About Game Quitters

I remember my rock bottom — I was playing Fallout 3 and I was stuck. I couldn’t get past a certain area without being annihilated. I was backed into a corner and I didn’t have a save that helped me out.

In the game you can see how many hours you had put into the game. My count was 57 hours. I had put 57 hours into a game that was now fruitless. I remember setting the control down and thinking 57 hours.

How did I get here?

I looked around my apartment and it was thrashed. Dishes hadn’t been done, garbage hadn’t been taken out, and my apartment looked like a fraternity had blown through it.

57 hours. I could have started a small business, got in shape, and on and on. Ten minutes after I set down the controller, my ADHD wanted me to pick it up once again. One more try. I sighed, deleted everything and realized that I had nothing, absolutely nothing to show for those 57 hours.

Except a lot of regret.

ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 1 1. Wiki: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder × , is something that affects 17 million people and to many of them, video games are a serious addiction. Video games constantly feed our ADHD’s need.

Immediate Feedback

When you make a mistake in a video game, you know it. You turn down the wrong corridor, take the wrong path, fight the wrong monster. Done. Game over. Our ADHD loves immediate feedback because it knows what it needs to change.

When things are ambiguous and obtuse, our ADHD wails like a 4 year old who didn’t get a piece of candy. Video games offer that feedback and we can make adjustments quickly.

Leveling Up

In many video games we can gain levels. We improve because of the work we put in—we see the results of our effort and we can then have better and harder challenges. We learn exactly what we need to do to earn experience points. Unlike our job or relationships, we can quantify our actions and risk to see the benefits.

Watch: How Video Games Fulfill Your Need for Growth and Progress

Pseudo-community

When we are playing an MMORPG, we have a guild, and “friends” that we talk with. But this is the equivalent of eating Milky Way bars for dinner. It tastes great, but the nutrition it provides us is lacking.

In those relationships there is no give and take, no doing life with each other. We are living in a virtual world that ends once the power is cut off, once a simple button is pressed. Those relationships have zero risk and therefore, zero reward to them.

Unrelenting Challenge

Video games provide level after level of challenge. They prod you to keep conquering, gaining and winning—and when you figure it out—you get rewarded.

But it teaches that in life, the risk can fail, but you get to try again and again. This isn’t true. We have consequences to our failure. Risk is good, but video games don’t let us have a healthy prediction of risk.

I felt a bit lost.

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When I detached from my video game addiction, I wondered what do I do with my time now? So I started a couple of things.

I joined a board game club. I started learning about all the other board games that were out there. I loved the challenge, learning the rules, but I found that there was a much stronger social cohesion there. I was actually making more friends. We even went on a cruise together, just to play board games.

I also started making money on the side. I needed a challenge, an area where I could “level up” myself. I started editing writing for people. I soon got better and better and got more (and better paying) clients.

I didn’t have the immediate results from video games, but I could spend 2-4 hours editing and have something substantial to work on.

Watch: How Gaming Gives You a False Sense of Achievement

That was years ago. Since then I’ve been able to travel with my side money, hitting Australia and most recently, China. I’ve started expanding my side hustle into coaching. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never played another video game since, but I only play in social settings (party games) and I don’t have a system in my house (or will I ever.)

My ADHD railed against the thought of being without my video games. They fed my ADHD’s worst traits. But the time I’ve gotten back, the freedom to things that actually make an impact has made all the difference.

Today’s guest post is by Ryan McRae. Ryan is the founder of The ADHD Nerd, a blog dedicated to helping people with ADHD be more productive, focused and happy. He recently wrote the book Conquering the Calendar and Getting More Done (which you can get for free here). He has spoken all over the world, including Afghanistan. He can be reached here.

“I believe that in any fellow game quitter lies a potential so great that nobody can summarize it. But we won’t be able to unfold our specialty as long as we waste away in a fluorescent light.”

So, the day has come. Day 90 of 90 days of a personal gaming detox. What do I have to say?

Well for starters, it has been a tough ride.

First of all, I want to show my gratitude to Cam, who created this site and ignited a spark in many fellows. In a time, where we are supposed to consume, where it is so easy and comfortable to just fade away in a virtual world, without leaving any proof of our existence, he showed me and many others, that the predetermined way is not the only option. So, thank you Cam.

You might know the story of the Pied Piper, who came to town and led away all the children with his stilling tune, leading them all into oblivion. Well, every story, even the ancient ones, have at least two points of view. While the people of the town witnessed the Piper pulling away the youth, they labeled him the evil in this world. But halt, there is more to this.

The view of the young people who have been pulled away is quite different. In a world where everything is focused on consumption, a soul needs a safe place to expand. The Piper, with no bad intentions, led away the youngsters and showed them a world that grants exactly what they needed. A space, large as necessary, to unfold.

Pretty dramatic, right? I know. But if you think about it; if you remember the reactions of your fellow internet folks, you will notice, that they smiled at you in contempt, when you left the world you once loved so much. What seems to be pure evil and idiocy to one, might be redemption to others.

When I googled “how to stop gaming” on that lonely night, I took my own life.

Figuratively. I pulled the plug on my life, because I knew, it will pull the plug on me. Before I quit gaming, I felt lost, exhausted, always tired, mildly happy, and heavily forsaken.

