About Game Quitters

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?

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“I was on the verge of flunking out of college.”

college

One of my earliest memories was playing Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The perfect gateway drug into the addicting world of video games. I played it with my brothers, and eventually on my own when I was given a Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

I thought I was going to be a gamer forever, but I began to consider quitting video games when I was a freshman in college at the University of Illinois.

What triggered this was the day I wound up on academic probation. I was taking very difficult classes at the time, such as Calculus, Physics, Spanish 3 and Macro Economics, but after 12 years of being a straight A student, I was on the verge of flunking out of college. Failure is a wonderful motivator.

Now I was also a very active athlete in high school, competing in track and football and spending any spare time in the gym, or playing video games. To give you an idea of how active I was and the way I was eating, I often drank a Slimfast with my dinner, which was large without the meal replacement drink. I’m guessing around 5,000 calories a day, but I would still lose weight after a season of football.

So when I entered college, I had no concept of a healthy diet and was accustomed to significant activity. I was spending my days playing College Football on the PS2 and a lot of Command and Conquer online with another friend from High School and spending my nights at parties drinking.

Between the amount of beers I was consuming, and the late nights of gaming, I had gained the stereotypical freshman 15. Except I was an overachiever so I managed to do it all in one semester, not one year.

After one semester of freedom, I had managed to nearly flunk out of school, gain 15 pounds, and was wasting my youth by drinking or gaming throughout most of my days. I needed a restart, but I was overwhelmed and unsure how to do it.

One morning my father came up to Champaign for a visit, and I told him that I was on academic probation and asked him for advice. I was terrified and not used to failure. He told me that I basically had two choices.

One, I could drop out and transfer to a different school which only angered me but I bottled it up for now. The second option he told me I had, was to buckle down and get my GPA up over 2.00 and to maybe switch majors.

Looking back on this, I wonder if maybe he was trying to get me fired up because he knew how competitive I was. I told him I liked Economics and he asked what grade I got in that class. It was my only A out of my 5 classes.

Well, now I have a goal, and like a gamer, I had an achievement in sight and I was motivated by not letting anyone else know that I had failed. I enjoyed Economics so I switched to that as my new major. I needed a 2.50 GPA to be accepted and would thus need a 3.20 GPA in my second semester to accomplish this. I was just focusing on survival at this point, but I hoped for the best, regardless.

I didn’t think at the time I would need to quit gaming, but I decided to not play games until my GPA was back up over 2.00 so I could stay in school. The following semester I never touched the games, and I didn’t drink at all. I was going to bed at reasonable hours and waking up refreshed. I felt reborn and ready to conquer the world, or at least the very manageable classes on my schedule.

In my new classes, I had run into an old basketball rival who had the same major as me. We spent our youth beating each other up playing in countless basketball leagues and for one summer, even played on the same team, so I knew him well and was happy to see a familiar face in a classroom of about 500. We exchanged numbers, or maybe it was AOL Instant Messenger names; this was a few years ago.

Anyway, we end up meeting to play basketball several times a week. I love to be active, but I admit, I hate the treadmill. I usually can’t run a mile, but in basketball, I probably run several because its enjoyable. The trick to losing weight is finding an activity where you are having fun, or you won’t stick with it.

Watch: Why I Quit Gaming: Nicholas Bayerle

Fast forward to the end of my second semester and I have lost the 15 pounds, found an old friend and most importantly, had a 3.20 GPA for the semester which brought my average up to 2.60. I was accepted into my new major and had gained and lost the freshman 15 all during one hectic year. After all of that, thank God for Summer vacation.

Online Gaming: A New Challenger Has Appeared

college bike

Over the next few years of my college days, I got back into gaming. I had mastered the balance of getting school work done and enjoying my leisure time with gaming, but it still came at a cost.

This was the time when online gaming went mainstream and Grand Theft Auto IV and Call of Duty 4 had just been released. I wasn’t prepared for how addicting gaming was about to become and got sucked back in. Now my grades didn’t suffer, but I recall playing around 250 hours of Call of Duty 4 and probably an equal amount in GTA 4.

There are simply much better ways for a man to spend his days; especially when literal days’ worth of time was being devoted to a single video game. I would go back and forth with this addiction depending on how much free time I had, but basically my default hobby when I had time to kill was gaming.

I knew there were people out there who were more obsessed with gaming, but that type of thinking leads to a life of mediocrity.

So yeah, I would hang out with friends, play games of basketball and go to class… well, most of the time. Still, at the end of the day, I knew I was missing out on life by chasing virtual achievements and trophies that were ultimately meaningless and that leads to an unfulfilling lifestyle.

