6+ months

My name is Austin Tuwiner and I’m a 21-year-old digital nomad. I’ve been travelling the world for over 9 months now. Video games have had an enormous impact on my life, so I’d like to share my experiences with them, hopefully resulting in helping someone’s life for the better.

I’m writing this post from a coffee shop in Buenos Aires, Argentina; reflecting on just how far I’ve come. A place I never imagined myself going to (or even knowing it existed) during the period of my life that I was consumed by the video game world.

Before we go any further, I’d like to clarify that I do still enjoy playing the occasional video game. After discussing my story and how gaming addiction has affected my life, I’ll share some tips on how I’ve been able to find balance and reintroduce them to my life.

My First Video Games

I don’t remember what video game was my first love. If I had to guess, it would be Pokemon Crystal or one of the Mario games. To this day I have amazing memories playing on my GameBoy and Nintendo with my siblings and friends. On a snow day (no school due to snow), my brother, sister, and I would sleep in and play games like Super Smash Bros and Mario together.

As time went on, I upgraded consoles to an Xbox 360 and played more and more mature-rated games. I think this is truly where the first issues started to appear. I began playing games like Halo 3 and Call of Duty at 15 years old. Immediately after coming home from middle school, my friends and I would boot up our Xbox’s and spend the entire day online chatting and gaming with each other.

We’d only surface for food. Oh, and homework.

Due tomorrow meant do tomorrow. Without a doubt, video games had an impact on my grades.

After playing Xbox for many years, I upgraded to PC gaming. If I had to pick a video game I spent the most time and money on there would be no comparison. It’s League of Legends by far.

Read: How to Quit Playing League of Legends

I’m a pretty competitive person which is an extremely dangerous combination when paired with player vs player video games. I was addicted to improving my craft and reaching the highest rank possible.

When I wasn’t able to play video games, I’d be watching Youtube and Twitch gameplay of professionals in order to get better.

My mind was ALWAYS on video games. What builds to try, what the coolest new strategy was, or the next game I was going to play. All of this took me out of the present moment. In school, on the bus, or mid-conversation I’d be thinking about video games.

The highest rank I ever achieved in League of Legends was Diamond 3, around the top .3% of all players.

At the time, this was a massive accomplishment.

Looking back?

It’s a trophy showing how much of my life I wasted for a game I’ll never play again. A few years from now, you won’t care about your rank, your special skin collection, or any other virtual accolade. You only have one life, why waste time playing and earning virtual awards?

I couldn’t even tell you how many aspects of my life were neglected due to my PC gaming addiction. I played PC games all throughout high school until I finally quit towards the end of senior year.

Let me tell you how I did it.

xbox 360 addiction

How To Quit Playing Video Games

Whenever I’m trying to quit a habit, I found that nuclear options are the best and maybe the only way. I specifically remember this video that convinced me I had to commit to quitting gaming.

I deleted all my accounts and listed my $1000+ custom built gaming computer on eBay.

What did I do when my computer was sold?

Began playing Xbox again.

My Xbox was the next to go. I removed all possible video games and systems from my life. I had an enormous amount of time now. My days felt so much longer. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Eventually, after doing some research and finding sites like Game Quitters, I decided to take action and find new hobbies.

Find New Hobbies

There’s a saying – “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Quitting video games will be near impossible without finding new hobbies.

With all of this extra time, I picked up activities such as scuba diving, bouldering, and travelling. I even started my own digital marketing businesses that I use to fund my travels and lifestyle.

By delving pretty deep into each of these hobbies’ respective communities, I’ve met more friends and made more high-quality relationships than I ever could have imagined.

It was difficult for me to leave behind all of my gaming friends. Some I knew in real life, and others I never even met. I had a lot of gaming friends. I even thought I had “deep” relationships with them.

Ever since I “quit” gaming, I don’t really hear from them. They’re good people and I hope to see them succeed in life. It just won’t be at my table.

How to Play Video Games in Moderation

After I took some time off from gaming, found new hobbies, and got my priorities straight, I wanted to find a way to introduce video games back into my life. When your life becomes so busy and fun that there’s little time to game, I think it’s possible to play video games responsibly.

Here’s how I’ve done it.