I grew up with a computer in my room, which turned into my best friend. Where real people were complicated, my computer would always be there to serve me. But in the long run, I began to serve it.

I miss the words to express my eternal gratitude for what Cam has done. Only by lighting up a path that I was unable to see, he saved me. And even if I return to playing all day and all night; even if I give up my chances, my life and my future, I would have to do it entirely conscious. Because now I know what was cloaked.

If I give up my life, this time, I know what I do. But as long as there is any energy left, I will try to go my own path. Not the predetermined path.

I feel prepared for this path.

The detox was highs and lows. It was enthusiasm and depression. I felt like conquering the world, and in the next moment I thought I was falling down a 50 stories building.

It is tough to not compare my old life to the matrix. Because it is so close to the matrix. Being connected to a device that pretends to show me choices and options, while it silently pre-programmed my decision. A waste of life. That is what I was. An entire waste of life.

We do not have to be Christians to understand that life is a one time thing. This makes it precious beyond words. Sitting in front of a screen, drooling, like a machine is a waste of this precious gift.

I believe that in any fellow game quitter lies a potential so great that nobody can summarize it. I believe, that we all are special, creative, smart, gifted. But we won’t be able to unfold our specialty as long as we waste away in a fluorescent light, that will make our eyes go blind and turn our skin into greasy dough.

Don’t get me wrong. I still continue to work in front of a screen. But today, steam, origin, bigfish… none of that really interests me. I feel disgust when I think about how I wasted years and did not commit myself to any goal, any progress or any measurable sign of life at all.

Life happens offline, away from the screen. I know that. I feel that. And now I feel able to fight my way through this harsh environment that is this society. Now I see chances and will not be stopped until I reached them. And even if I fail, I will not go back to benumbing my inner desires. My true desires.

Because let us be real for a moment: You do not desire to reach level 30 in a world that will disappear once a guy pulls the plug. You do not desire to be “somebody” in a virtual world, where everybody can be what he wants to be without any need of work. In a world, where being special is handed out to anybody, nobody is special. You will be anybody; anybody will be you.

There are no heroes in this world, no interesting people. There are no people in this world. Only souls that slowly dance to a tune nobody can hear anymore because everybody is numbed by the drug they all took in order to get into the dance hall.

Nobody desires to be numb all the time. That is like waiting for death without the annoying annoyance of waiting without purpose. I do not desire to be that person, and I believe, neither do you.

This place is not redemption city.

You know that. I know that. You don’t sign up and feel relieved of all your bad decisions. We know that. We sign up for the tough work. If this was a game, it would be a survival game. But you know, most survival games out there have one major thing in common: they do not have a goal. Your only goal is to survive.

Imagine this: When you signed up, you were this one guy or girl, brave enough to raise his or her hand when the old leader asked if somebody is willing to venture forth to find a place to settle and to recreate society.

You were the one human that said: “I am not satisfied with surviving day by day, only to wait for my demise. I will not dwell in this limbo until my soul perishes. I will head out and I will fight my way through this mess that you people are afraid of. I will conquer back what is truly mine and when I disappear, I will leave a legacy behind.”

That person, my friend, is you. You and me. We took this step. We spoke the truth. We honestly admitted that we are guilty of the highest sin: Wasting our life. And we decided to change.

The 90 day detox is the first step. Now you are prepared. You took all the classes, finished all the lessons, and trust me, when you thought this is it, the real stuff only begins.

Be brave. Be great. Be honest. Be noble. Be conscious. Be you. You, my friend, have this under control. This is your life. Your choice. Your consequence. Even if you go out and fail once, twice, three times, everything is better than being numb and never trying. And rest assured, we are in this together!

Sincerely yours,

Robert

“You will never be able to achieve anything truly great if you spend all of your time playing video games.”

I am 24 years old and a Sergeant in the US Army. I’m the guy who thought it would be a good idea to go on patrols and try to find people to shoot at me, so that I can shoot back at them – kind of like Call of Duty in real life.

I did a tour in Iraq in 2015. The weather was hot, like boot melting hot (~125 degrees fahrenheit). The people were nice for the most part, except for the crazy ones who would drive around vehicles filled with a thousand pounds of explosives.

But life hasn’t always been this way and for much of my life, I was a gamer.

I started by playing Neopets when I was in the 5th grade. Soon after, I found Runescape. I got to combat level 98 on top of my various trade skills which took hundreds, if not thousands of hours of playtime to achieve. Quite an accomplishment if I do say so myself.

Next up is… World of Warcraft. Ah yes, this is where I truly shined. Over the course of five years I racked up about 400 days of solid play time – about 10,000 hours total.

I was so dedicated that I really didn’t have much of a social life in high school as my friends all also played video games for the most part. Whenever we would hang out and have a sleepover, we would bring our gaming systems and play together.

Off to College

The first semester I actually focused on my classes some and finished with decent grades. But this meant that my gaming performance was sliding a little bit.

I learned from my mistake and devoted so much time to gaming my second semester that I just stopped going to two of my classes, leaving me with only two other classes to worry about.

I entered the euphoric gaming trance which normal people refer to as “depression”, and was so committed to gaming that I didn’t go to class for a week straight one time. I barely passed the two classes, but my gaming performance was top notch.