Watch: How Video Games Fulfill Your Need for Purpose

Despite all the struggles of my first semester, I had managed to graduate with my degree and had landed a job with a Fortune 500 company. All the struggles and hard work had finally paid off with a good paying job. I started this job and was living in a small town in Indiana, where I knew absolutely zero people, but times were tough and I was grateful for the job.

I would go to work and stare at a screen all day, and then go home to again, stare at a screen.

Occasionally I would go out for drinks with coworkers and even took up kayaking with one of them. Most of my time however, was spent in front of screens and, with a good income and not many friends, gaming became my go-to outlet for fun and social interaction.

I did make friends online, and would play games together but it was still lonely at times. I worked long hours and after going to the gym, I would be pretty worn out and gaming was how I would relax.

I later moved to another town in Indiana that had a bit more going on and made better friends over time, but when you are new to a city, it takes time to meet people. So, when you have nothing better to do, you go back to old habits.

I remember one weekend I discovered Mass Effect. I had heard it had a good story and was fun so I started playing it one Saturday morning after breakfast. I was immediately hooked with the story and had lost track of time. I remember stopping to go smoke and I was shocked when I noticed it was dark outside. I just couldn’t believe how I lost track of time but I was fully immersed in this game.

I had missed lunch and dinner and it was almost midnight. I made an unhealthy quick meal; maybe pizza, and watched Netflix, then went to bed. The next day I did the same thing and again, I had missed two meals.

Now I like to eat and even get a little angry if I don’t eat often enough so this was rare behavior for me. Though when I got immersed into a game’s story, occasionally I would forget to eat or just grab something quick and unhealthy.

I had beat the game and it was one of my favorite games I have ever played, but it came at a cost. I had wasted an entire weekend sitting on a couch playing some game. I would do this again when The Last of Us came out and to a lesser extent with Battlefield 4 on numerous days. Its moments like this that create responses like “nothing much” when people ask what you did all weekend.

Watch: Can You Play Video Games on the Weekends?

Time For a Change

I really didn’t have one singular moment that made me quit gaming, but I had a bunch of different epiphanies over the years that culminated in the decision to quit.

One of them was an app on my phone called Pacer that was essentially a pedometer. What is nice about a pedometer is you can’t argue with it and claim to be active when in reality, you sat on a couch all day leveling up fake characters. I was getting 2,000 steps some days, 3,000 or so but getting the recommended 10,000 seemed impossible.

Another motivator was the movie Yes Man, which sounds silly, but the idea of saying yes to life really captivated me and completely changed my life, which is a story in and of itself. To save time, I will say that being more open minded and saying yes more often opens a lot of doors that normally are ignored. I found myself doing all sorts of things I would typically pass up for gaming. I once jumped off a 40 foot cliff into a lake, and I’m petrified of heights.

Now the day I quit was March 17, 2017 and at first the decision was made for me. My wife walked out and she had her own addiction issues, but I was forced to figure out how to raise my newborn son and work at the same time.

Obviously, I had a lot of help from my Mother and from another wonderful woman, but the situation forced me into Cam’s 90 day detox of gaming.

I just didn’t realize it until later when I started to look at my gaming hobby as an addiction. The more I read about addiction, the more I started to fear maybe I had my own issue. I wasn’t as obsessed as many others were, but at the end of the day, I didn’t want a wasted life. I don’t want to get old and look back and have all these memories of sitting on a couch spending time in a fantasy land.

Some of my greatest memories over the years involve spending time with friends and exploring the beautiful real world we are so fortunate to have. Memories like a trip to Nashville for a bachelor party, a weekend in New Orleans, a 311 concert in the middle of the woods of Illinois, hiking through Dismals Canyon in Alabama and all the weekends I went kayaking in Indiana.

None of these memories involved video games. It was all about finding adventure in the outside world and once you get out there, you realize that life is too short to experience all of it, so why waste time in front of a screen?

How do I spend my days now?

I like to get active as early as possible; I find movement is better at getting the juices flowing than coffee or any energy drink. Most mornings, I will hop on my exercise bike and knock out a mile or two. Then I do yoga, which has been an amazing experience. I meditate to calm my mind from all the noise and refresh.

On weekdays I have a pretty demanding job, but I try to get up and move throughout the day despite the position as desk jockey. In my spare time, I like to ride my bike, hit the gym, go for walks in the woods, spend time with family and read. I have already read 5 books this year and plan to read 24.

I started writing almost every day as soon as I quit gaming. Without all those hours wasted in the virtual world it is amazing how much time you have and what you can discover about yourself.

Recently, I took the writing and started to share it online on my website, Helm of Awesome. It has been quite the experience and though new, I have received so much positive feedback and had genuinely interesting conversations with others online.

