear, and gameplay videos… none of which I was good at setting up or presenting.

I needed alone time and peace and quiet to have an uninterrupted video so my wife at the time and the kids stayed in a room upstairs while I recorded. I later moved on to dedicating myself to playing in gaming leagues for cash where I easily spent more money than I made. I wasted money on resetting my stats because I was such a stifler for having the perfect win/loss ratio, wasted money on more gear, and wasted my time indefinitely because in comparison to other gamers I was terrible, despite my expensive gear and years of experience. I did win a 1600 Xbox points card, but needless to say it wasn’t something I chose to sell online for money, and rather used to buy online accessories, like changing my gamertag.

Marriage in Free Fall

love hearts

What really sent my marriage and relationship to my family into freefall was choosing to switch from day shift/2nd shift rotation at work to straight nights for the sole reason of being able to have more time to game through the day.

What ran through my mind was having the ability to stay up past my kids bedtime before I had to leave to spend time on gaming, and have the following morning before the kids and wife woke up to game as well. I purposely sacrificed sleep to game more when I could. I got what I wanted in my own selfish ways and continued to make those around me who needed my attention suffer.

My gaming obsession slowed a bit when my marriage took a big hit. I died down to playing single player games, sold a lot of my gear, and came back to earth so to speak. I still played multiplayer games from time to time, but the hit my marriage took was a stronger focus than Xbox ever could.

I eventually got to the point where I realized gaming wasn’t getting me anywhere and that I was wasting my life away, and it was like looking back and seeing the things I had destroyed… looking at the rubble of structures that were my marriage and relationships, the dust of my empty ambitions, and the pieces that were nearly impossible to put back together of my life.

Divorce

Within a year my marriage took another hit, and that was it. Despite having children together, we separated and I began a new chapter of my life. Games left a sour taste in my mouth because I knew the damage it had caused ever since I began playing them. After moving back in with my parents, I decided to sell everything and quit all at once. It took something so catastrophic such as my divorce to make me realize how much I missed out and ignored in life. I lived in a virtual world and ignored reality.

I hate that I never had the self control to manage my time or just put the controller down and focus on what mattered. There’s nothing I can do about it now, and the only thing I can do is do the right thing from here on out.

Happy Ending

I found the woman of my dreams. My children are in a more stable home, my marriage is doing great, and all in all, I’m who I should’ve been a long time ago. I still struggle with a gaming addiction such as having the want to download a game on my phone, PC, or Xbox from time to time.

But the thoughts always stick with me: What’s the point of playing this? What else could I be doing? Do I really want to dip my foot in this ocean of addiction again?

It usually brings me to putting the controller/phone down and walking away, because I know that, for me, if I let myself go a foot, I’ll go a mile. Instead I focus my time on what matters, on what’s going to make a difference in what I love: My wife, my family, my goals, and my life.

Some of you may be dealing or have dealt with an addiction like this, and I hope and pray you find your way. Whether those who are addicted will admit it or not, some of us just can’t manage our time and don’t have the self control to break away into reality. We’ll make every excuse in the book to continue playing games and make it seem like it’s okay. That’s the struggle with any addiction, though.

Video Game Addiction is Real

The definition of addiction is the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. Several doctors and sites label an addiction as a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences (Wikipedia).

Drugabuse.gov describes an addiction to drugs “as a chronic, relapsing brain disease”, but upon removing the mindset of drug addiction and replacing it with a gaming addiction, it still fits the answer to the question: is gaming addiction an actual thing? It continues on about “compulsive seeking and use despite consequences, and is characterized as a brain disorder because of how drugs change the structure of the brain and how it works.”

Whether you believe it or not, your addiction and mine to gaming has altered our brains, especially from excessive and extended use. We’ve deteriorated relationships, missed out on learned vital life skills, burned bridges, and the list can go on.

Related: Why You Need to Take a 90 Day Detox

If there was some way I could have the ability to go back and stop myself from ever touching a game, it would at least be at the time when I began getting seriously addicted, because I wouldn’t want to completely erase everything. I would be wiping away moments I cherished with my family playing harmless video games together, laughing, and enjoying ourselves all the way.

Here I am, 26 years old with around 17 years of gaming under my belt, and I am still struggling with it today. I have had several relapses of downloading five to ten games on my phone/computer, enjoying myself for about a week, feeling guilty, and then deleting all the content I had installed.

I’ve even went as far as writing out a vow that I would quit gaming and that I would instead strive to be a better husband, father, and person. Not even a week in I broke that vow, making the excuse that I just need some leisure time in my life. The addiction to gaming will still linger no matter if you’ve defeated and overcome it or not. You’ll see the release of the next chapter to that game you always loved to play or a remaster of an old game with stunning graphics with the storyline you fell in love with. It’s just like any other addiction.

You hear about it, see it, or just plain fall back into it. Before you know it gaming is on your mind again, and it’s all you look forward to everyday. Everything else in your life seems dull and boring without gaming in it. I don’t know how long I’ll last on quitting gaming cold-turkey once again, but this time I hope it’s for good. I’ve done enough damage to my progress in life to let it slip back in and cause my destruction.

Invest Your Time Wisely

productivity

I’ve grown to realize how many things I don’t know now that I should’ve learned by now. I could’ve mastered guitar playing. I could’ve graduated college already. I could’ve done things right the first time if I would’ve put those things first in my life. I could be at such a higher level of progress than I am now. I can’t say anything else but coulda, shoulda, woulda. Dwelling on these things isn’t going to get me anywhere. It’s what I choose to do now, what I choose to strive for today that is what is going to get me somewhere.

Will there be setbacks? I guarantee it. Will I overcome them? I hope and pray so. The first few steps are the hardest, just like when a baby is trying to learn to walk. But the more steps I take forward, the easier things are going to get, all the while filling the void that gaming has left after years and years of use.

It’s never going to be easy, but I know that with prayer and support from my family, especially my wife, that I can do it. I’ve overcome it before for almost a year, and I can surely go for another, and another after that, and before I know it, I’ll be gamer-free for 20 years.

Today I make a vow to become game-free. I vow to become closer to my family than ever before, and to strive towards improving my relationship with those that I love, and to strengthen my faith and knowledge in God. I vow to fill the void with my callings and passions backed by Grace, and to always continue to step forward, and at those times when I stumble, I’ll pray for God to lend a hand in my times of troubles. This is the beginning of a new day.

What will you do?

This story was submitted by a member of Game Quitters. Sharing your story is one of the best ways to encourage others to quit gaming too. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article 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.

bed

“Playing League of Legends was the world to me.”

I don’t really know where to start. I just got out of bed after not being able to sleep for two hours, my mind racing with thoughts. Honestly I am not sure if this is just one of these sleep deprived ‘I-Will-Fix-My-Life’ rants like I’ve had so many times before, where a day or two later I’ll be relapsing and my life will continue it’s all too familiar nosedive once again. I really hope this isn’t the case.

I guess it all started when I was 11, playing my first game that started to consume a lot of time, Maplestory. A friend got me into the game and we would play and grind together, usually at his place. At this age my life was still largely controlled by my parents who wanted me to explore life and experience as much as possible, luckily they also had the funds for it. I was playing field hockey, football, tennis, the piano and occasionally joined my father for a game of golf.

