“Trust me, a double backflip is cooler and more stimulating than getting an epic mount.”
It all started at around 11 years old, when I fell in love with some medieval strategy games staying at a friend’s house for a weekend. I convinced my dad to buy me one and I started playing on his computer.
Before going on with the story let me throw in a little of my childhood background: My parents are from Spain and by the time I was born they were living in Austria due to professional reasons.
By the time I was 7 we all moved back to Spain (first time for me) and they put me in a Spanish-Swiss school so I could keep learning German. I remember going to class for the first time a few days or weeks after everybody else had started plus I joined that school on the 2nd year of elementary school so it was a bit complicated to fit in due to pre-made groups and friendships, yes I was a shy bastard.
Luckily after a while I managed to fit in and feel normal. Back then, I just wanted to be one more of the class, be unnoticed, it would piss me off if you didn’t consider me normal. Nowadays it’s all the opposite. As an example, 2 years ago I was having a philosophical conversation with my 10 year old cousin and I asked her to define ‘normal’, she said to me: “everything that you do not do”. I’m so proud of this…
When I was starting to play computer games my parents put me in another school because they couldn’t afford that private Swiss school anymore (quality education is expensive a.f.) I went from a multilingual school where everybody spoke at least 2 or 3 languages to a regular school where people just spoke the local language. This shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Well, the fact that I spoke more languages plus the fact that I had lived so many years abroad made me a weirdo. If I had known how narrow minded people can be, especially children, I would have kept all of that to myself. Also in that school there were pre-made groups and friendships from the previous years.
(Notice that I share in depth detail about childhood, schools and stuff because I believe it has a strong connection with the fact that I started using games as an escape.)
Video Game World
Once again I struggled to fit in, much more than in elementary school and I slowly sunk into the video game world. Before the age of 14 I was gaming with my dad’s or mom’s computer so it was pretty limited. But at the age of 14 my dad bought me my first pc which I kept in my own room. And if you’re reading this, you probably know what follows: massive increase in gaming time, up to 2 or 3 hours a day, which will still increase later in the story.
I was playing basketball in local teams at the time of high school. But with time, the video games took over. It was the only thing that made me feel good, it was stimulating, rewarding, exciting, it made me feel proud of myself because I was good at it, better than I was in basketball, school grades, and social life.
The whole thing became a vicious circle. As I kept gaming more and more, my social skills got worse. Low social skills = bad time at school; bad time at school = let’s get home quick and play games… I was playing several rpgs, fps, online fps, online rpgs and mmorpgs, but the one that really made me an addict was WoW (World of Warcraft) at the age of 16.
Highschool-wise I was on the worst stage, my few good friends had become very unfriendly, grades were bad and I had to quit basketball as I didn’t enjoy my teammates anymore, I wasn’t progressing either and I needed more time to study.
I switched school again for the 2 pre-university years and it was socially better but I still was at the climax of the WoW addiction. I noticed it being a problem as I sometimes would have 30 minutes for the breakfast break and I would sneak home (5 minutes away) to play for 15 minutes before going back to class.
At that time (age 17) I would play 3-4 daily hours and during vacation periods I counted up to 7 daily hours. My mom always told me not to spend so many hours with the computer but I wouldn’t listen, I was an addict. She was aware of this and she wanted to fix it.
Back to Austria
She sent me back to Austria (me being still 17) to a monthly German course in the University of Vienna. I hated her for that ‘punishment’ as I knew I couldn’t be playing for so long but guess what: 8 years have gone by and I still remember that experience as one of the top things I’ve done in my life.
It was socially very intense, I met people from all around the world, I made tons of new and awesome friends, I improved my German, I got back memories from my childhood in Austria, I got drunk for the first time(s) and I got myself a girlfriend. She was also in this monthly German course and as we finished we coincidentally found out that we were both flying back to Spain in the same flight and she wasn’t even from my area (how cool was that!?)
Once I was back home I was just a changed young man. I didn’t quit gaming yet, but I was playing less and I started having more interest in other things. I slowly switched to watching freestyle skiing and other adventure sports videos on youtube probably because it was stimulating enough to keep me off the games. I always liked skiing and thanks to youtube it became one of my hobbies.
When I started college I moved to my dad’s house and I was pretty much not playing anymore, I don’t remember quitting one day, I just remember progressively slowing down on it, as I was 18 already and I was ashamed of gaming. To me video games were for nerdy kids, and I didn’t want to be that, I wanted to be a freestyle skier and a lady’s man, ready for a successful college life.
The Next Chapter
Before I realized I wasn’t playing at all, just watching tons of extreme sports youtube videos and hanging out with college friends (still 18). Then I discovered Gopro back in 2009, I loved that unique footage you could get while skiing. In 2010 I bought myself one and the first time I put some gopro footage on an editing software and started playing around with the music and the transitions and so on, it blew my mind.
I quickly learned everything about video editing through youtube tutorials and I started to make my own videos, winning some local video contests and thus upgrading my Gopro to the Gopro Hero 2. I even got several freelance jobs as a video editor. Here’s the youtube channel where I uploaded all those epic video edits.
