About Game Quitters

“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.

“Then I made my first kill, and snap, there it was, the kind of game I had needed all along.”

Today marks day ninety since I last played a video game, and it’s an enormous thanks to you I was able to do it and turn my life around.

I don’t know whether or not you get these a lot, but still I wanted to share my journey with you as a way of thanks, and because I feel I need to do this for myself too. Why? Because it’s hard, it’s out of my comfort zone and I feel totally open and vulnerable.

Excellent. I’m still not okay, but I’m getting better. Every hard day is a step to the right direction, as are the good days. I’m out of the woods, but now at the foot of a mountain. Good thing is: the day is clearing and I’m beginning to see the top.

My gaming got out of hand

I don’t wanna bore you with the whole story. Don’t wanna bore myself either. Let’s just say that I had gamed a lot before this point–MMOs and RPGs being my games of choice–but it was still pretty casual and mostly a way to avoid boredom. Then League of Legends came into the picture.

MOBA? Had never heard of it. I figured it was some sort of MMO. Nope. My first impression of League of Legends was sort of ‘meh’ as I really had no idea what I was supposed to do and got butchered by the opponent again and again.

Then I made my first kill, and snap, there it was, the kind of game I had needed all along. It was easy enough to get into, but hard to master with limitless potential to grow. It was mentally engaging, strategically and technically complex and, oh, so rewarding.

Little else mattered anymore; I was hooked.

The next three years went with all my energy put into getting better and climbing that ranked ladder. Even music, which had been the biggest part of my life for ten years, faded into the background. Never in my life had I put such an effort into anything–this is the most valuable thing I consider learning from that time: I was incredibly hard working and motivated.

Anyone who has played League, or any similar game, knows how nauseatingly toxic it can be. In the end I think that was what did it for me. That, and the stress of staying on the ranked ladder was finally enough for me.

But to quit–how could I when nothing else mattered to me anymore? Gaming was my identity. I just needed another game. I found Path of Exile, a non-competitive online action-RPG, and it was perfect. From it I got the dopamine my brain craved, it was immediately engaging with tons of things to learn and an awesome community.

I invested yet another year or so into it, but annoying, nagging thoughts lurked in the back of my head, ‘Is this it?’ Sure. ‘I’m gonna just game for the rest of my life?’ Yes, why not, as nothing else interests me anyway? ‘Is this the life I’m satisfied having ten, twenty, forty years from now?’ Well–

‘Am I happy?’ …

Of course I wasn’t. I was five years into depression, my diet was awful, I didn’t exercise and rarely went out, all the while wondering why don’t I have energy like everyone else? Where’s my motivation? I wonder.

90 Day Detox

After searching the internet for help and finding Game Quitters’ channel on YouTube, I made the decision to do the ninety days without games–even if I’d just go back into gaming afterwards, I needed to see if there was something else to life after all.

In that time I struggled and fought the gamer in me, who occasionally would sneak up and remind me of the good times I had with games, especially on the tough days, conveniently forgetting to mention the bad. I spent time in music again, my newly found passion for writing fantasy and science fiction, reading a ton and developing myself through YouTube and various other channels.

I took up and tried new things, such as exercising, meditation and cold showers, every new and positive habit leading up to a thought ‘Okay, what can I do next to feel even better?’. I took small steps at a time, and slowly began to see why I was walking. I could now look back and see the darkness I had left behind, see the rise in what I call my ‘default happiness’.

Life, as I realized, is not about constant bliss. There are ups and downs like a wave, but the average value the wave surrounds can be raised. The downs are there to give contrast for the ups. No light without dark, nothing is high if something isn’t low.

I like the analogy regarding life I heard from Dr. Jordan Peterson, a Canadian professor with a lot of great content on YouTube,

You might compare the difference between elevator music and a Beethoven symphony. It’s not that the symphony is in any sense happier than the Muzak–in fact, quite the contrary–but it’s deeper and more profound and richer and incorporates more and justifies itself more, and that’s the right metaphor for life; not happiness, but depth and differentiated quality and profundity, to match the profundity of the necessity of suffering.