Most of the sports or other things I did I was considered pretty good at and I would end up in the highest teams of the respective sport clubs. I was very competitive and couldn’t handle losing very well. Even though at that age I already enjoyed gaming and losing myself in a completely new world it wouldn’t really ever get to the point of me playing excessively, because my parents controlled basically all things I did. I never was a social outcast either, I had a lot of friends and could easily make contact with everyone. All sounds pretty promising, right?

The Beginning of the End

netherlands

I live in the Netherlands, so at age 13 you move from primary school to high school which will take six years from that point if you do the highest level, which I did. The first few years of high school were relatively normal; I had friends who I got along with, my grades were relatively high, and I got pretty close to having my first girlfriend which I stopped pursuing after my parents laughed at me when I brought it up.

Although my upbringing was rich of experiences and chances, there really wasn’t any room for emotional parenting. I had stopped playing soccer, tennis and piano because I didn’t want to have to go to practice, when I could just play Call of Duty or Maplestory with my friends. Those were the first things I started giving up in order to play more games, the games I loved so much because they would constantly challenge me mentally.

Fast forward to the 3rd year of high school, a friend introduces the game League of Legends to me. The beginning of the end. This was also around the same time I started to really hit puberty. Playing League of Legends was the world to me. It allowed me to do something competitively with friends, constantly get better at something, and being able to show that I was better. It was the fun I got out of playing sports, but permanently, without physical exhaustion.

I quickly got very good at the game which in turn made me play it more and more. The more I played though, the more things around me would suffer. I chose to quit playing hockey, because it would allow me more time to play, I would stop playing golf with my father, because it would allow me more time to play, and I stopped doing any work for school, because it would give me more time to play. All I cared about was that game and getting better at it.

It gave me a place where I was worth something, better than anyone else, and I really enjoyed the constant competitive challenge, the feeling of getting good at something, which high school really wasn’t providing. I also stopped caring about my appearance, as the only thing that mattered was this game and how I ranked up in it. Buying clothes, showering, using skin products or anything else appearance related didn’t matter to me anymore.

Then Puberty Happened

university guy

My puberty kicked in full force, I got braces and as cherry on top I also stopped growing as fast as the other guys in my class. Suddenly I was the long haired, braced, acne-faced little kid, who didn’t play sports anymore, and just played games all day. The only thing that saved me from getting bullied was having friends from the first grades, and the quick wit I had to defend myself verbally.

Even though I recognized that I was becoming ugly, my perfectionism combined with my low self esteem made me all-in on pretending I didn’t care, just so I wouldn’t have the chance of being the guy that tries to look decent, but still isn’t. Both my self esteem and my grades sunk. I barely passed.

I kept playing and playing, and my grades kept dropping and dropping.

The panic started to kick in for my parents. They had already read articles about how gaming ruined the lives of other people’s children, and got (rightfully) scared. This lead to a lot, a LOT of fights. There have been countless of threats to smash my computer down or throw it out of the window which luckily/unfortunately never happened.

On one hand my parents saw that I enjoyed gaming but on the other hand they saw everything else get worse and worse. I got gaming bans, which I dodged by playing when my parents weren’t home or when they were asleep. I have been sent to an after-school organization that forces you to do your homework, which I dodged by always playing the friendly, down-to-earth kid, while straight up lying to their faces about the homework.

My Only Goal In Life

esports

I only had one dream in life, one passion, one goal: becoming a professional gamer. Even though I never wanted to admit that I had also read the articles about people dropping out of school and never making it.

I got stuck between a rock and a hard place, on one hand I really wanted to play the game and try to go pro, and I hated my parents with a deep passionate hate because they were in my opinion the only thing between me achieving my goal, and on the other hand I didn’t want to drop out or throw my life away, and I hated the game with a deep passionate hate because the love I had for it stopped me from achieving any other goal in life. This ever clenching feeling has been going on to this day.

Watch: Should You Pursue Pro Gaming?

I finished my high school in six years, barely, and then started university studying Law. Law in the Netherlands is the kind of study everyone who doesn’t know what they actually want to do studies. I lived at home for the first year of uni and I managed to pass all my exams because my parents forced me to study and would straight up ban me from playing.

At this point the fights had already gotten to the point of desperate and there was an extremely toxic atmosphere, I wouldn’t look at my parents anymore and they wouldn’t look at me. They would say I smelled, ridicule me for playing, and call me a junk every time. My little brother and sister would happily chime in. Everything I wanted to say or suggest would be angrily shot down while making a lot more nasty comments.

I felt like a stranger in my own home.

I had no self-esteem, I played all day but when I finally started to rank up really high and get approached by bigger teams my parents would ban me completely and I would get worse again. I missed most of the parties and other social events, and became a little awkward because I just didn’t have the social experience the other kids did. This also lead to very little experience with girls.

I Moved Out

university guy

By passing my first year of university I secured myself a position at the university and I couldn’t be thrown out anymore by not passing exams. Because of this, my parents decided that I should live in the town I studied in, and so I did. I joined a social club and started a new life there, on my own.

At first things were looking really good. I was getting into social situations, lived on my own, and slowly started to look after myself better and better. There was a big danger though, because my parents no longer supervised me my gaming shot up to a new level. I played and played whenever I could, and I stopped going to my lectures and seminars altogether. I put my time into this game every waking hour and I stopped studying at all.

At the moment it’s been almost two years since I’ve passed my last exam.

I have been ignoring university this whole time, while my parents paid for everything, only doing so because I lied about passing my exams. All I’ve done is go out to drink or game. My life is a mess. Recently they found out about my lying behaviour and have told me they will stop paying for anything for me ever. I am on my own, and I won’t be able to afford my next year of university. This has forced me to only play more and more to escape the reality of all this and I feel like there is no way out.

The only thing I can probably do is pass my next exams with very high grades and come back home begging for mercy, but I only notice myself playing more and more, not being able to stop. Gaming has made me into someone with very low self esteem, no ambitions, and no dreams. I feel like I’m slowly fading away just playing to keep my mind off all this.

I want to quit. I am done ruining my potential, ruining how I feel about myself, even if it costs me the biggest passion and dream I have ever had, even if nothing will ever fill its void. I have deleted League of Legends but I am afraid my attention span, and probably botched dopamine reward system will just make me relapse.

I’m pretty scared.

Is there anyone that can help me?

This article was submitted by a member of StopGaming.

Turn your life around today. Quit gaming. Start your 90 day detox.

guy fishing

“Besides my basic necessities to live, I spent all of my money on video games.”

I started to get into video games at four years old. My oldest memory of myself playing video games was me playing some old Tony Hawk games. Yeah, I played my games on the side with my friends and my brothers, but I was for sure not a gamer by any means.

I was an outdoors kind of child – sports, hunting, fishing and everything else in-between. I got along very well with that lifestyle. Video games on the side, everything else up front. I have some amazing memories of couch gaming.

