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

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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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gaming addiction story

“It’s been 90 days since I’ve quit gaming. Boom!”

I’ve been a gamer for eight years. By far my biggest problem with gaming were games that featured a perpetual experience – that never ended. I accumulated 2,500 hours on Team Fortress 2, 1,000 hours across the rest of my Steam games, and god knows how much extra time I have on Minecraft and World of Warcraft. Conservatively I have gamed for over 4,000 hours. If I play six hours a day, that’s a total of 1.8 years of constant gaming, non-stop everyday.

Realizing this destroyed me. Gaming has worsened my academics significantly, forcing me to retake a year. I was making a mob farm in Minecraft the day before an important chemistry exam, having not revised at all for it. What was I thinking? I would never meet up with my friends, I had social anxiety, and my brain felt jacked on something.

Related: A Guide to Quit Gaming for One Year

Failing to Quit

I had casually tried to quit a bunch of times, and then ‘seriously’ some more times, but I never made the cut and I’d always go back. I would unplug my PC from my room, move it to another room with my monitors, and then put a laptop in its place.

Then within two weeks, I would replug-in my PC and all of my monitors, and then proceed to binge on gaming for the next 10 days.

I Finally Quit for Good

On May 10th a switch flicked in my brain. Enough was enough. My parents and my online gaming friends all thought this was another futile attempt to quit – and any other time they would have been right – but this time I did something different: I disassembled my PC and sold my graphics card ASAP. Then I formatted all of my hard drives.

This completely cut me off from going back, as the main games I was playing at the time were PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Rocket League, both of which required a dedicated graphics card, or an amazing laptop, and now I had neither. This strengthened my belief that this time was different, as I had never gone this far before. I was, and am, far too frugal to begin a cycle of rebuying an expensive graphics cards and then reselling them at a loss repeatedly. My decision was final.

I had never played mobile games, but I did have some on my phone. I deleted those too and didn’t feel a thing. I unsubscribed from all gaming channels on YouTube.

Watch: Should You Watch Gaming Streams?

A Slipup?

Around 30 days in I played Riven: The Sequel to Myst. I did lose a lot of free time to it, but the immersion and lateral thinking involved made it feel a world apart from the 4,000 hours of throwaway repetitiveness I had mostly experienced up to this point. I then played Myst and beat it in a day.

Now I know that saying I played a game during my 90 day detox and thought it was beautiful is a horrendously unpopular sentence to say in this community, but just like the best novel I have read (Moby Dick) I found it to be a magical experience. A one-shot, well made experience that makes you think, just like a good book, or a good documentary. It doesn’t compare to real life, but neither does any form of media. I still think most popular games fall into the abusive category and you should avoid at all costs, as they are skinner boxes and will not help you succeed in life. I have no plans on going back to those.

My goal in quitting was to avoid spending six hours a day for weeks on end on perpetual experiences that don’t change the more you play them (as I had been doing for seven years straight), so for my purposes these games were not relapses.

Has My Life Improved?

I took my exams (still waiting on the results), and believe I have made a massive improvement over last year. My mind fog, anxiety, and moodiness are at lifelong lows since quitting. I have more motivation. I feel like everything is better in many aspects. I have a surplus of free time now. I want to go out and meet up with friends. I’m in a better state of mind than ever before. The most important benefit I’ve received is presence of mind: being able to have initiative on new things I might want to do, or ways to think.

Yes, it’s amazing, and after a while you get used to how good it is, but I had to bring myself back to how bad it was originally to remember how good I feel now. Nothing will substitute doing it for yourself in real life. It’s like putting the human experience of consciousness into words, you just can’t. Just believe me, and the many others here who believe it will change your life.

My Advice to You

Build yourself up to sell your gaming paraphernalia. Disassemble your PC, and sell it if you don’t need that processing power. Format your C drive. ‘Downgrade’ to a laptop. If you’re a console gamer sell all of it. Uninstall all your games. Uninstall Steam.

It will feel bad for two weeks, but it will get better. Three months in feels beyond great. Build your way back up appropriately. Most importantly, you have to start and not give up. Just do it!

Join our Movement

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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.

cam adair game quitters

gaming addiction story

“I would sleep all day and game all night. My mom said I lived like a vampire.”

I’m Adam and I’m 26 years old. I started gaming early in my childhood, and loved to play FPS games, especially Battlefield 3 and 4! I was very good at it, hitting the top of the scoreboard most of the time. I really liked the sense of achievement, skill, and being a bit of a show off.

The biggest draw to gaming however was playing with my friends. I was very easy to log in and socialize, without having to leave your house. I don’t regret those memories with my friends, they were some great moments! And really for a long time I saw no harm in playing, even until five or six in the morning. There seemed to be many more upsides than downsides to gaming, however looking back now it was because I had no greater vision for my life at the time.

Read: A Guide to Quit Gaming for One Year

My Wake Up Call

I would sleep all day and game all night. I became a cave animal who hated sunlight. My mom said I lived like a vampire. Life became too big and scary to face so my big comfort blanket was gaming, and it was so familiar to me as it was part of my life since childhood. This continued until one day my girlfriend left me. I was devastated and completely blindsided, which happened because I was blind to her and everything and everyone else around me.

This was a major blow and took me a long time to get over, but it was also a wake up call. I suddenly got on my own side again and decided I wanted to live! It wasn’t until much later that my mom and I would really clash. Our fights and falling out made me much more aware of the toxicity of this habit.

Video Game Addiction Quiz for Gamers

I Discovered Game Quitters

It was around this time that I came across Cam’s TEDx talk and his YouTube channel. What struck me the most was a video showing how much of the world I was missing out on.

This incredible beautiful planet we live on, all out there for me to experience, suddenly gaming looked much smaller, and real life much larger. I’m feeling quite emotional actually as I write this because I realize it all happened for my own growth, as painful as it was at times.

I decided enough was enough, and committed to the 90 day no gaming detox! Half way through I actually sold my PS4 console so there really was no going back for me!!

I have not played a game since!! The most powerful leverage for me was simply this, disgust. Jim Rohn has talked about disgust being a powerful emotion to inspire change, and it really is. It wasn’t until I was truly disgusted at my habits, my way of living, and gaming itself that I really wanted to be free from the addiction. Cold turkey worked!!

I’m quite the lone-wolf type so I didn’t seek extra support, but always watched Cam’s videos on his channel and he gave guidance and emotional support through the whole thing. Plus a vision of who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to have post-gaming which was just as important.

The Benefits of Quitting Gaming

jade rice fields

Since I’ve quit gaming my self-esteem has improved a lot, I have much less social anxiety, and a greater confidence overall. I have more interest in people and the real world.

Click to Tweet – The Benefits of Quitting Gaming

Plus a real deepening of my involvement with personal development! I work on my life purpose, I care about myself a lot more, the world, and people in general. I have a lot more free time to do what really makes me happy and fulfilled, and my sleep is obviously much better! I could go on, the results mean that I know I will never go back. I have realized life is simply too short and full of possibilities to hide from it anymore.

I really hope this helps anyone who is looking to quit, or has already quit and inspires them as well. Thank you Cam in helping me get my life back :).

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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.

cam adair game quitters

gaming addiction story

“I realized how beautiful the world is, more beautiful than video games.”

Magic The Gathering is more than just animations in a video game, it’s a board game that has given me more benefits to my mental health. Such things include critical thinking, decision making, strategy, the appreciation of art, logic, contingency plan (sideboarding) and the use of math.

Magic did not just gave me these things, it made me a better person and it was the board game that killed video gaming in my life. Since joining my local MTG community, I have made friends and no longer feel lonely and it gives something that video games never do, social interaction and meeting new people. The people that I meet at my local MTG community are from different paths of life such as students, clerks, teachers, managers, programmers and even lawyers.

Related: How To Make New Friends And Improve Your Social Skills

My Gaming History

I started gaming back in September 2001 when my elder brother introduced me to gaming when he got a PlayStation 2 console from overseas. I was in the last year of elementary school and I was facing my Lyceum exam for secondary school. It was a time when I did not realize that I was playing too much, and unknowingly that it was ruining my health and also my grades.

I used to play three hours a day, everyday. It was an activity that impacted me on the negative side without me even knowing it until I received my academic results. They were a bunch of Fs.

The first day of secondary school started and I was a bit like a fish out of water. Everything was new. I met a facilitator who treated me like a child. I didn’t like her until someone took over her place and that was another woman who has made an impact in my pre-teenage life.

I was overweight and demoralized. She started to encourage me to do physical exercise and to lose weight. I noticed the difference. She strongly advised me to avoid staying for long hours sitting down.

Third year video games were an escape for my school problems. My mother did not know that I was addicted to video games. I gained weight and I felt really bad. I ignored my personal hygiene, and did not care for school, but I played video games for six hours a night.

Related: From 60lbs Overweight, to 6-Pack, Married, and 6-Figure Business. How Quitting Gaming Turned Nicholas Bayerle’s Life Around

I Could Not Stop Myself

depression

The fourth year was the worst of all. I went from bad to worse. My addiction persisted. I was aggressive, and did not give a damn for homework. My tutor noticed that I had a problem. She told me I needed help. I also struggled with gambling.

In June 2006, my mother asked me if I was interested in going to Berlin. At that time, there was the World Cup. I said “yes” and she smiled. It was the wisest decision I took back then. I started to appreciate the world around me and realized how beautiful the world is, more beautiful than video games.

The first day I started experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The aggressiveness and anger never left me. A German was staring at me, observing every move I do. He realized that I was not normal at all. He approached me and asked me “Do you have a problem?” “I cannot play a video game” I said and he told me that I was an addict. He asked me “You have a choice, be a woman or remain a crazed addict”. I said that I want to be a woman. He told me to take his advice and he promised me that I will get out of my addiction. He became my mentor, another influential person in my life. We started to get along together like as if we knew each other for a very long time. He thought me how to speak German, to be ambitious, responsibility and some basic self-defense just in case.

One week later, I was turning into someone else, a recovering addict with ambition to quit my addiction and get my life back on track.

Casual Gamer

australia

I moved to Australia and experienced withdrawal symptoms again but not as bad as the ones back in Berlin. I stayed for a few months away from gaming, instead writing a book and working more on my martial arts and weapons training. Even if I had a PlayStation, I did not game more than hour a day. I became a casual gamer just playing for fun and overdoing it at all. I attended school there and I felt more welcome than back in my country. I did not have anymore problems with gaming, it wasn’t boring but I was homesick sometimes.

I returned back in Malta in January 2007. I was fighting my addiction until I quit when my television broke down. It wasn’t a problem for me and I went hardcore in my writing career, writing two or three books per year. The books were continuing with one another and together they became the Terran Saga, a series of speculative science-fiction books.

I did three years at the Higher Secondary. I entered MCAST and took a diploma in computing. I committed myself to one year studying and the next year I graduated with my first diploma. My parents were glad with my achievement.

I got my first job as a clerk in a shipping company and worked there for six months under a definite contract. I was still gaming then but only for an hour. My contract expired and I was at home. I was desperate and gaming was pulling me badly but I did not let it take me hostage and instead I was reading some articles online and writing books. I then felt my health deteriorating and I heard my manager telling me that gaming is causing all of that.

I Quit Gaming for Good

magic the gathering

I attended a MTG Pre-Release in January and then another in April. I have been playing Magic: The Gathering for five years and it was that card game that has done so much good for me as I started to make friends again. I put all my games for sale, selling three of them as a result. I was glad that I got rid of them.

I chose Magic and the outside world and got rid of gaming. I started a 90 day detox and I watched videos made by Game Quitters founder Cam Adair. He was my motivator and after a week I already felt a difference. No more fatigue, no frequent consumption of energy drinks, no more burning eyes, muscle twitching, strain injuries, or power naps. No more of this addictive gaming anymore.

Now I will soon end my detox and I swear to God that I will never touch another video game again.

If you are a gamer, please play video games responsibly and don’t overdo it. If you know an addict, it is not a sin to ask for help.

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cam adair game quitters

“My parents just wanted me happy, though they didn’t see the monster that was evolving inside of me.”

Games: a fun past time to play with family, friends, or by yourself. Gaming has evolved into something incredible in contrast to the early 90s. In my early days it was Commodore 64, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Game Boy Color, and PlayStation.

I remember how much I loved to get off the bus, run inside, drop my backpack, and turn on my gaming system. I’d usually be interrupted by “You have homework”, or “supper’s ready”. I enjoyed games from the Super Mario franchise to games like Riddick Bowe Boxing and Donkey Kong. I didn’t have one certain interest, I just loved to play.

It was my only ambition at that age: Play the game, beat it, and be the best at it out of my siblings. My competitiveness and poor sportsmanship showed greatly in games like Mario Kart or Madden Football, as I’m sure it did with anyone at that age.

Related: How Your Need For Accomplishment Keeps You Gaming

Gaming Wasn’t A Problem (Yet)

I was an energetic young boy who loved the outdoors just as much as I loved my games. I loved spending time with my family also, whether it be a game of baseball or a game of Super Mario 3 on an early Saturday morning with my brother and two sisters.

But my interests continued to grow in gaming, especially when I got my first taste of online multiplayer on my Dad’s PC. I’ll never forget the game that I indulged into: Delta Force 2. I loved working my way to the top of the scoreboard, becoming better each time I played, and meeting other players along the way.

My addiction to gaming went into full force with the introduction of this game. I day dreamed about playing while I was in school, drew pictures of battles I imagined myself playing in, and stayed anxious on the way home to bring my computer to life so I could once again battle it out on one of my favorite games at the time.

My attention to my education took a dip and stayed down for the years to come. Years later after I got bored of Delta Force 2, my uncle gave our family a collection of old computer games, and in that collection lived another first person shooter that once again sparked my interests.

Half-Life

When I first read the front of the case, I didn’t think much of the game. A man with what looked to be a hard plastic suit with a symbol on the chest didn’t really excite me, but then I turned the case over and read that this game was a winner of over 40 Game of the Year awards. That made my jaw drop a bit, and without a second thought I began to install the game onto my computer. Amazed by the storyline I was instantly hooked.

Years later my uncle gifted us an Xbox with an inclusion of various games from Halo to Ghost recon. I went through game after game, defeating one after another, wanting to buy more games as I went. I’m sure I put a hole in my parents pocket with the interest I had, but I know in the end they just wanted me happy, though they didn’t see the monster that was evolving inside of me.

Down the road, my Dad bought a game that without a doubt was another cause of my obsession with first-person shooters: Call of Duty. Little did I know that, once again, I would be immersed in the multiplayer world.