That’s pretty much where my gaming career ends – kinda abrupt, I know. After that second semester I realized that I was destroying my life and decided to join the Army.

I still play video games occasionally, but I find that I get bored with them after about a week or so, then I will read, or play guitar for about two months until I feel like playing a few games again, and the cycle has just been repeating.

I’m not exactly sure what happened. Maybe it was just a mix of my poor academic performance in college, and being away from everything for 14 weeks when I was at basic training… but I just changed.

Maybe I Just Grew out of It.

Now, I don’t even really have time for video games and, honestly, I don’t even notice. I am currently involved in three business ventures on top of my long days in the Army.

Whenever I do have free time that could be spent gaming, I would much rather read books on leadership and personal development. Basically I have stopped spending all of my free time on video games and have been investing that time in my future. It feels great!

I am nearing the end of my five-year commitment with the Army and am looking forward to going back to NC State University.

Instead of looking forward to all of the free time I will have to play games, I am actually excited to go back to learn and meet new people. I haven’t completely stopped playing video games, but it probably averages out to about one hour per week, if that.

I’m sure many of you at some point have wished you could get all of the hours you have spent gaming back, and use them for something else. I know I have.

You Have the Power to Change Yourself.

There is no Universal Law that says that you have to be the same person you were yesterday. You can continue down the path you are on and live a life full of regret and mediocrity, or you can decide to pursue your dreams that you have pushed to the side in order to make room for gaming.

You have the power make something of yourself and change the world around you, but you will never be able to achieve anything truly great if you spend all of your time on games. The choice is yours. No one else can make it for you.

Learn more about Adam’s story by watching his YouTube videos.

After her experience with Adam, his mother, Melanie, started an organization called Families Managing Media to help other parents understand how to successfully navigate the role technology and gaming play in the lives of their children.

“How would I personally describe the 90 day detox? You come back to be yourself.” – tirEdOrange

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The world seems crazy around you as soon as you realize how much you numbed yourself with games.

We are all so much more than we realize and as long as we numb our consciousness with gaming we only paralyze ourselves to the point where we become desperate and don’t know what to do.

There are no words to describe the value that the 90 day detox provides.

From completing the 90 day detox, here are 5 tips that will help you successfully complete yours:

1. Make a Journal.

You probably won’t believe it at first but this is some miracle stuff right here. Writing a journal on the Game Quitters Forum is something that will change you, not because people here are telling you how to live your life the right way (which they don’t do).

It is because you learn how to talk to yourself. How to listen to yourself. You start to get in touch with yourself and this is a very, if not the most, important lesson to learn during your journey.

“Making this daily journal has had a huge impact. It’s become an accountability habit.” – ors_tyrael

2. Follow the steps of Respawn.

Your first few days will potentially be filled with all kinds of physical and psychological issues and cravings, but it probably sounds worse than it is. It is a crazy time in the beginning, and you should acknowledge yourself for every day that you successfully complete.

The steps outlined in Respawn will help you during these initial challenges, as they show you how to handle all these crazy experiences and emotions, and help you understand how to endure them without simply giving up.

3. You will grow during the process.

This whole 90 day detox felt so overwhelmingly undoable at some points, so don’t give up if you feel like you can’t do it. I can assure you: You can!

If you need support, then seek it on the forum, because you will get it. It is simply great that this forum helps a lot. Tasks that seemed very hard in the beginning will become easy in the end, and you will grow stronger in so many ways that you will be able to handle a lot of different situations.

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

I’m very good at being too hard on myself… of expecting perfect results from myself, or seeing them as a failure if I do not achieve them. This is the reason why I had some of my problems: because in the end, a goal that has no potential for failure is a road that has no potential for victory.

The experiences that you earn during your journey are the most important thing, so if you make mistakes from time to time, don’t worry, just get back on track as soon as possible, and keep going!

5. It is never too late.

You know that feeling when you’ve taken a moment for yourself in the past and realized that you’ve lost a couple of years to this gaming addiction of yours… that you didn’t even really realize it until recently?

I felt very insecure about the fact that I simply lost so many years during my addiction, and if I’m honest then I am still a little bit insecure about it at the moment because it still affects my life right now but… you will learn during the detox that there is no reason to be insecure about it.

The “ideal way that everyone should go” is just an illusion. There is no time limit that tells you that you can’t start your life again right now. You can start it again anytime.

This is the core of my experiences during my 90 day detox. It opened my eyes and helped me to quit what destroyed me. Gaming was something that distracted me from my life, but the detox did more than just help me quit playing video games: it helped me to let go of everything that pulled me down these past few years.

I still have to deal with the consequences from all this, but hell, I’m so happy right now that I could cry tears. Go and enjoy your new life and all the things around you! 🙂

This post originally appeared on the Game Quitters Forum. Minor edits for grammar.

“Instead of completing an assignment over the weekend, I spent 32 hours straight finishing Dark Souls 1.”

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It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly my gaming experience began. The earliest memory I have is when I was 5 years old, roughly 16 years ago. My dad introduced me to the classic games of the Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64.

As I grew up I became more interested in gaming. I had a cousin who was a year older than me, and we always lived close to each other.

