90 days

“I knew I needed help.”

My name is Anthony, I’m 23 years old and reside in Philadelphia. I began gaming at the age of 7 and my first console was the PlayStation 2. I absolutely fell in love with it and enjoyed all the incredible games that were popular at that time. Little did I know it would lead to addiction.

During school I was bullied a lot for being gay, so video games became my escape. I could be accepted and validated in a virtual world, while the real world felt harsh and unsafe for a gay kid raised in the nineties. Doing well at first person shooters made me feel in control and gave me a purpose.

Teenage Isolation

As I became a teenager, I started to isolate myself more and more from my peers and family. Video games became the only thing I enjoyed doing. Things like reading, family vacations, spending time with friends, was boring for me. I could only think about the next video game I wanted to play. I would stay up for hours gaming and then be extremely tired the next day.

Related: Find new activities to replace gaming

Eventually, this all caught up to me. I was lonely and depressed. I was exhausted of having no goals or vision for my life. I felt I had been wasting my life in a virtual world, while the real world was out there waiting for me. When I started to experience suicidal feelings, I knew I needed help.

A Life Worth Living

I began seeing a therapist and she encouraged me to unplug from video games and begin to build relationships with other people and take up some new hobbies. So I took a leap of faith. I sold and donated ALL of my gaming equipment. I completely deleted every single of my online gaming accounts.

After that everything began to change! I suffered withdrawal for about 3 months and then it got better. I joined a book club that met at a local coffeehouse and began to make some friends. We started sharing our lives together. I started to physically exercise and my health improved! Depression, suicidal thoughts, and loneliness began to disappear as I gained new hobbies and connected on a deep level with people.

After all this, I’m so grateful for the life I have discovered for myself! I have no desire to go back to video games when the real world is so much better! If you’re struggling with addiction to gaming, please know this: you’re not alone! You WILL get through it and find a life worth living beyond video games! Hope this is an encouragement to all of you!

Written by Anthony.

I grew up as an average kid riding bikes and playing soccer. I got good grades in school, and never had a gaming console growing up. Sure, I played video games with the family PC but my gaming was kept in check by my strict parents. I never thought I had a gaming addiction.

Then university came along.

I purposefully chose a school far away from home to experience independence. While I did grow tremendously living far from home, there were no parents to tell me to stop when my gaming got out of hand.

I played all sorts of games (mostly MMO RPG’s, and League of Legends) and would often skip lectures to play. The only thing that kept my gaming in check was the very real fear of dropping out of school, and I would somehow not game during key points of the year such as midterms week, finals week, and the few days before a big project due date.

I had bad grades, but somehow, I didn’t fail any courses. I consider myself VERY lucky that it wasn’t much worse.

I Was Given a Second Chance and I Almost Blew It

Despite my bad grades, I managed to land a summer internship. Even to this day, I have no idea how I landed that job, and I honestly think all the other candidates chose another job, so the company had the choice of having no intern or hiring me. Lucky for me that they did, as my bad grades were preventing me from finding anything, and I was heavily regretting my gaming habits through university.

The internship felt like a 2nd chance. I worked hard. Sometimes, crazy hard. I would average 60-80hrs of work a week. While the other interns were out enjoying parties or travelling, I was working hard, determined to not let my 2nd chance escape. My efforts paid off, and I got a full-time offer. I was due to start after my graduation.

Fast forward a few years. I was working full time, and was ‘gaming in moderation‘. There were a couple of sleepless nights of gaming here and there, and the job kept my gaming in check, but that was about it.

My schedule was work, sleep, game. I would attempt to get out and socialize but would soon give up and go back to gaming. And, now that I was getting comfortable with this new life, I felt my gaming time was slowly increasing.

I just got accepted into Grad School, which I had planned to attend part-time after work. However, seeing how my university years have gone, I knew that if I continued to game, I would get horrible grades again, and would be wasting a lot of money to not really learn anything.

Now, let’s take a breather from the story for a moment. Seeing how gaming was wrecking my grades, and I was stuck in this boring routine, I attempted many, many times to try and quit gaming in college.

Here are the methods I’ve tried:

  • Gaming “in moderation” by sticking to a schedule – didn’t work. I would always say “1 more game”.
  • Deleting games – With modern internet, it is so easy to reinstall games. With a fresh PC, I can get a solid high-quality game up and running in less than 30min.
  • Try other things like exercising and studying – gaming is more fun and rewarding
  • Switch my PC operating system to Linux – This actually worked for a few weeks. The problem is, if your machine is powerful enough, there are plenty of Linux games available, and with the right set of knowledge, you can get most Windows games to work on Linux no problem…

gaming and college

It Was Time to Turn My Life Around

Back to the story. With Grad School just around the corner, I knew I couldn’t stick to the methods that have failed for me in the past. I needed to quit COLD TURKEY.

To me, this is what it meant:

  • Ask Riot Games to delete my League of Legends account. They will do this for you, after warning you that there is no going back.
  • I had NDS and 3DS console and games at the time. I gave them all to friends that wanted them.
  • I reinstalled Windows on my laptop and gave it to my parents who live a couple of thousand miles away.