At that time I didn’t even remember about gaming, you told me something about a video game, I’d call you a nerd and I’d tell you to grow up, I was totally over it. And so it remained for all the upcoming college years.
I traveled a lot, I did internships in Austria, Spain and France, I worked in plenty of hotels, restaurants and trade shows and I even did a 5 month long ‘Erasmus’ in France (which is the European university study abroad program). That was a blast, couldn’t recommend it more to future students, you learn, you have a lot of fun and you meet tons of cool people from all over the world, without mentioning the intense ‘bam bam in the ham’.
The whole college experience allowed me to improve my English and to learn French, which led me to fluently speak 5 languages. This opened a lot of professional doors like the one from a scuba diving school in a big touristic resort here in Spain which needed someone who spoke German and French (a part from the local languages) so they hired me.
They taught me how to dive, then they taught me how to guide customers under water and finally they financed my instructor course in a specialized school so that I could also teach the diving thing in that school where they hired me. Within 2 seasons I was the manager of the diving school, coolest job I’ve ever had.
All success so far, even parallel to the end of my college period and the diving job, I started another youtube channel with a big friend of mine.
This whole experience has also been lifechanging. (63k subs at the time) This channel is about hidden camera pranks. We both love comedy, we love to make people laugh, and we love the hidden camera concept, so that is my current job as I write this: film, edit and act in this hidden camera pranks just to make people laugh.
As a kid I always loved “Just for Laughs”. We don’t stage pranks and we try to be as original and as respectful as possible with the victims or strangers that appear in our videos. So far it’s going well, we don’t have much traffic on youtube yet but we have some national TV networks hiring us to do videos for them. Youtube ad revenue is currently below 150 monthly euros, let’s cross our fingers and work hard so we can make a salary out of our elaborated videos.
As said earlier, all success so far, but… on my last season as a scuba diving instructor I crashed on my motorbike on the road overtaking a car (my fault, lack of experience). Lesser injury, just a broken collar bone and a couple scratches, bad consequences: I had to quit my beloved job for 1 month to recover from the injury. That was a trauma, the last thing I needed in life.
Even if 1 month was not that long, it was in July, pretty much the most important month in the 5 month long diving season. I was pissed and felt guilty, my boss was pissed because he had lost the most important employee in the most critical month of the season. I was ashamed because a lot of people told me before not to ride a bike because of its danger, although it was the only way to get to work because you could not park a car where I lived unless you were rich.
Long story short, I got surgery, I recovered well and in 4 weeks I was back in my beloved diving school in the middle of the resort. What made me relapse were those 4 weeks of recovery.
I was staying at my dad’s place, laying in the sofa or in the bed all day with my computer watching gameplays of games I used to play 10 years earlier. A friend of mine told me he had a gamecode for WoW and that he wouldn’t use it, he sent it to me and I redeemed it. I felt the need to play to kill the time. It was way too boring going from that super exciting life to being injured in the sofa for so long.
I started playing and I had a blast, I enjoyed the game, felt bad in the inside, but at least I wasn’t bored at home anymore thinking of how big of a mistake it was to overtake that car. During those 2 weeks I played as hardcore as I had never played, up to 12 hours a day averaging 8 daily hours.
When I went back to the job everything was fine, just the boss seemed a bit pissed about me crashing but at least I was happy to be back. Once the season was over, he cut my salary here and there for various absurd reasons and then I went back to my hometown.
By that time I was having a rough time with my gf, the diving season didn’t end very pleasantly either, my youtube channel was not growing as wished and I didn’t have a secure job nor income.
So what did I do? I played again to escape all those worries (age 24). I did feel in control, and I was. Maybe I played 3 hours a day while I was doing many other things in life. Also as I had experienced so many things in life I knew I would never go back to where I was in high school.
That lasted for 2 months. Then things got back to normal and I realized I still have this thing in my brain, that urges me to play when things go south or when life is not stimulating enough. And I know it’s in my brain from when I was 15-17 which was the period where I used gaming mostly as an escape. It’s probably gonna stay there forever, I don’t know. Luckily I don’t have a normal lifestyle and I’m extremely outgoing thanks to the hidden camera thing, this helps me to stay social, and if you are social and you interact with a lot of people, games will simply not attract you.
Right now I focus on my youtube channel with my business partner and in trampolining which is the sport I’m in love with right now. I’ve been training it for 3 years and trust me, a double backflip is cooler and more stimulating than getting an epic mount.
What can we learn from my case?
It’s awesome to quit gaming and it’s also good to tell yourself you can play again in the future, but let it be in 15 years. By the time you play you will probably have fun, or not, but the addicting component won’t affect you as badly as if you’ve never quit for so many years in a row.
My tips for others? You need shocking experiences to alter your consciousness and be more aware of what’s going on in your real life.
For example go get a job abroad for a few months, preferably somewhere where you don’t know the language, if you’re a couch potato and/or are stuck in a certain phase of life, then this will do you good.
Also if you look for hobbies or things to do instead, look for stimulating things, action sports usually work. Skiing worked for me, but you can try surf, skate, paragliding, parkour, tricking, freerunning, skydiving, base jumping, wake board, slackline, bmx, dh biking, trampolining, etc.