So back in the days when online gaming didn’t exist, it was easy for us to walk to the other’s home, stick on whatever co-op game we felt like (usually Baldur’s Gate, Dynasty Warriors or Star Wars Battlefront), and play for hours.

Online Gaming. Blessing or Curse?

It was almost a natural progression in secondary school. As online gaming was introduced through Xbox Live, it became the norm for every single person I knew to own an Xbox 360. Combine this with Call of Duty and FIFA, and it’s a recipe for disaster. I think I racked up over 100 days playtime on Call of Duty 4, 5, and 6 combined!

I was always an active kid, involved in sports, music, scouting, and spent a lot of time outside. But as I got older, I started spending more of my time upstairs in front of a screen. My daily routine was usually along the lines of waking up, going to school, come home and meet everyone online, eat dinner, and then go back online to play away the rest of the evening.

Go to university… Get a job… Live a happy life… Or so they say.

Like everyone else, however, I never really viewed it as a problem. It was what everyone did. I managed to stay on top of my studies, doing decently well at school and college. It wasn’t until I went on to study Physics at university that I noticed a problem.

I Hated University.

Not a real picture of Jimmy.

Not a real picture of Jimmy.

Let me clarify, I loved the people, the social aspect and the freedom. But I hated the work. Every single assignment (and I mean every single one) was completed the night before the due date.

It got pretty bad in my first year. So bad in fact, that instead of completing an assignment over the weekend, I spent 32 hours straight finishing Dark Souls 1.

I didn’t eat during this time. I stayed in my dark room, which luckily had an en-suite, and I only got up to get water or go to the bathroom. But hey, I completed it! That’s what I get for taking my gaming PC to university.

The second year of university I ditched the PC, left it at home, and bought an Xbox One. Why was it so impossible for me to be without a console? People don’t get addicted to video games, do they?

It wasn’t until my final year that things really took a turn for the worse.

After failing a couple of my exams for the first time in years, and not being able to find the energy to even get out of bed in the morning, a friend of mine thought that it would be a good idea to seek professional help.

Depressed? Me? That’s Not Right..?

The verdict? Moderately severe depression.

Wait, what? I’m not depressed. I’m just miserable. I’m not depressed, I just procrastinate a lot. I couldn’t get my head around it, and yet, something seemed to resonate. I started thinking back to secondary school, and the thoughts I used to have. I never thought anything of it at the time, but looking back it all makes sense.

As you can probably imagine, from this point onwards things started spiraling rapidly. My grades suffered, I stopped turning up to lectures, and I’d spend hours every day playing FIFA on my Xbox. I became detached from my friends, staying put in my room until I was forced to get out of bed. I hated everything.

Come on, It’s Just One Dissertation..?

It got to the point where I couldn’t even write my dissertation. I managed to get an extension to give me a couple of months to work on it and prepare myself for the upcoming exams. I only had to do two of them, but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t do it. I hated it. I’d forced myself into believing that nothing would ever work, regardless of how hard I tried. Goodbye, job opportunities.

However, after dropping out of university 2 months from finishing, something strange happened. My outlook on life changed completely. I’m not saying I miraculously cured my depression and was a bouncing bundle of energy. But something was different.

A Light in the Dark?

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I’d been passionate about entrepreneurship since the start of my second year of university. I loved the idea of personal development and self-help, and planned to start my own business after I finished my studies.

It wasn’t until a prolific online mentor that I followed, Stefan James Pylarinos, released a course on how to become an affiliate marketer online, that I decided to make a change.

I’d never really done anything that spontaneously, so dropping £1200 (which was basically all of my money) on a course was really out of my comfort zone. But something about it felt right.

It was also around this time that I was recommended a Game Quitters video on YouTube. Holy s***. Why didn’t I find out about this years ago?

Naturally, I did what any normal person would do and binge watched a bunch of Cam’s videos. Shortly after, I made the decision to quit gaming. Bearing in mind I’d just discovered Skyrim mods, Dark Souls 3 and Overwatch. It was probably one of the most difficult times for me to quit.

But I was committed. I introduced myself on the forums, started a journal, and carried out the 90-day detox.

Pain Is Temporary.

These 90 days had a much more profound effect on my life than I could ever imagine.

It’s almost indescribable. During these 3 months, I’ve created two businesses, ran a half marathon, became involved with photography, started killing it with my workout habits in the gym, cleaned up my diet, and I’ve got so much more energy than I ever had before.

It wasn’t easy. There were some dark times during the detox. The cravings became so bad at some points that I had to force myself to not even look at the computer. I’d get out the house and just walk. As long as I could. But it was all worth it.

If any of you are interested about my personal outdoor business you can find it here. If you’re a student and you’re interested in contributing to my non-profit student education site, or even just to get some advice and support, you can find that here. The sites are still pretty young, but I’ve got some big visions for the future!

A Final Thanks to the People That Saved My Life.

Finally, I just want to give a huge thanks to Cam and the Game Quitters community. You guys got me through it, and were so supportive at every step of the journey, I really don’t know how I can ever thank you. But I’ll find a way!