When I turned 10 or 11 is when my gaming experience changed for the worse. I got an Xbox 360 and a few First Person Shooters. The role video games had on my life changed. I went from playing video games on the side to playing video games just as much as everything else. I got really chubby, and stopped riding bikes around town. I stopped having fun.

When I had friends over all we did was play video games. When I was forced to be out doing stuff all I wanted to do was play video games. This was an addiction. I looked for every excuse to play. I still hunted and fished, but I didn’t play sports anymore. If I thought to myself that I didn’t want to do something, I would just replace it with video games.

I had an extensive library of games, since I would blow all of the money I earned from summer jobs away on video games. All of it. Besides my basic necessities to live, I spent all my money on video games up until I was going into my junior year of high school.

I am not even going to go into detail on the fights I have had playing video games. The unhappy hours. The destruction it caused in my life. If you’re reading this I’m sure you know what I mean.

Are you addicted to gaming? Take the quiz.

What Changed?

xbox controller art

One day early in my junior year of high school, I got home from school and instantly went into my room to load up my games on my Xbox. Out of almost 300 hundred games, I couldn’t find one I wanted to play. I just wasn’t in the mood… and figured I would pick it up again tomorrow. The next day I still didn’t want to play, and I haven’t since. I just don’t see myself having fun playing games anymore.

The real kicker is that I have had time to think about it. Not only do I just not find them fun, I have many reasons to not like video games. I could make a very long list of why, but one comes to mind more than any. Not the industry being trash, and moving in a direction that hurts gamers wallets. Not micro-transactions. Not the toxic community. Not the fake of all the companies. The big kicker… Regret.

Regret

Man do I regret it all. What I could have done with all that time. All that sweet time. Serving nothing. Learning nothing. Not growing. Not expanding. Wasting time. I just have so much regret.

Not too long ago I counted up a fraction of my time spent. Only including my time on Xbox, not any other platform… the first few games out of almost 300 I had well over 8,000 thousand hours and I couldn’t allow myself to even count up the rest. For those of you who don’t know there are only 8,760 hours in a year. God knows how much time I actually wasted.

Watch: Every Hour Counts

This is not to say I regret all my gaming experience. I for sure don’t regret any of the couch time with other people in the same room. I don’t regret all the online time, just most of it. I am aware enough now. Think about the skills I could have learned, or the money I could have saved. Think about how much happier I could have been if I were using that time to pursue all the things that actually brought me joy.

Luckily I have remained an outdoors child all these years. Even a social child. I never gave up hunting. I love fishing more than anything. I can’t bare looking at a video game for more than a few minutes without dying from boredom, but I can sit on the river bank, or sit on the lake all day. Feels great to say that.

I hike, I bike, I party, I chase girls, I take drives. I’ll never regret doing these over video games. I have had a few girlfriends, and I think I have some of the truest friends a man could ask for. These past few years have just been the best without video games.

To those of you who are just contemplating in the slightest about removing video games from your life… do it. Sell your gaming stuff. Take action today. The less regret you have the better. Good luck.

This story was submitted by a member of StopGaming. Sharing your story is one of the best ways to encourage others to quit gaming too. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Need help?

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When you started gaming? What games?

I started gaming as soon as I could pick up the controller, maybe five or six years old. I used to watch my mom and her neighbor play Legend of Zelda and Star Fox on the Super Nintendo and I remember my first gaming experience beating the first Corneria level with a sliver of health only to run out of lives on the next asteroid level!

It was all downhill from there, from being the Nintendo 64 kid (basically) opening up the present under the Christmas tree to skipping class to play my GameCube and spending 6 years playing world of Warcraft around 18 units of college classes.

What did you like about gaming?

What immediately comes to mind is the sense of validation. My parents were very hard workers and were determined to provide me with everything I needed on a concrete level. However I would say withholding of encouragement in things I was interested in. I remember running out of my room to show my parents something exciting in my game only to be rejected or given a quizzical look.

Video games provided simple rules for success: get the exp, shoot the bad guy, score the loot. It made a lot of everything else seemingly too complicated. Things like real life friendships, relationships, responsibilities. I also liked the way video games advanced in graphics, narrative, and art form I think it got me interested in technology, arts from the beginning.

Watch: How Your Need for Accomplishment Keeps You Gaming

When did you notice it becoming a problem?

I think the first major wake up call was six years ago when I had to make a phone call to my mom that would make her cry. I had missed a deadline to re-apply for nursing school and I was unemployed at the time. I had been playing Final Fantasy 14 and was deeply involved in a guild raiding regularly.

After the hard smack of shame that phone call represented I got into a private channel with my guild leader and told her I had to quit the game cold turkey. I went on to take month off of gaming altogether and afterwards restrict my gaming to certain genres.

What consequences did you start to experience?

I think I was struck at first by how challenging real life stuff was as I got into my mid twenties… Showing up at work, being sociable in real life, and my school work all took on this “why bother?” quality.

Not being a kid anymore I had nothing to hide behind except video games and I could see it for the first time as the real barrier to life it was for me. Eventually my shame amassed enough that I came to know real depression and neuroticism all the way up to suicidal ideation at one point which I stepped down from and never saw again as I began to take interest in my personal growth.

When did you decide to quit?

I decided to make 2018 the year to quit on January 3rd, 2018. I was laying in bed playing Hearthstone on my phone. I remember I was really mad about losing at an arena run and mad at my phone for having short battery life and my charger cord for being just as short.

All at once I was struck by what an ugly person I felt like. The rage, the inability to come back to real life after four hours of gaming, and the shame worst of all.. it all stood before me in stark relief. And I didn’t want to be that kid anymore.

Watch: The Secret About Quitting Video Games

I had been dealing with the death of my father in November 2017. It had been suggested to me to use video games as a stop gap between me and being totally consumed by this trouble. I decided to use gaming to provide a relief from the grief that had been plaguing me for the month after.

Up until then I had gaming pretty well managed and had it down to short evening single player sessions. But in my mourning I got into multiplayer gaming with Overwatch and Hearthstone (thanks Blizzard for being too good at your job…). I had abused it for most of December before I hit that rock bottom in January.

Did you seek help or support? Start the detox? Relapse?

My plan was to quit cold turkey. I hit really heavy pangs of boredom within a week and it was very surreal. I kept it under control via meditation, running, and what I call my “methadone” in the form of board games.

I picked up a board game called Splendor to play during the very common lulls at work. I also joined a weekly Dungeons and Dragons meet up at my local board game store and made new friends that way.

Those would trigger very familiar cravings but it would be a lot easier to watch and manage as I could only do these in person with a group of people. At days 30 and 60 of no video games I treated myself to an hour of virtual reality with a friend. Through these I found “softer” ways to game.

What benefits have you gotten from quitting?

First I’ve afforded myself a new sense of adulthood. Things like getting a job, moving out of my mom’s house, and finishing school have all helped, but I would always come back to video games to make myself feel small again.

I’m getting a better “can-do” attitude when confronted with issues. My social life is taking a new sense as I find I’m less needy and worried about what people think of me. My inferiority complex triggers much less. When I see a way I want to improve myself it’s become much less daunting to take the first steps.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

For anyone reading and thinking they can’t do this, you can. You’ve always had it in you, you just have to put it to work. It’s not easy at first, but you will learn to do it in a real and lasting way that you will decide.