Avoid ‘Time Suck’ Games

One way I’ve found to limit video games is by avoiding the endless time-suck grind games. I don’t go anywhere near the endless grind video games I used to love like Call of Duty, League of Legends, and Path of Exile.

If I decide to play a video game, it’s for the story. Story video games are almost like movies for me. Games like Fallout, Far Cry, Witcher 3, and Skyrim all have a clear ending where video gaming stops. These are the only games I play or keep up with anymore.

Cloud Streaming

I’ve been travelling for 9 months now out of one backpack, so there’s no way for me to bring a console along for the ride (not that I’d even want to).

The last video game I played was Witcher 3, and I don’t see myself playing any others until Cyberpunk 2077 is released. Cloud streaming has allowed me to play video games once in a while without dedicating myself to the newest console.

The great thing about cloud streaming is you can delete and cancel your membership whenever you want, and it’s not amazing for playing the fast-paced time suck video games we mentioned above. There’s a slight delay but is unnoticeable for any slow-paced story/adventure game.

I don’t really think gaming is very different from watching Netflix, sports games, or any other hobbies. The main distinction between it and these hobbies is that you are battling a multi-billion dollar industry doing everything it can to addict you and extract every last dollar.

Understand what you’re up against, and set your life up in a way where it’s near impossible to become addicted.

Only this way was it possible for me to find balance gaming.

Thank you for taking the time to read my experience with video games, and hope there’s something you can take away from this.

Story submitted by Austin Tuwiner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaming Was Always A Part of My Life

playstation controller

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

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

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

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

I craved it.

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

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

Related: How to Deal with Cravings

Gaming Addiction Caused My Divorce

gaming addiction divorce

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

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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

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

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

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

Breaking Away from Video Games

outdoors

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

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

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

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

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

It just didn’t feel the same.

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

My life is finally back under control.

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

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

To live a real life.

It’s Possible to Make Real Change

father surfing with son

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

You have the power to do it.

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

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

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

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

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

Need help?

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

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

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

Neil Robertson Snooker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Video Games Inherently Unhealthy for Us?

gaming

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

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

Related: How to Overcome Escapism

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

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

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

The Mainstream Video Game Industry

feedback loop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

doctor kids

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

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

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

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

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

The Online World of Video Gaming and the Effect on Players

global gaming market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Effect On Children and Adults

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I was lucky, others might not be.”

Gambling in Video Games

kids gambling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overcoming Addiction?

Neil Robertson

Photo credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the story of how I stopped being addicted to Neopets.

After some 10 years, 10,000 hours, and millions of points won in various online games, I finally accomplished my dream of becoming an elite gamer…

Okay, I wasn’t an “elite” gamer. But I did make it to 100 gold trophies on Neopets.

In the end, all my trophies were gold, with not a single silver or bronze. I’d set my sights on this target for so long — and I was proud of how I reached it.

Gaming Was My Escape

neopets logo Explaining why I gamed is hard to do without spilling some of my most personal details. But, I’ll do my best.

First, I’m transgender – male-to-female. I was born as a boy and wanted to be a girl.

If life wasn’t difficult enough, it became much trickier in middle school. Then there was the impending doom of male puberty… I wanted to escape my body.

Then, there was the teasing at school… “that’s so gay” reverberating in my head like a corny pop song lyric. In games, I could escape that judgment too.

It soon became obvious how un-alone I was. Browsing the forum and beautiful stories at Game Quitters, it was clear how much I had in common with other ex-gamers.

So many people feel like they can’t be who they want to be for all kinds of reasons. In games, we get to choose our own character and it can feel like a miracle.

As Cam talks about, we all want a meaningful challenge. That’s another reason why I gamed.

If the 26-year-old me could mentor my preteen self, she would have gotten lots of words of reassurance… along with a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People, and about eight dozen other books!

Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to turn my passion into a meaningful challenge. I felt alienated from society, ready to plunge head-first into a fantasy.

I Was At Home Inside the Game

inside the game

Despite playing a variety of online games, Neopets was the only one where I really found a home. The place was populated with cute creatures and their stories, and a wide assortment of games and activities to never get bored.