If anyone is reading this and you’re on the fence about quitting, or you’re struggling to make it through your detox. I really recommend you to become more involved in the community. Interact with people and make friends. Keep yourself on top of your journal, and I swear the time will fly by. You’ve got this.

“I didn’t have a job, and I wasn’t looking. When my girlfriend would leave the house for work, I would boot up my computer and open a bottle.”

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When I was 6 years old my family got a PC and I started playing games like SkiFree, Keen, GTA, and Lemmings.

As a restless child who was constantly battling boredom, video games provided me with the stimulation I desired. They were simply more fun than any other activity, and it was exciting to be in control!

I felt like the master of my small computer generated universe – it gave me a sense of power which I lacked in my real life.

I Kept Gaming Every Chance I Got.

I made friends in school and my parents made me join a few hobbies. But I knew what I wanted to be doing; I wanted to be playing games.

My humble beginnings transformed into a serious problem when I got my own computer. I’m still not sure why my parents thought that was a good idea – I’m pretty sure they saw what a little addict I was. But alas, I got a refurbished PC in my own room around the age of 13, and ever since then it was game over.

I spent all my free time behind that monitor, gaming or internet browsing until early morning on school nights. Self control and awareness weren’t in my agenda. The games I played evolved as well. I picked up big titles from Blizzard like WC3 and WoW, and a whole slew of Steam games to boot.

Online Gaming Became My Go-To.

It gave me a sense of connection and community. I sorely needed some kind of human contact, and these games provided me with just enough pseudo-connection to keep me pacified.

I’m not proud of it, but I gamed my college experience away too. My dorm mates were all gamers, so it was easy to continue my compulsive computer use. Hardcore gaming hurt my grades, destroyed my sleep schedule, and stunted my personal development.

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I didn’t outgrow my shyness, in fact, it got worse. And I hadn’t even hit rock bottom yet. Around 2011 I found my raison d’etre: drunk Dota2.

Let me preface this with a little bit about myself. I have an addictive personality and alcoholism runs in my family. The combination of booze and a Skinner-Box MOBA game created an unholy blissful paradise.

Just One More Game… Just One More Drink…

Amidst the hangovers and sleepless nights, I somehow graduated college. I moved into a small apartment with my then girlfriend, and proceeded to bloom into a full blown alcoholic and Dota2 addict.

I didn’t have a job, and I wasn’t looking. When my girlfriend would leave the house for work, I would boot up my computer and open a bottle.

At this point I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t care. I resigned my fate to a rollercoaster of drugs and video games. Full steam ahead! That is, until the morning that I threw up blood… “I guess I’m dying” I thought to myself, “Fuck”.

I want to tell you that this was the moment when I turned my life around 180 degrees. But how do you steer a life with 20 years of momentum behind it? Little by little.

I knew I needed help, but I was not ready to join an in-person support group. So I began lurking around reddit groups like /r/stopdrinking, /r/stopgaming, /r/nosurf.

Communities That Changed My Life.

I read stories, posted my own ramblings, and found solace in our shared struggle and pain. As I see it, these groups gave me a sense of belonging, and created meaning in my life.

Even with the best intentions, quitting an addiction is no easy feat. I relapsed over and over again. I would fall down, and I would get back up. I would delete Dota2 and pour my liquor down the drain, only to reinstall and buy more in a matter of days. But the intention to quit was there, I had a burning desire to overcome my addictions.

After a year of relapses and failed promises, I decided that enough was enough.

I had proven to myself that I couldn’t keep my convictions. Something had to change. And that something was my environment. As long as I had my gaming computer, I would game. This thought crystallized within my mind during yet another sleepless night where I played Dota2 until 6am.

I hated myself. I hated my life. Enough was enough.

I ripped the hard drive out of my PC, packed up my rig, and started driving to the dump. With tears in my eyes, I violently threw my tormentor into a dumpster. I would later regret not selling my PC instead, but at least my impulsively desperate act makes for a good story!

So that’s my past. I’m not proud of the way I spent my time, but it has created an unyielding fervor to better myself and help others who share my struggles.

Two Years Sober and Game Free!

Although life isn’t magically perfect now, I am proud of who I am and how I spend my time. Was quitting games worth it? YES, absolutely.

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My journey has created a uniquely clearheaded perspective on the overuse of technology, and what it can do to your life. I feel passionately that our society is headed in the wrong direction, and that our device use has become a problem.

Specifically, young men are prone to video game addiction, and people of all ages are apt to overuse social media and smartphones. Our devices are tools. They are useful. But when mindlessly overused they can greatly damage the quality of our lives.

I have thus created an online presence, MindfulFinn, to promote the mindful use of technology. You can follow my journey on YouTube and Instagram.

Thanks Cam and Game Quitters for spreading awareness about video game addiction. We’re all in this together.

“Because no matter how much I game, the void was never filled, I was never happy. In fact, I became more miserable than ever.”

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I can vividly remember sitting in front of my triple-monitor setup, contemplating my whole life at the end of summer break, wondering why am I still miserable while having the coolest video games, the most advanced gaming equipment and the “cool” identity of being a gamer?

Ever since I started gaming (7 years old), I noticed something within myself. A sense of dissatisfaction, a hole that needed to be filled.