Also, since I can’t not have a laptop, I got a crappy $250 Linux laptop that can watch videos and do office work. Most 3D games will probably not run on this system.

I found this step to be the most crucial. It’s very hard to stay connected with family and friends and do basic photo/file management without a computer, but not have the temptation to game. So I found this to be a good middle ground. Also, once you get used to a Linux system, it’s no different than using Windows.

The first couple of months were the toughest. I craved gaming so much and was depressed for long hours, but I had gotten rid of all temptations to get through it. After doing this, I successfully quit gaming for a whole year!

And this is what I accomplished in that year:

  • 4 quarters of grad studies with A’s in most of the courses
  • Went on 5 separate camping trips
  • Learned rock climbing. The highest level I succeeded was a V4 in bouldering (climbing without a rope)
  • Went back-packing to the lovely Havasupai Falls
  • Watched the first 6 seasons of Game of Thrones (ok, this has nothing to do with quitting gaming).
  • Tried Surfing. I managed to stand up twice!
  • Visited Sedona in Arizona.
  • Paddled in a Whitewater Rafting trip, twice.
  • Ran 2 Half-Marathons (a full marathon is still too much for me…)
  • Went Skydiving from 13000ft
  • Logged an average of 1.5hrs of biking EVERY DAY (totalling your car helps, though I don’t blame that on gaming)

Amazing right?! And I was just an average single guy working a 9-5 job and gaming for the remainder of the day. I was literally at the height of my physical performance, at the ripe old age of 28.

I am so glad that I quit gaming.

Then I Met My Girlfriend…

I wish that the story ends there, but it does not. After 1 year of no gaming, I met the girl of my dreams. She is funny, smart, cute, shares a lot of my hobbies, and is overall, an amazing person to be around. I also found that she is a gamer that plays League of Legends. The game whose account I deleted a year ago!

I wanted to share as many hobbies with her as much possible, so I got another laptop and installed League back on it. I argued that this was to get closer with the girl I liked and that I would only play with her, and never alone or with others.

It worked for the first few months. Sharing a hobby with someone you like is an amazing feeling. Eventually, I asked her out, and we became a couple. Naturally, our game time together increased.

However, as we played, I noticed a lot of toxic players which brought my mood down.

I especially hated when a mistake I made led to her death (in the game of course). In an attempt to compensate for this, I wanted to play more, to get better.

However, unlike me, my girlfriend is someone that can actually game in moderation. She would only play a few hours a week, and there would be days when she simply does not feel like playing, so I started to also have times when I played alone. This time gradually increased, and when I met especially toxic players, I switched to other games. This went on for about a year.

After a year of gaming again, I noticed a change in my behaviour. I noticed that I was less and less patient with people around me, including my girlfriend. When I was at work, I was secretly searching for gaming strategies. When I was not gaming, I was thinking about gaming, and when my girlfriend was talking to me, it was getting harder and harder to focus. After 20 hours of gaming in a weekend, I knew that I had become addicted again.

I told my girlfriend that I was going on a video game detox.

It is a shame that we can’t enjoy video games together anymore, but I got some key takeaways from this experience:

  • For some people, gaming relapses can come in huge waves. For me, it was subtle. So subtle, in fact, that I didn’t even realize it until I was addicted again.
  • Some people are more prone to gaming addiction. My girlfriend has been gaming since she was a kid, and even now, she can game in moderation and has a healthy relationship with this activity.
  • I was much more willing to do chores and be helpful to others since I have a lot more time.
  • I did my homework early! I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever done that in my life.
  • I was more attentive and focused on the present. Daydreaming about gaming was also an addiction. But without gaming, the endless daydreaming had also gone away.

I plan to continue with this detox, and the eventual goal is to never play video games again. I know I will get urges, and I may reason myself back to gaming again, but this 2nd time is much easier than the first, and I know if there ever is a 3rd time, it will be even easier.

Story submitted by Jason.

It was Christmas 2001, 4 days after I turned 6 years old, when my family – at the request of my older brother – got an Xbox.

From then on, up until I was 22, gaming was my main source of entertainment. It was how I de-stressed; it was how I passed time; it was how I interacted with my two brothers and the few friends I made. I didn’t play outside much. I never learned how to ride a bike or swim. And my visits to the beach decreased significantly.

Back then, gaming was still pretty outside of the mainstream, and massively multiplayer was only just beginning. I grew up with the mindset of an outcast. I wasn’t good at the things everyone else was – sports, making friends, etc. In fact, I have a very distinct memory of some time in elementary school when two girls in the neighbourhood came to my house to invite me out to play, and I pretended to be sick so I could avoid interacting.

Instead, I played video games.

I Hid Who I Was to Make Friends

I think the beginning of my change towards gaming began when I made a class presentation in 8th grade and suddenly realized I was pretty good at public speaking. This led me to have the confidence to speak more, but I was still incredibly insecure about having such a gaming-oriented childhood.