The gaming world in Call of Duty was so in-depth compared to the other games I had played. Players took losing seriously and was adamant on becoming the greatest gamer they could be. Clan after clan existed throughout the community, and I was excited to become a part of it. I convinced my parents to buy me a stand up microphone and I found headphones my sisters used to use to listen to their portable CD players.

If I would be able to go back in time and stop myself from becoming addicted to games, this would’ve been the point where I would’ve tried to convince myself that there was more to life than gaming.

Are you addicted to gaming? Take the quiz.

Xbox 360

I was in awe of the graphics compared to my previous system. I couldn’t believe what the new generation of gaming had produced. My dedication to becoming the top gamer doubled, and so did the amount of time spent playing. My attention to education dipped further than ever with my focus on the gaming world as I fought to become as great as I could be, perfecting my kill/death ratio, win/loss ratio, and accuracy percentage.

Let’s step out of the story for a moment. So far I had been in my obsession with gaming for about 8 years, and I had no realization that I was working towards nothing in a literal sense, but in my eyes, I had made this my life. I felt like I was someone in the gaming world. It was my reality, and the world outside was just a nightmare in my eyes that I couldn’t wait to get out of when I picked the controller back up and continued on my journey to being the best.

I had a circle of gamers I played with and as a result stemmed to playing other games, as my brother took over the Xbox as basically his own to play. This was the beginning of the crumbling of our relationship. Before, we were close. We played games together on Xbox, PlayStation, and all the other systems we owned. We played outside together, and pretty much did everything together, with the exception of arguments that escalated quickly to physical or verbal actions, but all in all, we bonded.

With my interest in PC gaming, his interest in Xbox 360, and our passion to be competitive, we parted ways with playing together. We both would spend hours upon hours on our beloved games, only to take breaks for dinner or whenever needed. We talked less to each other and more to our friends of the gaming world. My social life in school was already an empty shell, and gaming kept it at bay.

Gaming at School

boy at school

In the mornings before school began, I would go to the library, boot up one of the computers, and play games such as Quake 3 or the Halo demo. There were a group of kids like myself who liked to game early in the morning and we would all get on computers and play. The sad thing was I didn’t even know who the others were I was playing with, nor did I try to find out.

Any opportunity I had to play a video game at school, I would take it. I would skip out on doing work assignments also. I remember lying to my teacher, telling her I had an essay to do online, so she allowed me to go to the library where I played Quake 3 for the remainder of the class.

When I was 16, I got into my first serious relationship and took some of my focus off of gaming (I still played a lot). I grew up a little, got a job, and came back into reality. I continued to focus on my relationship and left little attention to gaming. Time went on, and when the year came, I graduated high school (somehow), and began college that following fall.

My gaming obsession quickly slipped its way back in during my short lived college life. I wasted my reimbursement given back to me from college on a $2,600 gaming laptop. I would skip out on class to play my favorite PC shooter, or literally be in class at the back row playing a game. Yes, I literally ignored listening in class and ignored focusing on my career goals to game. I failed several classes due to skipping class and playing video games while I was in class. When I was about 18 I found out I would be having twins and that my whole life was about to change, and that it did.

My Girlfriend Got Pregnant

I dropped completely out of college and began working towards a career in the underground coal mines. The job paid well, but it wasn’t the ideal dream occupation. Gaming went to the back burner for the time being until I landed a job at a local company.

During the pregnancy I began developing a want, or a need in my eyes, to occupy myself. Maybe it was the fear of what was to come, or just the stress in general, but my obsession with gaming made its debut in full force once again in my life. I had the money so I bought myself a nice Xbox 360 with all the accessories and rejoined the community that I had secretly missed and been away from for too long. My girlfriend didn’t mind much, since at the time we didn’t live together and through the week I pretty much stayed at my house.

I worked 2nd shift and she was still in school at the time, so I seriously had a lot of free time to do whatever. I said I would quit cold turkey when our kids arrived, although I should’ve known I was kidding myself.

Related: How Joe Became the Father He Always Wanted to Be (And Quit Gaming for One Year)

I had my laptop setup playing an online MMORPG in the hospital room when it was getting close to delivery. When my twins finally did arrive, I stuck to my word to not game, but as time went on, I went back to my old ways. I would skip out on going over to her house to see them to play Modern Warfare, or would be on the Xbox while they were at my house.

I sadly even have a picture of one of them in my lap while I was playing Xbox when they were a year old. I was hooked again, and by the time we had got married and moved in together, I had spent over $1,000 in gaming gear such as a headset, video recorder, custom controllers, and games. My relationship with everyone around me suffered greatly, more than it ever had.

My Relationships Deteriorated

I was already distant from the family that I grew up with, and now I was separating myself from the reality of my family that I created. After I had got a full time job all I did was work, game, eat, and sleep. I never talked about games much at work because frankly, I was embarrassed by myself. I had been since I was young and knew I played video games way too much. I remember when I was younger my dad was asked by someone if I played any sports, and he told them “no, he likes to play computer games though”. I think my face got so red from embarrassment that it could’ve popped.

The sad thing is I couldn’t honestly tell you what the first few years of my children’s lives were like. I was working 12 hour shifts, but when I had those few hours of cherished time with my kids, my priority was leveling up on whatever game I was playing.

I’m left with regret of missing out on the most memorable times, and there is of course no way to get it back. As time went on, I began battling myself to quit gaming and focus on life. I knew I was making a negative impact on my family and realized there was no way for me to manage my time with gaming because I didn’t have the self control.

Unfortunately, I would always find an excuse to stop myself from getting rid of everything permanently. The excuses would be from “I can make money gaming by playing in cash leagues” or “I’ll only play a few hours a week”.

I Missed the Wake-Up Call

I had a lashing out over losing in a game that it should’ve been my wake up call. I remember it clear as day, I was getting owned in a team deathmatch on Modern Warfare 3. I was already cursing at the screen like I had done in the past ever since I began multilayer gaming, and got to the point where if I died again, I was done. I, of course, got shot in the face and in that same second, I quickly stood up, threw my controller, and then threw my headset from my head so hard that it broke. Then I took my Xbox and slammed it to the ground not once, but twice. It was beyond pathetic.

After that incident I didn’t game for a little while because well, I couldn’t, due to a broken Xbox. It wasn’t long before I made the excuse that I’ll buy another Xbox and eventually repair and sell the other to get my money back… yeah, that made a lot of sense.

After spending another $500 or more on new gaming equipment, I had everything back. I had the most expensive headset, the new version of the Xbox, a game recorder, and a custom scuf controller. I went straight back into gaming for six hours a day on the weekends and when I could through the week, ignoring what mattered in my life most.

I strayed further and further from the person a father and husband was supposed to be and dove deeper into the gaming world. I began trying to start a YouTube channel (which was a joke), that consisted of reviews for gaming gear, and gameplay videos… none of which I was good at setting up or presenting.

I needed alone time and peace and quiet to have an uninterrupted video so my wife at the time and the kids stayed in a room upstairs while I recorded. I later moved on to dedicating myself to playing in gaming leagues for cash where I easily spent more money than I made. I wasted money on resetting my stats because I was such a stifler for having the perfect win/loss ratio, wasted money on more gear, and wasted my time indefinitely because in comparison to other gamers I was terrible, despite my expensive gear and years of experience. I did win a 1600 Xbox points card, but needless to say it wasn’t something I chose to sell online for money, and rather used to buy online accessories, like changing my gamertag.

Marriage in Free Fall

love hearts

What really sent my marriage and relationship to my family into freefall was choosing to switch from day shift/2nd shift rotation at work to straight nights for the sole reason of being able to have more time to game through the day.

What ran through my mind was having the ability to stay up past my kids bedtime before I had to leave to spend time on gaming, and have the following morning before the kids and wife woke up to game as well. I purposely sacrificed sleep to game more when I could. I got what I wanted in my own selfish ways and continued to make those around me who needed my attention suffer.

My gaming obsession slowed a bit when my marriage took a big hit. I died down to playing single player games, sold a lot of my gear, and came back to earth so to speak. I still played multiplayer games from time to time, but the hit my marriage took was a stronger focus than Xbox ever could.

I eventually got to the point where I realized gaming wasn’t getting me anywhere and that I was wasting my life away, and it was like looking back and seeing the things I had destroyed… looking at the rubble of structures that were my marriage and relationships, the dust of my empty ambitions, and the pieces that were nearly impossible to put back together of my life.

Divorce

Within a year my marriage took another hit, and that was it. Despite having children together, we separated and I began a new chapter of my life. Games left a sour taste in my mouth because I knew the damage it had caused ever since I began playing them. After moving back in with my parents, I decided to sell everything and quit all at once. It took something so catastrophic such as my divorce to make me realize how much I missed out and ignored in life. I lived in a virtual world and ignored reality.

I hate that I never had the self control to manage my time or just put the controller down and focus on what mattered. There’s nothing I can do about it now, and the only thing I can do is do the right thing from here on out.

Happy Ending

I found the woman of my dreams. My children are in a more stable home, my marriage is doing great, and all in all, I’m who I should’ve been a long time ago. I still struggle with a gaming addiction such as having the want to download a game on my phone, PC, or Xbox from time to time.

But the thoughts always stick with me: What’s the point of playing this? What else could I be doing? Do I really want to dip my foot in this ocean of addiction again?

It usually brings me to putting the controller/phone down and walking away, because I know that, for me, if I let myself go a foot, I’ll go a mile. Instead I focus my time on what matters, on what’s going to make a difference in what I love: My wife, my family, my goals, and my life.

Some of you may be dealing or have dealt with an addiction like this, and I hope and pray you find your way. Whether those who are addicted will admit it or not, some of us just can’t manage our time and don’t have the self control to break away into reality. We’ll make every excuse in the book to continue playing games and make it seem like it’s okay. That’s the struggle with any addiction, though.

Video Game Addiction is Real

The definition of addiction is the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. Several doctors and sites label an addiction as a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences (Wikipedia).

Drugabuse.gov describes an addiction to drugs “as a chronic, relapsing brain disease”, but upon removing the mindset of drug addiction and replacing it with a gaming addiction, it still fits the answer to the question: is gaming addiction an actual thing? It continues on about “compulsive seeking and use despite consequences, and is characterized as a brain disorder because of how drugs change the structure of the brain and how it works.”

Whether you believe it or not, your addiction and mine to gaming has altered our brains, especially from excessive and extended use. We’ve deteriorated relationships, missed out on learned vital life skills, burned bridges, and the list can go on.

Related: Why You Need to Take a 90 Day Detox

If there was some way I could have the ability to go back and stop myself from ever touching a game, it would at least be at the time when I began getting seriously addicted, because I wouldn’t want to completely erase everything. I would be wiping away moments I cherished with my family playing harmless video games together, laughing, and enjoying ourselves all the way.

Here I am, 26 years old with around 17 years of gaming under my belt, and I am still struggling with it today. I have had several relapses of downloading five to ten games on my phone/computer, enjoying myself for about a week, feeling guilty, and then deleting all the content I had installed.

I’ve even went as far as writing out a vow that I would quit gaming and that I would instead strive to be a better husband, father, and person. Not even a week in I broke that vow, making the excuse that I just need some leisure time in my life. The addiction to gaming will still linger no matter if you’ve defeated and overcome it or not. You’ll see the release of the next chapter to that game you always loved to play or a remaster of an old game with stunning graphics with the storyline you fell in love with. It’s just like any other addiction.

You hear about it, see it, or just plain fall back into it. Before you know it gaming is on your mind again, and it’s all you look forward to everyday. Everything else in your life seems dull and boring without gaming in it. I don’t know how long I’ll last on quitting gaming cold-turkey once again, but this time I hope it’s for good. I’ve done enough damage to my progress in life to let it slip back in and cause my destruction.

Invest Your Time Wisely

productivity

I’ve grown to realize how many things I don’t know now that I should’ve learned by now. I could’ve mastered guitar playing. I could’ve graduated college already. I could’ve done things right the first time if I would’ve put those things first in my life. I could be at such a higher level of progress than I am now. I can’t say anything else but coulda, shoulda, woulda. Dwelling on these things isn’t going to get me anywhere. It’s what I choose to do now, what I choose to strive for today that is what is going to get me somewhere.

Will there be setbacks? I guarantee it. Will I overcome them? I hope and pray so. The first few steps are the hardest, just like when a baby is trying to learn to walk. But the more steps I take forward, the easier things are going to get, all the while filling the void that gaming has left after years and years of use.

It’s never going to be easy, but I know that with prayer and support from my family, especially my wife, that I can do it. I’ve overcome it before for almost a year, and I can surely go for another, and another after that, and before I know it, I’ll be gamer-free for 20 years.

Today I make a vow to become game-free. I vow to become closer to my family than ever before, and to strive towards improving my relationship with those that I love, and to strengthen my faith and knowledge in God. I vow to fill the void with my callings and passions backed by Grace, and to always continue to step forward, and at those times when I stumble, I’ll pray for God to lend a hand in my times of troubles. This is the beginning of a new day.

What will you do?

This story was submitted by a member of Game Quitters. 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?

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.

“In the past there have been days when I’ve missed work so I could binge on a game for another day.”

I set a goal to make it 90 days without gaming, and I also included not watching Twitch for a detox. Today marks the 90th day.

What I Learned:

  • Actually permanently deleting my Steam account was a massive boost. Knowing all the games I had on there were gone forever was ultimately a relief and a weight off my shoulders. If I was tempted to game, not having a steam account was a noticeable barrier.
  • Reading Respawn was a great way to start. As well as reading others’ posts on here and keeping a journal. Journaling daily, especially at the start, was important.
  • Ditching my laptop was also key. Having my desktop stationed in the living room as opposed to my bedroom decreased my desire to game.
  • Keeping a calendar and a to-do list are very important. I now have a weekly dry-erase calendar – I like to look at the upcoming week and plot a few things on there. If I’ve got nothing to look forward to, it’s much easier to fall into despair and making some poor decisions.
  • Weekends are the biggest challenges, this is when I have large blocks of free time. It’s helpful to journal out possible things to do that day on those mornings.

Watch: Is It Ok To Play Video Games on the Weekends Only?

  • I’ve been more loose and open to connecting with other people. A great example is my roommates. Before when I was gaming I tensed up when they were around. I didn’t want them around so I could enjoy my game in solitude. But now I’m much more welcoming of the company.
  • I read more. Over the last 3 months, I think I read at least 200 pages a month, which was much more than the preceding months.
  • I went to work more. In the past there have been days when I’ve missed work so I could binge on a game for another day. 0% chance of that happening if I haven’t been gaming.
  • It did get easier, and as it got easier, I was able to put more focus on other challenges and goals.
  • When I began cutting out gaming there is some evidence that the addiction “switched over” to other things. I would drink more, binge on television, and watch more porn. It’s important for me to be aware of when this happens and actually work recovery rather than allow myself to give in to other things that aren’t healthy for me. My recovery especially involves giving it over to my higher power and connecting with others.