So, I have no regrets for the time I initially thought ‘wasted’, because it was a road that gave me contrast to appreciate where I am now and the places I’m heading toward.

I’m eternally grateful for you and all the work you do with Game Quitters, and I wanted to express just how utterly, truly essential it was to have you pull me from that pit and encourage me as I learned to take my own steps. To me, Cam, you are nothing short of a Hero.

If our paths ever cross, I’m gonna give you a hug. All the best.
– Otto

If you are ready to quit playing video games, start your 90 day detox by clicking here.

“I decided to quit playing video games when I realized what I want in life wasn’t going to happen if I continued wasting my time.”

red backpack

It has been 444 days since I last played a video game. For those who like numbers, that’s 10,656 hours. When I was playing video games I was spending 8 hours a day on average. That’s over 3,100 Hours! Wow!

Since I’ve quit, I’ve invested those 3,100 hours wisely to invest in myself, my relationships, health, passions, and I have never been happier!

I decided to quit playing video games when I realized what I want in life wasn’t going to happen if I continued wasting my time. After years of missing out on opportunities, enough was enough. Lots of really bad things happened during my early-to-mid 20s, and each painful time I would rely on video gaming to “relieve” myself. Deep down I knew I was just distracting myself.

I was aware that I was denying myself of my dreams.

Because I turned to gaming every time negative emotions came up, I didn’t have the skills to tackle the emotions. The stress compounded so much over time that it felt overwhelming, thus the cycle was set.

Watch: How to Overcome Escapism

I was depressed, powerless, and inexpressive. I wanted to feel alive when at the time I could see no way out. The worst was realizing I would never get any of that time back. It’s like your bank telling you had $100,000 in your account (Okay, more like $100 but hey one day!) then finding out it’s only worth $10 because you wasted your time to act.

Change started after I read the book called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. I learned about keystone habits, and how much it would ripple into other habits. The book sparked ideas, so I decided to set an official date for when I would quit. Chances are if you’re reading this then you are ready for the message Charles has to give you.

Playing one of my last matches of CSGO…

I had switched to my deagle, and decided to reload. At this moment myself and an enemy terrorist bumped into each other. They were also reloading.

My heart was racing, I felt the rush of adrenaline and the magazines were loaded. At the last possible second we both fired and I landed my final headshot. Immediately I felt the rush of dopamine flood my system, with virtual messages saying “you are the winner”. It felt good, it felt rewarding, I felt accomplishment, yet I knew I was deceiving myself.

Seconds later my alarm went off to signify the one of the most important decisions of my life. I fought the temptation to keep playing, especially after that game winning play, yet I decided it was time and pulled the plug. (And admittedly I couldn’t of asked for a better way to go out!). I am thankful for the memories video games had provided me, however moving on from something that was destructive for me has paid me more than any video game could provide.

Watch: How to Deal with Gaming Nostalgia

The Impact of This Decision

Gauntlet Records

From this moment on I would have to face challenges head on. It meant no more distractions, no more excuses, and no more running from my problems.

I took responsibility to face my challenges directly head on no matter what it took. Just like forging a sword, it must get thrown into the fire and smacked around a bunch before it can come out strong.

After the first week of intense cravings, it gradually got easier and easier to fill my time with activities that I would genuinely enjoy.

I found healthier ways to gain the sense of accomplishment that video games were providing for me. My willpower has increased significantly as quitting video games also help me quit other bad habits and develop my discipline.

I’ve also started to favor long term rewards and delayed gratification instead of instant quick fixes to things. I’ve read more books, with a total of 12 this year which has been more than I’ve read in my entire life up until this point.

The biggest payoff is I finally reconnected with my passion of writing music. A dream I thought wasn’t possible to pursue. With my new found skills, I was able to build a studio and start up my own independent electronica record label called “Gauntlet Records“. Quitting video games was a huge step in making this happen.

