About Game Quitters

“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.”

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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!

“The line that spoke to me the most was, “There are some people out there who are gaming, and they don’t want to be.” I knew that I was one of those people.”

Meet Joe. After 25 years of gaming he decided to make a change in his life. Like most of us who want to quit gaming, Joe faced challenges at first.

He had a fear of missing out once he decided to get rid of his games, he had fond memories of gaming in the past, and felt a sense of loss from the amount of time he’d invested in gaming over so many years.

Joe hid his recovery from those around him; it made him feel fake doing so, but he feared how others would react if they knew of his addiction. Admitting recovery meant admitting the problems he was facing to those he loved the most.

He Found a Support Community

Then Joe discovered Game Quitters and realized he wasn’t alone on this journey, and that there were many people like him with hopes and dreams of a life beyond gaming.

For Joe, a life beyond gaming meant being a better husband to his wife, and a better father to his newborn daughter. Through Game Quitters he developed the courage to discuss his addiction and recovery with those closest to him.

As the days and months have passed, he has felt less and less tempted to pick up games again. Communication with his wife is better than its ever been, his daughter is now a toddler and he is enjoying being there for her as she grows up.

Just imagine if Joe had continued gaming to this day? He chose a different path.

One Year Game Free

Now Joe has been game free for an entire year and we’re going to explore how he did it, and how you can follow in his footsteps.

One of the strengths Joe had is that he has been very clear on his reason for quitting games from day one, in his own words:

Having a great family is my biggest definition of success – The reason I quit is because I have a lot to lose. I have a wonderful wife and a baby daughter who I want to be fully engaged with.

I cannot have games as a part of my life because I cannot play in moderation. I want to be the father I always wish I had, and provide my daughter with the childhood I missed out on. My wife is such a wonderful and understanding person, and I would be a fool to let games ruin our relationship.

Answering the “why” question gave Joe the motivation necessary to persevere and quit games for good. Self awareness is critical for success in quitting games – recognizing the problem is the first step towards finding the solution.

Joe Is Happier Now

A key part of the Game Quitters community is that we all learn from one another, and Joe took this to heart from day one. Being open to suggestions from others helped Joe discover meditation. Joe highly recommends meditation for any fellow game quitters, and had this to say about the positive effects its had for him:

Meditation is worth the small amount of time it takes. Learning to be still for a while and carry a sense of mindfulness throughout the day makes me more capable, organized, and energetic.

Joe realized through being mindful that he didn’t need to feel guilty about the positive memories he had of some of his experiences gaming in the past.

Through letting go of his attachment to that stage of his life, Joe was able to feel more at peace with both accepting there were times he enjoyed games in the past, but that it’s now something that no longer serves him.

Happiness and entertainment are not the same

An important insight for Joe about the ‘positives’ of gaming is that “happiness and entertainment are not the same thing.” Gaming may provide entertainment, but it didn’t make Joe feel proud or happy about what he was doing in his life. All the hours Joe put into gaming over the years did nothing to make him feel fulfilled as a person.

Since quitting gaming, Joe has also engaged in self development. Joe admitted that at first he wasn’t a fan of self development books. He thought reading a self development book meant admitting he was a loser, but his mindset completely changed after reading “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.

Suggested: 5 Books You Must Read To Help You Quit Playing Video Games

He credits this book with the new approach he’s taken to building habits. A key aspect of this is focusing on enjoyment of the present moment and of the activity itself rather than relying on willpower alone to get him to keep his habits. Joe has never felt more empowered about his ability to change any part of his life.

“Learning to live in the present moment is my favorite benefit from quitting games.” Click to Tweet

Over the days and months since he quit gaming, Joe slowly began to open up about his old addiction. Communication to his wife about his addiction has allowed their relationship to improve, and allowed Joe to become the kind of husband and father he always wanted to be.

He Now Supports Others to Quit

Joe has now taken a leadership role within the Game Quitters Forum as a moderator, and being over one year game free, has gained a great sense of purpose and fulfillment from helping those who are still on their journey towards quitting games and recovering from their addiction.

Opening up about his experiences has given Joe a sense of freedom, as we’ve all been able to follow his journey and support him along the way. Just as the suggestions and guidance of others in the community were critical to Joe’s success, he is now paying it forward to others.

Finally, quitting games has allowed Joe to feel more at peace with himself and more satisfied in life, I’ll leave you with the following words:

I’ve learned that I should dream, and I should take little steps every day to achieve those grand dreams.  Also, it’s vital for me to be able to enjoy the journey towards my dreams.  In the end, it’s not really about whether or not I get to the finish line, but whether I found joy in the days, weeks, months, and years of experiences in pursuit of that dream.

If you think Joe’s story is inspiring, imagine how inspiring your own story will be too. If you’re ready to quit playing video games and turn your life around, grab Respawn.