I intentionally water damaged our Xbox 360 to stop myself from playing it

So, to impress people and relate to them, I ended up developing a lying problem. I would tell people grand stories of what I did in my free time and how active a person I was, when in reality, when I got off the bus from school, I went to my room and played Halo, Runescape, Mass Effect, Command and Conquer, etc. I told people I hunted (I’d never held a gun in my life). I told people I played lacrosse (never held a lacrosse stick in my life).

You get the picture.

Eventually, I ended up getting caught in some lies (I think it was about the hunting), and a group of kids bullied me for this, which rocked my confidence for a while. But in high school, still feeling the urge to socialize but now knowing not to do it through lies, I ended up making friends with a lot of gamers. Desperate to fit in and finally have a social circle, I adopted their habits. I played even more games in different genres on different platforms. I watched the same Let’s Plays they did. I even decided to take STEM classes in high school just so I could be around these people who accepted me.

This ended up having a very strange negative consequence: I went to university for electrical engineering, because that was my background in high school and what all my friends were doing, but I’m not an engineer. Needless to say, all the math courses and engineering courses were really difficult for me, and I struggled through my freshman year. All the way, I de-stressed with video games. My sophomore year, I ended up leaving school to try to explore new things, but I mostly spent my time at home playing video games, and when it came time to decide what to do with my life, I reluctantly returned to engineering school.

It Was Time to Make a Change

This was when I decided to experiment with quitting video games, having identified them as a key point of failure in my freshman year. So, upon my return, I cut myself off from games, and it worked well for a while. Periodically, at stressful times, I would play, but once a test or big homework assignment was out of the way, I successfully returned to my gaming embargo.

I flourished during these times of cutting out gaming. Even though I don’t like engineering, I did pretty well in the courses. I formed a huge friend group out of studying for, and persevering through, difficult classes together. While it still wasn’t perfect (because I didn’t care for STEM), it was much better than having a friendship group based around my addiction.

I’ve had a number of relapses since quitting gaming that first time, but I’ve always gone back to trying to get away from them. Unfortunately, my relationship with my brother Ryan being largely based around video games doesn’t help.

Things were at their worst when I moved in with him to save money while starting my first engineering job out of college. His entire life is gaming, and suddenly mine was as well.

One night, I realized how far I’d fallen back into my addiction, and I had what I can only describe as a panic attack. I was so afraid that video games would be all I ever did with my life that I intentionally water damaged our Xbox 360 to stop myself from playing it. It’s not something I’m proud of, because it was shared property (if not more so his), but I believe it was something I needed to do to help myself at that moment.

I deleted my Steam account, but unfortunately, living with him pressured me into recreating one, because it’s the main way I relate to him and I want to be a good brother.

I also sold my gaming computer and bought a laptop that can’t run anything but games from several years ago, so no new releases for me.

I started seeing a therapist for the depression and anxiety that I believe are heavily rooted in my background in gaming.

Just in the past two months, I’ve had a terrible relapse, where I ended up installing a bunch of games from this new Steam account on that laptop.

But I’m quitting again. Just now, I changed my Steam account password to one of those randomly generated Google ones and didn’t save it, so I’m locked out of my account. The thing for me is: if I don’t have easy access, I won’t go out of my way to game. I see it for what it is in my life now, so as long as it’s out of harms reach then I’m safe.

I didn’t delete my Steam account again, because I knew how much it hurt my brother when he learned I deleted my old one, and he gets very defensive when I try to discuss my gaming addiction with him. I think this pathway will hopefully let me slowly grow into new pursuits and maybe reforge our relationship in different areas.

Gaming Stopped Me from Pursuing My Dreams

I want to change careers out of the software engineering job I don’t like that I have now. I want to get into writing and acting because those have always been things I’ve felt compelled to do. I’m working towards those goals now, taking some classes on the side.

I’ve been writing my short stories and beginning some novels. I’m going to start posting on Medium, covering the subjects of video game addiction, Internet addiction, and switching career paths after college (a few things I feel competent in discussing). I’m picking up drums, too, which I always wanted to learn to play.

I feel like a creative person with a lot of drive and motivation and energy who has just been held hostage by video games all their life. I have a lot of regret for wasting my entire childhood, but I’m glad that, at 23, I’m able to move on in a healthier direction.

I have a lot of animosity towards gaming and, in some way, myself. When I saw the recent video: “Is gaming a waste of time?” I immediately answered “yes,” and there’s a part of me, I must admit, who dislikes people who argue that they’re wonderful and amazing and the best thing that ever happened to entertainment. In reality, the better part of me knows that they are simply able to have a different relationship with games than I am.

Anyway, I guess the message of my story thus far is that I may stumble and fall, but at least I’m getting up each time and moving in the right direction.

I just wanted to thank you (Cam) again for being one of the few people I know talking about this serious issue. I think more and more people are discussing the impacts of social media and the internet and hikikomori (I think that’s the shut-in culture in Japan), but very little of the conversation has extended to video games, which I believe is a huge part of it all.

It’s really heartwarming that, even when my mom and brother express doubts about how video games have negatively influenced my life, there is someone out there who has a similar relationship with them and knows the dangers they hold for some of us.

Thank you and Game Quitters so much!

Sincerely,
Tom.

Hello. My name’s Vadim and I’m from Russia.