The goodness of life is always there if you choose to seek it, you just have to realize it’s not waiting for you on a computer screen.

This story was submitted by a member of Game Quitters. Sharing your story is one of the best ways to encourage others to quit gaming too. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article 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.

“In the past there have been days when I’ve missed work so I could binge on a game for another day.”

I set a goal to make it 90 days without gaming, and I also included not watching Twitch for a detox. Today marks the 90th day.

What I Learned:

  • Actually permanently deleting my Steam account was a massive boost. Knowing all the games I had on there were gone forever was ultimately a relief and a weight off my shoulders. If I was tempted to game, not having a steam account was a noticeable barrier.
  • Reading Respawn was a great way to start. As well as reading others’ posts on here and keeping a journal. Journaling daily, especially at the start, was important.
  • Ditching my laptop was also key. Having my desktop stationed in the living room as opposed to my bedroom decreased my desire to game.
  • Keeping a calendar and a to-do list are very important. I now have a weekly dry-erase calendar – I like to look at the upcoming week and plot a few things on there. If I’ve got nothing to look forward to, it’s much easier to fall into despair and making some poor decisions.
  • Weekends are the biggest challenges, this is when I have large blocks of free time. It’s helpful to journal out possible things to do that day on those mornings.

Watch: Is It Ok To Play Video Games on the Weekends Only?

  • I’ve been more loose and open to connecting with other people. A great example is my roommates. Before when I was gaming I tensed up when they were around. I didn’t want them around so I could enjoy my game in solitude. But now I’m much more welcoming of the company.
  • I read more. Over the last 3 months, I think I read at least 200 pages a month, which was much more than the preceding months.
  • I went to work more. In the past there have been days when I’ve missed work so I could binge on a game for another day. 0% chance of that happening if I haven’t been gaming.
  • It did get easier, and as it got easier, I was able to put more focus on other challenges and goals.
  • When I began cutting out gaming there is some evidence that the addiction “switched over” to other things. I would drink more, binge on television, and watch more porn. It’s important for me to be aware of when this happens and actually work recovery rather than allow myself to give in to other things that aren’t healthy for me. My recovery especially involves giving it over to my higher power and connecting with others.

What’s next:

  • After completing the detox, I have no plans to go back to gaming or watching Twitch. There have been too many benefits of not doing it, and too many poor consequences in the past of when I was doing it.
  • I will experience urges from time to time, it’s just part of being human.
  • There may be some times when I’m hanging out with some friends or family and they’re playing a multiplayer game. In those situations, I’ll need to assess the situation and how I’m feeling before I dive in. In some of those situations, I think it’s okay for me to game. In others, it’s better for me to pass. Playing a light game for an hour or two is much different than playing a more intense game for 6 hours straight into the wee hours of the morning.
  • My next goal is 180 days. I will continue to post on the forums once every week or two, read others’ journals, and welcome newcomers. This site is a wonderful reminder of why I chose to quit.
  • Now that my cravings for gaming seem to be more under control, I’d like to focus more of my willpower on giving up porn. This is the other addiction that has been with me since I was a boy. Other goals include getting fit and getting more involved with my church. All this, of course, means getting out of my house more.

Thanks to everyone in the community who have shared their own journeys and given me some support along the way.

This post originally appeared on the Game Quitters Forum. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article 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.

england

“I would constantly have thoughts about how much easier it would be for everyone else if I weren’t here.”

I’m a 23 year old skinny bloke hailing from the tropical island of England. From a young age I haven’t been the happiest person, in fact, I’ve been rather negative, easy to piss off, and well a grump in practically every sense of the word.

I never really had issues making acquaintances, I still have my best friends from a good 10+ years back, and wasn’t bullied in school, but for reasons I’d like to keep private, I always hated myself. I would constantly have thoughts about how much easier it would be for everyone else if I weren’t here.

Now I’m not sure if you’ve been in this situation but let me tell you, it’s one hell of a vicious circle. Internally I loved everyone I surrounded myself with, I loved to help people through their problems, I loved giving advice and things of that nature or making them laugh which was usually through self-deprecation.

However, when you don’t love yourself it’s extremely hard to show affection to those around you (those that I did help, I came across as more of a therapist than a caring friend), but when it came to family I was always negative, especially towards my parents.

Negativity Spreads Negativity

So when those people would respond back to me in a negative way that would confirm to myself that I, in lack of a better way of putting this, was a piece of shit.


This persisted for 15 years, getting worse as I got older. I had one way to release, gaming. I never really gamed for the competitiveness, although I will note that I loved shitting on people in 3v3s, 2v2s, and battlegrounds in World of Warcraft.

My main pull to gaming was the escapism, I didn’t feel like I had to escape from anyone or anything, but myself and my own thoughts.

I would play immersive and heavily story driven semi-believable fantasy rpg’s and mmo’s which I could set goals in, for e.g: “to obtain a level up before coming off” for about 12-16 hours a day. Often pulling all nighters.

Obviously on paper this is absolutely not good for my health at all, however I don’t regret it. I know that factually I wouldn’t be here writing this message now if it weren’t for gaming. As cheesy as it sounds it saved me from myself.

So skip ahead a few years of increased parental concern with my gaming, with which they’d wrongly link my bad temper and attitude to games because I would never tell them my actual reasons, for all they knew I gamed so much because I was obsessed, because I loved games for no reason really.

Truth be told a year before last I got in a really shitty state. I’ve always been one to be able to reason with myself, I’ve never self-harmed for the sole fact that I don’t believe in it. If I had reasoned with myself and come to the conclusion that actually nothing bad for anyone would happen if I ended my life, I would have done it.

Important: Thinking of Harming Yourself? Seek Help Immediately

I never confided in anyone, not even professionals, because I thought I was too much of a burden so I would deal with my own problems. I would either lie there for hours finding excuses for myself or if I felt it was getting too much, boot up the pc and play WoW.


You might argue that getting my head in a good book would be just as beneficial and immersive, however I’d disagree. With video games like WoW they’re not just a game, but an experience, a game so outlandish but with enough elements of realism and believability that you can fully sink yourself into it. You see, hear, and arguably feel everything.

In addition to all of that I could set personal goals to focus on before coming off each day, so it was perfect for me to escape to.

 At one point during my depression I did try to quit games, thinking that this would somehow benefit me. At first I recall it did, for perhaps a week or so, but quickly it was making me worse as I’d just have nothing to turn to. Things that I’d try to replace it with just couldn’t compete, so I quickly went back to gaming.

I Had Enough

I decided to no longer be stubborn, that evidently I couldn’t deal with my problems alone given it had just been getting progressively worse over the years (sometimes laying dormant, but would happily reveal its ugly head like some kinda twisted whack-a-mole), and so I sought out my universities therapist and through him, a friend, failed meds, and (again this will sound cheesy) some form of epiphany mid-last December I can honestly say that my problems feel like they’re behind me.

I’m a happy man most days (can’t be happy every day or else I’ll lose the inherently British art of being miserable), loving, caring, and both my friends and family have told me I’m different which I think is good.

