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“What started as a harmless hobby, transformed into a life-destroying addiction. One that ultimately led to me getting discharged from the military and having a marriage ending in divorce.”

I’m from a small town in Virginia. There wasn’t much for us to do apart from the annual get together at the local park.

I remember my dad bringing home a PlayStation one day when I was four years old. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.

Best of all, I was allowed to play pretty much anything.

What started as a harmless hobby, transformed into a life-destroying addiction. One that ultimately led to me getting discharged from the military and having a marriage ending in divorce.

I don’t blame my parents one bit, though. They didn’t know. How could they?

Gaming Was Always A Part of My Life

playstation controller

Since the original PlayStation, I always had a gaming console. I went from that to the original Xbox after I was introduced to Halo. That’s when it really took a hold of me.

I played non-stop some days – even during the school year. It really affected my grades.

This was before parents could go online and see a detailed report of their child’s schoolwork so when I told them my homework was done, they had to believe me. I never failed a grade, but I certainly didn’t live up to my potential. I always passed with C’s or D’s.

In 2004, Xbox Live was introduced, and I could finally compare my skills to other people around the world. I loved it, and I thought about it constantly.

I craved it.

It even took precedence over football, which was my main focus at the time. I was offered scholarships from major Division-1 schools.

But I couldn’t escape video games. I couldn’t leave my house for more than a day. When I went on family vacations the Xbox came with me.

Related: How to Deal with Cravings

Gaming Addiction Caused My Divorce

gaming addiction divorce

It took a divorce to make me stop gaming. I didn’t really take notice until I enlisted in the military, and my thinking was “if I’m forced to do something, then the issue will take care of itself.”

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

After two months, I was deemed “unfit for service” in the Army. My addiction ruined any chance of a successful military career.

After getting home, a short time after, I met my now current ex-wife. If you couldn’t already tell, we ended up in divorce.

We had a child, a house, and everything seemed to be looking up. I did this all while gaming in my spare time. However, gaming was always my number one priority. Over my wife, my child, and the countless jobs I had squandered away.

The divorce was mainly due to my video game addiction. I was neglectful. To her and my son. This is when I finally said, “enough is enough.”

Breaking Away from Video Games

outdoors

After the separation, I decided to do three months of “no gaming detox”.

With help from friends and family I sold about $20k worth of video games and separated myself from technology completely. I didn’t even use my smartphone during this time. Friends had to fill out my job applications on their own computers

I bought a house. A new car. I even restored my relationship with my son. My ex-wife and I are now some of the best co-parents you’ll ever see. I even felt comfortable enough to buy an Xbox again.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Are you crazy? You’re going to fall off the wagon!!”

Those 90 days did wonders for me. 90 days turned into 180 days. 180 into 245. I picked up a controller for the first time in April and…

It just didn’t feel the same.

I didn’t have the competitive drive I once had. I didn’t feel like I had anything to prove. It didn’t feel like an escape. I enjoyed it for what it was for about 30 minutes. I sat the controller down and went outside to join up with some friends to play basketball.

My life is finally back under control.

Sure, every day is a struggle. And the temptation will always be there. But I won’t let it take control of my life again. It’s meant to be a hobby and enjoyed in small segments. That’s all it’s going to be for me.

Sure, I might play once a week. But I have found that it’s much more rewarding to be an outstanding father, to have a career, and to have a meaningful relationship with someone.

To live a real life.

It’s Possible to Make Real Change

father surfing with son

Gaming addiction is real and it won’t go away until you decide to take control.

You have the power to do it.

Here’s how my life has changed since I quit:

  • I own one Xbox, and I use it mainly for Netflix.
  • I’m an Engineer for a building supply company.
  • I own my own house and brand new car.
  • I have my son every other day, and he loves to spend time with me.
  • My ex-wife is proud of my accomplishments.

I even have a girlfriend who’s supportive and understands my daily struggle.

Life is so much bigger and more rewarding than what any game can offer you. I’m living proof that you can overcome your addiction and really create a life worth living.

Thank you for reading this. I hope it helps you in some way.

Need help?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

“I knew I was addicted but I couldn’t stop. My brain was telling me, ‘wow this is so fun and so enjoyable.’ My addiction was and I guess still is – video gaming.”

Speaking about his video game addiction is former World Snooker Champion Neil Robertson. Robertson has spent the last several years of his life battling against his demons which have come in the form of certain video games.

Neil Robertson Snooker

“This addiction cost me a lot in my career and my personal life,” states Neil.

“I probably would have won more tournaments. I won the [snooker] World Championship in 2010, maybe I could have won more if I was fully committed to snooker. I was spending time playing video games when I should have been spending it with my family and on the practice tables. I was addicted to League of Legends, World of Warcraft and FIFA. It was ridiculous. I was staying up all night playing these video games. League of Legends is banned in my house now and rightly so.

“I am a really addictive person with an addictive personality so when I do something I really go at it 100% and try to become the best that I can be at it. Video gaming is obviously extremely unhealthy. Spending so many hours in front of a screen, it affects your sleep, your moods.”

League of Legends and World of Warcraft are massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). They have been found by research 1 1. The influence of game genre on Internet gaming disorder × to be the most addictive video games to have ever been created. Addiction is described as:

“the repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.”

Addiction can affect all human beings and has recently been treated as a disease of the brain. Prior to the last decade, addiction was seen as something that only feeble people were susceptible to and was regularly discussed as a weakness rather than an addiction. However, scientific studies have now begun to study more about the effects of addiction; what causes addictive behavior and how to treat such behavior once an addiction has taken hold. Where addiction was once seen as something that only drug addicts suffer from, humans can also be addicted to activities other than drugs; sex 2 2. WHO: Compulsive sexual behavior disorder × for example and video gaming 3 3. WHO: Gaming disorder × too. But are video games inherently addictive?

Are Video Games Inherently Unhealthy for Us?

gaming

Video games provide a large amount of good to people. Video games can help people relax after a stressful day at work and can provide hours upon hours of entertainment.

Bias notwithstanding, video producer Johnny Chiodini stated that he has used video games as a support tool to help himself deal with difficult times “pretty much throughout his whole life.” When depression started to overwhelm him, Chiodini would use video games in order to give himself something else to think about. They provided him a relief where real life would not give him one.

Related: How to Overcome Escapism

Some video games have been found to lower stress levels in humans – sometimes it is good to have a break from the real world. Whilst other games have been known to improve cognitive abilities. Problem solving and team working abilities can also be enhanced. In addition, positive experiences and ‘wins’ whilst playing video games can build resilience to stress. Video games with an educational purpose are of course much less likely to be talked about in a discussion of the negative aspects of video games. As are video games that encourage physical activity.

But are video games inherently addictive? Perhaps it is not video games themselves that are the problem. Video games are fun and enjoyable. They offer an escape from our sometimes boring and mundane lives. Video games take us into fantasy worlds; horror worlds; action worlds and many other worlds different from our own realities. Video games act like time machines, transporting us back to any period of time in which we desire. They can also transport us into future worlds; into space; into the depths of hell. We can become mythical creatures, Greek Gods and treasure hunters. Video games allow us to battle monsters; destroy worlds; and become underworld kingpins. They give us the opportunity to build new worlds, travel to distant galaxies and meet alien beings.

The paragraph above portrays video games in the most elegant of moonlight. And the words are all true. The technology that has gifted us with the video games of our age is truly spectacular, there is no doubting that. But as every psychologist will tell you – humans have an unquenchable thirst for wealth. As of January 2018, there are 2.2 billion video gamers worldwide 4 4. Number of gamers worldwide hits 2.2 billion × – a market of almost unprecedented proportions. Video game companies have direct access to the wallets of all of these people and they want that cash.