What’s next:

  • After completing the detox, I have no plans to go back to gaming or watching Twitch. There have been too many benefits of not doing it, and too many poor consequences in the past of when I was doing it.
  • I will experience urges from time to time, it’s just part of being human.
  • There may be some times when I’m hanging out with some friends or family and they’re playing a multiplayer game. In those situations, I’ll need to assess the situation and how I’m feeling before I dive in. In some of those situations, I think it’s okay for me to game. In others, it’s better for me to pass. Playing a light game for an hour or two is much different than playing a more intense game for 6 hours straight into the wee hours of the morning.
  • My next goal is 180 days. I will continue to post on the forums once every week or two, read others’ journals, and welcome newcomers. This site is a wonderful reminder of why I chose to quit.
  • Now that my cravings for gaming seem to be more under control, I’d like to focus more of my willpower on giving up porn. This is the other addiction that has been with me since I was a boy. Other goals include getting fit and getting more involved with my church. All this, of course, means getting out of my house more.

Thanks to everyone in the community who have shared their own journeys and given me some support along the way.

This post originally appeared on the Game Quitters Forum. If you care about this issue, SHARE this article 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.

england

“I would constantly have thoughts about how much easier it would be for everyone else if I weren’t here.”

I’m a 23 year old skinny bloke hailing from the tropical island of England. From a young age I haven’t been the happiest person, in fact, I’ve been rather negative, easy to piss off, and well a grump in practically every sense of the word.

I never really had issues making acquaintances, I still have my best friends from a good 10+ years back, and wasn’t bullied in school, but for reasons I’d like to keep private, I always hated myself. I would constantly have thoughts about how much easier it would be for everyone else if I weren’t here.

Now I’m not sure if you’ve been in this situation but let me tell you, it’s one hell of a vicious circle. Internally I loved everyone I surrounded myself with, I loved to help people through their problems, I loved giving advice and things of that nature or making them laugh which was usually through self-deprecation.

However, when you don’t love yourself it’s extremely hard to show affection to those around you (those that I did help, I came across as more of a therapist than a caring friend), but when it came to family I was always negative, especially towards my parents.

Negativity Spreads Negativity

So when those people would respond back to me in a negative way that would confirm to myself that I, in lack of a better way of putting this, was a piece of shit.


This persisted for 15 years, getting worse as I got older. I had one way to release, gaming. I never really gamed for the competitiveness, although I will note that I loved shitting on people in 3v3s, 2v2s, and battlegrounds in World of Warcraft.

My main pull to gaming was the escapism, I didn’t feel like I had to escape from anyone or anything, but myself and my own thoughts.

I would play immersive and heavily story driven semi-believable fantasy rpg’s and mmo’s which I could set goals in, for e.g: “to obtain a level up before coming off” for about 12-16 hours a day. Often pulling all nighters.

Obviously on paper this is absolutely not good for my health at all, however I don’t regret it. I know that factually I wouldn’t be here writing this message now if it weren’t for gaming. As cheesy as it sounds it saved me from myself.

So skip ahead a few years of increased parental concern with my gaming, with which they’d wrongly link my bad temper and attitude to games because I would never tell them my actual reasons, for all they knew I gamed so much because I was obsessed, because I loved games for no reason really.

Truth be told a year before last I got in a really shitty state. I’ve always been one to be able to reason with myself, I’ve never self-harmed for the sole fact that I don’t believe in it. If I had reasoned with myself and come to the conclusion that actually nothing bad for anyone would happen if I ended my life, I would have done it.

Important: Thinking of Harming Yourself? Seek Help Immediately

I never confided in anyone, not even professionals, because I thought I was too much of a burden so I would deal with my own problems. I would either lie there for hours finding excuses for myself or if I felt it was getting too much, boot up the pc and play WoW.


You might argue that getting my head in a good book would be just as beneficial and immersive, however I’d disagree. With video games like WoW they’re not just a game, but an experience, a game so outlandish but with enough elements of realism and believability that you can fully sink yourself into it. You see, hear, and arguably feel everything.

In addition to all of that I could set personal goals to focus on before coming off each day, so it was perfect for me to escape to.

 At one point during my depression I did try to quit games, thinking that this would somehow benefit me. At first I recall it did, for perhaps a week or so, but quickly it was making me worse as I’d just have nothing to turn to. Things that I’d try to replace it with just couldn’t compete, so I quickly went back to gaming.

I Had Enough

I decided to no longer be stubborn, that evidently I couldn’t deal with my problems alone given it had just been getting progressively worse over the years (sometimes laying dormant, but would happily reveal its ugly head like some kinda twisted whack-a-mole), and so I sought out my universities therapist and through him, a friend, failed meds, and (again this will sound cheesy) some form of epiphany mid-last December I can honestly say that my problems feel like they’re behind me.

I’m a happy man most days (can’t be happy every day or else I’ll lose the inherently British art of being miserable), loving, caring, and both my friends and family have told me I’m different which I think is good.

I was still gaming as much as before, 12-16 hours a day, up until the 5th of January this year when I realized that actually as ironic as it is, what had helped me to stay sane and somewhat functional for all these years was now actually my big problem.

Must Read: How Quitting Video Games Saved José’s Life

Because I had become so used to games, it just felt natural from then on to keep playing them, even though my main big reason for playing them so much in the first place (to escape) was gone.

I’d made gaming a habit, and if you know anything about how habits work on a neurological level you’d know they’re factually impossible to completely remove and can only be overshadowed with a more compulsive habit.

I made it my goal to stop gaming because as soon as I realized it was now a problem, I became far less interested in gaming. I stopped gaming altogether without giving a thought to it for weeks. I then realized how empty my life was without it. I had absolutely nothing to fill my time with (besides university work), so my spare time was spent just zoning out really.

I did eventually start playing a game again which led to more games, but nothing like 12 hours, it’d be roughly 8 hours at max but more regularly 3-4 hours not even every day, still a massive improvement for someone like myself.

Where I Am Now

I’ve been looking for things to fill my time with. I’ve changed my diet, eating more regularly and extremely healthy foods rather than normal food (my old diet wasn’t bad, containing no junk food, but I saw room for improvement and increased the quantity).

I do some body-weight exercises at home, I read books, have a focused goal for my actual life now, and have plans for other past times too.

Generally I’m just in a completely better place. I don’t play WoW anymore, but will play the soundtrack and still have the game and hundreds of other games still installed, because I feel this way if I have them but don’t play them I’m not running away from the problem, I’m facing it head on. Listening to the tracks gives me nostalgia, but no longer the urge to play, just fond memories.

This story was submitted by a member of Game Quitters. 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.

Watch: Should You Listen to Gaming Music?

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.

sunset clouds

“When I looked back at the 3 years I had spent since college I didn’t see a life well lived, or dreams pursued, I just saw an existence.”

Gaming is a shameful addiction. That is what I felt for a long time, and I know that many do as well. Like so many addicts I hid my problems from even my close friends, loved ones, and of course the weak justifications to myself.

Once you start to fight back against it all the negative emotions you have been trying to deal with come to the surface, and you have to face them, and that is no easy task. I want to tell you a little about my back story and how I was able to stop gaming, and the challenges I still face.

Like many people here I termed myself as having an addictive personality. That was my excuse for a while, but then I looked further back at the origins of where my gaming addiction came from, and diagnosing it’s pathology allowed me to understand it. To put a name to it. In the old mythologies often being able to speak the name of the force of malevolence allowed you power over them that you otherwise would not have.

Origins

Born in the early 90s my first games were all PC based. Early on I remember weekends being spent, not entirely but a good chunk, playing strategy games. I remember walking through BestBuy aisles back when they went three rows deep with PC games and feeling excited.

I didn’t know it then because I was young, and wouldn’t understand it until much later, but what I really wanted was escape. Escape from my family life. My mother remarried a step-father who yelled. He was never physically abusive, but I remember hiding every time they yelled at each other. It was traumatic.

I used to hide under the table in a fetal position when I was six until it was over. Nothing was ever explained to me, but even at the young age of eight I would be sought out as emotional support for my mother to help her cope, and being a good son I did what I could, but in those yelling episodes I wanted to be somewhere else very badly. These memories stuck themselves deep into my psyche.

Watch: How to Overcome Escapism

As I continued to grow up, with all the awkwardness and boredom of adolescence, gaming stayed with me a constant, consistent companion that I could turn to when I was bored and wanted an escape. I cannot now fathom the many lost weekends I had. All those great moments of youth, all those opportunities to mess up and try new things, understand the world better. I knew I lost those to gaming.

College

When college came around I resolved to stop gaming because I knew innately that my experience would not be the same if I continued. And so for a while I did. I didn’t return to the PC games I knew before, but I did have a bad stretch with chess and porn addiction my sophomore year. Come towards the end of senior year the addiction crept back in.

After graduation I moved back home to save money while I paid off loans. Being back in that old environment, and the stress of trying to find a job caused me to relapse, and this time harder. It was everyday until 1 or 2am, only to wake up around 11am or 12pm with most of the day gone and nothing accomplished. I eventually got a job, and then after that one, another came along for a span of 3 years.

I tried numerous times to quit gaming, but that coping mechanism, that escapism built deep inside me kept being triggered, causing me to come back further and further. Things really came to a head when living with a roommate that was never home. I started playing his PS4, and sometimes until 5 or 6am when I would have work at 8am that same day.

Getting 1 to 2 hours of sleep even 1 day a week made the entire week that much harder with everything that I had to do. I knew that I had to stop, but I wasn’t going to talk about it either because I was ashamed. It didn’t fit the mold of who people knew me to be. It seems silly now, because being courageous starts with being truthful with who you are, but true courage like that is not easy to manifest when it can change the way people see you.

90 Day Detox

Talking about it was a big and scary step, but I can tell you right now it is the first step. You are already having these conversations in your head, but you need to speak to someone, maybe someone close, maybe a professional, hell maybe even a stranger to begin with, but you need to speak it’s name. Addiction is a monster that steals life away from you.

Join: The Game Quitters Forum

It was a very slow process for me beginning close to 9 months ago, and the first step is talking about it and owning up to it. We live in a remarkable and beautiful world where there is endless beauty and opportunity, spending it watching colored pixels move is exactly as those who just watch their own shadow’s in Plato’s Cave allegory.

What really did it for me was that when I looked back at the 3 years I had spent since college I didn’t see a life well lived, or dreams pursued, I just saw an existence.

I knew there were things that I strongly wanted to accomplish, but all of my free time on the weekends was going towards gaming, towards watching passively colored pixels while I made a few clicks. It was so weak and ungrateful for the gift of life that I had been given. My health, my relationships, and my life were spiraling downhill.

The day after an all-night gaming session I would intentionally avoid my girlfriend because all I wanted to do was sleep, and I didn’t want her to see a shameful zombie – me.

Eventually I opened up to her about my addiction.

Owning up to it with her, my family, and God helped to further strengthen my now desperate feelings of needing to end this cycle. I could see where it was taking me. A life filled with regrets and resentment. A life on the sidelines, while I missed out on the greatest game there ever was or will be. I knew that wasn’t me. I wasn’t going to go quietly into that good night. The rage built up.

Soon feelings of “I need this to de-stress” became “I am better than this.” The biggest help in my recovery was initially talking about it and then substituting that bad habit of gaming with productive habits.

This is incredibly important: what drove you into gaming is going to take a long time to deal with, but in the meantime to make the situation better substitute one habit for another – a healthy habit.

In my case it was rock climbing, and reading. With both there were the same challenges of accomplishing something and an enjoyable journey to get there, so it fit right into the dopamine scheme. 90 days past and I still feel urges. But will power is a muscle and it cane be build upon and worked on. Cold showers can help here.

Watch: How to Improve Your Willpower

The difference between now and a few months ago is the clarity of mission and direction my life is now going towards. It’s something that others who have stopped can attest to. I am simply living a more fulfilling life filled with more human interaction, betterment, and adventure. I feel more confident than ever and happier with myself than ever before. I see my life trending upwards.

Don’t let ANYONE, especially not yourself tell you that a little bit is ok, or that you are just doing what makes you happy. It is the worst kind of trap. It is the lie told to Eve in the garden that everything will be ok. That there will be no consequences. THIS IS IT. This is the one life that you have, and the time you have now will be gone so very soon. If you take the easy way out you are missing out on joys and adventures 100X than whatever you can get from gaming.

At least that’s the decision I’ve made and I’m grateful for it. I hope you will too.

TLDR;

  • Gaming was a coping mechanism for escaping family reality
  • Came back around after college
  • Every relapse worse
  • Relapses started to affect life very negatively
  • Realized I was wasting my life away
  • Started talking about problem
  • Replaced gaming with reading and Rock Climbing
  • Lead more fulfilling life.
  • There are joys and life so much greater than gaming out there.

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.

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 came to Japan with big dreams. Three years later I was stuck at home, with no friends, no job, playing 30 to 40 hours a week. I was depressed.”

Saturday, October the 15th, I completed three months without putting my hands on a single video game (console game, computer game, smartphone game, you name it).

Before I go further, I’d like to make it clear that I don’t have anything against video games. I don’t want to go in this merit, whether video games are good or bad – I’m not qualified for that.

What I want to share with this story is not a debate about video games, but my personal experience with them (and the thousands of others who suffer in silence).

Those who know me well enough know that I’ve always considered myself sort of addicted to video games. I’ve had the habit of playing since I was about 9, when I got my very first console. I was hooked, and since then, gaming had been a part of my life.

The truth is even though I called it an “addiction”, gaming had never brought me problems. I had good grades at school, and many friends with whom I shared different hobbies. I’ve had a band, graduated from college, got a job, learned how to dance, received a promotion, etc. My social life was relatively active, yet I’ve always found time to escape for a few hours on the weekend to play games.

It had been like this for many years. Gaming was just another part of my life.

Living Abroad

One day I decided I had enough of my hometown and tried my luck here in Kyoto, Japan. My plans were to study Japanese for a year in a language school and then, after getting a grasp of the language, find my place in the Japanese workforce as an engineer.

At that time, four years ago, it seemed like a good plan. I made friends from different countries. The classes took only 4 hours a day so I had a lot of free time, much more than what I’d like to have.

I had been to Japan before so I didn’t feel like exploring the city as much as I should. My friends also didn’t seem to be interested in sightseeing either.

I felt like I was in high school once again, when my only responsibility was to do my homework. After finishing it, I had the whole day available to do anything I wanted.

From all the endless possibilities that are available to us in the modern world, I decided that checking which games were hot at the moment was the best idea (ugh!). Fortunately (or more likely unfortunately), one of these games ran perfectly on my old laptop, a game called League of Legends.