I was still gaming as much as before, 12-16 hours a day, up until the 5th of January this year when I realized that actually as ironic as it is, what had helped me to stay sane and somewhat functional for all these years was now actually my big problem.

Must Read: How Quitting Video Games Saved José’s Life

Because I had become so used to games, it just felt natural from then on to keep playing them, even though my main big reason for playing them so much in the first place (to escape) was gone.

I’d made gaming a habit, and if you know anything about how habits work on a neurological level you’d know they’re factually impossible to completely remove and can only be overshadowed with a more compulsive habit.

I made it my goal to stop gaming because as soon as I realized it was now a problem, I became far less interested in gaming. I stopped gaming altogether without giving a thought to it for weeks. I then realized how empty my life was without it. I had absolutely nothing to fill my time with (besides university work), so my spare time was spent just zoning out really.

I did eventually start playing a game again which led to more games, but nothing like 12 hours, it’d be roughly 8 hours at max but more regularly 3-4 hours not even every day, still a massive improvement for someone like myself.

Where I Am Now

I’ve been looking for things to fill my time with. I’ve changed my diet, eating more regularly and extremely healthy foods rather than normal food (my old diet wasn’t bad, containing no junk food, but I saw room for improvement and increased the quantity).

I do some body-weight exercises at home, I read books, have a focused goal for my actual life now, and have plans for other past times too.

Generally I’m just in a completely better place. I don’t play WoW anymore, but will play the soundtrack and still have the game and hundreds of other games still installed, because I feel this way if I have them but don’t play them I’m not running away from the problem, I’m facing it head on. Listening to the tracks gives me nostalgia, but no longer the urge to play, just fond memories.

This story was submitted by a member of Game Quitters. Sharing your story is one of the best ways to encourage others to quit gaming too. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Watch: Should You Listen to Gaming Music?

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.

sunset clouds

“When I looked back at the 3 years I had spent since college I didn’t see a life well lived, or dreams pursued, I just saw an existence.”

Gaming is a shameful addiction. That is what I felt for a long time, and I know that many do as well. Like so many addicts I hid my problems from even my close friends, loved ones, and of course the weak justifications to myself.

Once you start to fight back against it all the negative emotions you have been trying to deal with come to the surface, and you have to face them, and that is no easy task. I want to tell you a little about my back story and how I was able to stop gaming, and the challenges I still face.

Like many people here I termed myself as having an addictive personality. That was my excuse for a while, but then I looked further back at the origins of where my gaming addiction came from, and diagnosing it’s pathology allowed me to understand it. To put a name to it. In the old mythologies often being able to speak the name of the force of malevolence allowed you power over them that you otherwise would not have.

Origins

Born in the early 90s my first games were all PC based. Early on I remember weekends being spent, not entirely but a good chunk, playing strategy games. I remember walking through BestBuy aisles back when they went three rows deep with PC games and feeling excited.

I didn’t know it then because I was young, and wouldn’t understand it until much later, but what I really wanted was escape. Escape from my family life. My mother remarried a step-father who yelled. He was never physically abusive, but I remember hiding every time they yelled at each other. It was traumatic.

I used to hide under the table in a fetal position when I was six until it was over. Nothing was ever explained to me, but even at the young age of eight I would be sought out as emotional support for my mother to help her cope, and being a good son I did what I could, but in those yelling episodes I wanted to be somewhere else very badly. These memories stuck themselves deep into my psyche.

Watch: How to Overcome Escapism

As I continued to grow up, with all the awkwardness and boredom of adolescence, gaming stayed with me a constant, consistent companion that I could turn to when I was bored and wanted an escape. I cannot now fathom the many lost weekends I had. All those great moments of youth, all those opportunities to mess up and try new things, understand the world better. I knew I lost those to gaming.

College

When college came around I resolved to stop gaming because I knew innately that my experience would not be the same if I continued. And so for a while I did. I didn’t return to the PC games I knew before, but I did have a bad stretch with chess and porn addiction my sophomore year. Come towards the end of senior year the addiction crept back in.

After graduation I moved back home to save money while I paid off loans. Being back in that old environment, and the stress of trying to find a job caused me to relapse, and this time harder. It was everyday until 1 or 2am, only to wake up around 11am or 12pm with most of the day gone and nothing accomplished. I eventually got a job, and then after that one, another came along for a span of 3 years.

I tried numerous times to quit gaming, but that coping mechanism, that escapism built deep inside me kept being triggered, causing me to come back further and further. Things really came to a head when living with a roommate that was never home. I started playing his PS4, and sometimes until 5 or 6am when I would have work at 8am that same day.

Getting 1 to 2 hours of sleep even 1 day a week made the entire week that much harder with everything that I had to do. I knew that I had to stop, but I wasn’t going to talk about it either because I was ashamed. It didn’t fit the mold of who people knew me to be. It seems silly now, because being courageous starts with being truthful with who you are, but true courage like that is not easy to manifest when it can change the way people see you.

90 Day Detox

Talking about it was a big and scary step, but I can tell you right now it is the first step. You are already having these conversations in your head, but you need to speak to someone, maybe someone close, maybe a professional, hell maybe even a stranger to begin with, but you need to speak it’s name. Addiction is a monster that steals life away from you.

Join: The Game Quitters Forum

It was a very slow process for me beginning close to 9 months ago, and the first step is talking about it and owning up to it. We live in a remarkable and beautiful world where there is endless beauty and opportunity, spending it watching colored pixels move is exactly as those who just watch their own shadow’s in Plato’s Cave allegory.

What really did it for me was that when I looked back at the 3 years I had spent since college I didn’t see a life well lived, or dreams pursued, I just saw an existence.

I knew there were things that I strongly wanted to accomplish, but all of my free time on the weekends was going towards gaming, towards watching passively colored pixels while I made a few clicks. It was so weak and ungrateful for the gift of life that I had been given. My health, my relationships, and my life were spiraling downhill.

The day after an all-night gaming session I would intentionally avoid my girlfriend because all I wanted to do was sleep, and I didn’t want her to see a shameful zombie – me.

Eventually I opened up to her about my addiction.

Owning up to it with her, my family, and God helped to further strengthen my now desperate feelings of needing to end this cycle. I could see where it was taking me. A life filled with regrets and resentment. A life on the sidelines, while I missed out on the greatest game there ever was or will be. I knew that wasn’t me. I wasn’t going to go quietly into that good night. The rage built up.

Soon feelings of “I need this to de-stress” became “I am better than this.” The biggest help in my recovery was initially talking about it and then substituting that bad habit of gaming with productive habits.

This is incredibly important: what drove you into gaming is going to take a long time to deal with, but in the meantime to make the situation better substitute one habit for another – a healthy habit.

In my case it was rock climbing, and reading. With both there were the same challenges of accomplishing something and an enjoyable journey to get there, so it fit right into the dopamine scheme. 90 days past and I still feel urges. But will power is a muscle and it cane be build upon and worked on. Cold showers can help here.