The Mainstream Video Game Industry

feedback loop

In this article published by Gamasutra in 2001, the author, John Hopson – who later went on to become head of user research at Bungie – gives instructions on how to make games that ‘hook’ users. Hopson discusses and incorporates behavioral psychology techniques and instructs the ways in which to use these techniques in order to do three things:

  1. Make players play hard
  2. Make players play forever
  3. Make players never quit

The article was written in 2001 – the industry has certainly evolved since then. Graphics have improved and we are able to chat and play video games online with friends who are thousands of miles away. But the free market allows games companies to monetize the gaming industry to its full extent. Sometimes this is at the expense of the player, sometimes it is not. Ads in games are not necessarily a problem to players other than the annoyance of having to close them down during whilst playing. On the other hand, gaming companies that design their games as ‘pay to win’ or as ‘free-to-play’ can be very detrimental.

We are monetizing the weakness of people and turning it into cold hard cash.

Free-to-play games are, as the name suggests, completely free to play. The creators of free to play games make their money via selling in game items to players.

Teut Weidemann, lead designer of Settlers Online, outlined that in order for a company to succeed with free to play games, they must exploit human weaknesses. Weidemann went on to state that companies need to find those areas in which players can be monetized, and go after that aggressively. “We are monetizing the weakness of people and turning it into cold hard cash,” he stated.

In an article published in the scientific journal – ‘Computers in Human Behavior’ – the authors’ research 5 5. Loyalty towards online games, gaming addiction, and purchase intention towards online mobile in-game features × indicates that the most important stream of game developers’ revenue is via gamer’s in-game purchases. The article came to the conclusion that gaming addiction had a positive relationship with the purchase of in-game apps.

When it comes to the monetization of people, no person is out of bounds, not even children, it seems. A study found that even ‘educational’ games for children as young as six have manipulative advertising in them. According to the study, in the children’s gaming app, ‘Doctor Kids’ the game is interrupted by a pop-up bubble with a new mini-game idea. “When a child clicks on the bubble, they are invited to purchase it for $1.99, or unlock all new games for $3.99,” the study tells us.

doctor kids

“There’s a red X button to cancel the pop-up, but if the child clicks on it, the character on the screen shakes its head, looks sad, and even begins to cry.”

A game built like this raises many ethical questions, unfortunately this kind of manipulative advertising within children’s gaming apps, are becoming increasingly popular.

At the same time, children are also spending a large amount of time playing free to-play-games that often have an age range of under 18. There have been numerous stories of children who have spent thousands of pounds of their parent’s money without permission, by purchasing in game items. Many of course are unbeknown to the consequences of spending such money. Although this does not correlate with being addicted to video games, it does however show how simple it is to buy these items if children are able to do it. Free to-play games are set up so that it is as straightforward as possible for players to spend their money in game and rack up huge bills.

We are now witnessing games that are created and designed to ‘hook users’ and keep them playing for as long as possible. In addition, many newly created games are set up to ensure that the fastest way to success on these games is by paying real money in order to buy in-game items. It is estimated that the video game industry is worth over $100 billion, over double the revenue of the International film industry.

Video gaming has ‘evolved’ to such an extent that earlier this year, gaming addiction was listed as a mental health addiction by the World Health Organization. Some countries have gone as far as to identify game addiction as a major public health issue. The UK has funded public clinics to help treat addicts of video gaming.

The Online World of Video Gaming and the Effect on Players

global gaming market

2001 brought us the first installment in the Halo franchise, Grand Theft Auto III and Max Payne. All fantastic games in their own right, each of them challenging in their own ways and fun – it’s hard to argue otherwise. Where these games differed from contemporary games, however, were that the early nineties games were primarily single player story mode based and for arguments sake, split screen multiplayer and co-op – before the evolution of online game play.

I was spending my time playing League of Legends rather than interacting with my family.

Post nineties, video gamers have been catapulted into the frenzied world of online gaming. The best-selling and most played video games in 2018 include two Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) – these types of games are never ending and highly competitive. League of Legends – the online game which hooked Neil Robertson is regularly quoted within online forums discussing video game addiction.

World of Warcraft, a game created by game design company Blizzard which came under heavy criticism via a BBC Panorama documentary which looked at teenagers under the age of 18 who were skipping school to play this game, is another. In a recent CNN article, the writer visited South Korea in order to talk to people who were recovering from gaming addictions in treatment centers. These recovering addicts told CNN that they played some of Blizzards most popular games at the exclusion of other activities; foregoing sleeping and eating in order to carry on playing.

“As soon as I became addicted to them, my spare time was spent playing video games,” states Neil.

“League of Legends, World of Warcraft and FIFA were the main ones. I knew it became a problem when me and my wife Mille had our baby – Alexander. I was spending my time playing League of Legends rather than interacting with my family. I was pretty quick to see it as a problem but it was such a great escape from the pressures of playing professional sport that it took a while to confront my addiction.

“When I was playing video games, nobody was watching my every move or judging me, I wasn’t putting as much pressure on myself to play at the top of my game constantly. It was something different. A release. I enjoyed playing video games more than I enjoyed playing snooker. I would think yes, I’ll just go to the snooker club and practice later but then it would get to 3pm and I would have to get ready to pick up my son from school. I would miss an entire day’s work just like that.

“It is interesting that video games have become a sport now. A lot of the ‘athletes’ are not grown men either, they’re just kids. 16/17 year olds who have gone from playing video games in their mum’s basements to earning a living playing in arena’s at esports tournaments in front of an audience of thousands. These esports stars have become idols for so many children around the world.”

The Effect On Children and Adults

According to a discussion on pathological video game use among youths 6 6. Pathological Video Game Use Among Youths: A Two-Year Longitudinal Study × ; depression, anxiety, social phobias, and lower school performance seemed to act as outcomes of pathological gaming. Whilst another similar scientific study 7 7. Effect of Pathological Use of the Internet on Adolescent Mental Health × that followed more than 1000 healthy Chinese teenagers aged between 13 and 18, concluded that those who used the Internet excessively to play video games were more than twice as likely as the others to be depressed nine months later.

Another study 8 8. The relationship between online game addiction and aggression, self-control and narcissistic personality traits × has shown that aggression and narcissistic personality traits are positively correlated with online video game addiction among gamers whilst self-control is negatively correlated with an online gaming addiction. The same study also infers that a high dependency on online games is associated with interpersonal difficulties and stress in reality. Although it is not clear whether this is a cause or a consequence of excessive online video game addiction.

In this article 9 9. The Unexpected Effects of All That Screen Time × discussing the effects of staring at a screen for multiple hours per day, physician and filmmaker Delaney Rushton talks the reader through her research into the consequences of spending too much time in front of a television, laptop or mobile phone screen. Teenagers, for example – according to Rushton’s research, are in danger of losing self-confidence as well as failing to fully develop their social skills in the real world. Rather than approaching a crush or attempting to make friends in real life – something that requires confidence to do – they go to a computer screen either as a diversion or because it makes them feel just as good as approaching their crush due to the dopamine hit that video games produce.

Search this for yourself, check out the hormone dopamine to find out why you feel so good playing your favourite games 10 10. The next level: Video games are more addictive than ever. This is what happens when kids can’t turn them off. × and why this is likely to be so detrimental to you. Incidentally, dopamine is also released in your brain when you are watching pornography, when a drug such as cocaine is taken and when your social media posts garner attention.

Whilst it is easy to say something along the lines of ‘if video games are causing such problems for some people why don’t they just stop playing’ the reality is that it is not this simple. As discussed earlier, some games are designed in order to get people hooked and to ensure that they keep on playing by using behavioral psychology methods.

“All humans have these addictions to what makes us feel good,” says Neil.

“I was addicted to snooker when I was younger – a very good thing to become addicted to as it gave me a job and provided for myself and my family. Then I became addicted to video games – a very bad thing to become addicted to. I discovered snooker at an early age. Somebody else could discover gambling at a very young age and get excited about a £20 jackpot on a fruit machine and get addicted that way. A lot of science goes into the human brain; receptors go off in the brain to make us feel good. Gambling addiction, video game addiction, alcohol addiction, drug addiction – there are all these things which need to be controlled. Addictions to these things need to be talked about.”