When a Habit Becomes an Addiction

bad habits

After a few weeks I started seeing many of my fellow friends getting better grades than me. That didn’t matter much because I knew I only had to focus a little on my studies to be the best student of the school.

The problem was that I was too busy playing games to focus on anything else.

Meanwhile, I got two different part-time jobs that filled my then 24h/week I was allowed to work under a student visa. These jobs helped me ease the burden I had created of playing over four hours per day, every day.

This situation continued until the end of my classes. As my Japanese was still not good enough, I decided to study one more year by myself and then take the proficiency exam. But deep inside, I was happy as a boy after finishing his last school day. I wouldn’t have to go to school anymore – which means more time to game.

Some of my friends went back to their countries, others stayed at school for another year; all the other people I met in Japan lived in different cities. Home alone, working only a few days a week, I used basically all the time I had left to play and improve my skills in this new game, which was online and extremely competitive.

After another six months without any real life progress (I was getting better at the game), I decided to stop. I had to do something different, for my deadline was getting near and my goals still seemed very far away.

I got a different job, one that gave me the feeling of what it is like to be part of the Japanese society. I got married to my girlfriend, so the working limit I had on my visa was gone. I started working more hours, but I couldn’t stop playing video games.

All the time I was supposed to be studying was used to game more. One year after I had left school my Japanese level still wasn’t good enough to get approved in the exam.

The worse of it all, I didn’t acknowledge that gaming was a problem in my life. I thought addiction, real addiction, was something different, far away from my reality. No, not me. I’m not sick.

Eventually, and with a little bit of luck, I got the certificate of proficiency that I needed. I got approved in my first try on the exam. Six months after all my friends from school got it. Yet, I did it! And that made me go on without realizing the damage that gaming was doing to me.

Depression

Actually, I was only aware of it six months ago, when my work contract came to an end, and I was left with one part-time job, working twice a week.

Playing games was good – too good. It was immersive, challenging, social, stimulating. However, I felt devastated after turning off the computer. I was defeat itself. Millions of thoughts came through my head. I left my family and friends in my home country, quit a good job, and promising career.

I came to Japan with big dreams. Three years later I was stuck at home, with no friends, no job, playing 30 to 40 hours a week. I was depressed.

I didn’t know what to do. I tried to limit my gaming time. I tried playing less addictive games. But I couldn’t do anything but play. I changed from one game to another, always saying to myself “after I finish with this one, I’ll stop”. But whenever I finished a game, there was another cool game being released. There will always be.

Watch: There Will Always Be Another Game

The 90 Day Detox

After a lot of research on the internet, reading a lot of advice from people who had no idea what they were talking about… I discovered Game Quitters. Suddenly, I finally understood I had a problem with games. A problem that many other people shared.

I wasn’t all by myself anymore.

The gaming habit was strong, very strong, and I struggled another three months before asking for help from the community. But once I took that step, everything started to become clearer in my head.

When you show up and make a public commitment, you will do everything within your reach to keep your word. It was then that I committed to the 90 day detox and to re-evaluate my relationship with video games.

During those 90 days I learned a lot about my addiction and the reasons why I had kept playing video games. I used games to fill in the void I had in my life.

The Change

I had already left behind a huge part of me when I left my home country to come to Japan: my career as an engineer (only a few people know how hard it was for me to get that diploma). Now I was leaving behind another important part, a hobby I had since childhood.

I was losing my identity.

However, this change was more than necessary. I had to get in touch with my inner self and find out who I really was. I had to reach for my soul, begin to dream again and live my life with purpose – a life that I would be proud of living.

Watch: How Video Games Fulfill Your Need For Purpose

Of course, this was not something to be done within three months – to quit playing is only the beginning. It was only a single, but required step.

In the last three months, a lot has changed:

  • I started exercising again and built better eating habits. I exercise six days a week. I am more selective of what I’m eating. I went from 55kg to 60kg (I’m 178cm tall) and feel a lot better about my looks and health.
  • I read about 10 books, twice as much as what I had read last year. This was due to a major mindset shift so I could overcome my problem and move forward day after day.
  • I bought myself a guitar (with money that I would have probably spent on games) and played my first guitar solo. I had been playing guitar for many years, yet, had never been able to play a solo.
  • I started writing. It started with journaling, then I wrote a few short stories with some friends. This is a new experience to me, and it is something that I never thought I’d be doing before.
  • I study every day. Not only Japanese, but I realize now that I need a different skill set if I’m going to start something new.
  • I learned how to cook. Instead of buying take away food every day I often prepare my own food and I cook for my wife twice a week.
  • The exposure to new (and old) experiences opened my eyes to different perspectives. Today I have a better idea of the things I want for my life.
  • I understood that feeling good and being happy are two very different things. And that the more frightening thing is the leap you have been planning to make, the bigger choice is the need to make it.

Watch: Are You Having Fun, or Are You Happy?

Final Thoughts

The message I’d like to leave is: my problem was with video games, but you can change video games to a different word and you’ll have a bunch of people who suffer in silence because of a compulsive behaviour that took them over, and keeps them from living a fulfilling life.

Porn, Netflix, alcohol, social networks, TV, YouTube… any of these things can change from a healthy habit to a vice that overcomes you, and drains all of your time without mercy. I can see clearly now the role I was playing in the entertainment industry. I was a consumer.

The world has evolved, and so has our problems.

Maybe there is someone you know that might be alone, in pain, suffering from an abusive habit that keeps her from living a life worth living. If that person is you, reach out. Don’t wait one year like I did. We are stronger together.

The article above was written and published in October, 2016, on Medium in Portuguese with minor edits. Except for one week that I played Action Quake 2 online with my brother (pure nostalgia) for a couple of hours in May 2017, I’m still game free.

I have fond memories of video games, but the thought of playing them again seems so silly to me now. I can easily think of dozens of things I would rather be doing with my time. I want to be a published writer. I want to own a profitable business. I want to teach. I want to learn. I want to make an impact in this world. Gaming just doesn’t fit those goals.

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.

“The thought of never playing games again scared me as much as the thought of never smoking again.”

amsterdam bike

Gaming was something I did everyday for years on end. I enjoyed it, but in the end it wasn’t a good thing for me. I’m 16 years old, and I’m from the Netherlands.

I first started playing games when I was about 5-6 years old. My parents gifted me a Nintendo DS Lite, a portable game console that just came out back then. I played various games on that thing but it wasn’t really anything special. I never got addicted to any of those games. Later I became very interested in strategy games. These kind of games got me addicted to gaming in general.

I did not have it easy in my relatively short life. I was lonely for many years and I had an abusive dad. I have been depressed for many years of my life and also suffer from anxiety.

When I left my dad and went to live with my mom full time I started to play games to cope with my depression and anxiety. They were the perfect escape from reality.

Watch: How to Overcome Escapism

It’s Better Than Doing Drugs, Right?

I first started noticing the negative impact pretty soon after I started to game a lot. I lost many friends, and I would want to play games when we were on family holidays, but I never put that much thought into it. After all, it’s better than doing drugs, right?

In 2015/2016 I played a game called ArmA 3. ArmA is a game where you have so called “Altis Life” servers. These servers have huge communities where you can play with many people and make many “friends”. At that point I completely abandoned the few friends I had in real life and only played games and talked to people online. I was getting more depressed and I started smoking as well. The only things I would do is play games and smoke cigarettes. Those things were the only things I loved doing.

I noticed that I was so alone all the time and that I played much more games than average. I started to realise I might have a problem. I looked up “gaming addiction” on YouTube, and found Cam’s TED Talk where he talks about his own experience.

I immediately realised that I had a problem, but it took me more than half a year to quit games altogether 1 1. Fun Fact: 84% of Game Quitters knew they had a gaming problem over 12 months ago. Source: King & Adair, 2017 × . I tried to moderate, but every time I started playing strategy games again my hours per week would skyrocket. The thought of never playing games again scared me as much as the thought of never smoking again.

I Decided To Quit

I was done with this addiction, and I did not have any urges to play games for weeks. I told my mom who supported me in my decision. I also told the only real remaining friend I had about the issues I’ve had over the last few years. He was supportive, but did not understand why I would want to quit games. They were one of the few things I loved after all.

Watch: How to Stay Friends With Your Gamer Friends

One of the few things I immediately noticed is how lonely I was. I downloaded Snapchat right around the time I quit, and saw people doing fun things, and I was not a part of any of it. I decided I needed to do something about this, and I immediately became more open and social. My best friend and I became closer, and I also started to become more liked.

I went to another European city for my summer vacation with my mom. It was the first time I enjoyed a vacation like that in years. I did not think about games at all. I just enjoyed the beautiful architecture, good food and all the happy people that I secretly envied for having such great lives.

I decided to quit smoking too. I never saw it as a problem, but I felt confident I could do it. It didn’t last unfortunately, but I have decreased the amount I smoke per day, and I do plan on doing another attempt soon. I don’t think I would have done this if I was still gaming. Funnily enough I would say both addictions are very similar.

Don’t get discouraged when you read people saying your gaming addiction isn’t real because it is not physically addictive.

Although that may be true, it still is very addictive and the withdrawal symptoms can be just as bad as the ones from smoking.

Positive Changes

I started to become more social, I met up with friends for the first time in years, I no longer think about games 24/7, I actually exercised for the first time in years, I addressed both the anxiety and depression by going to a therapist, and I enjoy things that are not games.

I’m probably forgetting a few things here and there to be honest but I can assure you that I hated myself 3 months ago and now I’m way more confident about myself.

Quitting gaming is a journey, and it is long from over. My life has improved overall, but I still have plenty of things to work on. My anxiety is still something I struggle with, but it is going so much better than before. My depression is practically gone at this point, although I still have some sad days. However, instead of hiding behind a PC playing games all day I try to do something about it now.

My dream is to have both quit gaming and smoking in a year, and have friends to hang out with. Maybe even a girlfriend, who knows? Either way, I’m certain I’ll be much happier than I was when I played games.

I would like to add 2 screenshots of games. Not sure if they can fit on the website but I can choose a few other more cinematic ones as well if you’d prefer that.

A screenshot of me and an online friend playing Stellaris. Me being the Authoritarian (think cyberpunk) Galactic Republic and him playing the Utopian Foxling Federation. Damn, do I miss this game sometimes, but I was so addicted to it.

A screenshot of me playing Cities Skylines trying to make some sort of Dubai. I hope I get to go to one of the Gulf states in the future and maybe even living there.

This story was submitted by a member of the community. Want to inspire others with your story? Submit it 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.

“Trust me, a double backflip is cooler and more stimulating than getting an epic mount.”

It all started at around 11 years old, when I fell in love with some medieval strategy games staying at a friend’s house for a weekend. I convinced my dad to buy me one and I started playing on his computer.

Before going on with the story let me throw in a little of my childhood background: My parents are from Spain and by the time I was born they were living in Austria due to professional reasons.

By the time I was 7 we all moved back to Spain (first time for me) and they put me in a Spanish-Swiss school so I could keep learning German. I remember going to class for the first time a few days or weeks after everybody else had started plus I joined that school on the 2nd year of elementary school so it was a bit complicated to fit in due to pre-made groups and friendships, yes I was a shy bastard.

Luckily after a while I managed to fit in and feel normal. Back then, I just wanted to be one more of the class, be unnoticed, it would piss me off if you didn’t consider me normal. Nowadays it’s all the opposite. As an example, 2 years ago I was having a philosophical conversation with my 10 year old cousin and I asked her to define ‘normal’, she said to me: “everything that you do not do”. I’m so proud of this…

Age: 12

When I was starting to play computer games my parents put me in another school because they couldn’t afford that private Swiss school anymore (quality education is expensive a.f.) I went from a multilingual school where everybody spoke at least 2 or 3 languages to a regular school where people just spoke the local language. This shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Well, the fact that I spoke more languages plus the fact that I had lived so many years abroad made me a weirdo. If I had known how narrow minded people can be, especially children, I would have kept all of that to myself. Also in that school there were pre-made groups and friendships from the previous years.

(Notice that I share in depth detail about childhood, schools and stuff because I believe it has a strong connection with the fact that I started using games as an escape.)

Video Game World

Once again I struggled to fit in, much more than in elementary school and I slowly sunk into the video game world. Before the age of 14 I was gaming with my dad’s or mom’s computer so it was pretty limited. But at the age of 14 my dad bought me my first pc which I kept in my own room. And if you’re reading this, you probably know what follows: massive increase in gaming time, up to 2 or 3 hours a day, which will still increase later in the story.

Not Gerard

I was playing basketball in local teams at the time of high school. But with time, the video games took over. It was the only thing that made me feel good, it was stimulating, rewarding, exciting, it made me feel proud of myself because I was good at it, better than I was in basketball, school grades, and social life.

The whole thing became a vicious circle. As I kept gaming more and more, my social skills got worse. Low social skills = bad time at school; bad time at school = let’s get home quick and play games… I was playing several rpgs, fps, online fps, online rpgs and mmorpgs, but the one that really made me an addict was WoW (World of Warcraft) at the age of 16.

Highschool-wise I was on the worst stage, my few good friends had become very unfriendly, grades were bad and I had to quit basketball as I didn’t enjoy my teammates anymore, I wasn’t progressing either and I needed more time to study.

I switched school again for the 2 pre-university years and it was socially better but I still was at the climax of the WoW addiction. I noticed it being a problem as I sometimes would have 30 minutes for the breakfast break and I would sneak home (5 minutes away) to play for 15 minutes before going back to class.

At that time (age 17) I would play 3-4 daily hours and during vacation periods I counted up to 7 daily hours. My mom always told me not to spend so many hours with the computer but I wouldn’t listen, I was an addict. She was aware of this and she wanted to fix it.

Back to Austria

She sent me back to Austria (me being still 17) to a monthly German course in the University of Vienna. I hated her for that ‘punishment’ as I knew I couldn’t be playing for so long but guess what: 8 years have gone by and I still remember that experience as one of the top things I’ve done in my life.

It was socially very intense, I met people from all around the world, I made tons of new and awesome friends, I improved my German, I got back memories from my childhood in Austria, I got drunk for the first time(s) and I got myself a girlfriend. She was also in this monthly German course and as we finished we coincidentally found out that we were both flying back to Spain in the same flight and she wasn’t even from my area (how cool was that!?)

Once I was back home I was just a changed young man. I didn’t quit gaming yet, but I was playing less and I started having more interest in other things. I slowly switched to watching freestyle skiing and other adventure sports videos on youtube probably because it was stimulating enough to keep me off the games. I always liked skiing and thanks to youtube it became one of my hobbies.