Each player on the site had a page with their stats and accomplishments. I was struck by the shimmering stacks of trophies that adorned other users’ pages, and soon was hooked on winning them myself!

It was kind of like being in school, where we vied for A grades (now, trophies), only the atmosphere here was more playful. Plus, participation was optional; you could play whatever you wanted! In that way, Neopets felt familiar, yet new and self-empowering.

Amid being addicted to Neopets or any game, sometimes it’s hard to say if you’re happy or sad. You’re flooded with euphoria the moment you hop back on the computer. You’re ecstatic over every in-game escalation. But at the end of the night, you can’t shake the feeling that this techno-bliss rests on a real, physical world – where the evidence says you’re not thriving.

Overcoming My Neopets Addiction

neopets addiction

Comparing myself through the years, I could see that gaming hurt me socially, mentally, and physically. It weakened my patience for dealing with life’s imperfections. The sheer time-suck prevented me advancing towards my real life dreams.

Dreams like solving the confusing enigma called gender. Of one day having a joyful relationship. And the dream to help humans be more compassionate towards animals.

I realized at age 11 that I didn’t want to eat animals anymore after learning about factory farming, and about what is involved in bringing animal products to the table.

I wish I could have devoted my energy to promoting a plant-based diet – but gaming always got in the way.

Another thing I realized is that some dreams are already right there in front of you… like having a family. Family can be tough, but being lost in a game world made it tougher. My mom was dying of cancer, and I wish I had supported her and my other family members more.

Those bigger dreams take thoughtfulness and concentration. I knew that if my gaming addiction persisted, the years of little progress would keep rolling by.

As my depressed teen years turned to a better early adulthood, I managed to quit gaming completely several time.

Video Game Addiction Test for Gamers

I also tried to game just one hour per day or one day per month, but the intrusive thoughts were just too much!

So I recommitted to not gaming and I’ve been free since the spring of 2017. Over two years!

Turning My Dreams Into Reality

purpose

Spring 2017 was also when I got my first paid job related to protecting farm animals. I’ve stayed in the movement and kept finding work ever since.

Meaningful challenge – complete!

Currently, I work part-time for a plant-based meat company that you may have been hearing about in the news. It’s exciting because it helps people who want to eat less meat, but still want that awesome taste!

Meanwhile, I live as a woman in a very LGBT-friendly area. When you’re transgender, I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to walk around and have people see you as the gender you feel you are. Times have changed and I’ve gotten acceptance from my family too.

I’ve lived a very lucky life, and count my Neopets experiences as a part of that. Still, there’s no denying the losses I’ve incurred, by so much gaming during those formative years.

Finances got off to a rocky start, and I’m in debt. My knees are in bad shape, exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle and poor physical alignment. My passions for tennis and for writing fizzled out. It’s just generally disappointing to feel I didn’t give things my all and wasn’t fully “there” to experience them.

Fortunately, the success that I enjoyed on Neopets gives clues, clues about how I can live the rest of my life to the fullest.

Download: 60+ New Hobby Ideas

Life Is Just One Big Video Game

Whenever I get nostalgic now, I ask myself what I’m missing from the game. How can I create a real-world version of it?

Gold trophies were an effective motivator of my behaviour (mastering the games). They were visual, memorable, and beautiful to look at. Most of all they were public. We could watch each other gain trophies, spurring on some friendly competition.

Neopets TrophiesI now have a printed list of my goals and commitments, kept in a (fittingly) golden folder. It’s inviting to pick up and glance at multiple times a day, keeping me focused on what matters.

I try not to overthink these lists, but do update them regularly as the vision for my life evolves.

Making friends with trophy collectors in the game was something I loved. Thus in real life, I pursue friendships that are centered around a shared goal. They keep me accountable, and it’s friendly competition.

On Neopets I learned ways to cheat and won with unscrupulous techniques. I eventually froze my account out of guilt and started clean with a new one.

On my last (and most successful) account, I was proud that I gamed honestly. I learned that it’s not worth it to taint a good thing with even minor disloyalty. Living truthfully has many obstacles, but it’s an amazing feeling and one we all deserve to have as much as possible.