“The tough thing as human beings is to strike a fine balance between what is the fun of entertainment to what can become a really terrible addiction where you get a lot of people getting themselves into perilous positions. Your marriage could break down; you could lose your house; you can lose real things thanks to an addiction to something bad.

“I was lucky, others might not be.”

Gambling in Video Games

kids gambling

Neil believes that some video games have elements of gambling involved in them directly, he says: “One massive problem is the element of gambling that has been introduced for children in video games.

“One of the video games I played a lot was FIFA. I was addicted like hell to FIFA. You can open up packs in order to get different cards for your club and depending on how lucky you are you can get really good players.”

It has come to the point where these gaming companies are making a living off of gambling edges.

Neil is talking about FIFA Ultimate Team which has been a game mode on FIFA titles since FIFA 09. FIFA Ultimate Team allows gamers to build their very own dream team’s in the form of cards which can then be played with on the virtual pitch. Cards can be gained by opening packs – packs can be opened by the player by using either in-game coins which the player must earn, or they can be opened by using real money in order to purchase ‘FIFA Points’. However, no matter how much money is spent, whether or not the player receives a rare player from their pack or not is solely luck based. The pay-to-win element also exists within FIFA Ultimate team. The more money you spend the more packs you get to open which will result in a more likely chance that you will receive the very best players/cards to use in your Ultimate Team squad.

EA’s newest installment of the FIFA franchise is FIFA 19. Before the release of FIFA 19 in September 2018, various governments ordered EA Sports to disclose loot box odds in-game. The government of Belgium stated that in-game loot boxes were a form of gambling and demanded that FIFA removed loot boxes from their franchise. In April 2018, the Belgian Gambling Commission stated that loot boxes were a form of gambling under existing Belgian law and was therefore illegal. After being under a criminal investigation in Belgium, EA has agreed to remove loot boxes from FIFA games sold in the country.

“Online casinos are subjected to a wide range of extremely strict regulations but the same scrutiny is not applied to video games even though they can have the same addictive effect and even include loot boxes,” states Sebastian Lindt from PlayFrank.

“In the future it is likely that the same regulations will begin to be applied to video games – this is extremely important because kids are playing these games. Regulations certainly need to be applied.”

In China, it has been written into law that gaming companies must make the odds of loot boxes public. Although some gaming companies including Blizzard have found ways around this law, it is a step in the right direction.

“It has come to the point where these gaming companies are making a living off of gambling edges,” says Neil.

“You can buy these packs online and for £20 you can buy a certain amount of packs and then you open them. I used to play it religiously and my son also plays it and we have spent thousands on this silly game in the past. Opening the player packs becomes an addiction, you’re so eager to get a rare player so you can give your brain that adrenaline rush that it is asking for.

Related: Video Games and Gambling: An Introduction to Loot Boxes, Microtransactions, and In-App Purchases

“My son used to come running into the room saying Daddy, Daddy can I please have some money to open these packs. Already this sort of gambling is available for kids. If kids aren’t becoming addicted to the video game itself, they are becoming addicted to the gambling aspect of the game. This sort of thing just shouldn’t be allowed whatsoever.

Neil now realises how detrimental video gaming can be for him, so he is now able to speak out about it.

Fortunately, thanks to his friends and family and his own mental fortitude, Neil has managed to kick his video gaming addiction, although he will forever live with the battle against falling back into his old habits. Others, on the other hand are deep into their addiction whilst many do not even realise that they could be addicted to video games.

As humans, we have a natural predisposition to addictive behaviors. Gaming companies such as EA – the company behind the FIFA games and other pay-to-win type video games – have begun exploiting this predisposition not only in adults but also children. Incidentally, FIFA 19 has an age verification of 3+. The dangers of introducing children to gambling are obvious.

EA’s Ultimate Team was worth an estimated $800m annually. Anyone who is familiar with Twitch and YouTube will have witnessed streamers record their own pack openings. These streamers showcase themselves spending thousands upon thousands of dollars opening FIFA packs – this is how game companies like EA make the majority of their money now – by selling in-game items.

Overcoming Addiction?

Neil Robertson

Photo credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Humans are not perfect and are always going to be susceptible to poor choices,” says Neil.

“Some people become aware of their addiction at a good time but for some people it comes too late. For addictions, we need to raise as much awareness as possible.

“Instead of playing video games I now have this hobby called Warhammer. I paint these little figurines which I can then battle with against other collectors. It takes skill and time to paint them and I’ve become really good at painting. There’s lots of different techniques to it. During my spare time a few years ago I would be glued to the laptop for 8 hours before playing snooker which is obviously poor preparation for when you’re going to be focusing your eyes on a 12ft snooker table. Now I bring all my paints with me before a match and I just chill out.

“If you are recovering from a gambling addiction or any other addiction that is detrimental to you, you have to find something healthy to distract yourself with. You need to keep yourself busy so that you do not end up going back to your addiction. We are all addicted to different things, every human being has some sort of addiction in them, you just need to distract yourself from the bad addictions.”

Written by: Iain is a nomadic freelance journalist from the UK and can be found traveling the world searching for stories and on his Twitter account: @iain_fenton

Need help to quit gaming? Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

I’m James, a 40-year old Dad living in Spain.

I’ve always loved video games and have been playing since I was 8 years old.

Recently, I’d noticed that I was playing games more often – but I was enjoying them less than ever. I would feel compelled to fire up the PS4 or my phone after work and just start playing mindlessly.

I’ve always enjoyed playing FIFA 19. But more recently, I’ve played mobile games that I used to despise such as Candy Crush and Gardenscapes.

Can Gaming Ever Be Replaced?

piano

The fact is, game developers use smart techniques to hook you to games that you’re not even really enjoying. You just feel compelled to get that loot.

I was so addicted that I realized there was nothing else that could possibly give me the same level of gratification.

Crazy, right? You might think so. But at the time it didn’t seem crazy at all.

Mindless gaming seemed like the most normal way for me to have fun. Only by taking a step back have I realized how ridiculous this notion was.

I did the 90-day no gaming challenge and it opened my eyes.

I assumed I would spend my evenings and weekends sitting on the edge of the sofa waiting for time to pass since there could be nothing to replace gaming.

Wow, it feels weird saying that now but that’s really how I felt!

In reality, I instantly found new things to do during this time.

I started doing crossword puzzles. My son and I would go play soccer in the park. I spent more time with friends, took up swimming, and I’m proud to say I’ve learned the piano and can now play some songs.

It’s been a real eye-opener to realize how your sense of fulfillment can get twisted playing video games.

Download: 60+ Hobby Ideas to Replace Gaming

There’s More to Life Than Video Games

father son time outside in nature

It becomes easy to forget that the real world is, in fact, a massive multiplayer open-world sandbox. And one where you’ll find much more meaning and value than you will on a hard drive.

Since finishing the 90 days I have gone back and played a few games.

And you know what? They don’t really do it for me anymore.

I’m much happier spending my precious time on other pursuits these days.

I’d like to thank Cam for being such a wonderful inspiration for those of us who are needlessly losing huge chunks of their lives to gaming, never stop what you’re doing.

If this story has resonated with you and you think you might be addicted to gaming, take a few minutes to try out our free quiz for gamers.

Not a gamer? We also have a video game addiction quiz for parents that can support you if you are concerned about a loved one.

Giving up video games isn’t easy, especially when it’s such a huge part of your life. But once you realize you can spend your time leveling up in real life, you will begin to see that anything is possible.

If you want to find out more information about video game addiction, and how it might be having an effect on your life, check out the 90-day detox. Like James and hundreds of others on Game Quitters, you too can turn your life around.

“The online scene that swallowed me whole also provided the tools to get out of it.”

My name is Rou-Hun (Lowen Flowen) and I’m from the Netherlands. I started gaming around 6 years old with a Nintendo handheld, then the Atari came, Gameboy, Snes, and eventually PC with internet.