Our first EP is officially released, you can listen to it here: www.gauntletrecords.com, and you can follow us on Facebook.

Never underestimate the value of your time and what you do with it. Every moment counts!

“My desire to be smart, successful financially, and have a meaningful marriage was more important than playing a video game.”

freedom

750 days ago, I made a choice.

My gaming was out of control. I don’t really need to explain it, because most of you know what it’s like to grind daily, and have an obsession with whatever the game you are playing. Let me tell you about how I stopped gaming and started living!

The Beginning

It didn’t come easy at first. I started at the age of 4 playing on the NES with my Dad in 1985. My mind was always wired to think about gaming.

In the first few weeks of these 750 days, I would dream about playing. Gaming songs would get stuck in my head. It definitely didn’t help when gaming friends were asking me to play.

I cut everything out that related to gaming (yes, even the streams!). I picked up cooking as a hobby to keep myself from gaming in the evenings… the rewards are delicious!

Free Download: 60+ Hobby Ideas to replace gaming

The Other Grind

In April 2015, I got married. In October 2015, I got laid off.

I worked in the energy industry for a decade, and was very good at what I did (operations, legal, land, and consulting work). Industry layoffs were rampant, and I wanted to get into something with stability.

programming

I chose to immerse myself in all things programming. It’s really tough to change careers, and getting that first foot in the door is always the hardest part. I was really good at getting to the final interview, but couldn’t get past the “you don’t have X amount of years of experience.”

Every single day, I kept mashing my keyboard. Python, R, SQL, Typescript/Javascript, HTML, CSS… onto Machine Learning, DevOps, into Django, into Angular, React, Redux. I didn’t stop.

People kept telling me that I should just take 3-4 minimum wage jobs, and quit trying so hard to do something I have no experience in. Let’s just say that I made a choice to ignore those voices, and kept building up skills.

The Present

I eventually got fed up with the job search. The last night of my “corporate search” ended while watching Office Space with my wife. I decided that I was going to be my own boss.

It’s taken time to build up a client base, but I’m now building full stack web apps where I can leverage my past work experiences, and blend them with new skills. April has been the largest grossing month of my career. I do eventually want to delve into data science, biostats and medical research… but that’ll wait for just a little bit! (see below)

The Future

My wife is now 5 months pregnant, and I’m grateful that I can focus on being a grandson, son, dad, husband, friend, and developer.

These 2+ years have been the most difficult, yet rewarding experience that I’ve ever had. I could have used many excuses to go back into 24/7 gaming mode. I lost my job, and my savings ran dry after six months of a job search.

Financial troubles can be an absolute disaster to any marriage, new or established. My wife and I put in the work to communicate better, and being in the present is what made that happen. If I would have gamed, my marriage would have been over. If I would have gamed, I also wouldn’t have the programming skills that I had today.

Everyday you will be given a new choice. Life is too funny, complicated, and beautiful to do anything that you deem to be a waste. The choice is yours. What do you want?

If you found yourself 60 pounds overweight, your grades dropping, and you had no confidence… what would you do? The idea of body transformation probably sounds like a pipe dream.

Would you continue to escape into video games?

Nicholas Bayerle

Or, would you make a decision that could change the course of your life forever?

That’s the exact situation Nicholas Bayerle found himself in.

After his dream of being a professional Motocross rider came to an end, he found himself 60 pounds overweight, grades dropping, and no sense of confidence.

In fact, as you will learn in his story, it got to the point where he was so embarrassed of himself that he was wearing multiple sweatshirts to try and cover up his weight.

From Skinny to Buff – How Fitness Changed my Life

Today Nicholas has a 6-pack for the first time, he’s been married to a (his words) “super hot chick” for the past five years, and his business takes home multiple 6-figures. What changed? He quit gaming.

Watch: Why I Quit Gaming: Nicholas Bayerle

Nicholas and I go in-depth not only into his story, but also how he’s managed to get to where he is today.