If I catch myself “cheating” in real life I remember how I redeemed myself in the game and know that it’s never too late to correct a bad habit, make amends, and choose a more authentic path.

My message is this: Be your own real-life hero. Take on the real world’s juiciest challenges with integrity. Your long-term happiness – and the other beings you help along the way – will thank you.

Need help?

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

I stopped enjoying gaming after I quit watching porn.

Hi, my name is Hayim and I’m going to tell you how I quit video games without even trying.

Like many other guys, my teenage years were filled with too many video games, porn and shitty habits.

I would spend countless hours in the basement with my Playstation 2 from the moment I got out of school until bedtime when my mother would coerce me out of the basement.

Joining the Army

hayim

When I was 18 I joined the Israeli Army in a combat unit. It was tough as hell and basically a constant state of exhaustion for years.

Even in the army whenever my buddies and I would get off for a weekend we would head home and play Battlefield 3. We were soldiers playing army games on the weekends.

Sounds funny I know.

We would spend the whole week in the field training for war and on the weekends we would get home, make some food and try to level up on Battlefield 3.

We’d resort to gaming because video games distracted us from the thought of having to return to base after a few days, and all the exhaustion that comes with it.

Related: How to Overcome Escapism

Long marches, sleepless nights, and the occasional action.

Gaming is Fun, But…

computer gaming

Video games are powerful, and I know why many of us play. I’m not going to go on and tell you how lame they are and why they’re ruining your life.

What I’m going to tell you now is going to help you quit because you won’t even enjoy the games anymore. Discipline alone is a tough way to attack any problem.

It’s a lot more effective when you attack the root of the issue, and that’s what I accidentally discovered.

Instead of putting the focus on quitting to play video games, we should instead focus on the question: Why do we enjoy video games so goddamn much?

Let me explain.

A few years after the army I started studying engineering. But after classes I would still play games up to three hours per day.

It may not seem like a lot but that’s three hours that I was not studying, in class, or sleeping.

The other thing that was holding me back might surprise some people, but in hindsight it was incredibly obvious.

Link Between Gaming and Porn

I used to watch porn, and porn and gaming are inextricably linked.

In Philip Zambardo’s TED talk The Demise of Guys he conflates video game pleasure with porn pleasure – Referring to them as Present Hedonism. Present hedonistic people live in the moment – seeking pleasure, novelty, and sensation, and avoiding pain. Philip Zambardo knows his stuff, he was the leader of the notorious Stanford Prison Experiment.

Video game addictions thrive upon a similar reward system that is very different from substance addiction but very similar to pornography.

Related: Why You Should Quit Gaming for 90 Days

The similarities between porn and gaming don’t end there. With the rise of high speed internet they’ve both earned their own disease classifications in the ICD-11.

The ICD is the International Classification of Diseases and was created by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The newest edition of their disease classification manual ICD-11, has included new diagnosis for both Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder and for video game addiction Gaming Disorder.

Both of these issues have had a notable uptick with the advent of high speed internet that allowed for extremely immersive media.

Digital Addictions

porn addiction

Digital addictions differ from that of substance addictions like drugs and alcohol in one very simple way.

When you’re enjoying a digital form of entertainment we seek different types of pleasure from that same source.

Our pleasure comes from something new and unique. That is why multiplayer gaming has caught on so much, with every match you have a totally new experience thereby creating variety and wanting different experiences with every round.

The same goes for pornography. When someone browses through online pornography, they’re constantly looking for new variety with every video. No one sticks to the same type of porn for long periods of time, they’re constantly changing it up.

This leads to desensitization of porn tastes and can lead to more and more extreme pornography.

But substance addicts?

Substance addicts just want more. They just need more alcohol, more drugs, more.. Whatever.

If you focus on quitting porn, your brain will start to enjoy life more and you won’t require the dopamine that can only be provided by the novelty of video games.

Porn addiction is massively understated in society. Most men have been watching it from as soon as they became old enough to search for it on the web and many go on into their 30s and 40s without ever noticing how dependent they are.

The core reason porn leads to increased video game pleasure is because porn messes up our dopamine reward systems.

We get so used to massive dopamine rushes when watching porn that very little else can compare to it. But video games? That dopamine hit that we get when we headshot that guy with a pistol at 50 yards on Metro?