On consoles I played action games such as Mario and Zelda and RPG’s like Secret of Mana and ShadowRun. On PC I always played shooters: QuakeWorld, TeamFortress, Quake3, Q3: Urban Terror, and some Counterstrike.

I also played Magic: The Gathering for a couple of years and became a pro (top 50 in the Netherlands as a 13 year old). I wish I hadn’t sold those cards back in the day. What I liked about gaming was the challenge, the stories, and the community.

Escaping Online

“The problems really started when I got into online gaming.”

I was about 14 years old and I hated school. I hardly had friends, and the ones I did have were quite toxic and not very accepting.

Then I found online chat programs like ICQ and gaming communities where I could be myself. Nobody judged me, I felt accepted, and could just be who I was under an alias. That made me feel so connected and it became my new social network.

My grades went down. I didn’t want to do anything else but play and be online. Chatting online for hours was better than being out in real life. My outlet became the online world.

I was around 24 years when I acknowledged that gaming was a problem and decided to quit. The epiphany came when I realised I had to get a job some day. My parents were adamant that I finish college and reluctantly, I did. But I hated work as much as school so I figured I better find something that I can enjoy, and slowly started looking into other things.. online of course.

Ironically, during my gaming time, I had my own clan and someone in my clan built our website. He taught me HTML and I started to code a bit. I created a few websites and learned Photoshop and Dreamweaver. These days I’m a front-end developer and a writer.

What Helped Me Quit Gaming

Have a firm commitment

For me, the realisation was so strong. It was my inner realisations that convinced me to stop. Instead of playing I would try to learn these tools to code and make things online. I saw it as a new challenge and, completing challenges is something I enjoy.

Find new friends

I also made new friends which really helped. They still played games, but with this group of friends we would go out to bars and cafés. We were a small group, but very inviting and not judgmental. Gaining new friends gave me a good excuse to go out and socialise. Though I was always quiet and introvert, it definitely helped me in opening up to other people.

When I was gaming my typical game would be to wake up, take my food and sit behind the PC and start playing and eating simultaneously. Then I would go to school half-awake. Once I was back home I would play again until bedtime, which would total about 10 hours a day.

Get out of your comfort zone

Since I’ve quit over the last four years I have been traveling mostly in Europe and Asia while working as a front-end developer. The last year and a half I’ve been traveling with my girlfriend to over 20 countries.

Other than that, I’ve also written a fiction book where a young man in a unified Korea slowly loses his sense of reality from futuristic drugs and forgotten Korean mythologies. The book is available on shinbyeong.com, and I’m in the midst of finishing it.

Dive into new projects

Being able to do projects like this makes you realise what freedom feels like. If I was still gaming, I would’ve limited my world to digital experiences, and not allowed myself all the adventures of the real world.

Benefits of Quitting Gaming

“Being able to be the real me in real life is better than any video game.”

Besides the obvious benefits such as more time, more experiences, new friends, and a girlfriend, the most important thing is that I started learning who I am.

As a young person, you don’t have a strong identity and I would focus on the negatives instead of my positive characteristics. That really turned me into quite a depressive kid and I would run away by indulging in these games – where I could be someone else. In a sense, the real me was more apparent in a game or chatroom than in actual reality.

My Advice to You

Understand why gaming is so addictive for you. Also take the qualities from gaming you like and apply them in real life. I believe games, though based in a fictional setting, are based on human realities. The challenges, the villain, the good guy. We can be the hero of our own game, of our own life.

Some of the qualities I took from gaming into real life are:

  • Relentlessly pursue excellence: it took me years to master a shooter and I became really good in it – if I was born later, I would’ve been a pro-gamer I think. I realised I could apply this to front-end development and other skills that would benefit me in real life instead.
  • In the real world I was introverted, shy and quiet. Online I was continually making jokes and having fun. Opening up to people made me realise I could do this in person too.

Even though gaming was a huge part of my life, I don’t regret any of it. Strangely enough, it was a way to find myself. I could be myself in this digital world. But an addict is not usually aware that they are an addict. I didn’t have a care in the world – living with my parents, hating school, and not doing anything but gaming. In hindsight it’s easy to think that it was good for me, but I am probably quite lucky I found a career through all of it.

One thing I hadn’t mentioned, is that due to the low grades, I had to redo my year. This actually also opened up my world to all kinds of new people and new friends. People who I am still friends with. The change of perception and being able to build up a new identity is very powerful.

I had new people around me, I could act different, show a different or new side of me. I was able to do the same in the online world. I could do this when I had to re-do my year. I was able to do this when I started living with friends in a tiny room. I did this when I started to travel alone.

There are so many opportunities to change yourself and open up to the world. Looking back on it, these were all tiny steps to solidify my own identity and become who I am today.

Written by Rou-Hun (Lowen Flowen). Find him on Twitter. Buy his new book, Shinbyeong.

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gaming addiction story

“I no longer have an inner voice demanding me to play video games.”

My name is Dale and I’ve been a full-time gamer since I was very young. I am now 33 years old with a family and home mortgage. Until several months ago, I never realized spending most of my time and money on video games, consoles, and computer hardware would make me look back and think poorly of myself.

I would play all different types of games. First person shooters, online/competitive, strategy, Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs, and so on. I was addicted to buying game time subscriptions, and expensive collectors editions of games. Regrettably, I wasted my time.

Related: Why You Should Quit Gaming: It Steals Life from You.

I finished school and worked many jobs full-time. I worked in the health care industry for almost 11 years doing shift work. I was tired. I played games to relax, and subconsciously, to escape the world – including my wife and my son.

I was addicted.

Luckily my wife was very supportive. I didn’t smoke or drink. I played games at home. So it could’ve been much worse. But really, it was. I suffered depression from an early age, and as a result, video games were what I felt I needed to do to avoid life’s challenges. I developed social anxiety.

As the years rolled on, I took notice of how the online gaming community had ‘de’volved. I found myself suffering a worse anxiety than before. The community was dark and full of hate. It affected me so much that I backed away from gaming for a little while.

I noticed during my time off, I felt less stressed, and I was enjoying not being chained to a desk, or lounge, tapping away, completing heavily repetitive tasks and watching as other people’s aim was to cause upset and chaos to one another. The toxic side of the community wasn’t who I was.

I had to quit.

And luckily enough, it was fairly easy. I still have my computer sitting over there, in the corner. Switched off at the wall.

Within a few months I no longer have an inner voice demanding me to play video games. My health has improved. I stress a lot less now. My depression appears to be better managed. I love my life now. I think about my life, and all the things I can do now that I am no longer addicted.

Thank you for reading my story. It’s been quite a journey and a chapter that has ended permanently.

roadtrip to the mountains

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“I finally realize that I have slowly ruined my wife’s life one [game] at a time over these 10 years.”

one more game

Every gamer knows this phrase. We’ve said it countless times. We’ve said it to our parents, friends, girlfriends, wives, and children. For those of you that don’t know the meaning, it’s an endless cycle. This phrase is uttered after every game when we know that it’s time for us to stop playing.

The truth is that we actually mean it when we say it. But if a game ends too quickly or we lose too badly, we believe that there is no way that we can end on that game. Regardless, It’s ‘harmless’. Why can’t I play one more game? What’s so important that you can’t wait 30 more minutes? I’ve thought this way my entire life until my son’s first spring break.

Spring Break

I woke up early and started gaming. He and I were the only people in the house so I could play until he woke up. I was in the middle of an intense game when he awoke. I told him that I would get him some breakfast as soon as I finished. Not long after, my group was done. I got up and made him some breakfast. He wanted to watch T.V. while he ate. I liked this idea because it would allow me to play more video games.

As soon as he is done eating and watching his show, he and I will play together all day. After he finished eating, he asked if he could go to his room and watch a few more videos. Of course! We will both be doing what we want and having fun. This trend continued until his bedtime. He starting crying and making me feel guilty because I told him that we would play all spring break. This was our boy’s week. I told my little man not to worry at all. We had four days left with just us.