When I started college I moved to my dad’s house and I was pretty much not playing anymore, I don’t remember quitting one day, I just remember progressively slowing down on it, as I was 18 already and I was ashamed of gaming. To me video games were for nerdy kids, and I didn’t want to be that, I wanted to be a freestyle skier and a lady’s man, ready for a successful college life.

The Next Chapter

Before I realized I wasn’t playing at all, just watching tons of extreme sports youtube videos and hanging out with college friends (still 18). Then I discovered Gopro back in 2009, I loved that unique footage you could get while skiing. In 2010 I bought myself one and the first time I put some gopro footage on an editing software and started playing around with the music and the transitions and so on, it blew my mind.

I quickly learned everything about video editing through youtube tutorials and I started to make my own videos, winning some local video contests and thus upgrading my Gopro to the Gopro Hero 2. I even got several freelance jobs as a video editor. Here’s the youtube channel where I uploaded all those epic video edits.

At that time I didn’t even remember about gaming, you told me something about a video game, I’d call you a nerd and I’d tell you to grow up, I was totally over it. And so it remained for all the upcoming college years.

I traveled a lot, I did internships in Austria, Spain and France, I worked in plenty of hotels, restaurants and trade shows and I even did a 5 month long ‘Erasmus’ in France (which is the European university study abroad program). That was a blast, couldn’t recommend it more to future students, you learn, you have a lot of fun and you meet tons of cool people from all over the world, without mentioning the intense ‘bam bam in the ham’.

The whole college experience allowed me to improve my English and to learn French, which led me to fluently speak 5 languages. This opened a lot of professional doors like the one from a scuba diving school in a big touristic resort here in Spain which needed someone who spoke German and French (a part from the local languages) so they hired me.

They taught me how to dive, then they taught me how to guide customers under water and finally they financed my instructor course in a specialized school so that I could also teach the diving thing in that school where they hired me. Within 2 seasons I was the manager of the diving school, coolest job I’ve ever had.

All success so far, even parallel to the end of my college period and the diving job, I started another youtube channel with a big friend of mine.

This whole experience has also been lifechanging. (63k subs at the time) This channel is about hidden camera pranks. We both love comedy, we love to make people laugh, and we love the hidden camera concept, so that is my current job as I write this: film, edit and act in this hidden camera pranks just to make people laugh.

As a kid I always loved “Just for Laughs”. We don’t stage pranks and we try to be as original and as respectful as possible with the victims or strangers that appear in our videos. So far it’s going well, we don’t have much traffic on youtube yet but we have some national TV networks hiring us to do videos for them. Youtube ad revenue is currently below 150 monthly euros, let’s cross our fingers and work hard so we can make a salary out of our elaborated videos.

The Relapse:

As said earlier, all success so far, but… on my last season as a scuba diving instructor I crashed on my motorbike on the road overtaking a car (my fault, lack of experience). Lesser injury, just a broken collar bone and a couple scratches, bad consequences: I had to quit my beloved job for 1 month to recover from the injury. That was a trauma, the last thing I needed in life.

Even if 1 month was not that long, it was in July, pretty much the most important month in the 5 month long diving season. I was pissed and felt guilty, my boss was pissed because he had lost the most important employee in the most critical month of the season. I was ashamed because a lot of people told me before not to ride a bike because of its danger, although it was the only way to get to work because you could not park a car where I lived unless you were rich.

Long story short, I got surgery, I recovered well and in 4 weeks I was back in my beloved diving school in the middle of the resort. What made me relapse were those 4 weeks of recovery.

I was staying at my dad’s place, laying in the sofa or in the bed all day with my computer watching gameplays of games I used to play 10 years earlier. A friend of mine told me he had a gamecode for WoW and that he wouldn’t use it, he sent it to me and I redeemed it. I felt the need to play to kill the time. It was way too boring going from that super exciting life to being injured in the sofa for so long.

I started playing and I had a blast, I enjoyed the game, felt bad in the inside, but at least I wasn’t bored at home anymore thinking of how big of a mistake it was to overtake that car. During those 2 weeks I played as hardcore as I had never played, up to 12 hours a day averaging 8 daily hours.

When I went back to the job everything was fine, just the boss seemed a bit pissed about me crashing but at least I was happy to be back. Once the season was over, he cut my salary here and there for various absurd reasons and then I went back to my hometown.

By that time I was having a rough time with my gf, the diving season didn’t end very pleasantly either, my youtube channel was not growing as wished and I didn’t have a secure job nor income.

So what did I do? I played again to escape all those worries (age 24). I did feel in control, and I was. Maybe I played 3 hours a day while I was doing many other things in life. Also as I had experienced so many things in life I knew I would never go back to where I was in high school.

That lasted for 2 months. Then things got back to normal and I realized I still have this thing in my brain, that urges me to play when things go south or when life is not stimulating enough. And I know it’s in my brain from when I was 15-17 which was the period where I used gaming mostly as an escape. It’s probably gonna stay there forever, I don’t know. Luckily I don’t have a normal lifestyle and I’m extremely outgoing thanks to the hidden camera thing, this helps me to stay social, and if you are social and you interact with a lot of people, games will simply not attract you.

Right now I focus on my youtube channel with my business partner and in trampolining which is the sport I’m in love with right now. I’ve been training it for 3 years and trust me, a double backflip is cooler and more stimulating than getting an epic mount.

What can we learn from my case?

It’s awesome to quit gaming and it’s also good to tell yourself you can play again in the future, but let it be in 15 years. By the time you play you will probably have fun, or not, but the addicting component won’t affect you as badly as if you’ve never quit for so many years in a row.

My tips for others? You need shocking experiences to alter your consciousness and be more aware of what’s going on in your real life.

For example go get a job abroad for a few months, preferably somewhere where you don’t know the language, if you’re a couch potato and/or are stuck in a certain phase of life, then this will do you good.

Also if you look for hobbies or things to do instead, look for stimulating things, action sports usually work. Skiing worked for me, but you can try surf, skate, paragliding, parkour, tricking, freerunning, skydiving, base jumping, wake board, slackline, bmx, dh biking, trampolining, etc.

Cheers,
Gerard

“Then I made my first kill, and snap, there it was, the kind of game I had needed all along.”

Today marks day ninety since I last played a video game, and it’s an enormous thanks to you I was able to do it and turn my life around.

I don’t know whether or not you get these a lot, but still I wanted to share my journey with you as a way of thanks, and because I feel I need to do this for myself too. Why? Because it’s hard, it’s out of my comfort zone and I feel totally open and vulnerable.

Excellent. I’m still not okay, but I’m getting better. Every hard day is a step to the right direction, as are the good days. I’m out of the woods, but now at the foot of a mountain. Good thing is: the day is clearing and I’m beginning to see the top.

My gaming got out of hand

I don’t wanna bore you with the whole story. Don’t wanna bore myself either. Let’s just say that I had gamed a lot before this point–MMOs and RPGs being my games of choice–but it was still pretty casual and mostly a way to avoid boredom. Then League of Legends came into the picture.

MOBA? Had never heard of it. I figured it was some sort of MMO. Nope. My first impression of League of Legends was sort of ‘meh’ as I really had no idea what I was supposed to do and got butchered by the opponent again and again.

Then I made my first kill, and snap, there it was, the kind of game I had needed all along. It was easy enough to get into, but hard to master with limitless potential to grow. It was mentally engaging, strategically and technically complex and, oh, so rewarding.

Little else mattered anymore; I was hooked.

The next three years went with all my energy put into getting better and climbing that ranked ladder. Even music, which had been the biggest part of my life for ten years, faded into the background. Never in my life had I put such an effort into anything–this is the most valuable thing I consider learning from that time: I was incredibly hard working and motivated.

Anyone who has played League, or any similar game, knows how nauseatingly toxic it can be. In the end I think that was what did it for me. That, and the stress of staying on the ranked ladder was finally enough for me.

But to quit–how could I when nothing else mattered to me anymore? Gaming was my identity. I just needed another game. I found Path of Exile, a non-competitive online action-RPG, and it was perfect. From it I got the dopamine my brain craved, it was immediately engaging with tons of things to learn and an awesome community.

I invested yet another year or so into it, but annoying, nagging thoughts lurked in the back of my head, ‘Is this it?’ Sure. ‘I’m gonna just game for the rest of my life?’ Yes, why not, as nothing else interests me anyway? ‘Is this the life I’m satisfied having ten, twenty, forty years from now?’ Well–

‘Am I happy?’ …

Of course I wasn’t. I was five years into depression, my diet was awful, I didn’t exercise and rarely went out, all the while wondering why don’t I have energy like everyone else? Where’s my motivation? I wonder.

90 Day Detox

After searching the internet for help and finding Game Quitters’ channel on YouTube, I made the decision to do the ninety days without games–even if I’d just go back into gaming afterwards, I needed to see if there was something else to life after all.

In that time I struggled and fought the gamer in me, who occasionally would sneak up and remind me of the good times I had with games, especially on the tough days, conveniently forgetting to mention the bad. I spent time in music again, my newly found passion for writing fantasy and science fiction, reading a ton and developing myself through YouTube and various other channels.

I took up and tried new things, such as exercising, meditation and cold showers, every new and positive habit leading up to a thought ‘Okay, what can I do next to feel even better?’. I took small steps at a time, and slowly began to see why I was walking. I could now look back and see the darkness I had left behind, see the rise in what I call my ‘default happiness’.

Life, as I realized, is not about constant bliss. There are ups and downs like a wave, but the average value the wave surrounds can be raised. The downs are there to give contrast for the ups. No light without dark, nothing is high if something isn’t low.

I like the analogy regarding life I heard from Dr. Jordan Peterson, a Canadian professor with a lot of great content on YouTube,

You might compare the difference between elevator music and a Beethoven symphony. It’s not that the symphony is in any sense happier than the Muzak–in fact, quite the contrary–but it’s deeper and more profound and richer and incorporates more and justifies itself more, and that’s the right metaphor for life; not happiness, but depth and differentiated quality and profundity, to match the profundity of the necessity of suffering.

So, I have no regrets for the time I initially thought ‘wasted’, because it was a road that gave me contrast to appreciate where I am now and the places I’m heading toward.

I’m eternally grateful for you and all the work you do with Game Quitters, and I wanted to express just how utterly, truly essential it was to have you pull me from that pit and encourage me as I learned to take my own steps. To me, Cam, you are nothing short of a Hero.

If our paths ever cross, I’m gonna give you a hug. All the best.
– Otto

If you are ready to quit playing video games, start your 90 day detox by clicking here.

“I realized that I am just wasting my time.”

When I was a kid, I had very bad relationships with my family. They were always shouting at each other, being very insecure and unstable (even now). I was a good kid. Very calm and patient, but my character pissed them off.

“Why isn’t he involved in our useless drama?”, “Why is he so calm?”

So they did their best to involve me in their foolish drama. As a kid, I didn’t understand what is right, and what is wrong, so I did the same as they did, arguing about pointless things, crying, and fighting.

School was good at the beginning, but I became friends with some bad guys. Being a good guy, I paid for that soon, and was bullied. Luckily, I transferred, but this is when I began to escape from society in video games.

I Couldn’t Find a Job

I had no girlfriend. I was just gaming. My gaming friends always supported me, and were my best friends. All I wanted was money.

My favorite game is League of Legends. I’m good at it, but the owner of this game (RIOT company) sold Riot Games to the Chinese company Tencent. They created a League of Legends tournament called LCS. Before they sold the company to Tencent, American, European, and Russian teams were always winning it.

But things changed. Now, only Chinese, and Korean teams are winning it. Strange, right? After that, they changed the game to look good in LCS, but they didn’t care about the League of Legends community. That was the limit of my patience.

League of Legends was not the only game that ended like that. Almost the same thing happened to World of Warcraft when they received a lot of money from gamers all over the world, and started to create bad gaming content. They stopped caring about their community.

I Decided to Quit

It wasn’t easy to do, and I had a lot of problems. I’m still living with my parents who are still doing their best to drag me down, and argue over foolish things.

I realized that I’m just wasting my time. As a good League of Legends gamer, my confidence is pretty high. That allows me to understand that I’d better stop playing games, and do something more interesting. Go to the street, even alone. Don’t sit at home. Do some routine every day.

For me, it’s cleaning my flat. So I wake up, clean everything I can, make myself look good, wear some nice shoes, and clothes, and go outside.

When you go outside, look at other people and compare them to yourself. “Look at this guy playing PSP! He wastes so much time!” “Look at his shoes, look at his hair. He doesn’t want to live in the real world so he chose to waste his time!” “Look at this girl! She talks so much trash about some other girl to her friend.” “Look at this old guy with a sad face! He is refusing to change, so he is suffering!”

They all refuse to change. Sad, but true. Human nature is such a thing that we want to get everything while doing nothing. When we get nothing doing nothing, we suffer and blame everyone around us.

The final thing is: Don’t disrespect them. Don’t feel pity for them, just try to show everyone that life is not for wasting your time and opportunities!

So, I haven’t played games for 3 months already. I’m feeling really cool! Thanks to Cam, and all of you guys.

“Why don’t you help me?” he asks, tears pouring down his face. “How can you see me this way and not be trying to help me?”

It’s January, 2009. I’m sitting at the desk in my older son’s bedroom, putting finishing touches on a memoir about the fleeting beauty of ordinary life — a book I began in an attempt to hold on, just a little longer, to my two children as I want to remember them in these years right before they grow up and leave home: tousle-haired, always hungry, generally happy, busy, and still (blessedly) around.

I’ve been writing The Gift of an Ordinary Day while living it for a while now, living it with a bittersweet awareness of just how good life is when we are fully present to its small mysteries and miracles. Despite the inevitable complexities of parenting adolescents, for the most part our family life seems rich and satisfying. And this winter, the end of the writing is in sight at last. I have only to complete a brief, upbeat afterword — a glimpse of Henry midway through his freshman year of college and a trip I’ve just taken to visit him — and the book will be done.

However, even as I’m revising these final pages, the plot of our family story is taking a new, darker turn. The irony is not lost on me. I’ve just spent the better part of a year celebrating and honoring our family’s life together and now, it seems, our family is falling apart. And I have no idea what to do about it.

One gray winter afternoon, I email my editor that I’ve finished, attach the final pages of my manuscript, and hit the “send” button. I bundle up and go outside for a walk, to clear my head.

And then I return to my computer and Google the words “video game addiction.” There isn’t much to be found. I read an article about video games and ADHD, which states the obvious: excessive video game playing, it suggests, is directly related to increased hyperactivity and inability to focus in school.

