I was born in 1961. It was like a dream come true when I moved to Silicon Valley and got a great job at Atari. I liked that in gaming there was always a little victory every few minutes, because in real life you can go weeks or months without winning anything.
I knew it was a problem in one way or another since forever. I just had too little willpower to even try to do anything about it. Real life made me feel sad and unwanted, at least in games I could beat a boss or level up every now and then.
I came to Japan with big dreams. Three years later I was stuck at home, with no friends, no job, playing 30 to 40 hours a week. I was depressed.
On Saturday October the 15th, I completed three months without putting my hands in a single video game (console game, computer game, smartphone game, you name it). In the last three months, a lot has changed. Here is my story.
I thought I was going to be a gamer forever, but I began to consider quitting video games when I was a freshman in college at the University of Illinois. What triggered this was the day I wound up on academic probation.
I was taking very difficult classes at the time, such as Calculus, Physics, Spanish 3 and Macro Economics, but after 12 years of being a straight A student, I was on the verge of flunking out of college. Failure is a wonderful motivator.
I started actually gaming in elementary school, playing Pokemon on a Nintendo DS with my sister. One time I played until 5am. I was only seven or eight years old then. My parents took it away, and we tried playing in moderation, but that didn’t work. Then I remember stealing other people’s games.
I once stole my babysitter’s gameboy and also a DS of a kid I was staying with in the YMCA. I feel ashamed to write this, but also empowered. The past is the past. Of course at that time, I didn’t really realize the significance of my problem. Everybody else was playing so why couldn’t I?
School became hell. I was bullied, ridiculed, and stalked during every recess. I ran away from school many times, and became good at manipulating adults into doing what I wanted, while fearing and hating people my age. How could I endure years of that? How could anyone? Well, games.. Games gave me the release I craved, the peace of mind I needed, and a place to be myself. Or so I thought.