Watch: How to Improve Your Willpower

The difference between now and a few months ago is the clarity of mission and direction my life is now going towards. It’s something that others who have stopped can attest to. I am simply living a more fulfilling life filled with more human interaction, betterment, and adventure. I feel more confident than ever and happier with myself than ever before. I see my life trending upwards.

Don’t let ANYONE, especially not yourself tell you that a little bit is ok, or that you are just doing what makes you happy. It is the worst kind of trap. It is the lie told to Eve in the garden that everything will be ok. That there will be no consequences. THIS IS IT. This is the one life that you have, and the time you have now will be gone so very soon. If you take the easy way out you are missing out on joys and adventures 100X than whatever you can get from gaming.

At least that’s the decision I’ve made and I’m grateful for it. I hope you will too.

TLDR;

  • Gaming was a coping mechanism for escaping family reality
  • Came back around after college
  • Every relapse worse
  • Relapses started to affect life very negatively
  • Realized I was wasting my life away
  • Started talking about problem
  • Replaced gaming with reading and Rock Climbing
  • Lead more fulfilling life.
  • There are joys and life so much greater than gaming out there.

This story was submitted by a member of StopGaming. Sharing your story is one of the best ways to encourage others to quit gaming too. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article 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.

“I finally realize that I have slowly ruined my wife’s life one [game] at a time over these 10 years.”

one more game

Every gamer knows this phrase. We’ve said it countless times. We’ve said it to our parents, friends, girlfriends, wives, and children. For those of you that don’t know the meaning, it’s an endless cycle. This phrase is uttered after every game when we know that it’s time for us to stop playing.

The truth is that we actually mean it when we say it. But if a game ends too quickly or we lose too badly, we believe that there is no way that we can end on that game. Regardless, It’s ‘harmless’. Why can’t I play one more game? What’s so important that you can’t wait 30 more minutes? I’ve thought this way my entire life until my son’s first spring break.

Spring Break

I woke up early and started gaming. He and I were the only people in the house so I could play until he woke up. I was in the middle of an intense game when he awoke. I told him that I would get him some breakfast as soon as I finished. Not long after, my group was done. I got up and made him some breakfast. He wanted to watch T.V. while he ate. I liked this idea because it would allow me to play more video games.

As soon as he is done eating and watching his show, he and I will play together all day. After he finished eating, he asked if he could go to his room and watch a few more videos. Of course! We will both be doing what we want and having fun. This trend continued until his bedtime. He starting crying and making me feel guilty because I told him that we would play all spring break. This was our boy’s week. I told my little man not to worry at all. We had four days left with just us.

Watch: THERE WILL ALWAYS BE “ANOTHER” GAME

The next day started different. He woke up very early and started playing by himself. I slept in because I stayed up way too late playing games. I made him breakfast and he went into his room to watch videos. I hopped on my computer and starting gaming until he was done. He didn’t come out of his room after he finished eating. He probably thought that I would just continue playing. He came out around lunch time. We definitely couldn’t play now. I had to feed him lunch.

After lunch, he needed to take a nap. I will play with him after that. He slept a long time. It was time for supper and a bath. He had to go to bed after that. I was really wanting to play with him today but I just couldn’t find an opportunity.

The next day was going to be different. We were going to play all day. I went into his room shortly after waking up to get the toys ready. His room was filthy. There was no way we could play in that mess. I told him to cleanup and then we would play. He stayed in his room all that day and all the next day not cleaning. It was his fault this time. I was trying to play with him and he wouldn’t clean his room. He finally cleaned it before going to bed on Thursday. Tomorrow was the last day of spring break and we were going to play all day.

Our Last Day

We woke up around 9am and ate breakfast. He wanted to watch a video so I played a game until he was done. We started playing and having fun. We were having a blast. We took a break to eat lunch. My wife called and told me that our baby girl was sick and I had to go get her. Well, playtime was over.

I spent the entire week telling myself that I wanted to play with him and we only played for 2 hours. In all honesty, I play with him all of the time so he didn’t see that week as a big deal. But for me, reality started to set in. I noticed that I was truly addicted to video games.

I started thinking that if I did that to him over the course of one week, how much have I done it to him over the past 3 years? Then a horrible feeling hit me like a ton of bricks. How many times have I done this to my wife?

Watch: EVERY HOUR COUNTS

Where My Problem Began

I can actually pinpoint the day it started. My wife and I were in college. We went to Best Buy to buy a computer. We also purchased World of Warcraft: the Burning Crusade. It was the best and most addicting game that I have ever played.

We only had one account and one computer so we had to share. It was awesome because she loved the game as much as I did. She wasn’t a gamer like me though so she didn’t feel the need to hit max level or grind dailies. She didn’t feel the need to find a guild and do endgame content. This was the main reason that we never fought over the computer. We had some great times talking about the game and made some great friends that played the game.

Eventually, she stopped caring about the game or I made her stop caring. I would allow her to go to bed alone while I raided with my friends. I would stay up late, sleep in, and look for any chance that I could to play the game. I had to plan nights and weekends around this game. It got so bad that I placed the computer in the living room near our T.V. so that I could pretend to watch whatever she was watching while I was farming stuff. This lasted for about 4 years.

After I graduated college, I got a career so it was time to stop this nonsense. I could no longer stay up late during the week so I quit playing World of Warcraft. Now, I could spend all of my time with my beautiful wife.

Our relationship was almost back to normal and then I found my next game: League of Legends. It was amazing and each game was only an average of 30 minutes long. It had the same issue though. I had to plan to play with my friends and I just couldn’t quit mid-game if she needed me. This slowly started to cause problems. We would start fighting. I would compromise or do whatever was needed so that I could get back to the game. Even when we went on dates, I would count the time until I could start playing.

I would text all of my friends a rough time to be on. I would get on immediately after we got home. I mean I just spent with her. What more did she want? My friends were waiting on me. We have our whole lives together and she wants to argue with me over some game time. This made no sense. We always worked through our issues though.

We Had a Baby

Then one day, we got the best news. We were having a baby. Time to grow up and take care of my wife for real and get ready for this baby. I waited on my wife hand and foot. I would get her anything she needed. I would rub her feet until she fell asleep. Then it was game time. I would stay up really late on weekends because it was the only time that I could play.

She was happy though because I was always there for her. She went to bed by herself for almost 5 years now so that wasn’t new. Me not playing all of the time during the day was more than she could have asked for. 9 months flew by. We were ready to be parents.

We did everything together. We were doing great at parenting. Then after I got accustomed to the baby’s routine, I figured out that I could get back on a gaming schedule. I could play League of Legends during the day and raid on World of Warcraft at night. It was perfect. I made a rule that my wife’s nap would be at the same time as the baby’s nap. She would take our son to the park or to a play place and send me Snapchats. It was great. They were both so happy and I was getting to do what I wanted. Being a parent and a husband wasn’t bad at all. Then one day, we received some great news yet again.

We were having a baby girl. It’s just like we always wanted: one boy and one girl. We were truly blessed. I knew my game time was over now and I was fine with that. My wife and son and I moved before we had the baby. We got our house setup and we were so ready. After she was born, we got the whole family in a good routine. They would all nap and I could play League of Legends during the day still.