Watch: THERE WILL ALWAYS BE “ANOTHER” GAME

The next day started different. He woke up very early and started playing by himself. I slept in because I stayed up way too late playing games. I made him breakfast and he went into his room to watch videos. I hopped on my computer and starting gaming until he was done. He didn’t come out of his room after he finished eating. He probably thought that I would just continue playing. He came out around lunch time. We definitely couldn’t play now. I had to feed him lunch.

After lunch, he needed to take a nap. I will play with him after that. He slept a long time. It was time for supper and a bath. He had to go to bed after that. I was really wanting to play with him today but I just couldn’t find an opportunity.

The next day was going to be different. We were going to play all day. I went into his room shortly after waking up to get the toys ready. His room was filthy. There was no way we could play in that mess. I told him to cleanup and then we would play. He stayed in his room all that day and all the next day not cleaning. It was his fault this time. I was trying to play with him and he wouldn’t clean his room. He finally cleaned it before going to bed on Thursday. Tomorrow was the last day of spring break and we were going to play all day.

Our Last Day

We woke up around 9am and ate breakfast. He wanted to watch a video so I played a game until he was done. We started playing and having fun. We were having a blast. We took a break to eat lunch. My wife called and told me that our baby girl was sick and I had to go get her. Well, playtime was over.

I spent the entire week telling myself that I wanted to play with him and we only played for 2 hours. In all honesty, I play with him all of the time so he didn’t see that week as a big deal. But for me, reality started to set in. I noticed that I was truly addicted to video games.

I started thinking that if I did that to him over the course of one week, how much have I done it to him over the past 3 years? Then a horrible feeling hit me like a ton of bricks. How many times have I done this to my wife?

Watch: EVERY HOUR COUNTS

Where My Problem Began

I can actually pinpoint the day it started. My wife and I were in college. We went to Best Buy to buy a computer. We also purchased World of Warcraft: the Burning Crusade. It was the best and most addicting game that I have ever played.

We only had one account and one computer so we had to share. It was awesome because she loved the game as much as I did. She wasn’t a gamer like me though so she didn’t feel the need to hit max level or grind dailies. She didn’t feel the need to find a guild and do endgame content. This was the main reason that we never fought over the computer. We had some great times talking about the game and made some great friends that played the game.

Eventually, she stopped caring about the game or I made her stop caring. I would allow her to go to bed alone while I raided with my friends. I would stay up late, sleep in, and look for any chance that I could to play the game. I had to plan nights and weekends around this game. It got so bad that I placed the computer in the living room near our T.V. so that I could pretend to watch whatever she was watching while I was farming stuff. This lasted for about 4 years.

After I graduated college, I got a career so it was time to stop this nonsense. I could no longer stay up late during the week so I quit playing World of Warcraft. Now, I could spend all of my time with my beautiful wife.

Our relationship was almost back to normal and then I found my next game: League of Legends. It was amazing and each game was only an average of 30 minutes long. It had the same issue though. I had to plan to play with my friends and I just couldn’t quit mid-game if she needed me. This slowly started to cause problems. We would start fighting. I would compromise or do whatever was needed so that I could get back to the game. Even when we went on dates, I would count the time until I could start playing.

I would text all of my friends a rough time to be on. I would get on immediately after we got home. I mean I just spent with her. What more did she want? My friends were waiting on me. We have our whole lives together and she wants to argue with me over some game time. This made no sense. We always worked through our issues though.

We Had a Baby

Then one day, we got the best news. We were having a baby. Time to grow up and take care of my wife for real and get ready for this baby. I waited on my wife hand and foot. I would get her anything she needed. I would rub her feet until she fell asleep. Then it was game time. I would stay up really late on weekends because it was the only time that I could play.

She was happy though because I was always there for her. She went to bed by herself for almost 5 years now so that wasn’t new. Me not playing all of the time during the day was more than she could have asked for. 9 months flew by. We were ready to be parents.

We did everything together. We were doing great at parenting. Then after I got accustomed to the baby’s routine, I figured out that I could get back on a gaming schedule. I could play League of Legends during the day and raid on World of Warcraft at night. It was perfect. I made a rule that my wife’s nap would be at the same time as the baby’s nap. She would take our son to the park or to a play place and send me Snapchats. It was great. They were both so happy and I was getting to do what I wanted. Being a parent and a husband wasn’t bad at all. Then one day, we received some great news yet again.

We were having a baby girl. It’s just like we always wanted: one boy and one girl. We were truly blessed. I knew my game time was over now and I was fine with that. My wife and son and I moved before we had the baby. We got our house setup and we were so ready. After she was born, we got the whole family in a good routine. They would all nap and I could play League of Legends during the day still.

We would have family time after they all woke up until they went to bed. Then I would hop on my computer and raid at night. It was all going according to plan. I was getting to be a loving father who played with his kids during the day. I was a great husband because I would help clean house and hang out with my wife during the day as well. The night was mine though. After everyone went to bed, I would do what I have been wanting to do. I was living the dream.

My wife and I would fight over the video games occasionally but I would always modify my playing to make her happy. I would still figure out a way to get my playtime while doing whatever she needed. I felt like the best husband and father in the world… until that spring break.

Years of Lost Time

Tomorrow is my 10 year wedding anniversary and I finally realize that I have slowly ruined my wife’s life one day at a time over these 10 years. Thinking about that makes me sick. We were high school sweethearts and she is my soulmate. She deserves so much better. I have deleted all games off my phone and stopped playing all games.

I will start playing again casually when it is time. I want to start going to bed with my wife and making my family feel special. I am blessed to have this second chance and I will not waste it.

I hope to help someone that was in my position. You don’t have to be a full blown addict to ruin someone else’s life. It can slowly happen one day at a time.

This story was submitted by a member of StopGaming. Sharing your story is one of the best ways to encourage others to quit gaming too. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Recommended: Joe’s Story (One Year Without Gaming)

Need help?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

gaming addict

When did you start gaming? What games?

This is the fun part. I am 56 years old. I was born in 1961. So when I was most of you’s age, there were no video games. We had pinball, monopoly, dice and cards. Yes, I am that ancient. I played some Pong when it came out (as a coin-op game). I played Defender and Tempest.

It was like a dream come true when I moved to Silicon Valley and got a great job at Atari. I was a tech on the Atari 800 and 400 (8 bit) computer production lines. Yes, they manufactured them in California. I actually had to play Super Breakout in the course of testing broken computers.

But what we’re really talking about here is PC games. I never got into consoles. I learned to program in Atari BASIC. It got me into programming.

I played the classics on my Atari 800. Centipede, Donkey Kong, Defender, and JumpMan (it’s very addictive). This was around 1984 when I got married.

Later I got a PC and played Scorched Earth, which was a fun port of an old mainframe game. Eventually I downloaded the Descent demo and the Tomb Raiders demo. After my old 8 bit games, I was just freaking amazed at what they had done. I got a disk for Total Annihilation and the first expansion. I actually played that with my daughters.

Then online gaming came. I fell into this cycle of downloading games, playing hard for months, and getting mad at them only to download something else. I stuck mostly to free-to-play games. Now and then I would pony up for some add-on content.

I don’t remember the order, but there was Star Wars: The Old Republic, Tera Rising, City of Heroes, DC Universe Online, Champions Online, Battlestar Galactica Online, Star Trek Online, Eve Online, Blade and Soul, I was in Second Life most of the time. There were other games that I played to a lesser extent.

What did you like about gaming?

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 also had hopes that I would find some good buddies online – a guild or league that would become friends and become close. As most of us know, you rarely-to-never find anyone real, and your friends are only as close as your last raid wins.

Watch: What to Stay Friends With Your Gamer Friends

As a coder I was taken in by the sheer beauty of games. The airless wonder of the early games, the grunge and decay of the more current ones. I still find Homeworld and Tera to be high art.

