About Game Quitters

“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.

“The thought of never playing games again scared me as much as the thought of never smoking again.”

amsterdam bike

Gaming was something I did everyday for years on end. I enjoyed it, but in the end it wasn’t a good thing for me. I’m 16 years old, and I’m from the Netherlands.

I first started playing games when I was about 5-6 years old. My parents gifted me a Nintendo DS Lite, a portable game console that just came out back then. I played various games on that thing but it wasn’t really anything special. I never got addicted to any of those games. Later I became very interested in strategy games. These kind of games got me addicted to gaming in general.

I did not have it easy in my relatively short life. I was lonely for many years and I had an abusive dad. I have been depressed for many years of my life and also suffer from anxiety.

When I left my dad and went to live with my mom full time I started to play games to cope with my depression and anxiety. They were the perfect escape from reality.

Watch: How to Overcome Escapism

It’s Better Than Doing Drugs, Right?

I first started noticing the negative impact pretty soon after I started to game a lot. I lost many friends, and I would want to play games when we were on family holidays, but I never put that much thought into it. After all, it’s better than doing drugs, right?

In 2015/2016 I played a game called ArmA 3. ArmA is a game where you have so called “Altis Life” servers. These servers have huge communities where you can play with many people and make many “friends”. At that point I completely abandoned the few friends I had in real life and only played games and talked to people online. I was getting more depressed and I started smoking as well. The only things I would do is play games and smoke cigarettes. Those things were the only things I loved doing.

I noticed that I was so alone all the time and that I played much more games than average. I started to realise I might have a problem. I looked up “gaming addiction” on YouTube, and found Cam’s TED Talk where he talks about his own experience.

I immediately realised that I had a problem, but it took me more than half a year to quit games altogether 1 1. Fun Fact: 84% of Game Quitters knew they had a gaming problem over 12 months ago. Source: King & Adair, 2017 × . I tried to moderate, but every time I started playing strategy games again my hours per week would skyrocket. The thought of never playing games again scared me as much as the thought of never smoking again.

I Decided To Quit

I was done with this addiction, and I did not have any urges to play games for weeks. I told my mom who supported me in my decision. I also told the only real remaining friend I had about the issues I’ve had over the last few years. He was supportive, but did not understand why I would want to quit games. They were one of the few things I loved after all.

Watch: How to Stay Friends With Your Gamer Friends

One of the few things I immediately noticed is how lonely I was. I downloaded Snapchat right around the time I quit, and saw people doing fun things, and I was not a part of any of it. I decided I needed to do something about this, and I immediately became more open and social. My best friend and I became closer, and I also started to become more liked.

I went to another European city for my summer vacation with my mom. It was the first time I enjoyed a vacation like that in years. I did not think about games at all. I just enjoyed the beautiful architecture, good food and all the happy people that I secretly envied for having such great lives.

I decided to quit smoking too. I never saw it as a problem, but I felt confident I could do it. It didn’t last unfortunately, but I have decreased the amount I smoke per day, and I do plan on doing another attempt soon. I don’t think I would have done this if I was still gaming. Funnily enough I would say both addictions are very similar.

Don’t get discouraged when you read people saying your gaming addiction isn’t real because it is not physically addictive.

Although that may be true, it still is very addictive and the withdrawal symptoms can be just as bad as the ones from smoking.

Positive Changes

I started to become more social, I met up with friends for the first time in years, I no longer think about games 24/7, I actually exercised for the first time in years, I addressed both the anxiety and depression by going to a therapist, and I enjoy things that are not games.

I’m probably forgetting a few things here and there to be honest but I can assure you that I hated myself 3 months ago and now I’m way more confident about myself.

Quitting gaming is a journey, and it is long from over. My life has improved overall, but I still have plenty of things to work on. My anxiety is still something I struggle with, but it is going so much better than before. My depression is practically gone at this point, although I still have some sad days. However, instead of hiding behind a PC playing games all day I try to do something about it now.

My dream is to have both quit gaming and smoking in a year, and have friends to hang out with. Maybe even a girlfriend, who knows? Either way, I’m certain I’ll be much happier than I was when I played games.

I would like to add 2 screenshots of games. Not sure if they can fit on the website but I can choose a few other more cinematic ones as well if you’d prefer that.