One thing I have learned is if you open up a little, there are often other people who will reach out and share what they know or what they might struggle with. The website takes up a lot of time and finding time to write is not always easy, but it’s been very fulfilling to share with others and has helped me find a more positive neighborhood of the internet.

I find myself being more relaxed and at peace now too. Gaming can be aggravating and frustrating at times, but substitute exercise, nature and meditation and you will find a calmer version of yourself.

I have learned that being fit is not about dieting and exercise programs so much as a lifestyle. If you want to be athletic, you must make time for being active and every hour on the couch adds up fast. Now I regularly hit 10,000 steps a day and will be over 15,000 on the more active days.

I don’t feel rushed to get back to an online game anymore and will take the time to eat healthier meals. I almost never eat fast food, soda or junk food anymore as I have supplemented my diet with more fruits and vegetables. I lost around 10 pounds or so and then gained another 10 in muscle all over the course of a year.

I feel more focused and energetic at work, and I have the time for more interesting activities which leads to more interesting conversations with people. I am in a new relationship with an amazing woman who helps keep me positive and brings me more happiness than I thought possible.

Gamify Your Life

I like to rant about the dangers of technology but with the right mindset and discipline, our smartphones can really help benefit our daily lives.

I mentioned the Pacer app which motivates me to get up and move each day. I find myself competing with my past, trying to set new records for most steps and increasing my average step count.

I also use a meditation app called Insight Timer which tracks your time spent meditating. Most days I will take 5 to 10 minutes and open up Duolingo to practice Spanish.

I have another app called Productive that tracks habits. I added habits like meditate, yoga, read, write, drink more water and others to remind myself of what I have and haven’t been doing. It will track your streaks and show how often you maintain these habits.

Accountability is huge when starting new habits. Us gamers love to watch progression and with stat tracking in these apps, we are still able to measure progression but in a healthier manner here. All of these changes have led to a healthier, more fulfilling and much happier life.

This story was submitted by a member of the Game Quitters community. Want to inspire others? Submit yours here.

Must Read: Why You Should Quit Gaming For 90 Days

“One time I played until 5am. I was only seven or eight years old then.”

journaling

This is my experience with gaming and why I continue to abstain.

I was recommended by my dad to really try and dig through my life and remember how games affected me and the difference from then and now.

I think doing this will be a good tool to prevent relapse. It is very hard to think about the negative effects gaming had on me. To be honest, the details are really fuzzy and those memories don’t come back easily.

I’m writing this to remind myself to continue my detox forever.

Must Read: Why You Should Quit Gaming For 90 Days

A Bit About Myself

I am 17 years old now, a senior in high school. I’m Chinese-American, probably on the intelligent side, and focused in school. I started dancing when I was four, and continue diligently today. Last year I moved away from my family and friends to attend the Orange County School of the Arts, and I decided to quit gaming.

My first experience playing video games was on an old computer, with an old cd, playing a game called bot with my dad. I was really into it, too much, actually. Was I born with this addiction?

I started actually gaming in elementary school, playing Pokemon on a Nintendo DS with my sister. I remember walking home playing the game, and also playing through the night trying to beat the game before the rental was over.

One time I played until 5am. I was only seven or eight years old then.

My parents took it away, and we tried playing in moderation, but that didn’t work.

I remember finishing my work so fast in second grade, my teacher would let me go to the computer room and play some sort of airplane game on the computer.

Then I remember stealing other people’s games.

I once stole my babysitter’s gameboy and also a DS of a kid I was staying with in the YMCA. I feel ashamed to write this, but also empowered. The past is the past.

Of course at that time, I didn’t really realize the significance of my problem. Everybody else was playing so why couldn’t I?

I had a clubpenguin account and spent hours on it with my sister. I was so addicted. When the monthly subscription was ending, I stole my parent’s credit card and payed for another month. They found out, of course.

I don’t remember the consequences now. All of them blend together, and none of them worked.

clouds

Middle School

I entered middle school and made new friends. I started focusing on dance more, trying harder in school, trying to fit in with middle school social life. I’ve always been an intelligent kid, so school was never too difficult for me to pass. I think this is why I always went to games.

I became super addicted to Minecraft.

I would finish my work so fast and have nothing else to do that games became so immensely fun. I got really into Minecraft because all my friends were playing it. The idea of multiplayer games was so attractive. All of us could play at the same time and have fun together! Even now, I still associate Minecraft with happy memories.

Watch: How to Stay Friends With Your Gamer Friends

I would always play on the school computers in the library. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade passed by with me visiting friends to play at their houses because my parents wouldn’t let me, although I did figure out the password to our home computer multiple times by secretly watching them typing when I asked them to login for me (to do homework).