I’m 27 and I’ve been playing video games for more than 22 years – since I was 4. I had an NES at first, but very soon I got a computer that had DOS OS and had a few basic games on it. But then I upgraded in 1999, letting me play games like Starcraft, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life, Quake and more.

I would play for hours until I needed to stop because my parents told me to. But when my parents were away I’d try to play as much as I possibly could.

My Gaming Problem Became a Health Problem

I loved playing video games so much, and I was genuinely passionate about them. I excelled in school, so my parents didn’t see any problems with my gaming. But soon I got a better computer, PSP, laptop, and so I could play more whenever I wanted. I would play at nights and then sleep for 4 hours before school.

Gaming was so enjoyable that I didn’t think there was a problem. I was a smart child, and had some good friends, but I was shy and unconfident. At one point I accidentally found that if I didn’t play for more than 2 days, I became much more confident and had better self-esteem. However, that went away when I started to play games again. I remembered it very well at the time, and it helped me to quit gaming in the future.

At this point in my life, my health started to decline very rapidly. Anxiety and exhaustion started to creep in. I ended up going to university, where I needed to study even more. But I preferred to play video games and as a result, didn’t sleep enough. This caused my health to decline even more.

At some point, it got so bad I needed to quit university so that I could recover. But I couldn’t do it for very long. I wasn’t healthy, I had almost no friends, and gaming became my coping mechanism. I was very depressed and lonely.

Video games were the only thing I loved.

Did I Really Enjoy Gaming?

After some time, I started to read about healthy diets, lifestyle, stress, meditation and so on. I started to implement it in my life and my health began to improve. This allowed me to finish university and ended up getting a job. This was the first time I started to think about how video games influenced my life and my body. For example, I’ve found that if I play video games I lose the motivation to go to work for days, I get low self-esteem, become anxious, and fall into depression.

I started to ask myself “Why do I love gaming? Why do I love walking and speaking with people in a game and why do I love working in a game but not in real life?”

So I started to read information about how video games affect the human body, the brain and the nervous system and found out about dopamine. Then I started to read about other addictions that were actually very similar to my love of gaming. This is when I started to experiment with quitting gaming. But I didn’t know how to stop playing.

I stopped for a month as an experiment, and it was very difficult and unpleasant, and then I started gaming again. But after several months I found the Game Quitters channel. I learnt about the 90 days detox and promised to try it.

meditating and reading

Quitting Gaming Was Harder than I Expected

It was incredibly difficult. I felt very severe and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. When you play games for 22 years and then stop, you find that you do not have anything else in your life. You do not have friends, you do not have any social skills to find them, all you know is gaming.

I made the decision to finish the 90-day detox. My life was a complete mess and I needed to stop playing games. The videos on Game Quitters helped me A LOT, as well as their podcast about video game addiction. The first 40 days were the most difficult, but then to my surprise I started reading books with PLEASURE, like if I would play games. It was very unusual.

Once a week or two I had severe urges to play, and the last big was on about day 84. I think it was the last resort for my brain to return to play video games and it was almost successful. But, after 2 hours, it subsided and I never had a big urge to play games again.

So I completed a 90-day detox and decided that I’m never going back to video games again.

Gaming was my life and my identity. It was me. I loved them with all my heart. After the 90 day detox, which is nothing compared to 22 years, gaming was no longer my identity. I have found the real me – the man who wants to live in the real world, who wants to read many books, speak with many people, and have good friends.

One thing that helped a lot was realising I had an addiction, not a love of gaming. I would say that I even have some antipathy to games now, that never give you real happiness.

It was difficult during the first few months, but my skills grew incredibly. I think for the first time in 9 years I’ve found new friends. My life has improved so much. I don’t think about video games every minute anymore, I feel free from them.

I do not need this overstimulation to function anymore and I don’t feel the desire to play games at all. I’m never going to play them again.

My Advice on How to Quit Gaming

  • Study addictions and learn how they work. Underneath the surface, they’re all very similar. If you understand how they work, you will understand what you feel and why.
  • Watch Game Quitters. Without it, I would never stop playing video games (thanks Cam :D)
  • Read testimonials. Game Quitters has loads of case studies from ex-gamers
  • Do meditation every day. You will find why you play and why you need to stop.
  • If you have an urge, call or text someone. I don’t know why, but it helped a lot.
  • Go for a walk if you have an urge for an hour or two
  • Cry if you want to
  • Be positive. If you struggle, just know that it will go away eventually
  • Read books about the problems you have. For example, if you have problems with socialisation, read books about it. If you have health problems then read about them. It definitely helps.

So good luck you guys. There is a much better, happy and fulfilling life outside gaming.

“It became impossible to disconnect from my devices.”

My name’s Jack and I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’m 16, and I’ve been playing video games since I was 8 years old. Up until I was in the 6th grade, I’d play games on my Nintendo DS for hours every day. Not much changed after that, but the DS got replaced by the Wii U.

I loved gaming because I could just switch off while playing. It didn’t take much brainpower and it would keep me entertained for hours.

Things got worse when I bought an Xbox One. It became impossible to disconnect from my devices.