I would write business database software all day just hoping to be able to one day create such crazy and wondrous programs. I didn’t end up doing much game design though, the abject laziness I had fallen into made it so that I was unable to overcome the hurdles of learning game design. It is quite involved after all.

When did you notice it becoming a problem?

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.

What consequences did you start to experience?

Well, let’s see. I let my business fail, I lost everything in 2008. Pension, savings, 401K, medical insurance. I had an office for my business downtown, I would show up there at 8AM and come home at 11PM having done nothing but game all day.

On weekends I went in anyway, even though there was no work. It took well over a year to burn through the severance pay (mostly because I had the foresight to pay off my mortgage rather than refinance it 30 times to get a boat or go to Hawaii every year).

When did you decide to quit?

I thought of what my tombstone might look like. Here lies Bryan Valencia, Consumer of Entertainment. Or even worse, Here lies Bryan Valencia, Mediocre Gamer. Take a walk in the cemetery once. You’ll see epitaphs like Beloved Father and Husband. I thought about that, and I realized I was not anything like that. My legacy was checked out loser.

To me, the legacy I leave behind matters. My family, my achievements. I had fallen into a state where I didn’t think anything I wanted was possible. I was in a frustrated, lonely and hopeless place. I would get fed up that I had played a couple years in SWTOR and maxxed out all my characters.

I kept playing until I got all the first level PVP gear. I didn’t know at the time there were lots more levels of gear. I would queue for a dungeon and get trounced. You can’t get better gear unless you win, so I got frustrated, gave millions to some newbies, and uninstalled.

I had done this many times with many games, and I always went back to another game within a few months. I wanted this to be the last uninstall. I had no games left on my computer, but I had nothing else to fill my 40 hours a week, so after a week I loaded another game. I felt like such a failure that time.

The last couple of times, I found that my life still sucked, and I had lowered everyone’s expectations so much that they were living their lives without me. I found that I had NOTHING to fill my time with. I spent days bingeing on Netflix and YouTube.

Then I googled for how to quit video gaming.

Did you seek help or support? Start the detox? Relapse?

When I found myself unable to work, I saw a doctor. He got me started on meds. I’m still not sure how well that’s working out.

I started the detox as soon as I read the forums and the material Cam supplied. I made it all the way through on the first try. So far I have not relapsed. I’m over 100 days now. I also started taking a few classes at SkillShare. I actually went to the symphony! I have stopped hoping everyday that my wife will leave the house so I could game undisturbed.

What benefit(s) have you gotten from quitting?

Well, it’s early yet, but the primary thing is I have found hope again. I no longer feel helpless and trapped. I feel like my life may amount to something after all.

Inspire others:

This story was submitted by a member of our Game Quitters community. Sharing your story is one of the best ways to encourage others to quit gaming too. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Need help?

If you are reading this and you are struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming, you are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

“I was on the verge of flunking out of college.”

college

One of my earliest memories was playing Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The perfect gateway drug into the addicting world of video games. I played it with my brothers, and eventually on my own when I was given a Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

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.

Now I was also a very active athlete in high school, competing in track and football and spending any spare time in the gym, or playing video games. To give you an idea of how active I was and the way I was eating, I often drank a Slimfast with my dinner, which was large without the meal replacement drink. I’m guessing around 5,000 calories a day, but I would still lose weight after a season of football.

So when I entered college, I had no concept of a healthy diet and was accustomed to significant activity. I was spending my days playing College Football on the PS2 and a lot of Command and Conquer online with another friend from High School and spending my nights at parties drinking.

Between the amount of beers I was consuming, and the late nights of gaming, I had gained the stereotypical freshman 15. Except I was an overachiever so I managed to do it all in one semester, not one year.

After one semester of freedom, I had managed to nearly flunk out of school, gain 15 pounds, and was wasting my youth by drinking or gaming throughout most of my days. I needed a restart, but I was overwhelmed and unsure how to do it.

One morning my father came up to Champaign for a visit, and I told him that I was on academic probation and asked him for advice. I was terrified and not used to failure. He told me that I basically had two choices.

One, I could drop out and transfer to a different school which only angered me but I bottled it up for now. The second option he told me I had, was to buckle down and get my GPA up over 2.00 and to maybe switch majors.

Looking back on this, I wonder if maybe he was trying to get me fired up because he knew how competitive I was. I told him I liked Economics and he asked what grade I got in that class. It was my only A out of my 5 classes.

Well, now I have a goal, and like a gamer, I had an achievement in sight and I was motivated by not letting anyone else know that I had failed. I enjoyed Economics so I switched to that as my new major. I needed a 2.50 GPA to be accepted and would thus need a 3.20 GPA in my second semester to accomplish this. I was just focusing on survival at this point, but I hoped for the best, regardless.

I didn’t think at the time I would need to quit gaming, but I decided to not play games until my GPA was back up over 2.00 so I could stay in school. The following semester I never touched the games, and I didn’t drink at all. I was going to bed at reasonable hours and waking up refreshed. I felt reborn and ready to conquer the world, or at least the very manageable classes on my schedule.

In my new classes, I had run into an old basketball rival who had the same major as me. We spent our youth beating each other up playing in countless basketball leagues and for one summer, even played on the same team, so I knew him well and was happy to see a familiar face in a classroom of about 500. We exchanged numbers, or maybe it was AOL Instant Messenger names; this was a few years ago.

Anyway, we end up meeting to play basketball several times a week. I love to be active, but I admit, I hate the treadmill. I usually can’t run a mile, but in basketball, I probably run several because its enjoyable. The trick to losing weight is finding an activity where you are having fun, or you won’t stick with it.

Watch: Why I Quit Gaming: Nicholas Bayerle

Fast forward to the end of my second semester and I have lost the 15 pounds, found an old friend and most importantly, had a 3.20 GPA for the semester which brought my average up to 2.60. I was accepted into my new major and had gained and lost the freshman 15 all during one hectic year. After all of that, thank God for Summer vacation.

Online Gaming: A New Challenger Has Appeared

college bike

Over the next few years of my college days, I got back into gaming. I had mastered the balance of getting school work done and enjoying my leisure time with gaming, but it still came at a cost.

This was the time when online gaming went mainstream and Grand Theft Auto IV and Call of Duty 4 had just been released. I wasn’t prepared for how addicting gaming was about to become and got sucked back in. Now my grades didn’t suffer, but I recall playing around 250 hours of Call of Duty 4 and probably an equal amount in GTA 4.

There are simply much better ways for a man to spend his days; especially when literal days’ worth of time was being devoted to a single video game. I would go back and forth with this addiction depending on how much free time I had, but basically my default hobby when I had time to kill was gaming.

I knew there were people out there who were more obsessed with gaming, but that type of thinking leads to a life of mediocrity.

So yeah, I would hang out with friends, play games of basketball and go to class… well, most of the time. Still, at the end of the day, I knew I was missing out on life by chasing virtual achievements and trophies that were ultimately meaningless and that leads to an unfulfilling lifestyle.

Watch: How Video Games Fulfill Your Need for Purpose

Despite all the struggles of my first semester, I had managed to graduate with my degree and had landed a job with a Fortune 500 company. All the struggles and hard work had finally paid off with a good paying job. I started this job and was living in a small town in Indiana, where I knew absolutely zero people, but times were tough and I was grateful for the job.

I would go to work and stare at a screen all day, and then go home to again, stare at a screen.

Occasionally I would go out for drinks with coworkers and even took up kayaking with one of them. Most of my time however, was spent in front of screens and, with a good income and not many friends, gaming became my go-to outlet for fun and social interaction.

I did make friends online, and would play games together but it was still lonely at times. I worked long hours and after going to the gym, I would be pretty worn out and gaming was how I would relax.

I later moved to another town in Indiana that had a bit more going on and made better friends over time, but when you are new to a city, it takes time to meet people. So, when you have nothing better to do, you go back to old habits.