A screenshot of me and an online friend playing Stellaris. Me being the Authoritarian (think cyberpunk) Galactic Republic and him playing the Utopian Foxling Federation. Damn, do I miss this game sometimes, but I was so addicted to it.

A screenshot of me playing Cities Skylines trying to make some sort of Dubai. I hope I get to go to one of the Gulf states in the future and maybe even living there.

This story was submitted by a member of the community. Want to inspire others with your story? Submit it here.

“The existential crisis I had postponed since I was 17 finally caught on. I was 24 now, what the heck was I doing with my life?”

When I was 4 or 5 years old, a friend of mine got a Nintento Entertainment System. That was in 1991 or so. We played Mario 1, 2, and 3. Me, as forever-player-2, was Luigi.

It was amazing! The sheer fun of this simple adventure on the TV, amazing. I sucked, because I couldn’t play all day like my buddy. But it was even amazing to just watch him play.

I was hooked.

Years later, I remember playing Heroes of Might and Magic II with my brothers. We could play for hours and hours. We poorly understood English and the game, but through trial and error, we found out how the game worked, and we learned a new language while doing it. (Thank you gaming.)

Our parents would urge us to go outside. Get some sun, make some friends, move your body! “Naaaah” Because what could compete with this fantasy world? With this compelling narrative? And these amazing graphics?

My gaming habits sticked, of course. It had become second nature. I didn’t have any trouble at school really. But once I was in university, it became a problem – I started using it as a drug.

When in the real world my life wasn’t going that well – I would flee to gaming. Need to study hard? Rejected, or dumped? Months of gaming is the cure! Just numb myself a bit with a long session of RPGs and strategy games.

Not only was gaming an escape for me, but anime and porn as well. Some other easy dopamine injections. My old roommates still can’t believe I finished 600+ episodes of One Piece in a few weeks. It all seems harmless at first, but your ‘life energy’ is slowly sucked out. I became more a hull of a person than a full rounded character. But it didn’t matter,… because I mainly interacted online.

My computer was just this instant satisfaction dispenser. Although it was more numbing than real enjoyment.

The apex of my compulsive gaming was Skyrim! It was incredible! I don’t know how many hours I spent in that fantasy world. It didn’t matter what my buddies where doing, if I had exams or not, or whether it was 30 degrees outside. 
*(Celcius mind you ;), so around 86 Fahrenheit).

No matter what, I was going to be an orc mage warrior, and I was going to kill dragons!

This went on for months. Until I realized I wasn’t that happy. I hadn’t been for a long while.

The existential crisis I had postponed since I was 17 finally caught on. Like a tidal wave of realism and pain gulfing over the fragile ego I had left. I was 24 now, what the heck was I doing with my life? Where was I going? Was I just going to sit inside for the rest of my life – gaming, jacking off, sleeping and repeating? What about my graduation that was long due? What about all the experiences life had to offer? What about girls?

Suffice to say, I became quite depressed.

In the past if I felt a bit depressed I would hop on my digital steed and drive off to kill some undead. But that wouldn’t work anymore.

It had to stop. I don’t remember how I exactly did it. But slowly yet surely, during the next months, I drastically reduced the amount of gaming and binge watching. I started reading constructive blogs and books. Classics like “How to Make Friends and Influence People’ and blogs like NerdFitness. (I don’t think Game Quitters was around in 2011 :).) My entire mindset had to change.

So I immersed myself in positive reading, even if I didn’t feel like it. I went out and started socializing, even if I felt like hiding under the covers. And I worked out, even if I felt like lethargically lying on the couch. It was a slow and painful grind. With lots of small relapses, setbacks, but also small victories.

Especially my self esteem and social skills had suffered these past years. Step by step relearning how to normally interact with people was awkward and painful to say the least. But with practice it did come back. It’s even intuitive by now!

In the end I grew stronger! I got fit, met girls, made new friends and worked hard on my studies. My personality, that had withered in my screen lit room, was slowly reviving. I even started achieving some amazing things. Running half a marathon, rowing a 100k race, solo traveling in Asia for 6 months, hooking up with the hottest Venezuelan girl ever, and much more.

But more importantly – I became way more confident and self reliant. Now I have a set of values and goals I work hard for. I don’t hate myself anymore – I really like me actually :)! And that is a really nice way to live.