Then when they were asleep I would get up in the middle of the night to login and play Minecraft throughout the night. If there is one thing gaming affects, it is your sleep. I even got to the point where I was playing right in front of my parents, thinking I could hide it with alt-tab before they looked to the side to see me.

Keep in mind at the end of every paragraph, I remember something terrible I did. My parents got me a Kindle for Christmas, one that was black and white and didn’t have games on it. Me being me, I found a way to have video games on a paper-white Kindle.

A lot of the games cost a dollar, and the Kindle was already connected to my parent’s Amazon account. You can imagine what I did. I bought the first few games carefully, waiting to see if my parents would find out. When they didn’t, I ended up spending $400 on stupid Kindle games like word searches and Sudokus.

Now is where I see my problem so clearly.

High school came around. This is where things get really bad. The new game everybody was playing was Hearthstone. At the time I was trying to quit so I told everybody that the game was stupid and I wasn’t going to play. But then, the peer pressure was too much to handle.

Everybody was talking about the game and I wasn’t being included because I didn’t know anything about it. So I started.

Eventually it came to a point in the game where you had to spend money to get more fun, more interesting gameplay. So how much did I end up spending? Upwards of $500.

This is when I also started watching streamers and YouTubers. It was easier to hide, and easier to access, so it was better for me.

Again I tried to stop, as I did the five times before, and each time I believed that this time, it would work, but again, it failed.

Junior year came around and it was the worst. The new game was Clash Royale. I got so into it. I didn’t have a phone so I found ways to play on the computer. When my family was eating dinner, I would tell them I was doing homework but I was playing games instead.

I’m sure they knew what I was doing the whole time. I’m not that good at hiding things, we never are.

Clash Royale was a cheaper game, but I still spent $100-200 on it in total. Oh and the way I would hide the transactions was by buying gift cards and using them instead of a credit card. I had a lot of saved cash to spend over the years. I was playing games during class time constantly on the school laptops.

Gaming Affected My Energy

The thing I hate most about games are the way they affect my energy. I only started to notice the effect they were having on me in my junior year. I found that often I would decide to go home because I was too tired to dance, or I “had too much homework” even though I know now that I could’ve finished it easily.

I haven’t talked too much about me and dance, but it has been my passion for six years now. The fact that gaming was taking over my commitment to dance is a serious thing.

During this period in junior year, I lacked inspiration to do better in school and dance. I could not get it from other people, nor myself. I was stagnant, not growing, and just living with this constant desire to be playing games.

A Turning Point

On the positive side, I gained inspiration after watching a fantastic dance show. I decided I wanted to be a dancer and that I would switch schools and move away.

Moving to a new school gave me the opportunity to start new, to change who I was, to change the people I had around me. With the new me – I was a non-gamer – a person who stayed away from the internet in general. And I started the detox before I moved schools.

I decided with my workload, taking 5 AP classes and dancing four hours a day (at an arts school), that I wouldn’t have enough time in my schedule to finish my school work, dance, and play games. I am now on day 187 of my 90 day detox.

I’ve spent over $1,000 on games when adding it up.

All of this money is put to some virtual world, trading my real money or my parents real money for some fake gold or gems or something stupid like that.

7 lessons I’ve learned from my experience without games:

1. Do the detox. I still have a hard time remembering these horrible events in my life because I don’t want to remember them. Everytime I spent more money, I forgot about the last time I’d spent money on games. I don’t think I could’ve remembered any of this before the detox.

2. After the detox, do what I’m doing now. Try and think about your life and all the negative things it’s done to you and how much better your life has gotten after, either socially, or emotionally, or physically (working out). I personally believe this will help prevent relapse.

3. Continue your abstinence after 90 days. Don’t treat it as a mark to start playing again. After thinking about how your life is after, it should be easy for you to continue.

Watch: Caution: Gaming After Your Detox

4. Follow Cam’s advice. There is a list on Game Quitters that has a lot of fun hobbies. I picked up photography to substitute gaming in my free time. Whenever I get bored instead of gaming, I watch photography videos and go out and practice. Something that a lot of people do is work out instead of gaming.

5. YouTube and Twitch as just as bad as gaming. Watching games gives you the same thrill and dopamine rush as playing. Don’t see these as better than gaming because they really aren’t. Don’t say you quit gaming but are still watching Twitch daily. Trust me, I tried this.

Watch: Should You Watch Gaming Streams?

5. Delete your accounts. Yes, I know it’s hard. You’ve spent money on your accounts, you can still keep them there in case for the future when your addiction is gone. But your addiction is never gone. Isn’t the goal to quit gaming? So why have them sitting there, tempting you? Just get rid of them. They aren’t worth it.