We would have family time after they all woke up until they went to bed. Then I would hop on my computer and raid at night. It was all going according to plan. I was getting to be a loving father who played with his kids during the day. I was a great husband because I would help clean house and hang out with my wife during the day as well. The night was mine though. After everyone went to bed, I would do what I have been wanting to do. I was living the dream.

My wife and I would fight over the video games occasionally but I would always modify my playing to make her happy. I would still figure out a way to get my playtime while doing whatever she needed. I felt like the best husband and father in the world… until that spring break.

Years of Lost Time

Tomorrow is my 10 year wedding anniversary and I finally realize that I have slowly ruined my wife’s life one day at a time over these 10 years. Thinking about that makes me sick. We were high school sweethearts and she is my soulmate. She deserves so much better. I have deleted all games off my phone and stopped playing all games.

I will start playing again casually when it is time. I want to start going to bed with my wife and making my family feel special. I am blessed to have this second chance and I will not waste it.

I hope to help someone that was in my position. You don’t have to be a full blown addict to ruin someone else’s life. It can slowly happen one day at a time.

This story was submitted by a member of StopGaming. Sharing your story is one of the best ways to encourage others to quit gaming too. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Recommended: Joe’s Story (One Year 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.

gaming addict

When did you start gaming? What games?

This is the fun part. I am 56 years old. I was born in 1961. So when I was most of you’s age, there were no video games. We had pinball, monopoly, dice and cards. Yes, I am that ancient. I played some Pong when it came out (as a coin-op game). I played Defender and Tempest.

It was like a dream come true when I moved to Silicon Valley and got a great job at Atari. I was a tech on the Atari 800 and 400 (8 bit) computer production lines. Yes, they manufactured them in California. I actually had to play Super Breakout in the course of testing broken computers.

But what we’re really talking about here is PC games. I never got into consoles. I learned to program in Atari BASIC. It got me into programming.

I played the classics on my Atari 800. Centipede, Donkey Kong, Defender, and JumpMan (it’s very addictive). This was around 1984 when I got married.

Later I got a PC and played Scorched Earth, which was a fun port of an old mainframe game. Eventually I downloaded the Descent demo and the Tomb Raiders demo. After my old 8 bit games, I was just freaking amazed at what they had done. I got a disk for Total Annihilation and the first expansion. I actually played that with my daughters.

Then online gaming came. I fell into this cycle of downloading games, playing hard for months, and getting mad at them only to download something else. I stuck mostly to free-to-play games. Now and then I would pony up for some add-on content.

I don’t remember the order, but there was Star Wars: The Old Republic, Tera Rising, City of Heroes, DC Universe Online, Champions Online, Battlestar Galactica Online, Star Trek Online, Eve Online, Blade and Soul, I was in Second Life most of the time. There were other games that I played to a lesser extent.

What did you like about gaming?

I liked that in gaming there was always a little victory every few minutes, because in real life you can go weeks or months without winning anything. I also had hopes that I would find some good buddies online – a guild or league that would become friends and become close. As most of us know, you rarely-to-never find anyone real, and your friends are only as close as your last raid wins.

Watch: What to Stay Friends With Your Gamer Friends

As a coder I was taken in by the sheer beauty of games. The airless wonder of the early games, the grunge and decay of the more current ones. I still find Homeworld and Tera to be high art.

I would write business database software all day just hoping to be able to one day create such crazy and wondrous programs. I didn’t end up doing much game design though, the abject laziness I had fallen into made it so that I was unable to overcome the hurdles of learning game design. It is quite involved after all.

When did you notice it becoming a problem?

I knew it was a problem in one way or another since forever. I just had too little willpower to even try to do anything about it. Real life made me feel sad and unwanted, at least in games I could beat a boss or level up every now and then.

What consequences did you start to experience?

Well, let’s see. I let my business fail, I lost everything in 2008. Pension, savings, 401K, medical insurance. I had an office for my business downtown, I would show up there at 8AM and come home at 11PM having done nothing but game all day.

On weekends I went in anyway, even though there was no work. It took well over a year to burn through the severance pay (mostly because I had the foresight to pay off my mortgage rather than refinance it 30 times to get a boat or go to Hawaii every year).

When did you decide to quit?

I thought of what my tombstone might look like. Here lies Bryan Valencia, Consumer of Entertainment. Or even worse, Here lies Bryan Valencia, Mediocre Gamer. Take a walk in the cemetery once. You’ll see epitaphs like Beloved Father and Husband. I thought about that, and I realized I was not anything like that. My legacy was checked out loser.

To me, the legacy I leave behind matters. My family, my achievements. I had fallen into a state where I didn’t think anything I wanted was possible. I was in a frustrated, lonely and hopeless place. I would get fed up that I had played a couple years in SWTOR and maxxed out all my characters.

I kept playing until I got all the first level PVP gear. I didn’t know at the time there were lots more levels of gear. I would queue for a dungeon and get trounced. You can’t get better gear unless you win, so I got frustrated, gave millions to some newbies, and uninstalled.

I had done this many times with many games, and I always went back to another game within a few months. I wanted this to be the last uninstall. I had no games left on my computer, but I had nothing else to fill my 40 hours a week, so after a week I loaded another game. I felt like such a failure that time.

The last couple of times, I found that my life still sucked, and I had lowered everyone’s expectations so much that they were living their lives without me. I found that I had NOTHING to fill my time with. I spent days bingeing on Netflix and YouTube.

Then I googled for how to quit video gaming.

Did you seek help or support? Start the detox? Relapse?

When I found myself unable to work, I saw a doctor. He got me started on meds. I’m still not sure how well that’s working out.

I started the detox as soon as I read the forums and the material Cam supplied. I made it all the way through on the first try. So far I have not relapsed. I’m over 100 days now. I also started taking a few classes at SkillShare. I actually went to the symphony! I have stopped hoping everyday that my wife will leave the house so I could game undisturbed.

What benefit(s) have you gotten from quitting?

Well, it’s early yet, but the primary thing is I have found hope again. I no longer feel helpless and trapped. I feel like my life may amount to something after all.

Inspire others:

This story was submitted by a member of our Game Quitters community. Sharing your story is one of the best ways to encourage others to quit gaming too. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Need help?

If you are reading this and you are 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 came to Japan with big dreams. Three years later I was stuck at home, with no friends, no job, playing 30 to 40 hours a week. I was depressed.”



kyoto japan

Saturday, October the 15th, I completed three months without putting my hands on a single video game (console game, computer game, smartphone game, you name it).

Before I go further, I’d like to make it clear that I don’t have anything against video games. I don’t want to go in this merit, whether video games are good or bad – I’m not qualified for that.

What I want to share with this story is not a debate about video games, but my personal experience with them (and the thousands of others who suffer in silence).

Those who know me well enough know that I’ve always considered myself sort of addicted to video games. I’ve had the habit of playing since I was about 9, when I got my very first console. I was hooked, and since then, gaming had been a part of my life.

The truth is even though I called it an “addiction”, gaming had never brought me problems. I had good grades at school, and many friends with whom I shared different hobbies. I’ve had a band, graduated from college, got a job, learned how to dance, received a promotion, etc. My social life was relatively active, yet I’ve always found time to escape for a few hours on the weekend to play games.