I remember one weekend I discovered Mass Effect. I had heard it had a good story and was fun so I started playing it one Saturday morning after breakfast. I was immediately hooked with the story and had lost track of time. I remember stopping to go smoke and I was shocked when I noticed it was dark outside. I just couldn’t believe how I lost track of time but I was fully immersed in this game.

I had missed lunch and dinner and it was almost midnight. I made an unhealthy quick meal; maybe pizza, and watched Netflix, then went to bed. The next day I did the same thing and again, I had missed two meals.

Now I like to eat and even get a little angry if I don’t eat often enough so this was rare behavior for me. Though when I got immersed into a game’s story, occasionally I would forget to eat or just grab something quick and unhealthy.

I had beat the game and it was one of my favorite games I have ever played, but it came at a cost. I had wasted an entire weekend sitting on a couch playing some game. I would do this again when The Last of Us came out and to a lesser extent with Battlefield 4 on numerous days. Its moments like this that create responses like “nothing much” when people ask what you did all weekend.

Watch: Can You Play Video Games on the Weekends?

Time For a Change

I really didn’t have one singular moment that made me quit gaming, but I had a bunch of different epiphanies over the years that culminated in the decision to quit.

One of them was an app on my phone called Pacer that was essentially a pedometer. What is nice about a pedometer is you can’t argue with it and claim to be active when in reality, you sat on a couch all day leveling up fake characters. I was getting 2,000 steps some days, 3,000 or so but getting the recommended 10,000 seemed impossible.

Another motivator was the movie Yes Man, which sounds silly, but the idea of saying yes to life really captivated me and completely changed my life, which is a story in and of itself. To save time, I will say that being more open minded and saying yes more often opens a lot of doors that normally are ignored. I found myself doing all sorts of things I would typically pass up for gaming. I once jumped off a 40 foot cliff into a lake, and I’m petrified of heights.

Now the day I quit was March 17, 2017 and at first the decision was made for me. My wife walked out and she had her own addiction issues, but I was forced to figure out how to raise my newborn son and work at the same time.

Obviously, I had a lot of help from my Mother and from another wonderful woman, but the situation forced me into Cam’s 90 day detox of gaming.

I just didn’t realize it until later when I started to look at my gaming hobby as an addiction. The more I read about addiction, the more I started to fear maybe I had my own issue. I wasn’t as obsessed as many others were, but at the end of the day, I didn’t want a wasted life. I don’t want to get old and look back and have all these memories of sitting on a couch spending time in a fantasy land.

Some of my greatest memories over the years involve spending time with friends and exploring the beautiful real world we are so fortunate to have. Memories like a trip to Nashville for a bachelor party, a weekend in New Orleans, a 311 concert in the middle of the woods of Illinois, hiking through Dismals Canyon in Alabama and all the weekends I went kayaking in Indiana.

None of these memories involved video games. It was all about finding adventure in the outside world and once you get out there, you realize that life is too short to experience all of it, so why waste time in front of a screen?

How do I spend my days now?

I like to get active as early as possible; I find movement is better at getting the juices flowing than coffee or any energy drink. Most mornings, I will hop on my exercise bike and knock out a mile or two. Then I do yoga, which has been an amazing experience. I meditate to calm my mind from all the noise and refresh.

On weekdays I have a pretty demanding job, but I try to get up and move throughout the day despite the position as desk jockey. In my spare time, I like to ride my bike, hit the gym, go for walks in the woods, spend time with family and read. I have already read 5 books this year and plan to read 24.

I started writing almost every day as soon as I quit gaming. Without all those hours wasted in the virtual world it is amazing how much time you have and what you can discover about yourself.

Recently, I took the writing and started to share it online on my website, Helm of Awesome. It has been quite the experience and though new, I have received so much positive feedback and had genuinely interesting conversations with others online.

One thing I have learned is if you open up a little, there are often other people who will reach out and share what they know or what they might struggle with. The website takes up a lot of time and finding time to write is not always easy, but it’s been very fulfilling to share with others and has helped me find a more positive neighborhood of the internet.

I find myself being more relaxed and at peace now too. Gaming can be aggravating and frustrating at times, but substitute exercise, nature and meditation and you will find a calmer version of yourself.

I have learned that being fit is not about dieting and exercise programs so much as a lifestyle. If you want to be athletic, you must make time for being active and every hour on the couch adds up fast. Now I regularly hit 10,000 steps a day and will be over 15,000 on the more active days.

I don’t feel rushed to get back to an online game anymore and will take the time to eat healthier meals. I almost never eat fast food, soda or junk food anymore as I have supplemented my diet with more fruits and vegetables. I lost around 10 pounds or so and then gained another 10 in muscle all over the course of a year.

I feel more focused and energetic at work, and I have the time for more interesting activities which leads to more interesting conversations with people. I am in a new relationship with an amazing woman who helps keep me positive and brings me more happiness than I thought possible.

Gamify Your Life

I like to rant about the dangers of technology but with the right mindset and discipline, our smartphones can really help benefit our daily lives.

I mentioned the Pacer app which motivates me to get up and move each day. I find myself competing with my past, trying to set new records for most steps and increasing my average step count.

I also use a meditation app called Insight Timer which tracks your time spent meditating. Most days I will take 5 to 10 minutes and open up Duolingo to practice Spanish.

I have another app called Productive that tracks habits. I added habits like meditate, yoga, read, write, drink more water and others to remind myself of what I have and haven’t been doing. It will track your streaks and show how often you maintain these habits.

Accountability is huge when starting new habits. Us gamers love to watch progression and with stat tracking in these apps, we are still able to measure progression but in a healthier manner here. All of these changes have led to a healthier, more fulfilling and much happier life.

This story was submitted by a member of the Game Quitters community. Want to inspire others? Submit yours here.

Must Read: Why You Should Quit Gaming For 90 Days

“I began to get very angry when something went wrong in a game.”

angry face

There I was, 12 years old feeling for the first time the amazing thrill of being able to play Mario on my brand new N64. It was amazing.

I woke up every morning at 4am to play a bit before school. Then came more games after Mario, and then even more. I began to get very angry when something went wrong in a game, and I remember growling in anger uncontrollably in front of the TV.

Middle school started, new games, new PC, new possibilities of gaming.

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.

Watch: How to Overcome Escapism

I thought the worst was behind me

Age 26. All these years in isolation and fear eventually led to depression. I became dependent on games to give me the needed escape, justifying gaming as the only thing in life that makes me happy. I was wrong.

At age 28 I was done with my life, games were no longer giving me that peace of mind, and I lost the will to keep going, but somehow I endured, and oh boy was it worth it!

At age 31 I decided to give myself one more year of life, only one more year. It was a gift from myself to myself, no one else had power over that decision.

I willingly gave myself time to do anything and everything in order to find a way to be happy, and alive..

Therapy, psychiatrists, enlightenment, mindfulness. I did all of it. I improved, but not in any significant way. Then one Friday evening, I was playing a recently purchased game and was having a great time looking forward to a whole weekend gaming. I went to the bathroom, and looking down at the toilet, I had this crazy thought…

“If I ever wanted to quit gaming, this would be the hardest moment to do it”

toilet

This thought gave me the chills.

I felt excited. Then my mind released the well known storm of reasons why I wouldn’t be able to do it. My brain was on fire, I felt anxious, fearful, yet excited. Needless to say it was one of the most psychologically intense visits to the toilet in my life.

As I walked back to my room, my heart was pounding like crazy, I knew that this moment would define my life, my mind was at war! The most epic battle for the future of mankind!

I raised my index finger, and slowly pushed down on the button, holding it down for a moment and then.. Blackness. The battle ended. I disconnected the PC, put everything in boxes, and stored it in the attic. And that was that.

One Week Later

I started feeling strange, and I felt the need to play something! I needed an escape. So I went online and searched for a way to calm down, and that’s when I found Game Quiters and the 90 day detox challenge.

This was perfect, someone already figured out a way to quit gaming, and there is actually a community around it!