6. If you find yourself struggling in quitting games, change your surroundings. Move somewhere, start getting out of your comfort zone and make new friends. I’m not saying you should ditch the friends you currently have, but maybe you should leave them to their own world of games and try to interact with other people.

7. Saying things aloud. Letting yourself hear your own honest words is so much more difficult than writing it down. Instead of just writing a journal, try and say it to yourself (something I’m still working on). Hearing yourself say it has a huge impact on your beliefs.

There are so many benefits I’ve gained from my decision to quit playing video games. I have more time, more energy, more happiness to pursue dance, school, photography, card magic, and a social life!

My friends are more real, and we have more personal connections instead of commonalities with the games we play. I dance four hours a day, have school for five hours a day, and still have time to practice my hobbies. I have become more confident as a person, I have become more open, more assertive, and more honest.

This story was submitted by a member of the Game Quitters community. Want to inspire others? Submit yours here.

Ready to Quit Gaming? Purchase Respawn

“I began to get very angry when something went wrong in a game.”

angry face

There I was, 12 years old feeling for the first time the amazing thrill of being able to play Mario on my brand new N64. It was amazing.

I woke up every morning at 4am to play a bit before school. Then came more games after Mario, and then even more. I began to get very angry when something went wrong in a game, and I remember growling in anger uncontrollably in front of the TV.

Middle school started, new games, new PC, new possibilities of gaming.

School became hell. I was bullied, ridiculed, and stalked during every recess. I ran away from school many times, and became good at manipulating adults into doing what I wanted, while fearing and hating people my age.

How could I endure years of that? How could anyone? Well, games.. Games gave me the release I craved, the peace of mind I needed, and a place to be myself. Or so I thought.

Watch: How to Overcome Escapism

I thought the worst was behind me

Age 26. All these years in isolation and fear eventually led to depression. I became dependent on games to give me the needed escape, justifying gaming as the only thing in life that makes me happy. I was wrong.

At age 28 I was done with my life, games were no longer giving me that peace of mind, and I lost the will to keep going, but somehow I endured, and oh boy was it worth it!

At age 31 I decided to give myself one more year of life, only one more year. It was a gift from myself to myself, no one else had power over that decision.

I willingly gave myself time to do anything and everything in order to find a way to be happy, and alive..

Therapy, psychiatrists, enlightenment, mindfulness. I did all of it. I improved, but not in any significant way. Then one Friday evening, I was playing a recently purchased game and was having a great time looking forward to a whole weekend gaming. I went to the bathroom, and looking down at the toilet, I had this crazy thought…

“If I ever wanted to quit gaming, this would be the hardest moment to do it”

toilet

This thought gave me the chills.

I felt excited. Then my mind released the well known storm of reasons why I wouldn’t be able to do it. My brain was on fire, I felt anxious, fearful, yet excited. Needless to say it was one of the most psychologically intense visits to the toilet in my life.

As I walked back to my room, my heart was pounding like crazy, I knew that this moment would define my life, my mind was at war! The most epic battle for the future of mankind!

I raised my index finger, and slowly pushed down on the button, holding it down for a moment and then.. Blackness. The battle ended. I disconnected the PC, put everything in boxes, and stored it in the attic. And that was that.

One Week Later

I started feeling strange, and I felt the need to play something! I needed an escape. So I went online and searched for a way to calm down, and that’s when I found Game Quiters and the 90 day detox challenge.

This was perfect, someone already figured out a way to quit gaming, and there is actually a community around it!

Awesome! So I did the 90 days, reporting in daily. It was hard, sometimes very hard, but when I needed it the most, Cam sent me a video of him talking about the exact feelings I was feeling right then, and It helped me a great deal to know, I am not alone, I am not the only one.

Watch: 200+ Free Videos on YouTube About Video Game Addiction

I was a sad little man before the 90 day detox. Now I have a life I want to live, and games don’t even come close to the emotions I get from living every day on the edge, constantly doing things I have never done before, taking roads I have never taken.

It still scares the shit out of me, but I enjoy the challenge. Like in all those games I played, the challenge was the thing that drove me to keep gaming. Now I challenge myself on everything in life, and I love it.

If you are gaming a lot, I challenge you to stop for 90 days. If you complete this challenge, your life will level up dramatically, not by magic, but by time and effort. You will get back a huge chunk of time, and energy that you spent gaming, use them well, and change is inevitable.

Fun Fact: From the research we have done with Dr. Daniel King from the University of Adelaide in Australia, members who quit gaming for 90 days found a 2x improvement to their overall well-being, evaluated across twelve different measures including Emotional and Physical Health, Relationships, Focus, Time Management, Appearance, and others.

