How a Little Girl Taught Me to Overcome My Gaming Addiction

gaming addiction story

“My /played in World of Warcraft reveals a 650 days of game time.”

It is 2010, I am graduating high school and my “/played” in World of Warcraft reveals a combined 650 days of game time across all my characters. I have conquered Azeroth numerous times, I am notorious across servers, and my stats suggest I am one of the best PVPers to grace the pixelated landscape we call home.

My high school peers have conquered something entirely different. College acceptance letters sweep through the halls, pumping up and down in excited palms. Where they are physically holding achievement, my achievement is relegated to some intangible world, one that will inevitably be washed over with the next series of updates.

While they will live out their best as undergrads, it will take me years to figure out what my best even is. Ironically, I have overcome the effects of wasted time by impulsively spending my time.

Then I Met a Little Girl

little girl playing inside

Fast forward 2 years and I am living in Santa Barbara. I am a live-in nanny for two girls (8 and 10), the youngest being recently diagnosed with severe ADHD. Meanwhile, I am seeing a therapist who’s diagnosis for me is anxiety. I, lost and afraid of the uncertainties of my future, am in the presence of a little being, for whom the world is a playground. She, constantly told to contain herself, has this tall jungle gym of a man who embodies control (partly because his anxieties make him hyper-aware). Together, we are each other’s superheroes with the purpose of helping the other.

Related: Why ADHD and Video Games Can Be a Brutal Combination

I foster her passions with empathy. I teach her to be conscious of the outcome of her behaviors – that probing hands are acceptable when playing with most things, not people or people’s things; that an interrogation is not like a conversation and how you can get the same information through both; that someone who does not like you can be someone who just isn’t ready to understand you. Through this I find a desire to teach and support. I find passion.

She unknowingly shows me the significance of a moment. I learn how to be confident – she gets us into awkward situations, often, that I learn how to remedy even the most uncomfortable situations; I push and pull my environment and perspective like her, molding a framework that works for me; I learn to be curious about everything, in much the same way she does. We find power where others see disability.

Today I Pursue Life With Passion

cliff jumping

I have since gone to create my own experiences. I have traveled across the US to present research, explored a variety of jobs, traveled across 4 continents, published poetry, started conversations with the most unique strangers, and more all in chase of passion.

Throughout these experiences, I have had the occasional urge to play video games. Relapse is something I have learned to cope with. My relationship with video games will last the rest of my life. However, not unlike ADHD, this thing called addiction is perspective. A little tweaking, and it becomes the reason to push my boundaries.

The one thing that remains constant through my life is the love to teach and support others, a calling that I will utilize as a professor. For now, I am passionate about being passionate and so I will be just that.

Written by Cameron Chernobieff

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