But as a kid, I didn’t really have many ideas about how to go about filling up this sense of void… So I did the only thing I could: play more video games! Well, everyone else is doing it, and they all seemed to be happy and joyous, also it can’t possibly lead me down the wrong track in life, right??

As I was attempting to fill up the hole with more gaming, my constructed identity: “Gamer” grew bigger and bigger.

It got to a point where I stopped seeing myself as a good student so I neglected school work. I stopped seeing myself as a social person so I neglected my social life. I stopped seeing myself as a nice and caring son so I neglected family.

Most importantly, I stopped seeing my authentic self.

All those things added up into a lifestyle of “living for gaming’s sake.” One of my favorite activities was to come back home on Friday night, neglecting all my homework and assignments, and hop onto my PlayStation and play Battlefield Hardline with my buddy Andy.

Sure, the lower part of myself was very excited by all the stimulation provided by gaming, but my higher self sensed something was else. It acknowledged that perhaps something isn’t really working… Because no matter how much I game, the void was never filled, I was never happy. In fact, I became more miserable than ever.

Not only was the void not filled, but also my confidence eroded, my higher values squandered, my passions and the love for my life waned. But the lower self is still too unconscious and close-minded, so I continued to buy more games, pursue better rankings, wishing that someday the void will be finally filled…

My Turning Point:

This story happened back in mid 2015, the two-week summer break. I spent the entire holiday gaming 6-8 hours a day and lived life as a legitimate “gamer.”

I drank soda, ate a lot of junk food, didn’t come out of my bedroom for dinner, and didn’t attempt to attend any social events. The process was very stimulating and exciting in the first week, but as that enthusiasm wore off, a scary truth started to uncover itself…

The truth that no matter how hard I try, there is no way out, and gaming will never bring me fulfillment and happiness and the ultimate satisfaction that I was lusting after this entire time.

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It got to a point where all I did was continuing going through the motions of gaming without really enjoying any of it, because my mind was controlled by video games like a puppeteer, and me myself, the puppet.

I remember sitting in front of the glowing screens, viewing my life objectively with brutal honesty for the first time.

I asked myself: “Is this all there is? Is this what my authentic self wants to be like? Is there another way? Am I diluting myself?”

I was tired of all this non-sense, tired of being controlled by this puppet master since I was a kid, tired of not finding something that truly fulfills me, tired of being shy and having low self-esteem, tired of not having a passion to follow and most importantly, tired of living this identity of a “gamer”.

Right on the spot, I made a bold decision: I’m going to quit playing video games.

Instantly, a new horizon opened up for me as I made the decision. I saw a more passionate, a more loving, a more confident, a more self-actualized human being waiting for me on the other side of the barrier.

Interestingly enough, the day after I decided to quit, my friend Mark asked me if I wanted to sell my PlayStation 4. My original intention was to keep my PlayStation and to game in moderation, but my intuition told me that selling the console is probably the best decision there is.

So that’s exactly what I did: I packed everything up and sold that pile of equipment which symbolized misery, dissatisfaction, hopelessness, low self-esteem and most importantly: my identity as a gamer…

How My Life Changed:

Sure, the withdrawals were tough. But my cold turkey approach and the compelling vision I created pulled me through the entire 90 day detox. Also Cam’s videos helped me out a great bunch, too. (Thanks, Cam.)

After the 90 days, I felt like a radically different person.

downloadI started defining my authentic values, I became really passionate about my education and transformed myself into a top-performing student; I became so much more confident and social, and I found my passion for practical psychology and started my podcast.

Listen to my interview with Cam: How to break your gaming addiction.

Most importantly, I finally experienced the bliss from living my life to the fullest. Today my commitment is to a life-long study of personal development, and to live the most extraordinary life possible.

What is your commitment? What do you want out of life? Share your answer in the comments:

I didn’t see a problem with it, since I was telling myself I got nothing better to do and I deserved it.

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The end of exams was a critical time last year. I worked for my grades, and I ached for some time off, for a reward. I had no real plans for summer – a big mistake – only general directions, and I found myself with a lot of spare time.

Overwatch Came Out.

So I started playing, and had a blast for a couple weeks. Everyone was new, I had time and no obligations, things couldn’t be better.

I went to the gym, read a little, hung out with my friends, and played Overwatch for a couple hours every day throughout June.

I wasn’t structuring my time, and slipped into a routine where I went to bed at four in the morning after grinding a couple levels each day. I also stopped meditating, since the first thing I did after waking up was turning on the computer. Mistake!

Shit Hit the Fan.

At the beginning of July I went back home to Slovakia. Since I was living with my mom, I didn’t have to shop for myself; didn’t have to do the dishes as often, or wash my clothes.

The environment was not constructive to growth, and I’m not saying that as an excuse but as an observation, since the environment is a huge variable when it comes to success or relapse.

With a more relaxed state of affairs and “no library” where I could go to learn, I started playing a lot. It was warm outside so I hung out with my friends, and then went home and played, as it gave me a sense of progress, which replaced the progress I got from the gym and my studies.

I felt like a child. I felt powerless and demotivated from the lack of exciting things to do in the summer. I didn’t allow myself to feel those emotions. Instead, I escaped from them by playing video games.

The worst thing was, it wasn’t even very rewarding anymore.