This story was submitted by a member of the Game Quitters community. Want to inspire others? Submit yours here.

Why I Quit Social Media

This article originally appeared in Phil Drolet’s newsletter.

Last week, I permanently de-activated my Facebook and Instagram accounts.

I had already taken with a 12-month “break” last year but this was still a big step.

A few days into this new chapter, I’m happy to report that…

I feel freer, more focused on my dreams, and more aligned with my values.

Today, I want you to consider an important question:

Are the benefits from social media (entertainment, updates on your friends’ life, access to information, etc) really outweighing the pitfalls (increased distraction, social comparison, egoic desires to be “liked”, etc)?

Only you can answer that question but it MUST be asked.

So many people go through life doing what everyone else is doing, without asking the key questions:

Is this making my life better? Or am I just following the herd?

I suspect if more people consciously evaluated their relationship with social media, many would leave in a heartbeat.

Social Media Tricks Your Brain

I recently got clear that beyond the obvious disadvantages of social media (outlined above), it was tricking my brain is nasty ways…

  • It “satisfied” my need for human connection (in a cheap way) without any motivation to give my friends a call and organize in-person activities with them.
  • It gave me a false impression of success (ie, if one of my posts got 100+ likes) and made me less hungry to do the hard work that really matters.
  • It was giving me quick dopamine hits but was taking my attention away from the beauty and magic surrounding me at all times.

Fun Fact: Did you know these quick dopamine hits cause structural changes to your brain? Learn more here.

Despite these facts, doubts swirled through my mind:

“Is it going to hurt my business?”

“Is my social life going to suffer?”

“Am I going to miss out all the cool events?”

What I did next was critical.

I pragmatically evaluated my fears (instead of letting my monkey mind run wild) and after assessing each one, I became confident that without social media…

My business would improve.

My social life would get better.

I would do MORE cool stuff, not less.

Watching this TEDx talk by Cal Newport also helped:

So now I invite you to reflect on these questions:

  • Why do you use social media?
  • Is it really making your life better?
  • How would your life be different without it?

If you’re going to devote your precious time and attention to social media, let’s make sure it’s making your life better, not worse.

Phil Drolet is a peak performance coach for entrepreneurs and helps his clients grow their business faster by optimizing their productivity, emotional mastery and online marketing. Find out more about him on New Kings.

“This cold, dark piece of plastic that I could hold in my hand had changed me into someone I did not know.”

dark

Life outside the game was at an all-time worst. I was out of shape, I didn’t have friends, and when I wasn’t failing tests or sleeping in class, I was faking sick and skipping school.

My room was a mess. It didn’t matter. An empty pizza box was on the floor. I didn’t care. My homework wasn’t done. I could do that later. I was focused on the game and I had no worries. Besides losing, that is.

I had thrown controllers before and gotten very angry over gaming, but this time was something completely different.

I felt a jolt of frustration and punched the wall. The pain went straight to my injured elbow and I clutched it to my chest, trying not to cry out and wake up my family.

Self Harm over a Video Game?

It sounds ridiculous, but considering that I had elbow injuries in the past, that was pretty low. I checked the time and it was 3am. Oh well, I could do my homework after just one more game. Yeah, just one more game. It couldn’t hurt.

I played a few more games and checked the clock again. 4:30am on the dot.

I came to the decision that I was too sick to go to school. I was sick, and I couldn’t accept that school was actually the cure. I trudged up the stairs, gasping for air, feeling like I had just climbed a mountain. I woke my mom, and shamelessly told her I had a terrible cold. She’ll let me stay home, I thought to myself foolishly.

Deep down, I knew she probably didn’t believe me, but was hoping she would let me stay home to use the day to get adequate sleep. But instead I got a single word: “No.” I wanted to argue. I wanted to argue badly. But I felt something deep down that told me not to.

I marched downstairs, almost tripping in the dark. I picked up the controller. I stood there and stared at the controller. This cold, dark piece of plastic that I could hold in my hand had changed me into someone I did not know.

I Dropped the Controller.

A single thud in the darkness. I snapped the lights on and looked at my reflection from the screen. My eyes had dark circles under them and my skin had lost some of its brown coloring. I saw mediocrity. I did not want to be this person for the rest of my life.

I pulled out every single wire. I put every game in a box before I could think twice. The moment the box left my hand, I felt free from the self destructive merry-go-round that I had been riding for nearly a month.

I would have to suffer through school the next day. It didn’t matter. I felt a new courage to stand up to the bullies. I spent money on those video games. I didn’t care. My elbow felt like it was being repeatedly stabbed. I could live with it.