It had been like this for many years. Gaming was just another part of my life.

Living Abroad


One day I decided I had enough of my hometown and tried my luck here in Kyoto, Japan. My plans were to study Japanese for a year in a language school and then, after getting a grasp of the language, find my place in the Japanese workforce as an engineer.

At that time, four years ago, it seemed like a good plan. I made friends from different countries. The classes took only 4 hours a day so I had a lot of free time, much more than what I’d like to have.

I had been to Japan before so I didn’t feel like exploring the city as much as I should. My friends also didn’t seem to be interested in sightseeing either.

I felt like I was in high school once again, when my only responsibility was to do my homework. After finishing it, I had the whole day available to do anything I wanted.

From all the endless possibilities that are available to us in the modern world, I decided that checking which games were hot at the moment was the best idea (ugh!). Fortunately (or more likely unfortunately), one of these games ran perfectly on my old laptop, a game called League of Legends.

When a Habit Becomes an Addiction

bad habits


After a few weeks I started seeing many of my fellow friends getting better grades than me. That didn’t matter much because I knew I only had to focus a little on my studies to be the best student of the school.

The problem was that I was too busy playing games to focus on anything else.

Meanwhile, I got two different part-time jobs that filled my then 24h/week I was allowed to work under a student visa. These jobs helped me ease the burden I had created of playing over four hours per day, every day.

This situation continued until the end of my classes. As my Japanese was still not good enough, I decided to study one more year by myself and then take the proficiency exam. But deep inside, I was happy as a boy after finishing his last school day. I wouldn’t have to go to school anymore – which means more time to game.

Some of my friends went back to their countries, others stayed at school for another year; all the other people I met in Japan lived in different cities. Home alone, working only a few days a week, I used basically all the time I had left to play and improve my skills in this new game, which was online and extremely competitive.

After another six months without any real life progress (I was getting better at the game), I decided to stop. I had to do something different, for my deadline was getting near and my goals still seemed very far away.

I got a different job, one that gave me the feeling of what it is like to be part of the Japanese society. I got married to my girlfriend, so the working limit I had on my visa was gone. I started working more hours, but I couldn’t stop playing video games.

All the time I was supposed to be studying was used to game more. One year after I had left school my Japanese level still wasn’t good enough to get approved in the exam.

The worse of it all, I didn’t acknowledge that gaming was a problem in my life. I thought addiction, real addiction, was something different, far away from my reality. No, not me. I’m not sick.

Eventually, and with a little bit of luck, I got the certificate of proficiency that I needed. I got approved in my first try on the exam. Six months after all my friends from school got it. Yet, I did it! And that made me go on without realizing the damage that gaming was doing to me.

Depression


Actually, I was only aware of it six months ago, when my work contract came to an end, and I was left with one part-time job, working twice a week.

Playing games was good – too good. It was immersive, challenging, social, stimulating. However, I felt devastated after turning off the computer. I was defeat itself. Millions of thoughts came through my head. I left my family and friends in my home country, quit a good job, and promising career.

I came to Japan with big dreams. Three years later I was stuck at home, with no friends, no job, playing 30 to 40 hours a week. I was depressed.

I didn’t know what to do. I tried to limit my gaming time. I tried playing less addictive games. But I couldn’t do anything but play. I changed from one game to another, always saying to myself “after I finish with this one, I’ll stop”. But whenever I finished a game, there was another cool game being released. There will always be.



Watch: There Will Always Be Another Game

The 90 Day Detox


After a lot of research on the internet, reading a lot of advice from people who had no idea what they were talking about… I discovered Game Quitters. Suddenly, I finally understood I had a problem with games. A problem that many other people shared.

I wasn’t all by myself anymore.

The gaming habit was strong, very strong, and I struggled another three months before asking for help from the community. But once I took that step, everything started to become clearer in my head.

When you show up and make a public commitment, you will do everything within your reach to keep your word. It was then that I committed to the 90 day detox and to re-evaluate my relationship with video games.

During those 90 days I learned a lot about my addiction and the reasons why I had kept playing video games. I used games to fill in the void I had in my life.

The Change


I had already left behind a huge part of me when I left my home country to come to Japan: my career as an engineer (only a few people know how hard it was for me to get that diploma). Now I was leaving behind another important part, a hobby I had since childhood.

I was losing my identity.

However, this change was more than necessary. I had to get in touch with my inner self and find out who I really was. I had to reach for my soul, begin to dream again and live my life with purpose – a life that I would be proud of living.

Watch: How Video Games Fulfill Your Need For Purpose

Of course, this was not something to be done within three months – to quit playing is only the beginning. It was only a single, but required step.

In the last three months, a lot has changed:

  • I started exercising again and built better eating habits. I exercise six days a week. I am more selective of what I’m eating. I went from 55kg to 60kg (I’m 178cm tall) and feel a lot better about my looks and health.
  • I read about 10 books, twice as much as what I had read last year. This was due to a major mindset shift so I could overcome my problem and move forward day after day.
  • I bought myself a guitar (with money that I would have probably spent on games) and played my first guitar solo. I had been playing guitar for many years, yet, had never been able to play a solo.
  • I started writing. It started with journaling, then I wrote a few short stories with some friends. This is a new experience to me, and it is something that I never thought I’d be doing before.
  • I study every day. Not only Japanese, but I realize now that I need a different skill set if I’m going to start something new.
  • I learned how to cook. Instead of buying take away food every day I often prepare my own food and I cook for my wife twice a week.
  • The exposure to new (and old) experiences opened my eyes to different perspectives. Today I have a better idea of the things I want for my life.
  • I understood that feeling good and being happy are two very different things. And that the more frightening thing is the leap you have been planning to make, the bigger choice is the need to make it.

Watch: Are You Having Fun, or Are You Happy?

Final Thoughts


The message I’d like to leave is: my problem was with video games, but you can change video games to a different word and you’ll have a bunch of people who suffer in silence because of a compulsive behaviour that took them over, and keeps them from living a fulfilling life.

Porn, Netflix, alcohol, social networks, TV, YouTube… any of these things can change from a healthy habit to a vice that overcomes you, and drains all of your time without mercy. I can see clearly now the role I was playing in the entertainment industry. I was a consumer.

The world has evolved, and so has our problems.

Maybe there is someone you know that might be alone, in pain, suffering from an abusive habit that keeps her from living a life worth living. If that person is you, reach out. Don’t wait one year like I did. We are stronger together.

The article above was written and published in October, 2016, on Medium in Portuguese with minor edits. Except for one week that I played Action Quake 2 online with my brother (pure nostalgia) for a couple of hours in May 2017, I’m still game free.

I have fond memories of video games, but the thought of playing them again seems so silly to me now. I can easily think of dozens of things I would rather be doing with my time. I want to be a published writer. I want to own a profitable business. I want to teach. I want to learn. I want to make an impact in this world. Gaming just doesn’t fit those goals.

Inspire others:

This story was submitted by a member of our Game Quitters community. Sharing your story is one of the best ways to encourage others to quit gaming too. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Need help?

If you are reading this and you are 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.