When Gaming Takes Over

bored

I realized gaming was a problem because I started spending more time in front of a screen instead of doing what I really loved – playing the guitar. I began spending more time at home playing games than going out with friends.

My typical day while gaming:

  • I would wake up and play video games for a couple of hours while still in bed.
  • I’d get breakfast and come back up to my room to play more games.
  • After lunch, I’d get back to gaming in my room or on my DS.
  • Then I’d spend time playing games on my phone.
  • Finally, I’d head back to bed.

Looking back it’s pretty clear I had a problem. I started sleeping less and found myself not enjoying life as much. I became depressed and anxious.

Related: Video Game Addiction Test for Gamers

Finally, I decided something needed to change.

I had to remove myself from gaming completely. For me, there’s no such thing as moderation. I sold my Xbox One and finally bought that second guitar I wanted. I had to sell my DS and all of the games for my consoles. I even got rid of all the games on my computer.

What really helped me was replacing urges with going outside or hanging out with a friend. It’s a lot easier to overcome the cravings if you get yourself out of the house.

Life is Amazing Once You Escape the Virtual World

amazing life

My typical day now includes more activities like biking, taking pictures of nature, and playing the guitar. I even joined a band!

I have learned so much more about myself than I thought possible, like finding out that I’m great at photography. It’s now one of my deepest passions.

My advice for someone else who is in the same position as me is to find other hobbies and talk to friends. Try to find some friends that don’t play video games.

Related: 60+ New Hobbies to Replace Gaming

Respawn is also a very helpful program and there’s a great community to talk to when you’re struggling, especially on the forum.

This has been a long journey, but I am finally free from video game addiction for good.

Welcome to our guide on how to play video games in moderation. Continue reading or use the table of contents.

Life is too short, you should do things you enjoy, right? For me, that meant blowing off my work, and completely wrecking my sleep schedule. Why?

All because I wanted to play one more game, climb one more rank, waste one more hour.

The thing is, gaming is fun.

It’s a way to escape stress in your life, however, at some point you need to ask yourself… “Is this really worth it?”

After coming close to losing my job, I tried to find something, anything, to stop my compulsive impulse to close my work, and open up League Of Legends.

Believe it or not, being addicted to gaming is a real issue. The World Health Organization officially declared gaming addiction as a mental disorder in 2019.

Through this article, I want to share some of my tips to help others find the time to focus on more important things in life – such as your job, your family, and making new memories – while still playing some games on the side.

What Is Gaming Addiction?

The first thing to do is see if you’re actually addicted to gaming, right? I mean, an hour of gaming a day is far from addicted.

To give you some insight into my addiction, I used to play games for 15 hours a day, on top of my full-time job. How I managed that I have no idea. Just imagine if I spent that time on something productive!

Some common signs that you or a loved one is addicted to gaming include:

  • Compulsive/Obsessive Behaviour – As with most addictions, when you aren’t playing games, you may start seeing some red flags such as restlessness, irritability, and aggressive behavior.
  • Lack of sleep/signs of exhaustion – If you are addicted to gaming, you’ll know exactly how this plays out. It’s 12 in the morning when you see your cyber-friend from another country come online. So, instead of getting a good nights sleep, you decide to pull an all-night with them. Who cares if you have work or school in the morning, right?
  • Lack Of Interest In Other Activities – I struggled with this one first-hand. Working for myself, I always wanted to develop new skills. Be it programming or learning how to improve at my job. But, for some reason – I could never find the time. The problem was, whenever I was doing non-essential work, all I wanted to do was load up my favourite game and play until the early hours of the morning.

Now that we have a general idea of what it looks like to be a gaming addict, it’s time for you to figure out a strategy to help you break the cycle.

It’s time to focus on the things that really matter to you and take back your life.

Related: Video Game Addiction Test for Gamers

Tips to Play Video Games in Moderation

I’ve tried all of the strategies and advanced tactics to quit gaming. The problem is, you will never stop something unless you want it. Which means having the desire and willpower to stick to it.

Also, just like any other addiction, don’t expect to go cold turkey from day one.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try cold turkey, a lot of our members have found great success with it. However, that strategy might not be for everyone, which is why it’s best to experiment and see what works for you.

Just remember to take it slow, make sure each day gets progressively better, and you can’t fail.

Step One: Identify What You Are Losing By Playing Games

Until we take a step back, it’s difficult to see what’s being taken away from our lives when we’re gaming. Think about it, is your girlfriend always complaining that you are never talking to them? What about work, do you blow important tasks that could lead to a raise just so you can play an hour or ten of games?

Life really is short. The only difference between the rich and the poor is how we capitalize on each hour, minute, and second. I want you to put thought into what beneficial activities could replace the hours you spend on games, and where those activities could take you in life.

Related: 60+ Activity Ideas to Replace Gaming

Step Two: Think of Something You Really Want to Work Towards

Are you tired of struggling financially? Do you want that new car, perhaps even your first car? Or are you trying to study a new programming language to help you land that huge promotion at work?

Guess what…

All of these things require time. The time that is being taken up by all those hours in front of your console or computer. That’s why in this step, I want you to think about that one goal in life that you really want, and start working for it. Make a timeline of when you want to achieve that goal and a strategy of how you plan to go about it.