Sitting in the dark at 5am, ready to get up for school in one hour, I was excited. I did not need to look at myself to know I was a completely different person than I had been 15 minutes ago, and it was all thanks to me.

My new mindset led to action over the next few months, and although my elbow did not get better (gaming led to increased elbow pain), I took the time I had been putting into video games and got the best grades of my life, started a business, and learned yoga.

I had realized something very important: I did not want to accept living an average life and it was up to me, and no others, to make that happen. Video games were one thing that I needed to let go to become my vision of my best self.

This story was submitted by a member of the Game Quitters community. Want to inspire others? Submit yours here.

“What should I try first, quit gaming or killing myself?”

depression

Since I was very little everyone noticed I was really smart. Calling oneself smart right from the beginning usually raises some eyebrows. In my case, it wasn’t a blessing to brag about, or a one-way ticket to instant success. It felt like a curse for most of my life.

Much later I found out there are common issues that come in-hand with unchecked intelligence: overthinking, procrastination, depression, increased school failure rate…

It’s not so cool to just have neurons and not the first idea of how to use them or why, as it wouldn’t be so cool to be stranded in an island with a million dollars. If you feel like this too, I get it. You’re not alone.

I talked “weird”, I acted “weird”, I was “socially unfit” according to some teachers and doctors. Then I was bullied.

At Home Things Were A Mess

My father drank too much, my mother worked too much, my grandma doted me too much. Everything in my early life happened in excess. It’s an excess to talk fluently about politics at 5, being dropped from a car and left behind in a parking lot at 7, or still spoon-fed and dressed, like a French king, at 10. Though I regret nothing. Even if I could.

I will never say I was “bound to”, or somehow destined to game too much. But I also recognize a universal truth: people like to feel good. When things are tough, we like to break away, find our personal safe spot and get our much needed dose of dopamine and comfort. Nothing wrong with that: pleasure, satisfaction, relaxation, and enjoyment are all main drivers of the human experience. They are what make us do new things, or keep going at the old ones.

Most times. Dopamine and comfort can also lead to escapism and stagnation. I came to know both too well.

Watch: How to Overcome Escapism

Everything about video games was positive at first. My cousin and uncle introduced me to the world, family members that I trusted, fellow men to look up to. My gig was PC turn-based strategy, mainly the Total War Saga and Paradox. I could forget my problems and feed my ego with an endless (and repetitive) stream of megalomaniac fantasies.

I was still a child so I wasn’t allowed to meet people online. I guess this makes my story a bit different from the average gamer. Instead I could go to my uncle’s place every summer and show him my improvements, fairly good for a kid but still meaningless considering I was playing against a dumb machine. That’s the reason why if someone asks, I’ll usually say: “I wasn’t even good at them”.

This isolation actually helped me a lot when I quit many years later: thankfully no social interaction also meant no gaming friends to say goodbye to, no habit of playing free-to-play MMOs, and so forth. I ended up buying all my games (that means making my mother buy, with lies and sometimes threats) for pride and achievements, and the economic barrier set by getting rid of them always kept me from returning when everything else failed.

Things Got Out of Control Fast

From 8 years old onwards the only activity I can mostly remember was video games. The same two or three games, again and again. Like a literal drug I’d take to numb myself.

I had a serious case of unattended existentialism and the first thing I noticed when I stopped playing was how little the games were the actual problem and how deep I was trapped inside a pit of never-ending despair. That realization was yet to come.

Meanwhile, I dropped high school, all my relationships were toxic, and I had nothing to wake up for in the mornings. In fact I didn’t. I entered a gaming-passing out-gaming cycle. 8 hours a day. Then 12. Then 16. Every day.

For me, quitting was a quest for meaning in its purest form. To keep playing meant not asking the real questions, to hide from the most basic layers of reality. Scared to live, I was dead.

seville

When I was 19 I felt I had enough and fled from home.

I was then reading The Element (Not The Secret, mind you) and my head formed the crazy idea that if I went and stood in front of the right places, like the book implied, something would happen, decidedly relevant and inspiring. A life-turn.

It did. I reached Seville and while vagabonding I stumbled upon the Dramatic Arts School. I had discovered theatre at 16 and loved it, so there was not a single doubt. It was a hell of an adventure, if you want the crazy details you can read them here.

In summary: in only two months, I transitioned from socially awkward high-school dropout, to college student living semi-independently with two amazing girls, lots of new friends and a bright future to look forward.

And Then, Video Games

Not simply video games, to be fair. Again, games were just a symptom; the pretext, the mind-numbing drug. In the end I was terrified to take responsibility and choosing to be, not simply to exist, with all its consequences and metaphysical fright. There are incredible things in this world, things worth every challenge they can throw at you to get them. However I would not allow myself to accept that yes, I wanted those things.