I was in a negative spiral where playing games sapped my motivation to do anything else, and since I didn’t do anything else, I played games, which sapped even more, and around the circle we go.

This is a scary and frustrating situation to be in, and I’m sure a lot of you can relate. I felt stuck and powerless in the cycle.

Thankfully, I Had a Couple of Things Help Me.

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One thing was my love for cycling, which I do every summer, since it’s the only time I can really go for long bike rides. Every time I went on a bike ride I felt great and alive, and it helped to wean my brain off the dopamine rewards a little bit.

Slovakia has a lot of cool places accessible by bike, and thankfully I also had friends to go with me, so we could go on longer trips.

Another thing I had going for me was a former classmate I was attracted to. She was very responsive to my advances and we quickly went out for a couple of dates. This forced me to step up my game and take care of myself.

Also, being out on a date means not being in front of a screen. If could go back in time, I’d ask her out sooner, but it’s easy to say that in hindsight haha.

As August came, I grew progressively more fed up with my relapse and really started my crawl back.

I decided to start a programming project, so that I had something to look back to at the end of the summer, as well as something to work towards. This project, my friends, my bike, and this girl were what ultimately helped me break the spell of games, because I was biking in the morning, coding around midday, and out with someone in the afternoon.

The project was a great idea because I was learning, I had goals to work towards, and I was rewarded with increased mastery and working code.

At the end of it, I was ready to quit again, determined to make this year the best I’ve ever had. So I left for uni once again, met a lot of new people, uninstalled games and started meditating and reading again.

As things are right now, I’m not 100% game-free, but I’m learning daily, and I feel much more capable than I did a month ago. I also don’t have as much free time to play, which definitely helps.

My Advice To You

If I had to choose a few things to highlight, I’d say it’s really important to be in the right environment. This can be hard to change, but I think it’s something to be aware of and work towards improving.

Another thing is the importance of structuring your time. When you have nothing better to do, it’s easy to start playing, and it can be a downward spiral which can feel impossible to break.

Finally, it’s easier to prevent than to cure. It’s easy to fight your urges to play when you’re on a bike two hours from your computer. It’s also easy to not think about games when you’re out with someone that you like and that likes you.

Those three factors – different environment, structuring my time and having a blast with people I like – helped me stop the relapse.

Hopefully this post helps you to make some changes in your life.

Good luck, and thanks for reading 🙂

This post originally appeared on the Game Quitters Forum. It has been edited slightly for grammar and formatting.

“I kept playing for months, often for whole afternoons, until my son was born.”

jared yee

Video games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

As a kid I would play PC games, Playstation and Gameboy with friends, and often fantasize about the day my parents would let me have one of my own. That day didn’t come until I had finished high school.

I played games throughout university, but infrequently. When I started working full time I began spending many weekends playing video games to relax. It probably had the opposite effect, but that didn’t stop me racking up hundreds and hundreds of hours of play.

I got married early, at 23, which is a bit crazy, but we both knew we had found the one. It’s been hard work, and we are very happy.

When we got pregnant with our first child, my wife would often be asleep before I got home from work. She experienced intense fatigue during early pregnancy, and I didn’t know what to do with myself so I started gaming heavily, up to 4 hours per night.

My Son Was Born

When our boy came along, I didn’t have as much time to play games and I felt frustrated. At the time, I didn’t realize how absurd my frustration was. Here were my beautiful wife and son, and I wanted to play games all the time.

In reality, the stresses of fatherhood were affecting me in ways I didn’t understand. The comforting immersion of video games gave me an escape. People close to me noticed my frustration, and how much I was playing. Someone suggested that I quit games and it was the last thing on my mind.

I was so attached – perhaps addicted – to games that I thought something terrible might happen if I gave them up. Nevertheless, in November last year I decided to give it a shot. I relapsed in February, but have been completely game-free since then.

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What Happened When I Quit:

Nothing bad. In fact, my life has expanded in ways I never expected and I’ve been doing things I’ve neglected for years.

I don’t mean to show off in any way, but in the hope that it encourages you to try quitting games, here are a few things I’ve managed to achieve since I made the decision.

  • Started reading fiction. Before I quit games, I hadn’t read a novel since high school (~8 years). I read Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky) and am now a few hundred pages into War and Peace (Tolstoy). The latter is 1400 pages long and I have no plans to stop. It’s fantastic.
  • Read a bunch of non-fiction books. I read Deep Work by Cal Newport, The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, and the audiobook for Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. All highly recommended.
  • Started a 9-week running program (Couch to 5km) with the goal of running 5km (3x per week) by mid-October. I am up to week 5.
  • Traveled interstate for a holiday (I live in Australia) and booked another trip to the USA and Asia.
  • Became an early riser, starting each day at 5:30. I read, meditate and sometimes watch TV series like Chef’s Table before my family wakes up.
  • Quit a full-time job I didn’t like, and got a new part-time job at a digital marketing agency.
  • Started freelancing and building a new business (work-in-progress!).
  • Set up my first consulting contract with a business.
  • Completed a short course in Ancient Greek at an Australian university.
  • Started writing regularly (evidenced by this article!).
  • Started a web development course on Udemy, learning the fundamentals of HTML, CSS and JavaScript (so far!).
  • Tutored my sister-in-law in English and creative writing to help her with high school exams.
  • Signed up as a career development mentor (volunteer) at a catering/hospitality college in Sydney.
  • Started meditating for 10 minutes per day in the mornings (using the Headspace app).