Try picturing your life after completing that goal. From there, try working backwards to where you are now and reverse engineer that life you’re dreaming about. Break it up into small, manageable steps and you might realise you’re closer to achieving it than you think.

Step Three: Schedule Your Day For Balance

As fun as it is to play games all night, it really messes with you more than you know.

Did you know that no matter how long you sleep for, you can only recover one hour of sleep a night?

That means if you pull one all-nighter and lose 8 hours of sleep, for the next week you will be unable to work efficiently on your goals. That means you are putting your work at risk, your exams at risk, and even your relationships.

Moderation vs. Cold Turkey

life planner

For me, quitting cold turkey was too difficult. What I did instead was to learn how to play video games in moderation.

I would delete my games completely each Monday, and reinstall them on Friday evening for a weekend gaming session. This way they did not interfere with my work, which led to me being where I am today.

Find what works for you. It does not have to be perfect, and there will be slip-ups, but even cutting down 2-hours a day will put you so much further ahead in life than where you are at right now.

And if you are unable to play video games in moderation, you may want to try a complete 90-day detox instead.

Written by Thomas English

My name is Jaroslaw and I am from Canada.

I began my gaming journey at the young age of 5 with Final Fantasy 1 and Star Tropics.

For me, games provided a sense of achievement and a means of escape from the reality of my life. I wasn’t happy, and instead of dealing with my problems head-on, I escaped to video games to drown my sorrows.

About 6 years ago, I started realising that I had a problem.

Related: Video Game Addiction Test for Gamers

I was so miserable and felt like with all that I had suffered through, the world owed me something. I decided I didn’t like the direction my life was going and knew I needed to do something about it.

My Life As a Gamer

gamer

When I used to play video games, I’d wake up feeling groggy because I didn’t get nearly enough sleep and go to school or work.

I’d usually come home and immediately play games until 2 or 3am, if not later. I would only take breaks to go to the washroom or eat – the basics.

My relationships with my family were not good. I hardly had anything to talk about with any of my extended family and I had no social circle whatsoever.

My health was deteriorating, both in terms of my weight and my ability to do basic tasks.

To top it off my finances were a complete mess.

I Couldn’t Keep Going On Like This…

quotes about change

6 years ago I decided to make that decision to quit gaming.

It was tough to begin with. I didn’t realize there was help available for video game addicts, and none of my family really understood what I was going through.

One day I ended up googling “how to quit video games” and found Game Quitters. I learned about the 90-day detox and decided to try it.

I went through a cycle of quitting and relapsing a number of times, with varying amounts of time between each attempt.

My Biggest Hurdle Was Myself

self reflection

The number one issue I faced was a lack of self-confidence, which never existed while I was beating up monsters in video games.

When you’re inside a game you feel invincible and nothing can stop you.

So, what did I do?

Along with visualizations and affirmations, the biggest help for me was creating a playlist with positive songs such as Firework by Katy Perry and You Gotta Want It by Roberta Gold.

I listened to this playlist every time I was in my car. The messages started to sink in… I deserve to be happy and confident in life.

The single biggest strategy that helped me get to this point, however, was to never give up on myself.

Even through my relapses, I held on to the idea that I need to quit video games and work on my goals and dreams.

As long as you don’t give up on yourself, you always have a chance to succeed.

I’m not really a morning person, so I was still waking up groggy even with the proper amount of sleep! However, after some early morning stretching and eating breakfast, that usually went away.

After work, I would eat dinner and either hit the gym, read a book, go on a hike, or watch some Netflix.

My Life Has Improved…

hamilton ontario

Here are a few things that have gotten better since I quit gaming:

  • My social circle is much better now and I’ll occasionally go and hang out with friends.
  • I’m much more willing to try new things.
  • I have much more confidence in myself and my social skills.
  • I have more time to spend on the things that matter most, like my family and my goals.
  • I’ve taken back control of my finances.

Pretty much every conceivable thing that could be better, is better.

“As long as you don’t give up on yourself, you always have a chance to succeed.”

I also like to read books and make music. Something I never had time to do in the past. I’m exploring the idea of turning one of those into a career, either becoming an author or musician.

I’ve always thought of myself as more of a technical person but I think I enjoy the creative side of things a whole lot more.

My Biggest Piece of Advice

focus quote

Don’t try to take on too many things at once.

Quit games and immediately find one activity that you can do that isn’t gaming. Commit to doing that activity at least once a week.

Download: 60+ Hobby Ideas to Replace Gaming

What you do for the rest of the time isn’t that important as long as you stay away from games and everything gaming related.

As you move further away from games, you will naturally get interested and involved in other aspects of life, depending on what’s important to you.

You don’t necessarily need to know what those things are at first, just slowly work on figuring them out. It’s easy to get super excited about doing everything possible at first, but if you try to do too much at once, you’re going to end up relapsing.

After your initial excitement fades away then you have to rely on commitment, which might be much harder than you realise. Goal setting, multiple activities and all that good stuff will come in time.

You have to remember that it’s a process that takes time. You won’t see results overnight and you have to be comfortable with that.