Is life easy now? F*ck no! Do I still feel the need to flee reality? Yes, and I do create a healthy mental distance sometimes. But I do tackle my problems now. No more evading of hard truths or emotions, but facing them head on.

And that is what is important. It is your life. You have just a few decades in total. Fight and work hard for what you find important. Always get yourself to the next level! There is so much more out there. But you do need to let go of some artificial worlds!

Timon ??

This story was submitted by a member of our community. Want to inspire others with yours? Submit your story here.

“I stopped looking at the detox as a path to give up gaming, but more of a personal development path. Giving up gaming was just a part of that.”

I’m Jared…

I did it! Pumped. I had a bit of a skip in my step today knowing today was the day.

Did I think I would make it this far? Not until I think I was in the mid 30s range. I relapsed initially on day 22, and had a similar struggle in the 20s again the second time around, but once I hit the 30s it was almost too easy from there.

There was a number of reasons that played into why I managed to stick it out:

1) My relapse.

When I embarked on the first attempt I did it with just one aim – to break the cycle of needing to game at the sacrifice of my study and my son. I didn’t really have any tools or ways that I was going to keep me on track.

I found out quite quickly that I could easily replace a time wasting activity with another time wasting activity. Before I knew it, I found myself with too much time and a whole lot of nothing to do (well, in hindsight I had study or chores to do, but my brain didn’t see it that way), and I relapsed.

I don’t think I initially felt the ramifications of my relapse or reflected too much on it until I was working through my habit tracker and came up to my journal entry task. Looking at my journal I just felt so hollow, like I had taken a big step backwards.

From there I learned that the underlying reason that I really wanted to quit was because I wanted to live life to the fullest. Since that realization, I have been knocking down productivity goal after productivity goal. The more things I can achieve the more I feel like I am living life, so I win. I think this was the best learning tool out of everything in the 90 days.

2) Meeting Cam in Vegas.

cam adair

It turned out to be the highlight of the trip, taking over the main reason I was there (bachelor party all the way from Sydney). The statistics in his talk were mind blowing, the other people at the function/meeting/shindig were really great and very curious about the whole thing. When they knew I was in the mid 40s of my detox at the time, they asked questions and told me to keep going.

Having a very open and honest conversation with Cam after the presentation was good too. I found it easy to talk to him and a lot of the tools and things we talked about is what I had been researching in other areas, or similar to what my old psychologist was telling me on how to control my anxiety and how to basically be in the moment. That’s when I knew he was 110% legit, and ultimately what I was trying to achieve was completely legit and worthwhile.

I think at this point I really stopped looking at the detox as a path to give up gaming, but more of a personal development path, and giving up gaming was just a part of that. Side note – since the meeting in Vegas, I have not watching television at all. Not even streaming a show. Cam, and the support of this community, is changing lives; including mine.

Watch: Should You Watch Gaming Streams?

3) I am (still) capable of studying and producing tertiary-level writing.

I felt like the joy I used to have from studying back when I was in school or when I had left school was returning. I felt motivated to study again instead of feeling like it was a chore. The last time I felt like that was before I made my first WoW character.

I think this became the psuedo-feedback loop that substituted what gaming gave me, and my urges as a result became rarer and rarer. I began to study every day of 3+ hours, and even if I don’t pass the subject in the end (still waiting!!!) I am glad I did it and I definitely learnt a lot, especially about minimising distractions and flow states, which I have also used at work.

4) My son growing exponentially.

He has got more and more fun over the last 90 days, the last month in particular, and now he is not so much of a chore to be around. No more just a crying needing pooping blob, now he is full of life, laughter, adventurous and building his own personality.

Maybe part of this is I have noticed it more and more rather than seeing him as a distraction from multiplayer games, or maybe it’s a bit of column a, and a bit of column b.

Subsequently, a lot of the time I couldn’t be bothered sitting at my desk at all, let alone gaming, as I would rather be chasing him around the house or doing something for him, such as making him a little box car to be pushed around in, or gluing toys that he loves back together.

5) My massive anxiety attack

It made me realize that the reason I got so hooked on games in the last 3 years again after a massive stint away from playing them was to try and avoid or escape the anxiety symptoms I was experiencing when life had become too much. But it was just masking the issue, instead of dealing with it directly.