I’ve left the most powerful benefit for last.

It’s a bit tricky to quantify, but I have found myself spending more time with my wife and son than ever. I can’t get enough of them. I’ve felt more present at family events and in social situations (which I previously disliked and found awkward).

I never thought I’d get a kick out of eating fresh mandarins from the tree in the backyard with my son, but yesterday we did, and it was terrific.

It’s difficult to know whether I would have done any of these things while still gaming. Nevertheless, it is quite clear to me that none of these things would have been as much fun if I were gaming regularly.

My decision to quit gaming has had surprising benefits. It hasn’t solved all of my problems or made life magically frictionless. Nevertheless I’ve achieved more (and enjoyed more) in 6 months than I have in years.

Quitting gaming may not work for everyone, but I’ve found it tremendously helpful. Give it a try. I’d love to hear how it goes!

If you like Jared’s story, than you’ll definitely like Respawn.

Jared Yee is a freelance writer and marketer based in Sydney, Australia. He quit games in 2016 a few months after his first child was born, and hasn’t looked back since. Outside of work, Jared enjoys reading, running, meditation, and above all spending time with family.

© Copyright Jared Yee 2016, All Rights Reserved

“I seriously didn’t think it was possible to be addicted to video games.”

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Matt began gaming in 1989 and gamed consistently until he left university with a Sociology degree, having initially studied architecture.

A vicious cycle of depression and addiction to games such as Warcraft 3 and Halo 2 caused the end of Matt’s relationship with his girlfriend at the time. Gaming was not only taking all his time, but also his attention.

He would sometimes not even answer her phone calls in order to continue playing games. They seldom went anywhere together.

Real Life Got In The Way of Gaming

After leaving university and beginning a career as a counseller for autistic children, he found a much healthier balance with video games and even quit for a few years. This was partially due to just not having the time or money to game, or buy a laptop capable of gaming.

All that changed when an old friend bought him one as a gift, and this signaled his return to gaming heavily. The new laptop opened the doors once again to online gaming, which Matt always had more trouble controlling.

Switching jobs and being unemployed left Matt with a lot of time on his hands, and he ended up spending most of it playing Starcraft 2. The online competitive environment and reward systems made the game very addictive.

Preparing for grad school to study landscape architecture left Matt with a choice, how much more time was he going to waste gaming?

Matt had always been able to control gaming just enough to do okay in school throughout his life, but even in this “moderated” state gaming still took up almost all of his non-study time, leaving him with no time to pursue other more productive or healthy hobbies or activities.

Gaming Is a Full-Time Job

During his time being unemployed, and afterwards during semester breaks, Matt found himself playing Fallout for 40-60 hours a week. It became a full-time job, one that doesn’t pay very well.

Living with his old friend while studying at grad school had also made it more difficult to get away from games, because his group of friends expected him to join them.

To combat this, Matt tried an innovative tactic to moderate his gaming: giving his best friend’s girlfriend parental control over his gaming, and thereby limiting his time to 10 hours per week.

Although he had some success with this because of the embarrassment associated with asking his friend’s partner for more game time, and also being left out of friend’s activities due to being out of hours, it didn’t resolve the problem entirely.

Matt often found himself playing his 10 hours in just 2 days, and realised he still had a problem just like before; he began to seek out counselling and therapy as well as the StopGaming community on Reddit to help him quit.

After trying to moderate for the first few months after again recognising the negative impact gaming was having on his life, Matt finally decided to quit cold turkey. Like many others who have successfully quit he now sees it as a necessity to anybody who wants to kick the habit.

“Swallow your pride, ask for help and seek advice. Create a plan and execute it. If you “fail”, dust yourself off and keep trying.”

At first Matt faced problems with wasting time on the internet, particularly Reddit and Amazon Prime. He shared some tips for reducing lost internet time here.

I just found the Chrome extension Stay Focused. It is a time limiting extension that in my opinion is pretty well done. All you do is select a time allotment and add the websites that you think lead to procrastination etc. and it’ll block the websites after you reach your daily/weekly time limit.

As well as this, he recommends having a written to-do list, preferably that you can carry around with you, and to also reflect of the games of which you have had control issues with. By doing this, you can better understand why you were gaming, and also what hobbies you may pursue to replace video games.

Resource: Need ideas to replace gaming? Download 60+ New Hobby Ideas.

For example, for those who have had issues with RPGs like Matt, you may like the sense of pride that comes from growing the number of days on your “game-free” badge on Reddit, or the measurable physical effects of working out.

For Matt, as well as keeping fit, his main hobbies since quitting have included going out more with his friends, making sure he studies well for his grad course, and gardening.

Although quitting gaming is just one step along the road to a better quality life, Matt does see himself as being more capable of facing new challenges now than ever before, and he feels a greater sense of control in his life.

Photoshop and CAD skills gained over the years have helped him to secure a summer internship that will help him to keep off of games over the break, and all of us at Game Quitters wish him the best for the future!