Awesome! So I did the 90 days, reporting in daily. It was hard, sometimes very hard, but when I needed it the most, Cam sent me a video of him talking about the exact feelings I was feeling right then, and It helped me a great deal to know, I am not alone, I am not the only one.

Watch: 200+ Free Videos on YouTube About Video Game Addiction

I was a sad little man before the 90 day detox. Now I have a life I want to live, and games don’t even come close to the emotions I get from living every day on the edge, constantly doing things I have never done before, taking roads I have never taken.

It still scares the shit out of me, but I enjoy the challenge. Like in all those games I played, the challenge was the thing that drove me to keep gaming. Now I challenge myself on everything in life, and I love it.

If you are gaming a lot, I challenge you to stop for 90 days. If you complete this challenge, your life will level up dramatically, not by magic, but by time and effort. You will get back a huge chunk of time, and energy that you spent gaming, use them well, and change is inevitable.

Fun Fact: From the research we have done with Dr. Daniel King from the University of Adelaide in Australia, members who quit gaming for 90 days found a 2x improvement to their overall well-being, evaluated across twelve different measures including Emotional and Physical Health, Relationships, Focus, Time Management, Appearance, and others.

This story was submitted by a member of the Game Quitters community. Want to inspire others? Submit yours here.

“I stopped looking at the detox as a path to give up gaming, but more of a personal development path. Giving up gaming was just a part of that.”

I’m Jared…

I did it! Pumped. I had a bit of a skip in my step today knowing today was the day.

Did I think I would make it this far? Not until I think I was in the mid 30s range. I relapsed initially on day 22, and had a similar struggle in the 20s again the second time around, but once I hit the 30s it was almost too easy from there.

There was a number of reasons that played into why I managed to stick it out:

1) My relapse.

When I embarked on the first attempt I did it with just one aim – to break the cycle of needing to game at the sacrifice of my study and my son. I didn’t really have any tools or ways that I was going to keep me on track.

I found out quite quickly that I could easily replace a time wasting activity with another time wasting activity. Before I knew it, I found myself with too much time and a whole lot of nothing to do (well, in hindsight I had study or chores to do, but my brain didn’t see it that way), and I relapsed.

I don’t think I initially felt the ramifications of my relapse or reflected too much on it until I was working through my habit tracker and came up to my journal entry task. Looking at my journal I just felt so hollow, like I had taken a big step backwards.

From there I learned that the underlying reason that I really wanted to quit was because I wanted to live life to the fullest. Since that realization, I have been knocking down productivity goal after productivity goal. The more things I can achieve the more I feel like I am living life, so I win. I think this was the best learning tool out of everything in the 90 days.

2) Meeting Cam in Vegas.

cam adair

It turned out to be the highlight of the trip, taking over the main reason I was there (bachelor party all the way from Sydney). The statistics in his talk were mind blowing, the other people at the function/meeting/shindig were really great and very curious about the whole thing. When they knew I was in the mid 40s of my detox at the time, they asked questions and told me to keep going.

Having a very open and honest conversation with Cam after the presentation was good too. I found it easy to talk to him and a lot of the tools and things we talked about is what I had been researching in other areas, or similar to what my old psychologist was telling me on how to control my anxiety and how to basically be in the moment. That’s when I knew he was 110% legit, and ultimately what I was trying to achieve was completely legit and worthwhile.

I think at this point I really stopped looking at the detox as a path to give up gaming, but more of a personal development path, and giving up gaming was just a part of that. Side note – since the meeting in Vegas, I have not watching television at all. Not even streaming a show. Cam, and the support of this community, is changing lives; including mine.

Watch: Should You Watch Gaming Streams?

3) I am (still) capable of studying and producing tertiary-level writing.

I felt like the joy I used to have from studying back when I was in school or when I had left school was returning. I felt motivated to study again instead of feeling like it was a chore. The last time I felt like that was before I made my first WoW character.

I think this became the psuedo-feedback loop that substituted what gaming gave me, and my urges as a result became rarer and rarer. I began to study every day of 3+ hours, and even if I don’t pass the subject in the end (still waiting!!!) I am glad I did it and I definitely learnt a lot, especially about minimising distractions and flow states, which I have also used at work.

4) My son growing exponentially.

He has got more and more fun over the last 90 days, the last month in particular, and now he is not so much of a chore to be around. No more just a crying needing pooping blob, now he is full of life, laughter, adventurous and building his own personality.

Maybe part of this is I have noticed it more and more rather than seeing him as a distraction from multiplayer games, or maybe it’s a bit of column a, and a bit of column b.

Subsequently, a lot of the time I couldn’t be bothered sitting at my desk at all, let alone gaming, as I would rather be chasing him around the house or doing something for him, such as making him a little box car to be pushed around in, or gluing toys that he loves back together.

5) My massive anxiety attack

It made me realize that the reason I got so hooked on games in the last 3 years again after a massive stint away from playing them was to try and avoid or escape the anxiety symptoms I was experiencing when life had become too much. But it was just masking the issue, instead of dealing with it directly.

There was no point me spending all this money on a psychologist when I was not ready or not implementing the tools that he was giving me. I think the best thing that came out of my meetings with him was finally knowing what was wrong with me, rather than just thinking I was broken and irreparable. I got a lot of self awareness out of this as well, which has only grown since then, and is one of my best tools I have now to try and control my emotions, particularly at work.

Watch: How to Master Your Emotions with Dr. Neeta Bhushan

6) Reigniting old passions or hobbies.

For me, this was my fascination with electronics that I never fulfilled even back when I was still in school. In hindsight I should have tried to get into electronics for a career, I think I would of loved it immensely, but I would not have been able to do the cool and crazy things I have in the last decade.

I probably wouldn’t be on this personal development path either. I did have a bit of a crisis with what I was trying to achieve out of my fiddling around with electronics, my intention for the activity, but I have it in the correct frame now. As a result I have barely touched my electronics for a few weeks, but that’s ok, I have had other things that needed dealing with that I shouldn’t be trying to escape from.

Download: 60+ hobby ideas to replace gaming

7) Journaling.

It was a great way to get my mind untangled and set for the day, as I wrote it as soon as I woke up every day. To me it didn’t matter what I was talking about, or if anybody bothered to read it, it was for myself. I realized this in the low 20s or high 10s days, when I was thinking about giving it up as I was struggling to see the point. Again, it’s the intent piece.

I really think a journal is great for anyone’s personal development, it gets a lot of things off your brain that you might have otherwise been stressing about all day and impeding your productivity, because you couldn’t focus. I also loved reading other peoples journals and learning how they were managing with their situations, especially Tom2, Mettermrck, Mhyrion and ole Moe Smith.

Get Started: Create a journal on the forum

8) Running.

It helped that I had already started training for a marathon, but I used running as a way to “reset” if I was having strong urges, or I felt like I had a lot of free time with nothing to do (hello crazy brain again).

After Vegas, I have been using it as a tool to get into my flow state, and I have been religiously running at lunch time ever since. The reason I chose lunch time is because I always struggle to pay attention in the afternoons, tending to just stare out the window, or surfing Twitter on my phone.

By running at lunch time I was able to smash out another solid 3 hours of valuable work. I ran so religiously that when I was wiped out for weeks at a time due to sickness I think I was borderline depressed! Here’s to staying healthy and keeping my momentum into the marathon.

9) Accountability Partner.

Though he has been my accountability partner for only a portion of the path (so far!), it has been great to talk to someone else in an almost mirrored situation, even if the majority of it was not about gaming. It kept my mind busy and made me flashback to the great memories of having a penpal for about 9 years, even if this one is a Utah Jazz fan. One day we will have a beer in person mate.

Get Started: Find an accountability partner

So what have I learnt so far? So much yet so little. I still do not know what I do not know, but I do know that this is but the first step. I have so much unfinished business and so much personal development to go, that this day will just be a blip in the rear view mirror.

Ready to start your 90 day detox? Get started here.