There was no point me spending all this money on a psychologist when I was not ready or not implementing the tools that he was giving me. I think the best thing that came out of my meetings with him was finally knowing what was wrong with me, rather than just thinking I was broken and irreparable. I got a lot of self awareness out of this as well, which has only grown since then, and is one of my best tools I have now to try and control my emotions, particularly at work.

Watch: How to Master Your Emotions with Dr. Neeta Bhushan

6) Reigniting old passions or hobbies.

For me, this was my fascination with electronics that I never fulfilled even back when I was still in school. In hindsight I should have tried to get into electronics for a career, I think I would of loved it immensely, but I would not have been able to do the cool and crazy things I have in the last decade.

I probably wouldn’t be on this personal development path either. I did have a bit of a crisis with what I was trying to achieve out of my fiddling around with electronics, my intention for the activity, but I have it in the correct frame now. As a result I have barely touched my electronics for a few weeks, but that’s ok, I have had other things that needed dealing with that I shouldn’t be trying to escape from.

Download: 60+ hobby ideas to replace gaming

7) Journaling.

It was a great way to get my mind untangled and set for the day, as I wrote it as soon as I woke up every day. To me it didn’t matter what I was talking about, or if anybody bothered to read it, it was for myself. I realized this in the low 20s or high 10s days, when I was thinking about giving it up as I was struggling to see the point. Again, it’s the intent piece.

I really think a journal is great for anyone’s personal development, it gets a lot of things off your brain that you might have otherwise been stressing about all day and impeding your productivity, because you couldn’t focus. I also loved reading other peoples journals and learning how they were managing with their situations, especially Tom2, Mettermrck, Mhyrion and ole Moe Smith.

Get Started: Create a journal on the forum

8) Running.

It helped that I had already started training for a marathon, but I used running as a way to “reset” if I was having strong urges, or I felt like I had a lot of free time with nothing to do (hello crazy brain again).

After Vegas, I have been using it as a tool to get into my flow state, and I have been religiously running at lunch time ever since. The reason I chose lunch time is because I always struggle to pay attention in the afternoons, tending to just stare out the window, or surfing Twitter on my phone.

By running at lunch time I was able to smash out another solid 3 hours of valuable work. I ran so religiously that when I was wiped out for weeks at a time due to sickness I think I was borderline depressed! Here’s to staying healthy and keeping my momentum into the marathon.

Listen: ProGamer Turned Artist on Flow States, Creativity and Psychedelics

9) Accountability Partner.

Though he has been my accountability partner for only a portion of the path (so far!), it has been great to talk to someone else in an almost mirrored situation, even if the majority of it was not about gaming. It kept my mind busy and made me flashback to the great memories of having a penpal for about 9 years, even if this one is a Utah Jazz fan. One day we will have a beer in person mate.

Get Started: Find an accountability partner

So what have I learnt so far? So much yet so little. I still do not know what I do not know, but I do know that this is but the first step. I have so much unfinished business and so much personal development to go, that this day will just be a blip in the rear view mirror.

Ready to start your 90 day detox? Get started here.

“This wasn’t how I wanted to live my life, and I’d known it for a while.”

american flag

One year ago on July 4th 2016, I figured Independence Day would be a good day to declare my independence from video games. After years of struggling to control my impulsive gaming, I quit cold turkey, and haven’t touched a video game since.

I’d fallen into a very difficult time. I’d been working a job that I hated for two years, so I gamed a lot to escape the misery. Heroes of the Storm (HoTS) was my poison of choice. Then, I got hit with a crippling back injury (herniated disc) from snowboarding, and I got a notice of layoff from said job around the same time.

The one-two combo was too much for me and I fell into a pit of depression for many months, when I fell even further into gaming. Each day was nothing but staying home playing video games, watching let’s plays and gaming streams, reading game news, and overall shutting myself in and staring at a screen all day. I knew this wasn’t how I wanted to live my life, and I’d known it for a while.

Watch: Should You Watch Gaming Streams?

Full-Blown Nintendo Kid

I had an NES, SNES, and an N64. As a kid, I completed Ocarina of Time 100% with zero deaths, and got all 120 stars in Mario 64. I challenged myself with hard games like F-Zero GX and Viewtiful Joe; Metroid Prime 2 on hard mode being one of my favorites.