I also read about a study on brain-imaging and video games in which PET scans are taken while a group of people play video games. The researchers note that the basal ganglia (where dopamine is produced in the brain) are much more active when the video games are being played than at rest. (Both cocaine and Ritalin work in this part of the brain as well.) Cocaine has a powerful, immediate effect that stimulates an enormous release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. The pleasure this brings rapidly fades, leaving the addict wanting more. Similarly, video games bring immediate pleasure and focus by increasing dopamine release. The problem, according to the researchers, is that the more dopamine is released, the less neurotransmitter is available later on to do schoolwork, homework, chores, and so on.

Read: Why You Need to Quit Gaming for 90 Days

The study concludes, “Adolescents who play more than one hour of video games a day have more, and more intense, symptoms of ADHD or inattention than those who do not. Given the possible negative effects these conditions may have on scholastic performance, the added consequences of more time spent on video games may also place these individuals at increased risk for problems in school, college, and future work environments.”

Nothing here surprises me. But my search for help doesn’t turn up much more. And I’m still at a loss. A year ago our son Jack was an engaged, active high school student. He was writing papers, playing guitar, creating a movie-review blog with a friend, running track in the fall, playing basketball all winter and tennis in the spring. He was happy and busy and growing. He was doing well. But along the way his fascination with video games has been slowly but steadily turning into something else.

If there’s one thing I do know at this moment, Jack is not only at risk, he’s already in trouble. What’s more, nothing my husband and I have done over these last few months to try to help him control or moderate his gaming has made one bit of difference.

There are no more sports for him; he could care less. No extracurricular activities. No interest in anything except the figures on the screen and the controller in his hand. When asked about homework, he lies. When asked to stop playing, he gets furious, belligerent. He won’t stop, he insists, and nothing we do or say can make him. When we take his Xbox away, he falls apart, trashes his room, shouts, threatens us, and then, worse, threatens himself.

Meanwhile his grades go from A’s and B’s to D’s. Despite our attempts to reach our son and to reclaim some semblance of our old family life, he will have nothing to do with us. The real world, he insists, no longer holds any attraction for him. School doesn’t matter.

Nothing matters, except getting better at Halo.

He stays up till three, sleeps till noon, rarely goes outside unless forced to. The funny, sensitive, ambitious teenaged boy who used to inhabit this familiar, beloved 6-foot-tall body is gone. In his place, there’s a person I no longer recognize. While I’m upstairs reading about the effects of video games on my sixteen-year-old son’s brain, he is behind a closed door in the basement, gaming his young life away. For the first time, I feel at once scared of him and scared for him.

One day he admits to me, “I can’t even read one page of a book anymore. My mind just won’t do it, even if I try.”

Another afternoon, after an argument that has shaken us all, he comes to find me. “Why don’t you help me?” he asks, tears pouring down his face. “How can you see me this way and not be trying to help me?”

what is addiction?

This was a long time ago now. But, even today, the memories are painful to revisit. They all came rushing back, however, as I read an op-ed piece in last Sunday’s New York Times entitled, as if the matter has been settled once and for all, “Video Games Are Not Addictive.”

Well, Christopher Ferguson and Patrick Markey, I beg to differ. I can assure you, my son Jack would differ, too.

“Is video game addiction a real thing?” the two of you ask at the outset.

Yes, guys, it most definitely is.

Before we go further though, it might help for us to agree on a useful definition of addiction.

I made quite a few calls to therapists as our son slipped further into his online world. Most weren’t taking new patients. Others dismissed my concerns. One asked Jack some questions from a book, diagnosed ADHD, and wrote him a prescription. The first day he took the medication, he came home from school and sat at the kitchen table with his calculus textbook open before him for a couple of hours, carefully, happily working his way through complicated math problems, certain that all of his own problems had been resolved by this miraculous new drug. The next day, back in the basement, he discovered that amphetamines enhanced his gaming prowess. Two weeks later, several pounds thinner, gaunt from lack of sleep and still gaming, he had to acknowledge that Vivance wasn’t the answer after all.

Eventually, on the advice of a friend, I found my way to Victor. He wasn’t taking new patients, he explained over the phone. He was kind, though, and I think he could tell I was desperate. He didn’t hang up. Instead, Victor asked me to tell him what was going on. I poured out the whole story. Finally I asked: Do you think my son is addicted to video games? “I do,” he said quietly. “And I think you are right to be very concerned.”

Victor made room for us. And in our first meeting with him he offered his own definition of addiction: Any compulsive behavior that is creating mounting negative consequences in a person’s life, but which the person continues to indulge in, even despite those increasingly painful and destructive consequences.

That was it. So simple, and yet so profoundly workable. Before we left his office, Victor gave my husband and me something else to ponder.

“It might be helpful,” he suggested, “if you can think of the addiction as being separate from your son. It’s an entity; it’s not him. This entity has entered his body and is fighting viciously for control. It’s extremely powerful, and it will stop at nothing to win. But it is not Jack. Jack is still in there, even though you can’t see him right now. Try to remember that.”

And then he offered a warning, which he delivered without an ounce of judgment. “It sounds to me,” he said, “as if your son has what I call the ‘hot wire,’ which is another way of saying he’s predisposed to addiction. This may well be just the beginning of a very long battle, for all of you, but especially for Jack. And you should know, video games probably aren’t going to be satisfying to him on their own for very long. He’s going to want a more powerful drug.”

Difficult as all this was to take in, it also made perfect sense. My husband and I weren’t crazy. Our son was in the grip of something that, for the moment, was far more powerful than he was. We couldn’t fix it, but we could learn more about what he was up against. We could make sure he knew we were on his side. We could get help, for him and for us.

Victor’s words that day proved prophetic. Jack’s path to adulthood has not been easy. But I can write this part of his story, with his permission, because today he is a sober young man of 24 who believes that an important part of recovery is a willingness to share one’s own story in service to others who are on the path.

I think what disturbed me most about that article in the Times last week was how dismissive the two authors are of the very real struggles of those who have what Victor calls the “hot wire” for addiction. At this moment there are thousands of families who are living out some variation of our son’s high school story. These families are not helped by pronouncements such as, “Playing video games is not addictive in any meaningful sense. It is normal behavior that, while perhaps in many cases a waste of time, is not damaging or disruptive of lives in the way drug or alcohol use can be.”

One might as well say the same of sex, gambling, dieting, using pornography, shopping, or eating – all of which fall under the rubric of “normal” behaviors that, when they become addictive, do indeed disrupt and damage lives, sometimes irreparably. Just the way video games do.

The other day, I asked Jack for his thoughts on the matter. As a veteran now of many twelve-step meetings and as a mentor to troubled adolescents, he’s heard a wide range of stories of addiction and recovery. While it may be tempting to label “real” addiction as chemical in nature, and to make less of addictions for which withdrawal doesn’t involve some kind of intense physical symptoms, he feels this is a huge mistake. It disregards the intense mental and emotional struggle endured by every person in recovery – whether from drugs and alcohol or from behaviors that are out of control and that are indeed ruining lives.

What’s more helpful is to acknowledge that there are individuals who can abuse both drugs and alcohol without becoming addicted. There are plenty of young people who can play video games at the expense of their school work and social lives, and yet still decide one day to just get up off the couch and go do something different with their time. There are those who manage to put in hours in front of a screen while still maintaining good grades and friendships and extracurricular interests. And there are those who are simply wired differently.

Jack has been sober from drugs and alcohol for a year and a half. And yet, around Christmas time, I sensed that something in his life was amiss. A few weeks later, late one night, I saw that his green light was on on Facebook, and I sent him a message, “How are things?”

“I’m trying to get my life under control,” he typed back. When I asked him what he meant, he replied that he’d just removed all his video games from his computer and his phone, having finally decided that even now, after years of attempting “moderation,” he had to face the hard truth.

Much as he loves playing video games, much as he’d hoped he could allow them to always occupy one small part of his otherwise rich and full life, the power they have over his mind is simply too intense to fight against. He could keep kidding himself, and keep playing DOTA, or he could, once again, take a good honest look at reality.

Jack told me he’d Googled “How to Quit Playing Video Games.” The first things that came up, he said, were pretty lame: articles about playing in moderation, with clueless tips such as “limit your screen time” and then “call a friend to hang out.” No help there. But things have changed a bit since 2009. Further down, he found what he was looking for: some tough talk by someone who had been there, a former gaming addict willing to say the words no passionate, competitive gamer really wants to hear:

“You can’t limit your time; you can’t use it as a reward. You must quit cold turkey, 110%. You must make that decision. You must make the decision not to touch them at all ever again. I’m not talking about making this decision like you make other decisions, which you aren’t really serious about. I mean, you seriously have to mean it.”

They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Cam Adair’s story of addiction and recovery from video games was the impetus Jack needed to make this change in his own life. It was not lost on him that his first addiction, video games, has also proven to be the most complicated and persistent, and for that reason the most difficult of all to finally confront.

Fortunately, he discovered that he is far from alone. Cam Adair’s GameQuitter’s site is full of stories like Jack’s and Cam’s. Equally important, this online forum provides both the support and guidance every recovering addict needs to begin to shape a life of both abstinence and freedom, a life built around new routines and healthy habits.

It’s been three months. So far so good.

Is video game addiction a real thing? Here’s where the authors of the New York Times article went wrong: They went to a couple of researchers for their answer. What they failed to do was ask an addict.

This article originally appeared on katrinakenison.com. Reposted with permission.

Lost Your Child to Gaming?

I understand how you feel, because I was addicted to playing video games. In fact, I dropped out of high school, never went to college, and even wrote a suicide note. That is until I learned “why” I was so drawn to games. Today I’ve been game-free for seven years, and I’m finally reaching my full potential! Now I want to help your child do the same.

That’s why I’ve created Reclaim. I’ve taken my years of experience, and thousands of hours studying this subject, and distilled it to exactly what you need to know to help your child overcome their video game addiction.

Cam’s book Reclaim is brilliant and is highly needed. We strongly recommend Reclaim to parents seeking help and solutions for their kids struggling with digital media overuse. – Andrew Doan, MD, PhD (author, speaker, and neuroscientist) and Julie Doan, RN (author, speaker, and life coach)

LEARN MORE

“I was ready, and prepared to hit anything to release the anger of losing.”

I was quite young when I first held the controller of a PS1 in my hand, before then, it was the handheld gameboy. I played games for the action, the quick pace, and competing against others in the game lobby.

There was a distinctive feeling of pride, and some sort of power, perhaps social, or mental through winning. Losing however was a different matter, it could send me raging, and vandalizing my walls.

In particular I shred some skin off of my knuckles, I was ready, and prepared to hit anything to release the anger of losing. Being part of the losing team in a video game hurt my pride, and made me feel like I’ve amounted to nothing.

I refused to make friends. I was a shy person and I wanted some friends – but not friends of which you had to meet face to face.

I Was Embarrassed with Myself

From the way I used to look, to how I used to act. Gaming allowed me to connect me to others, but it only served to keep me in this vicious cycle that never ends. I preferred gaming as a social platform, and therefore my real social skills suffered from not enough exposure.

I also felt my decisions were never truly independent, and that I was being second-guessed, and taken as a joke socially. This made me turn to gaming, in particular to a game called ‘Mass Effect’.

It resonated well for my social needs even though I knew it was all scripted and programmed and none of it is real, it still satisfied that need in me. Because that need is being filled, what’s the point of going outside?

I started to clutch onto strawman and some sort of ad ignorant arguments when people claimed I had a problem, “Quit gaming? If I do that, I’ll just go and end up doing drugs!”

Apart from my social life, what suffered? My health. My teeth are very badly damaged from extremely poor care, and lack of care. I’ve traded lots of social opportunities, and my teenage years for something that’s programmed… not even real.

I Decided to Quit

I just turned 19 years old, and there was a burning passion in me to rid myself of gaming when I decided to take an unbiased approach, and see how gaming had affected me. I saw how many experiences I’ve traded for absolutely nothing in return.

When I decided to quit I thought it would be easy. I uninstalled my games, and logged out of Steam, and smiled. But only the next day I was back at it gaming, and justifying myself. I always said it would be my last game, and it never was.

When I looked for support to quit gaming I came across Cam, and I thought to myself, “this is it!” and it was one pathway to begin my 90 day detox.

The Benefits of Quitting Games

The benefits I have experienced from quitting gaming were that of paying more attention to my general health. I began working toward goals to LIVE the life I want, and not PRETEND to live the life I would like.

I personally believe life isn’t about letting your heart, or feelings to take control. I’ve seen people argue “it’s my passion!” or “I love gaming why would I want to quit?” the former tends to lean more towards being addicted.

If you like something you can earn the same amount of happiness in moderation. When you need to increase beyond that moderation, you have a problem. I have a problem, and I’m taking care of it in a way where it benefits me, not the other way around.

If you’re addicted to video games, what should you do? QUIT. It’s most likely pushing you in the direction you would not wish to be in.

“For the first time in my life I feel as if I have purpose, and I am not alone in the world.”

gabriel barletta

I hit 90 days of no video games. This marked a period of 3 months into my self development that kicked off around November 2016.

It’s been one bumpy ride, but it’s also been the most significant portion of my life as a person. Why quit gaming for 90 days, though? Why turn my life in a completely new direction?

As a kid I grew up in a dysfunctional family. My mum was the one who worked. I didn’t spend much time with her, but she was a good person. Instead I was treated to hanging around with my dad who was a complete loser. I don’t think he is a bad person, but he wasn’t able to be a father. This had a severe impact on me psychologically.

I would take to the world of fantasy and imagination; a place where I could feel emotion in a safe controlled manner; where I could be happy, or do anything without anyone interfering. At school I was always a bit of a pussy. I had no problem making friends, but soon things changed.

Secondary School

I was filtered out into the nerdy group, of course. This is when my video game addiction started to bud. I started getting into all sorts of games. I would spend the majority of my free time just sitting around playing them. I have always been a dreamer. I had hobbies, but I was too weak to take responsibility, so I let them fade away.

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This is also about the time that my brother died. I coped with it by convincing myself that I didn’t care. I had mastered hiding my emotions from others and suppressing any affection. My dad sorted that out for me.

My early teens are just a blur. I started getting into heavier music around that time to help me feel stronger. I also got heavily into porn which also fucked me up. All I was really excited about was going from game to game. I thought about girls, sure, but I was too afraid to talk to them. I had a fear of the world, and I would retreat to my shell at any given moment.

At 16 years of age it all kicked off with me watching this video on YouTube about how porn is bad for you on some conservative channel. I immediately started looking into it, and decided to quit. This led me down a rabbit hole, and soon video games was the next target.

I remember sitting at my computer desk, and staring at the wall completely dumbstruck. Was I really destroying myself all these years? I then found Game Quitters, and the journey began.

