90 days

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!

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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.

Join our Movement

SHARE this story to let others to know that life is so much better without gaming.

Need help?

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

Take a Stand

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

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?

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“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