In later years I moved onto PC gaming and played random MMOs, Soldat, StarCraft, Battlefield 2, TF2, and countless other games. In college I dropped $1,000 and built myself a PC gaming rig. I amassed over 500 games on my Steam account. In more recent years, Dark Souls was a godsend of a challenging game to sink my teeth into.

It’s no understatement to say I was a pretty hardcore gamer. And you know what? I was proud of my gaming achievements. All the games I’ve completed, my game collection, my skill, my taste. I was proud. For a time, at least.

I slowly developed a love-hate relationship with video games throughout my teen years, and saw that there was more to life than just video games.

On one hand, it’s a medium for compelling storytelling that transports you into beautiful interactive worlds. On the other, it ends up taking priority over everything else, and becomes a crutch that allows your depression and lack of fulfillment in life to fester.

There’s so much to experience in the world around you; why squander your time staring at a screen?

As a result of my constant gaming, I saw that my quality of life was diminishing. Summer breaks were the worst because I basically did nothing but game. I wanted to do more in life. I wanted more friends and better relationships, maybe play some sports or be in some clubs, and have more in life than just digital validation.

Vicious Cycle

I was unfulfilled because I gamed, and I gamed because I was unfulfilled. I tried to play less, but I kept impulsively coming back to games. Having grown up with games, games were all I knew.

Past college and into adulthood, I spent several hours a day playing video games, reading game news, watching let’s plays on YouTube, watching gaming streams, and even constantly thinking about games while away from the screen.

I’d stay up way past my bed time knowing full well I was sacrificing sleep to game, unable to stop myself.

I’d forego other needs like eating and socializing, just to get more game time in. I’d continue to game even when I wasn’t having fun, impulsively jumping from one round of HoTS (and many other games) to the next, constantly chasing that high of winning.

I eventually found myself in that pit of despair, with my injury and layoff, still using video games as an unwanted crutch, stuck at home gaming every day.

I finally decided that enough was enough, so I pulled the trigger and quit cold turkey. I uninstalled my then poison-of-choice HoTS, uninstalled Steam, put away my consoles and games, and set out to escape this addiction.

It’s Been One Year

Towards the beginning of the journey, I discovered that there was a community of people like myself on the path to quitting video games, so I signed up for Respawn.

Cam helped shed a lot of light on how video game addiction happens. Namely, how excessive gaming causes physical changes in the brain, and how you need to add multiple activities to your life to successfully fight the addiction. Thank you Cam for the guidance and wisdom throughout this journey.

Nowadays, I don’t game at all. I don’t play video games, I don’t watch let’s plays, I don’t follow game news, I don’t engage in gaming conversations, and I’ve distanced myself from people who game a lot.

Instead, I spend my time practicing music, reading, exercising, meditating, going out with friends and family, being engaged in communities, working on a passion project, and all-in-all enjoying life a lot more.

I eat and sleep properly. Many of the things I’ve been meaning to do for so long I finally accomplished in the past year, such as reading more books and learning new musical instruments.

I’m still recovering from my injury, but I know that if I hadn’t quit video games, I would have fallen even deeper into my game addicted lifestyle. Despite the injury, I’m now much more healthy, mentally fit, fulfilled, and thriving.

It’s Not Always Easy (And That’s Okay)

Now I will admit, there were a handful of instances in the past year where I did play a little bit. A bit of an arcade game at a festival, a bit of Pokemon Go during that entire craze, Pacman inside of Google Maps on April Fools earlier this year. But these were more like minor stumbles in the journey.

I’d say a relapse is if I spend hours or days shutting out the outside world, intrenched in the sensory overload and dopamine-rush-machine that is video games, falling back into the old mindset and lifestyle. I haven’t had one of those days in over a year, and I intend to keep it that way.

Nonetheless, the main thing is that these days, video games are no longer part of my life. Instead, I’ve invited so much more into my life.

Of course, this is only the beginning of a lifelong journey. I still get cravings every now and then, especially when I hear through the grapevine about a new Nintendo game, or when I see something nostalgic about games I grew up with. But I know better than to fall back into that old lifestyle. There’s so much more that I want to do rather than stare at a screen and press buttons.

Thank you again Cam for all the wisdom and creating this community. Gaming addiction is a problem unique to modern times, and with us being one of the first generations to grow up with video games since childhood, we definitely need more awareness around video game addiction.

Good luck to fellow Game Quitters! Here’s to reclaiming your life and many more years game free.