I started picking up the pieces of the bombshell. I erased my entire Steam library, dumped all my pc gamer mags, and removed anything to do with games from my PC. I also deleted all my porn.

The first couple of months were the hardest. I had never been so depressed in my life. But I kept at it no matter what. I started climbing, doing art more, reading, learning German, and writing down notes for a book.

Getting My Shit Together

Things got better though. I had grown so much as a person. My view of life had completely changed. I was beginning to understand things that I never bothered to look at earlier on.

One day I looked in the mirror and thought: “you’re becoming a man now.” I started getting into fitness a lot more. I meditated a lot too. I also started getting into other types of music. At the age of 17, after casting off a lot of my childhood ignorance, I had learned a lot.

What I’ve Learned So Far:

Always stay grounded. Life is full of ups and downs. You must never be caught up by emotions in victory, or defeat, and maintain the path of reason. The universe is chaotic in nature.

The purpose of life is to feel a sense of purpose. If you were to try and rationalize a purpose to life you would become engulfed by nihilism. Humans are emotional beings, and our emotional needs must be met as these reinforce our will to live.

Pick something and do it. Ever started a new hobby and just given up because you weren’t enjoying it anymore? I had that all the time, but then I found out I just had to pick something and do the thing.

Do the thing. This is my motto now. Forcing yourself to do something consistently is important – even if you don’t feel like it. It’s important to commit to something on a daily basis, or you will sink into bad habits.

The body, mind and soul are all real things and they are all linked. At first I thought this was some retarded spiritual hippy meme, but it’s actually real. The soul is the body of emotion and it’s what separates us from machines. Your soul can lead you all sorts of dumb places though; and so can your mind. So the two have to really work together, and you have to listen to your innermost desire, but fend off petty desires.

Pushing yourself physically also makes you more determined. It is important to take care of your body by eating healthy and getting exercise so you wont feel depressed and have poor cognitive functions. Bioenergetics and meditation are great too. The mind is a muscle and meditation trains it.

Life is a video game, and it’s really, really fun. Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on video games. But the reality is I am missing tons, and tons of shit in the real world. The ultimate question is – do you value the world of reality… or virtual reality to the same extent?

Take opportunities to do shit whenever you can. If it turns out bad then you know. Can’t bash it ’till you try it.

A man spends his whole life learning. I haven’t magically become my dream self yet. In fact, the dream self is a false ideal. When you climb a mountain do you stare at the summit, and flop your arms and legs about aimlessly? No. You get your head down, and fucking climb. It’s important to have vision, but it’s more important to focus on the struggle.

Your ego is an important social tool, but don’t let it consume you! You have to be open, and serious with people to reach a deeper level of understanding with them.

My path is my own, and is no greater than the next man’s. As I said before: the purpose of life is to feel a sense of purpose. So my way of doing things is just my way of doing things, and I shouldn’t force that on other people.

I am a lot more accepting of other people’s beliefs now, but I can’t help but let my ego take hold sometimes. Just because I am saying shit here about how I do things doesn’t make it the handbook to life. Everyone has to find their own way. There is a Chinese proverb:

What I hear; I forget. What I see; I remember. What I do; I understand.

Even though I have said these are all lessons I have learned; I still need to improve myself massively, and that is a good thing. What is bad is not having the vision.

I never thought I was really an addict. I was able to slide into my detox without any cravings. Video games were just the stabilizers I persisted to keep on me. They were part of my childhood chapter in life. It’s time to turn a new page though.

Game Quitters has changed my life, and still is. I met extraordinary people. For the first time in my life I feel as if I have purpose, and I am not alone in the world. Some people on this site are like the uncle I never had. I am truly grateful to be exposed to such a community at such a young age. It has really bolstered my development to be immersed in an environment populated by so many awesome people.

A while ago I committed to the 1,000 days challenge with a small group of fellow Game Quitters. That’s almost 3 years of changing my life. I will be 19 when I finish. If you are a young gamer, and you are unhappy with your life (or know one), please do not hesitate to join us here on the forums.

“I believe that in any fellow game quitter lies a potential so great that nobody can summarize it. But we won’t be able to unfold our specialty as long as we waste away in a fluorescent light.”

So, the day has come. Day 90 of 90 days of a personal gaming detox. What do I have to say?

Well for starters, it has been a tough ride.

First of all, I want to show my gratitude to Cam, who created this site and ignited a spark in many fellows. In a time, where we are supposed to consume, where it is so easy and comfortable to just fade away in a virtual world, without leaving any proof of our existence, he showed me and many others, that the predetermined way is not the only option. So, thank you Cam.

You might know the story of the Pied Piper, who came to town and led away all the children with his stilling tune, leading them all into oblivion. Well, every story, even the ancient ones, have at least two points of view. While the people of the town witnessed the Piper pulling away the youth, they labeled him the evil in this world. But halt, there is more to this.

The view of the young people who have been pulled away is quite different. In a world where everything is focused on consumption, a soul needs a safe place to expand. The Piper, with no bad intentions, led away the youngsters and showed them a world that grants exactly what they needed. A space, large as necessary, to unfold.

Pretty dramatic, right? I know. But if you think about it; if you remember the reactions of your fellow internet folks, you will notice, that they smiled at you in contempt, when you left the world you once loved so much. What seems to be pure evil and idiocy to one, might be redemption to others.

When I googled “how to stop gaming” on that lonely night, I took my own life.

Figuratively. I pulled the plug on my life, because I knew, it will pull the plug on me. Before I quit gaming, I felt lost, exhausted, always tired, mildly happy, and heavily forsaken.

I grew up with a computer in my room, which turned into my best friend. Where real people were complicated, my computer would always be there to serve me. But in the long run, I began to serve it.

I miss the words to express my eternal gratitude for what Cam has done. Only by lighting up a path that I was unable to see, he saved me. And even if I return to playing all day and all night; even if I give up my chances, my life and my future, I would have to do it entirely conscious. Because now I know what was cloaked.

If I give up my life, this time, I know what I do. But as long as there is any energy left, I will try to go my own path. Not the predetermined path.

I feel prepared for this path.

The detox was highs and lows. It was enthusiasm and depression. I felt like conquering the world, and in the next moment I thought I was falling down a 50 stories building.

It is tough to not compare my old life to the matrix. Because it is so close to the matrix. Being connected to a device that pretends to show me choices and options, while it silently pre-programmed my decision. A waste of life. That is what I was. An entire waste of life.

We do not have to be Christians to understand that life is a one time thing. This makes it precious beyond words. Sitting in front of a screen, drooling, like a machine is a waste of this precious gift.

I believe that in any fellow game quitter lies a potential so great that nobody can summarize it. I believe, that we all are special, creative, smart, gifted. But we won’t be able to unfold our specialty as long as we waste away in a fluorescent light, that will make our eyes go blind and turn our skin into greasy dough.

Don’t get me wrong. I still continue to work in front of a screen. But today, steam, origin, bigfish… none of that really interests me. I feel disgust when I think about how I wasted years and did not commit myself to any goal, any progress or any measurable sign of life at all.

Life happens offline, away from the screen. I know that. I feel that. And now I feel able to fight my way through this harsh environment that is this society. Now I see chances and will not be stopped until I reached them. And even if I fail, I will not go back to benumbing my inner desires. My true desires.

Because let us be real for a moment: You do not desire to reach level 30 in a world that will disappear once a guy pulls the plug. You do not desire to be “somebody” in a virtual world, where everybody can be what he wants to be without any need of work. In a world, where being special is handed out to anybody, nobody is special. You will be anybody; anybody will be you.

There are no heroes in this world, no interesting people. There are no people in this world. Only souls that slowly dance to a tune nobody can hear anymore because everybody is numbed by the drug they all took in order to get into the dance hall.

Nobody desires to be numb all the time. That is like waiting for death without the annoying annoyance of waiting without purpose. I do not desire to be that person, and I believe, neither do you.

This place is not redemption city.

You know that. I know that. You don’t sign up and feel relieved of all your bad decisions. We know that. We sign up for the tough work. If this was a game, it would be a survival game. But you know, most survival games out there have one major thing in common: they do not have a goal. Your only goal is to survive.

Imagine this: When you signed up, you were this one guy or girl, brave enough to raise his or her hand when the old leader asked if somebody is willing to venture forth to find a place to settle and to recreate society.

You were the one human that said: “I am not satisfied with surviving day by day, only to wait for my demise. I will not dwell in this limbo until my soul perishes. I will head out and I will fight my way through this mess that you people are afraid of. I will conquer back what is truly mine and when I disappear, I will leave a legacy behind.”

That person, my friend, is you. You and me. We took this step. We spoke the truth. We honestly admitted that we are guilty of the highest sin: Wasting our life. And we decided to change.

The 90 day detox is the first step. Now you are prepared. You took all the classes, finished all the lessons, and trust me, when you thought this is it, the real stuff only begins.

Be brave. Be great. Be honest. Be noble. Be conscious. Be you. You, my friend, have this under control. This is your life. Your choice. Your consequence. Even if you go out and fail once, twice, three times, everything is better than being numb and never trying. And rest assured, we are in this together!

Sincerely yours,

Robert

“Immersing myself in the World of Warcraft gave me a brief moment of happiness, something I did not have at high school..”

arvind

I started playing games when I was four years old.

The first console I had was the Super Nintendo. I started to play games such as Super Mario and Donkey Kong. A year later I received the Gameboy Color with Pokémon Yellow.

I was hooked and played the game almost every day.

I liked gaming because it gives me the opportunity to escape reality. In my first years of high school I got bullied a lot. People were calling me names because I was overweight and said some nasty things behind my back.

I started to isolate myself from others. I was pretty much alone and gaming gave me the opportunity to escape the shitty reality I was stuck in.

Playing a FPS or immersing myself in the World of Warcraft gave me a brief moment of “happiness”, something I did not have at high school.

At the age of 20 I noticed gaming became a problem for me personally. Instead of focusing on my goals and being productive, I was too busy chasing fake achievements in a virtual world that doesn’t exist.

Without noticing it I did spend playing a game for 6-8 hours a day. I gained weight, isolated myself even further and became almost a shut-in.

The true realization when I knew I had to quit playing games was when I saw my time I had spent playing them.

6,000 hours in total. I played for 6,000 f*cking hours.

Think about it. That is basically 250 days. I could do so much better things at that time, for example learning a new language, learning a new skill, or travelling abroad. Yet, I was stuck behind my screen leveling my fictional character instead of myself.

Need ideas to replace gaming? Download 60+ New Hobby Ideas.

I Was Damaging My Relationships

My parents are the greatest people I could wish for. But instead of spending quality time with them I did spend my time behind a screen leveling up my character in a MMORPG game and obtaining the best gear that was available in the game.

I was also a socially awkward person when it came to communicating. I was a terrible communicator. Really bad. Like extremely-nervously-terribly bad. Isolating myself gave me no opportunity to improve it.

At the beginning of the year 2016 I decided it was a good time to quit playing games and focusing on my goals.

I was searching on the web for support groups and organizations that perhaps could help me to combat my gaming addiction. It was a bit difficult, because there were a very few organizations that were specialized in helping people who were addicted to playing video games.

One day I discovered this video of a TEDx talk of a guy (Cam) explaining game addiction and sharing his story. His story was very similar compared to mine. I was socially awkward, played video games every day for 6-8 hours, and there were even times I wanted to commit suicide. I knew I had to contact him to get help.

I Started with the 90 Day Detox

It was difficult at first. Playing video games was pretty much the only thing I knew. But I told myself I had to move forward, and after a while I managed to finish the 90 days detox without relapsing.

arvind

There were a lot of benefits I have gotten from quitting gaming. I started to prioritize my goals that I wanted to achieve.

I decided it was time to lose weight. I started to go to the gym and decided to do lifting 3-5 days a week.

I also started to eat more healthy and counting my calories. I managed to lose more than 25kg (55lbs.) and gained more muscle. I am not at my end-goal yet, but I am confident I will reach that goal sometime in 2017.

Currently, I am also heavily involved in learning how to program and 3D modelling. My ultimate goal is to work in the VR/AR sector. I believe these developments can be beneficial and successful in other industries besides the gaming industry.

Quitting gaming gave me the opportunity for personal development, and doing the things I love, such as 3D modelling, travelling and spending quality time with my family.

I’d Like to Leave You with This…

Gaming itself was not the problem. It was me. I was simply unable to play them in moderation, and played it so much it negatively affected my life.

Looking back I am glad I took that decision to quit gaming. It was perhaps the best decision I took in my life to improve myself.

If anyone is in a similar spot I was years ago, I highly suggest you to try out the 90 days detox. It is tough at first, and there are moments you could relapse. But don’t kick yourself if you relapse. You fail and you get back up. Keep on moving forward, and do not let others tell you that you are never able to achieve your goal. It is possible.

Difficult, tough, frustrated, but possible. Don’t rely on motivation. Build discipline to reach your goal. Good luck on your journey.

Want extra support to quit playing video games? Grab a copy of Respawn.

“How would I personally describe the 90 day detox? You come back to be yourself.” – tirEdOrange

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The world seems crazy around you as soon as you realize how much you numbed yourself with games.

We are all so much more than we realize and as long as we numb our consciousness with gaming we only paralyze ourselves to the point where we become desperate and don’t know what to do.

There are no words to describe the value that the 90 day detox provides.

From completing the 90 day detox, here are 5 tips that will help you successfully complete yours:

1. Make a Journal.

You probably won’t believe it at first but this is some miracle stuff right here. Writing a journal on the Game Quitters Forum is something that will change you, not because people here are telling you how to live your life the right way (which they don’t do).

It is because you learn how to talk to yourself. How to listen to yourself. You start to get in touch with yourself and this is a very, if not the most, important lesson to learn during your journey.

“Making this daily journal has had a huge impact. It’s become an accountability habit.” – ors_tyrael

2. Follow the steps of Respawn.

Your first few days will potentially be filled with all kinds of physical and psychological issues and cravings, but it probably sounds worse than it is. It is a crazy time in the beginning, and you should acknowledge yourself for every day that you successfully complete.

The steps outlined in Respawn will help you during these initial challenges, as they show you how to handle all these crazy experiences and emotions, and help you understand how to endure them without simply giving up.

3. You will grow during the process.

This whole 90 day detox felt so overwhelmingly undoable at some points, so don’t give up if you feel like you can’t do it. I can assure you: You can!

If you need support, then seek it on the forum, because you will get it. It is simply great that this forum helps a lot. Tasks that seemed very hard in the beginning will become easy in the end, and you will grow stronger in so many ways that you will be able to handle a lot of different situations.

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

I’m very good at being too hard on myself… of expecting perfect results from myself, or seeing them as a failure if I do not achieve them. This is the reason why I had some of my problems: because in the end, a goal that has no potential for failure is a road that has no potential for victory.