A Call for More Help

therapy

Video game addiction is a serious problem that is only going to get worse, and the world isn’t nearly set up enough to tackle this issue.

The real-life resources available for video game addicts are next to non-existent, at least where I live.

I saw a psychologist for a while, but I didn’t get the sense that she was treating the video game addiction at all.

People just don’t have enough experience handling the problem.

I think what needs to happen is we, as a society, need to accept that it IS a problem, and then maybe we can get to work on developing real-life strategies that will work.

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 Jaroslaw and hundreds of others on Game Quitters, you too can turn your life around.

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.

Playing games has been a huge part of my life since I was six years old. I started my gaming hobby at my early age, which later turned into addiction, from Playstation 1.

When I was first introduced to Playstation 1, the console looked nothing more than a mere gray plastic box which magically reads CD and displays moving pixels on TVs. Being a naive child I was at the time, I grew up fondly with Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Tetris Plus, Pac-man World, and many more.

Time moved on, and the golden times of Nintendo Gameboy, DS and Sony’s PSP came. I remember how everyone in my elementary school had a Nintendo DS and we played Mario Kart together. I also borrowed my father’s PC to play Starcraft: Brood War, and Age of Empires III. Those two games would later define Real Time Strategy (RTS) as one of my favorite gaming genres.

Early Signs of Gaming Addiction

ps1 controller

As I also had Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii, I would go to a gaming store and buy around five games a week and play them one at a time. I remembered one moment where I woke up early in the morning everyday just to feed virtual dogs in Nintendogs. To this day I still cringe remembering that I would comply to my own addiction, and knowing that timed-event games just use their on-device clocks.

I carried my gaming hobby-turned-addiction to high school, where Starcraft II was recently launched. I was really happy at the time, and ended up playing the Wings of Liberty chapter immediately. This is where my addiction worsened. When I was on my campaign streak, my father came in and said something that would ring in my mind years later:

“You won’t achieve much of what you want in life if you keep on playing games. You are just sinking all of your time into games that do not translate into real life.”

Certainly I was pissed because he ‘ruined’ my gaming mood. I understood what my father was saying – I could be doing something more meaningful than just playing games. But if I stopped playing games, I would be losing one of my favorite hobbies since childhood. So I kept on playing quietly without my parents knowing.

Over the years, I also joined a band of friends playing Dragon Nest. I recalled the time where we spent sleepless days completing the highest raid available from 40 cap to 93 cap level era. I grinded gears, watched YouTube videos, read future content, and got as many achievements as I could in the game.

I did keep my school grades above requirements, but only for a short period. I was almost out of my mind at that time. I neglected my future academic life and only applied to one overseas university. The addiction hurt my grades badly and I barely passed my exams. Still, it was not the end of my gaming craze.

I Wanted to Quit Gaming

university cafeteria

Before going to university, I said to myself I won’t be playing video games anymore. One of my friends just said “That’s BS, you’ll be playing again in a few months. Otherwise you’ll burn yourself out.” Again, I brushed it off as if nothing happened.

Before ‘cutting myself off’ from gaming, I went on a full-gaming month playing Tree of Savior. I slept from 2am to 10am and played the game as soon as I woke up. I made sure I got the most satisfaction out of gaming before quitting. After leveling up my character to level 200, I stopped playing, but only for only four months before buying Overwatch and getting addicted for another year.

Initially I was enjoying the game, reliving the fun I had playing games with friends. However, as Overwatch is an online multiplayer game which is heavily dependent on teammates’ performance, its nature slowly drew out the toxicity within me.

I would get frustrated and often blamed strangers on our team. I tried really hard to not blame my friends, accept criticism and feedback from them, although sometimes the toxicity still got the best of me. This would go on for weeks. I was sleep-deprived, frustrated, and wanting more of those PotGs and worthwhile wins. Looking back now, I am still happy (and surprised) I did not flunk my grades during my addiction.

Related: How the Toxic Gaming Community Made Me Quit Gaming

Things Were Getting Worse

man working on startup

This continued on until summer 2018. I was doing an internship at a startup, while all of my university friends were having internships at big and well-known companies. I felt inferior to them. I was not even enjoying my internship.

What was I doing in my life? Just play games and sink all of my time in them? Those thoughts haunted my mind, followed by the insulting jokes from my university friends. On top of that, my family notified me that my grandmother recently passed away. I cried that evening, thinking of how all the life events turned around against me at once. I was burned out from my internship, looked down upon my friends, and lost a family member whom I was very close to.

I felt worthless and depressed for two to three weeks. It was my lowest point in my university life. I was helpless, and decided to seek help and shoulder to lean on from my friends.

Suddenly… It Happened

pursuing goals

I had no urge to play video games anymore. I stopped feeling guilty for not playing games. The whispers inside my head went from “Why are you not playing your games?” to “Those rewards and statistics you’re getting are meaningless in real life.”

One time my friend invited me to play Starcraft II and I joined. While I was clicking around, making buildings and controlling my army, I felt nothing. That proud feeling of having strong base and army, satisfaction when I crushed the enemy bases. Those feelings were just not there. I could not continue after around 20 minutes and I told my friend I was going to stop playing for a while. And that was the first day I stopped my addiction.