One of the biggest changes he made was learning to master his health, which he believes (and I agree), acts as a foundation for the rest of his life.

By mastering his health – an area that we ALL have control over – it has allowed him to apply the same discipline into other areas of his life, like relationships and business.

 

What to Do After Quitting Gaming

 

With Game Quitters there’s a lot of talk about what to do after you quit gaming.

For each of you, that will be something different. Maybe you want to focus on improving your social skills. Maybe you want a boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe you want to travel and start your own business.

But no matter what area you are interested in, your health is going to have an impact. Because it’s not so much about your health, as much as it is about your energy and confidence.

To be forthright, as Game Quitters continues to grow I will continue to focus on being the BEST in the world at helping you quit gaming.

But helping you quit gaming and then leaving you to fend for yourself seems like a disservice. I’m committed to doing more to help you succeed far beyond just quitting gaming.

So I’m committed to sharing with you other experts who are the masters at their craft in other fields, whether it’s in health, productivity, relationships, dating, business, or any other area I get emails about, to support you in achieving your highest potential.

Nicholas is one of those, and the fact that he’s overcome his own video game addiction is a cherry on top.

I hope you enjoy the interview with him today, and if you’re interested in a Game Quitters program to master your health, then take action now. Don’t regret your decision not to act, and never understand what life can really be like if you take back control.

“I realized that I am just wasting my time.”

When I was a kid, I had very bad relationships with my family. They were always shouting at each other, being very insecure and unstable (even now). I was a good kid. Very calm and patient, but my character pissed them off.

“Why isn’t he involved in our useless drama?”, “Why is he so calm?”

So they did their best to involve me in their foolish drama. As a kid, I didn’t understand what is right, and what is wrong, so I did the same as they did, arguing about pointless things, crying, and fighting.

School was good at the beginning, but I became friends with some bad guys. Being a good guy, I paid for that soon, and was bullied. Luckily, I transferred, but this is when I began to escape from society in video games.

I Couldn’t Find a Job

I had no girlfriend. I was just gaming. My gaming friends always supported me, and were my best friends. All I wanted was money.

My favorite game is League of Legends. I’m good at it, but the owner of this game (RIOT company) sold Riot Games to the Chinese company Tencent. They created a League of Legends tournament called LCS. Before they sold the company to Tencent, American, European, and Russian teams were always winning it.

But things changed. Now, only Chinese, and Korean teams are winning it. Strange, right? After that, they changed the game to look good in LCS, but they didn’t care about the League of Legends community. That was the limit of my patience.

League of Legends was not the only game that ended like that. Almost the same thing happened to World of Warcraft when they received a lot of money from gamers all over the world, and started to create bad gaming content. They stopped caring about their community.

I Decided to Quit

It wasn’t easy to do, and I had a lot of problems. I’m still living with my parents who are still doing their best to drag me down, and argue over foolish things.

I realized that I’m just wasting my time. As a good League of Legends gamer, my confidence is pretty high. That allows me to understand that I’d better stop playing games, and do something more interesting. Go to the street, even alone. Don’t sit at home. Do some routine every day.

For me, it’s cleaning my flat. So I wake up, clean everything I can, make myself look good, wear some nice shoes, and clothes, and go outside.

When you go outside, look at other people and compare them to yourself. “Look at this guy playing PSP! He wastes so much time!” “Look at his shoes, look at his hair. He doesn’t want to live in the real world so he chose to waste his time!” “Look at this girl! She talks so much trash about some other girl to her friend.” “Look at this old guy with a sad face! He is refusing to change, so he is suffering!”

They all refuse to change. Sad, but true. Human nature is such a thing that we want to get everything while doing nothing. When we get nothing doing nothing, we suffer and blame everyone around us.

The final thing is: Don’t disrespect them. Don’t feel pity for them, just try to show everyone that life is not for wasting your time and opportunities!

So, I haven’t played games for 3 months already. I’m feeling really cool! Thanks to Cam, and all of you guys.