The experiences that you earn during your journey are the most important thing, so if you make mistakes from time to time, don’t worry, just get back on track as soon as possible, and keep going!

5. It is never too late.

You know that feeling when you’ve taken a moment for yourself in the past and realized that you’ve lost a couple of years to this gaming addiction of yours… that you didn’t even really realize it until recently?

I felt very insecure about the fact that I simply lost so many years during my addiction, and if I’m honest then I am still a little bit insecure about it at the moment because it still affects my life right now but… you will learn during the detox that there is no reason to be insecure about it.

The “ideal way that everyone should go” is just an illusion. There is no time limit that tells you that you can’t start your life again right now. You can start it again anytime.

This is the core of my experiences during my 90 day detox. It opened my eyes and helped me to quit what destroyed me. Gaming was something that distracted me from my life, but the detox did more than just help me quit playing video games: it helped me to let go of everything that pulled me down these past few years.

I still have to deal with the consequences from all this, but hell, I’m so happy right now that I could cry tears. Go and enjoy your new life and all the things around you! 🙂

This post originally appeared on the Game Quitters Forum. Minor edits for grammar.

“Instead of completing an assignment over the weekend, I spent 32 hours straight finishing Dark Souls 1.”

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It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly my gaming experience began. The earliest memory I have is when I was 5 years old, roughly 16 years ago. My dad introduced me to the classic games of the Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64.

As I grew up I became more interested in gaming. I had a cousin who was a year older than me, and we always lived close to each other.

So back in the days when online gaming didn’t exist, it was easy for us to walk to the other’s home, stick on whatever co-op game we felt like (usually Baldur’s Gate, Dynasty Warriors or Star Wars Battlefront), and play for hours.

Online Gaming. Blessing or Curse?

It was almost a natural progression in secondary school. As online gaming was introduced through Xbox Live, it became the norm for every single person I knew to own an Xbox 360. Combine this with Call of Duty and FIFA, and it’s a recipe for disaster. I think I racked up over 100 days playtime on Call of Duty 4, 5, and 6 combined!

I was always an active kid, involved in sports, music, scouting, and spent a lot of time outside. But as I got older, I started spending more of my time upstairs in front of a screen. My daily routine was usually along the lines of waking up, going to school, come home and meet everyone online, eat dinner, and then go back online to play away the rest of the evening.

Go to university… Get a job… Live a happy life… Or so they say.

Like everyone else, however, I never really viewed it as a problem. It was what everyone did. I managed to stay on top of my studies, doing decently well at school and college. It wasn’t until I went on to study Physics at university that I noticed a problem.

I Hated University.

Not a real picture of Jimmy.

Not a real picture of Jimmy.

Let me clarify, I loved the people, the social aspect and the freedom. But I hated the work. Every single assignment (and I mean every single one) was completed the night before the due date.

It got pretty bad in my first year. So bad in fact, that instead of completing an assignment over the weekend, I spent 32 hours straight finishing Dark Souls 1.

I didn’t eat during this time. I stayed in my dark room, which luckily had an en-suite, and I only got up to get water or go to the bathroom. But hey, I completed it! That’s what I get for taking my gaming PC to university.

The second year of university I ditched the PC, left it at home, and bought an Xbox One. Why was it so impossible for me to be without a console? People don’t get addicted to video games, do they?

It wasn’t until my final year that things really took a turn for the worse.

After failing a couple of my exams for the first time in years, and not being able to find the energy to even get out of bed in the morning, a friend of mine thought that it would be a good idea to seek professional help.

Depressed? Me? That’s Not Right..?

The verdict? Moderately severe depression.

Wait, what? I’m not depressed. I’m just miserable. I’m not depressed, I just procrastinate a lot. I couldn’t get my head around it, and yet, something seemed to resonate. I started thinking back to secondary school, and the thoughts I used to have. I never thought anything of it at the time, but looking back it all makes sense.

As you can probably imagine, from this point onwards things started spiraling rapidly. My grades suffered, I stopped turning up to lectures, and I’d spend hours every day playing FIFA on my Xbox. I became detached from my friends, staying put in my room until I was forced to get out of bed. I hated everything.

Come on, It’s Just One Dissertation..?

It got to the point where I couldn’t even write my dissertation. I managed to get an extension to give me a couple of months to work on it and prepare myself for the upcoming exams. I only had to do two of them, but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t do it. I hated it. I’d forced myself into believing that nothing would ever work, regardless of how hard I tried. Goodbye, job opportunities.

However, after dropping out of university 2 months from finishing, something strange happened. My outlook on life changed completely. I’m not saying I miraculously cured my depression and was a bouncing bundle of energy. But something was different.

A Light in the Dark?

stefan-profile-2

I’d been passionate about entrepreneurship since the start of my second year of university. I loved the idea of personal development and self-help, and planned to start my own business after I finished my studies.

It wasn’t until a prolific online mentor that I followed, Stefan James Pylarinos, released a course on how to become an affiliate marketer online, that I decided to make a change.

I’d never really done anything that spontaneously, so dropping £1200 (which was basically all of my money) on a course was really out of my comfort zone. But something about it felt right.

It was also around this time that I was recommended a Game Quitters video on YouTube. Holy s***. Why didn’t I find out about this years ago?

Naturally, I did what any normal person would do and binge watched a bunch of Cam’s videos. Shortly after, I made the decision to quit gaming. Bearing in mind I’d just discovered Skyrim mods, Dark Souls 3 and Overwatch. It was probably one of the most difficult times for me to quit.

But I was committed. I introduced myself on the forums, started a journal, and carried out the 90-day detox.

Pain Is Temporary.

These 90 days had a much more profound effect on my life than I could ever imagine.

It’s almost indescribable. During these 3 months, I’ve created two businesses, ran a half marathon, became involved with photography, started killing it with my workout habits in the gym, cleaned up my diet, and I’ve got so much more energy than I ever had before.

It wasn’t easy. There were some dark times during the detox. The cravings became so bad at some points that I had to force myself to not even look at the computer. I’d get out the house and just walk. As long as I could. But it was all worth it.

If any of you are interested about my personal outdoor business you can find it here. If you’re a student and you’re interested in contributing to my non-profit student education site, or even just to get some advice and support, you can find that here. The sites are still pretty young, but I’ve got some big visions for the future!

A Final Thanks to the People That Saved My Life.

Finally, I just want to give a huge thanks to Cam and the Game Quitters community. You guys got me through it, and were so supportive at every step of the journey, I really don’t know how I can ever thank you. But I’ll find a way!

If anyone is reading this and you’re on the fence about quitting, or you’re struggling to make it through your detox. I really recommend you to become more involved in the community. Interact with people and make friends. Keep yourself on top of your journal, and I swear the time will fly by. You’ve got this.

“Because no matter how much I game, the void was never filled, I was never happy. In fact, I became more miserable than ever.”

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I can vividly remember sitting in front of my triple-monitor setup, contemplating my whole life at the end of summer break, wondering why am I still miserable while having the coolest video games, the most advanced gaming equipment and the “cool” identity of being a gamer?

Ever since I started gaming (7 years old), I noticed something within myself. A sense of dissatisfaction, a hole that needed to be filled.

But as a kid, I didn’t really have many ideas about how to go about filling up this sense of void… So I did the only thing I could: play more video games! Well, everyone else is doing it, and they all seemed to be happy and joyous, also it can’t possibly lead me down the wrong track in life, right??

As I was attempting to fill up the hole with more gaming, my constructed identity: “Gamer” grew bigger and bigger.

It got to a point where I stopped seeing myself as a good student so I neglected school work. I stopped seeing myself as a social person so I neglected my social life. I stopped seeing myself as a nice and caring son so I neglected family.

Most importantly, I stopped seeing my authentic self.

All those things added up into a lifestyle of “living for gaming’s sake.” One of my favorite activities was to come back home on Friday night, neglecting all my homework and assignments, and hop onto my PlayStation and play Battlefield Hardline with my buddy Andy.

Sure, the lower part of myself was very excited by all the stimulation provided by gaming, but my higher self sensed something was else. It acknowledged that perhaps something isn’t really working… Because no matter how much I game, the void was never filled, I was never happy. In fact, I became more miserable than ever.

Not only was the void not filled, but also my confidence eroded, my higher values squandered, my passions and the love for my life waned. But the lower self is still too unconscious and close-minded, so I continued to buy more games, pursue better rankings, wishing that someday the void will be finally filled…

My Turning Point:

This story happened back in mid 2015, the two-week summer break. I spent the entire holiday gaming 6-8 hours a day and lived life as a legitimate “gamer.”

I drank soda, ate a lot of junk food, didn’t come out of my bedroom for dinner, and didn’t attempt to attend any social events. The process was very stimulating and exciting in the first week, but as that enthusiasm wore off, a scary truth started to uncover itself…

The truth that no matter how hard I try, there is no way out, and gaming will never bring me fulfillment and happiness and the ultimate satisfaction that I was lusting after this entire time.

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It got to a point where all I did was continuing going through the motions of gaming without really enjoying any of it, because my mind was controlled by video games like a puppeteer, and me myself, the puppet.

I remember sitting in front of the glowing screens, viewing my life objectively with brutal honesty for the first time.

I asked myself: “Is this all there is? Is this what my authentic self wants to be like? Is there another way? Am I diluting myself?”

I was tired of all this non-sense, tired of being controlled by this puppet master since I was a kid, tired of not finding something that truly fulfills me, tired of being shy and having low self-esteem, tired of not having a passion to follow and most importantly, tired of living this identity of a “gamer”.

Right on the spot, I made a bold decision: I’m going to quit playing video games.

Instantly, a new horizon opened up for me as I made the decision. I saw a more passionate, a more loving, a more confident, a more self-actualized human being waiting for me on the other side of the barrier.

Interestingly enough, the day after I decided to quit, my friend Mark asked me if I wanted to sell my PlayStation 4. My original intention was to keep my PlayStation and to game in moderation, but my intuition told me that selling the console is probably the best decision there is.

So that’s exactly what I did: I packed everything up and sold that pile of equipment which symbolized misery, dissatisfaction, hopelessness, low self-esteem and most importantly: my identity as a gamer…

How My Life Changed:

Sure, the withdrawals were tough. But my cold turkey approach and the compelling vision I created pulled me through the entire 90 day detox. Also Cam’s videos helped me out a great bunch, too. (Thanks, Cam.)

After the 90 days, I felt like a radically different person.

downloadI started defining my authentic values, I became really passionate about my education and transformed myself into a top-performing student; I became so much more confident and social, and I found my passion for practical psychology and started my podcast.

Listen to my interview with Cam: How to break your gaming addiction.

Most importantly, I finally experienced the bliss from living my life to the fullest. Today my commitment is to a life-long study of personal development, and to live the most extraordinary life possible.

What is your commitment? What do you want out of life? Share your answer in the comments:

I didn’t see a problem with it, since I was telling myself I got nothing better to do and I deserved it.

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The end of exams was a critical time last year. I worked for my grades, and I ached for some time off, for a reward. I had no real plans for summer – a big mistake – only general directions, and I found myself with a lot of spare time.

Overwatch Came Out.

So I started playing, and had a blast for a couple weeks. Everyone was new, I had time and no obligations, things couldn’t be better.

I went to the gym, read a little, hung out with my friends, and played Overwatch for a couple hours every day throughout June.

I wasn’t structuring my time, and slipped into a routine where I went to bed at four in the morning after grinding a couple levels each day. I also stopped meditating, since the first thing I did after waking up was turning on the computer. Mistake!

Shit Hit the Fan.

At the beginning of July I went back home to Slovakia. Since I was living with my mom, I didn’t have to shop for myself; didn’t have to do the dishes as often, or wash my clothes.

The environment was not constructive to growth, and I’m not saying that as an excuse but as an observation, since the environment is a huge variable when it comes to success or relapse.

With a more relaxed state of affairs and “no library” where I could go to learn, I started playing a lot. It was warm outside so I hung out with my friends, and then went home and played, as it gave me a sense of progress, which replaced the progress I got from the gym and my studies.

I felt like a child. I felt powerless and demotivated from the lack of exciting things to do in the summer. I didn’t allow myself to feel those emotions. Instead, I escaped from them by playing video games.

The worst thing was, it wasn’t even very rewarding anymore.

I was in a negative spiral where playing games sapped my motivation to do anything else, and since I didn’t do anything else, I played games, which sapped even more, and around the circle we go.

This is a scary and frustrating situation to be in, and I’m sure a lot of you can relate. I felt stuck and powerless in the cycle.

Thankfully, I Had a Couple of Things Help Me.

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One thing was my love for cycling, which I do every summer, since it’s the only time I can really go for long bike rides. Every time I went on a bike ride I felt great and alive, and it helped to wean my brain off the dopamine rewards a little bit.

Slovakia has a lot of cool places accessible by bike, and thankfully I also had friends to go with me, so we could go on longer trips.

Another thing I had going for me was a former classmate I was attracted to. She was very responsive to my advances and we quickly went out for a couple of dates. This forced me to step up my game and take care of myself.

Also, being out on a date means not being in front of a screen. If could go back in time, I’d ask her out sooner, but it’s easy to say that in hindsight haha.

As August came, I grew progressively more fed up with my relapse and really started my crawl back.

I decided to start a programming project, so that I had something to look back to at the end of the summer, as well as something to work towards. This project, my friends, my bike, and this girl were what ultimately helped me break the spell of games, because I was biking in the morning, coding around midday, and out with someone in the afternoon.

The project was a great idea because I was learning, I had goals to work towards, and I was rewarded with increased mastery and working code.

At the end of it, I was ready to quit again, determined to make this year the best I’ve ever had. So I left for uni once again, met a lot of new people, uninstalled games and started meditating and reading again.

As things are right now, I’m not 100% game-free, but I’m learning daily, and I feel much more capable than I did a month ago. I also don’t have as much free time to play, which definitely helps.

My Advice To You

If I had to choose a few things to highlight, I’d say it’s really important to be in the right environment. This can be hard to change, but I think it’s something to be aware of and work towards improving.

Another thing is the importance of structuring your time. When you have nothing better to do, it’s easy to start playing, and it can be a downward spiral which can feel impossible to break.

Finally, it’s easier to prevent than to cure. It’s easy to fight your urges to play when you’re on a bike two hours from your computer. It’s also easy to not think about games when you’re out with someone that you like and that likes you.

Those three factors – different environment, structuring my time and having a blast with people I like – helped me stop the relapse.

Hopefully this post helps you to make some changes in your life.

Good luck, and thanks for reading 🙂

This post originally appeared on the Game Quitters Forum. It has been edited slightly for grammar and formatting.