“I realized how beautiful the world is, more beautiful than video games.”
Magic The Gathering is more than just animations in a video game, it’s a board game that has given me more benefits to my mental health. Such things include critical thinking, decision making, strategy, the appreciation of art, logic, contingency plan (sideboarding) and the use of math.
Magic did not just gave me these things, it made me a better person and it was the board game that killed video gaming in my life. Since joining my local MTG community, I have made friends and no longer feel lonely and it gives something that video games never do, social interaction and meeting new people. The people that I meet at my local MTG community are from different paths of life such as students, clerks, teachers, managers, programmers and even lawyers.
My Gaming History
I started gaming back in September 2001 when my elder brother introduced me to gaming when he got a PlayStation 2 console from overseas. I was in the last year of elementary school and I was facing my Lyceum exam for secondary school. It was a time when I did not realize that I was playing too much, and unknowingly that it was ruining my health and also my grades.
I used to play three hours a day, everyday. It was an activity that impacted me on the negative side without me even knowing it until I received my academic results. They were a bunch of Fs.
The first day of secondary school started and I was a bit like a fish out of water. Everything was new. I met a facilitator who treated me like a child. I didn’t like her until someone took over her place and that was another woman who has made an impact in my pre-teenage life.
I was overweight and demoralized. She started to encourage me to do physical exercise and to lose weight. I noticed the difference. She strongly advised me to avoid staying for long hours sitting down.
Third year video games were an escape for my school problems. My mother did not know that I was addicted to video games. I gained weight and I felt really bad. I ignored my personal hygiene, and did not care for school, but I played video games for six hours a night.
I Could Not Stop Myself
The fourth year was the worst of all. I went from bad to worse. My addiction persisted. I was aggressive, and did not give a damn for homework. My tutor noticed that I had a problem. She told me I needed help. I also struggled with gambling.
In June 2006, my mother asked me if I was interested in going to Berlin. At that time, there was the World Cup. I said “yes” and she smiled. It was the wisest decision I took back then. I started to appreciate the world around me and realized how beautiful the world is, more beautiful than video games.
The first day I started experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The aggressiveness and anger never left me. A German was staring at me, observing every move I do. He realized that I was not normal at all. He approached me and asked me “Do you have a problem?” “I cannot play a video game” I said and he told me that I was an addict. He asked me “You have a choice, be a woman or remain a crazed addict”. I said that I want to be a woman. He told me to take his advice and he promised me that I will get out of my addiction. He became my mentor, another influential person in my life. We started to get along together like as if we knew each other for a very long time. He thought me how to speak German, to be ambitious, responsibility and some basic self-defense just in case.
One week later, I was turning into someone else, a recovering addict with ambition to quit my addiction and get my life back on track.
I moved to Australia and experienced withdrawal symptoms again but not as bad as the ones back in Berlin. I stayed for a few months away from gaming, instead writing a book and working more on my martial arts and weapons training. Even if I had a PlayStation, I did not game more than hour a day. I became a casual gamer just playing for fun and overdoing it at all. I attended school there and I felt more welcome than back in my country. I did not have anymore problems with gaming, it wasn’t boring but I was homesick sometimes.
I returned back in Malta in January 2007. I was fighting my addiction until I quit when my television broke down. It wasn’t a problem for me and I went hardcore in my writing career, writing two or three books per year. The books were continuing with one another and together they became the Terran Saga, a series of speculative science-fiction books.
I did three years at the Higher Secondary. I entered MCAST and took a diploma in computing. I committed myself to one year studying and the next year I graduated with my first diploma. My parents were glad with my achievement.
I got my first job as a clerk in a shipping company and worked there for six months under a definite contract. I was still gaming then but only for an hour. My contract expired and I was at home. I was desperate and gaming was pulling me badly but I did not let it take me hostage and instead I was reading some articles online and writing books. I then felt my health deteriorating and I heard my manager telling me that gaming is causing all of that.
I Quit Gaming for Good
I attended a MTG Pre-Release in January and then another in April. I have been playing Magic: The Gathering for five years and it was that card game that has done so much good for me as I started to make friends again. I put all my games for sale, selling three of them as a result. I was glad that I got rid of them.
I chose Magic and the outside world and got rid of gaming. I started a 90 day detox and I watched videos made by Game Quitters founder Cam Adair. He was my motivator and after a week I already felt a difference. No more fatigue, no frequent consumption of energy drinks, no more burning eyes, muscle twitching, strain injuries, or power naps. No more of this addictive gaming anymore.
Now I will soon end my detox and I swear to God that I will never touch another video game again.
If you are a gamer, please play video games responsibly and don’t overdo it. If you know an addict, it is not a sin to ask for help.
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