Yes, I could fail. Yes, it could happen to achieve everything I wished for and then become bored or disappointed. And yes, I would eventually die and “lose” everything I fought for. I wouldn’t come to terms with life as something fluid, changing, relatively ephemeral, supposed to be that way and therefore not a bad thing in the slightest (after all, it’s not like there are alternatives to compare, outside a game, I mean).

But no, I wouldn’t concede. It had to make sense the way I wanted, I wanted to control everything so bad. It wasn’t to be, so I gave up on everything else.

bed

Well, that and I was also really clumsy at organizing myself. How could I not be? My grandma was bringing breakfast to my room until not so long ago, after the detox.

The worst mistake of my life was not taking the initiative to learn to be self-reliant, head-on, without laziness, without excuses. Do not be like past me. Think by yourselves, experience all by yourselves, take action in your own terms.

We’re nothing but slaves of those we depend on, no matter how kind or well-intentioned our masters are. For a grown-up, this should be unacceptable.

It really got crazy back then. I would wake up late, skip classes, steal a bit of breakfast from my flatmates, play video games, feel terrible (and nauseous), skip shower and meals (I wasn’t doing groceries and didn’t have the strength to raise my arms); then spend the night at the PC again.

I was ashamed to be seen (and smelled) in that state so I went out of my room less and less. I became a shut-in and the only thing I did was gaming.

Until there was a time I spent a night in Psychiatric Ward after having my first serious suicide thoughts, become scared shitless and go to the hospital on my own accord.

I should have nightmares about that night, there was literal screaming, metallic rattling and all you can imagine from that kind of place, exaggerated as it may sound. I was so “out” in that moment that I didn’t care, I could only think about “Some wacko please come kill me and spare me the job”.

After months of that lifestyle, I couldn’t hold on anymore and returned to my hometown, to my previous NEET state. I gave up on everything that minimally mattered to me. I was completely crushed, devastated. The suicide thoughts came back. I had one last option to try before truly considering committing to the end. Everything converged into one single question.

“What should I try first, quit gaming or killing myself?”

Quitting games or quitting my life. I can’t be happier to be writing this.
I googled my struggles, as Cam also did and brilliantly joked about in his TED talk. This time, instead of a disappointment a certain video came up.

I remember my first impression was: “Man, this Cam guy is not your average Tony Robbins (super alpha attitude and over the top delivery, you know?). I can relate to this, this guy knows 100% what I’m going through”. I followed the links, reached the forum and bam, I was in. [Disclaimer: Tony Robbins is awesome, I just felt his mindset was beyond this Universe back then. Now, only a few galaxies away.]

The first months were madness. 16 hours a day of existentialism, death anxiety, depression, panic attacks, withdrawal symptoms and nothing to do. Nightmares, hand shaking and body spasms, cold sweating, mild fever, nausea… And let’s not begin with what was going on in my mind.

It felt like quitting cocaine cold turkey. It took me 9 months going back and forth until I made a real commitment and got rid of Steam on July 28th, 2016.

Game Quitters

Credit: Rokia Kalouache

Since I quit, I could travel to 5 countries in 3 continents, meet new friends and find my first love (with a rainbow twist!).

In terms of my future, I’m in the process of joining the Spanish Armed Forces, and then I’m looking forward to my university studies. I’ve always loved politics: coming out from the closet of my feelings was way easier than the closet of my aspirations.

I kinda hate quotes and mentions, they make you look like a smartass. But then there’s Victor Frankl and his thesis about “finding a meaning for your own suffering”. All the symptoms, all the issues went away as fast as they arrived. A few of them, the milder ones, still come and go much less frequently and weaker; they may be occasional visitors for the rest of my life. But I’m not afraid anymore. Everything passes, given enough time.

Our only job as conscious beings, our only absolute free choice, is to never give up. Ever.

Quitting games is not easy. Living in general isn’t. You must find a meaning, not only for the things you enjoy or desire, but for your struggles, your fears, your doubts.

It’s ok to feel life is going to come down on you, it’s ok to feel you’re about to hit the ground so hard while you take on the whole world if needed be. That’s what I didn’t understand. That’s how I noticed games were not the problem when I finally quit them.

It’s not about being consistently overjoyed. That is humanly unsustainable, at least the way I conceived it. It’s about always being mindful and one thousand per cent focused on your purpose. The residue of this purpose, if genuine, is happiness.

cam and jose game quitters

This story was submitted by a member of the Game Quitters community. Want to inspire others? Share your story here.