Results

guy meditating on mountain

Ever since I stopped my addiction, I have been meditating every morning, expanded my social circle with people and being in tune with my friends’ emotion. I listen more to my friends about their life and spend more time laughing with them. I also spend my time going out to live concerts, and I’m on my third book now.

Currently I am on exchange at a university with a rigorous Computer Science program. I struggled with the academics at first, and I felt like giving up. But I pushed on and kept going.

After getting a hang of my courses, I went on to meet people in tech events and conferences in various cities, while expanding my professional network. I also applied to tons of internships worldwide, and, to my surprise, I got my first interview offer from a well-known company. Even though I have not received the offer yet, I feel more confident in applying for internships around the world.

I was still shocked with the fact that anyone could achieve dreams that were once their fantasy. Applying for worldwide internships was never in my reachable goals while I was addicted to games.

What I am really grateful for is that, after putting my effort and time into real life, I get to see the tangible rewards and experience. My lifestyle and studying habits become more organized and productive. I become more confident. My emotions are more stable and I rarely lash out with anger at somebody else. Looking forward, I believe better things will come as long as I put in the effort into my life, families, and friends.

Conclusion

this is the sign you have been looking for

To those who are still struggling to end their addiction, I want to note that stopping addiction may happen differently for everyone. Some will stop when they are their rock bottom, and some will stop when shit just happens. Others will stop when they have something to fight for.

Stopping an addiction is not about ending the gaming streak glamorously, or saying “Just one more game and I’ll stop”.

It is about realizing the harsh truth, the negative impact you have been carrying along with your addiction. It is about confronting your real life fears. No more making excuses, no more what ifs, no more “what happens when I stop playing.” You need humility, mental resilience, and commitment. There will be people who disregard your addiction, and people who acknowledge your burden. Seek those who will help when you really need it.

I really hope what I share here will be an inspiration to those who are still finding the motivation to stop playing games and start a new phase in life. One way to picture life is as an MMORPG. You grind experience, develop skills, take on new challenges, and get the actual rewards. Real life, in my opinion, is more challenging, fulfilling, and rewarding if you put the necessary time and effort into it.

For those who are on their no-gaming streak, I also had moments where I relapsed within this period. I played some mobile games when I really had nothing to do and wanted to have a dopamine boost.

Upon playing for 15 minutes, I got bored, and uninstalled them immediately. Although I plan to play casual RTS games after my exchange, I also filled my future schedule with physical activities and socializing with my family because I know I get bored fast playing games now.

The important thing is when you realize that you can’t play games for extended hours without getting bored and you have more important things to do in life, you are already set for a better life.

Good luck!

Story written by Slitz_Treaver

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“Gaming was my escape. All I did was work and game.”

Since I was little I loved to play games. It became more intense when I played World of Warcraft in 2005 and since then, there were not two days where I did not play a game. At some point it did not even matter what I played, it was just important that it kept me busy.

I denied the bad side effects this addiction had on my life a long time. But it got more obvious day to day.

I had a relationship and a job which I really do like, however over the years I could really tell my social life was becoming near non-existent. I tried to stop, but did not manage to stop for more than two days. All the emptiness and loneliness became apparent when I had nothing to distract me. However, the last months of my addiction were the worst.

Panic Attacks

purple hallway

Every weekend after extensive gaming sessions I got panic attacks, knowing that this behavior leads to nothing and that it did not bring me any step closer to my dreams… to a life fulfilled with happiness and things which I really want to do.

I came to the sudden realization, with my age of 27, that if I do not stop gaming right now, this will be my life… forever. The panic attacks, the feelings of not accomplishing anything. I will get old knowing that I did nothing to become the best version of myself.

I Quit Gaming!

decision

Right there. Oddly with my sudden realization (which took me years to get to) I did not have any trouble with quitting.

On day one I went to the gym and got a workout plan. I had a gym membership for the past year I had only used twice. I had anxiety attacks just thinking of going to the gym, worried of embarrassing myself in front of others, however I pushed forward.

I also implemented other things in my life which helped me a lot and allowed me to stay focused. I thought of useful habits, and used an app to track everything. Besides tracking my fitness and no gaming, I implemented a morning routine (including a skin routine), and was got back into books and painting miniatures. For the first time in years I played board games at my home with some friends.

111 Days Later

freedom

For the first time in over 10 years, I really feel I have my life back. That I am in charge of my own fate. For the first time in years I know what I want to be.

I am proud of myself that I finally took this step. I know that it’s only small progress, but it’s progress. And this keeps me going. I will promise right here, to my future self, I will not stop! I will do my best to improve every day, one step at a time.

If someone is reading this, all I want you to know is if I could do this you can do too. It is never too late to claim your life back! I believe you can do it… so should you.

Join our Movement

SHARE this story to let others to know that life is so much better 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.

Take a Stand

Game Quitters exists to help those who need help with gaming addiction challenges to get the help, and to spread awareness about the negative impact gaming addiction can cause. Want to help? Grab a t-shirt or hoodie and show the world you care about this issue.

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