That can compare.

I Quit Porn (And Gaming)

hope

I quit watching porn in February 2015 and within 6 weeks I went from playing three hours a day, to thirty minutes, to deleting my computer games within months.

I wasn’t even trying. I simply lost interest in them.

I accidentally discovered that video games were only enjoyable for me when I would watch porn.

As soon as I stopped watching porn my dopamine reward system didn’t need video games to enjoy things anymore.

I started to enjoy reading, meditating, working out, and doing more.. “mediocre” things.

I started a daily meditation practice that I keep to this day, and I’ve gained “superpowers” of confidence, posture, vocal tonality.

It’s been over four years and I still don’t own or play any video games or watch porn. In fact, I’ve decided to try to help as many men as possible and recently started a website dedicated to helping guys diagnose their potential addiction to porn.

I’ve turned my life around and so can you.

If you’re going to turn around your video game habit, take a look at your porn habits first.

Written by: Hayim Pinson

I found myself in a bad place.

I was completely addicted to one particular game – an MMO called Black Desert Online.

The thing is, I was really good at it. I enjoyed playing the game so much I actually stopped working so I could play it 24/7.

Why would I do something like that?

I was trying to make sure my name remained relevant in my own little digital heaven.

I wanted to be remembered.

Turning My Back on Gaming

Black Desert Online

As expected, things went south fairly quickly. I soon had to find a job and get back to work.

This was the catalyst for change. I ended up selling my account and didn’t look back once.

Just like that.

I remember, in the interview for my current job, my boss was telling me that the job could be boring.

My reply: “Don’t worry, I’ve been known to do the same thing for 18 hours straight and even enjoy it”.

I still cringe thinking about it, but I ended up getting the job. However, like most jobs, I soon became pretty bored.

I wasn’t fulfilled and I found myself having way too much free time. So, I started using this time to go to the gym.

It turned out that I could carve out a decent shape if I just follow a good workout plan. While this was a great habit, it didn’t help with the boredom.

That’s when I started experimenting.

Firstly, I turned to audiobooks.

I’m allowed to wear headphones at work. So, I started listening to fantasy audiobooks like the Wheel of Time series and Brandon Sanderson novels.

Maybe I still had the bug for getting enveloped inside a fantasy world.

This newfound passion for audiobooks worked really well for about 8 months.

But not well enough, I guess.

I was getting bored. Again.

Life Became My Video Game

After a bit of searching for things to do, I came across an app called LifeRPG.

This completely changed my life.

LifeRPG allows you to track your habits and goals, but it presents them in a way that makes real life into a video game. liferpg example

You gain experience for completing missions and can earn real-life rewards once you finish a certain amount.

I spent a couple of days getting into the app and adding little missions for myself.

Finish workout = finish a mission.

Clean my car = finish a mission.

It’s like having daily quests from an online multiplayer game.

Complete missions, get exp, level up skills, and earn crystals with which you can use to purchase your own custom rewards.

I was using LifeRPG every day, for a time, but it really got interesting when I decided I wanted to get into programming.

I started to study a lot, and almost forgot about the app. Then, one day, I remembered it existed and decided to use it to encourage myself to study.

I added dozens of missions, even rewards and stuff for myself. Some of my rewards included a day off or an unhealthy snack, to more expensive things like buying a new laptop.

Real Life Gamer

Not long after I discovered something called litRPG books.

I still only really listen to audiobooks, but I noticed that there were a lot of them involving characters playing MMOs.

They’d have stats that level up during the book, and it was as close to playing an MMO as you could – without the playing.

So I started soaking them up. Awaken Online, The Land, Life Reset, The Gam3, The Way of the Shaman, and so on.

litrpg example

There are so many of them. Some are better than others, but I even enjoy the bad ones.

I’ve completely lost any urge to play MMOs because while I’m working and driving I’m listening to someone else play MMOs.

Positive thinking doesn’t quite work for me, but turning my life into a video game works wonders.

I’d rather randomly take out my phone to complete a mission and add rewards to purchase than start gaming.

My Life Has Completely Changed

man on top of mountain

In the past, my typical day would involve me waking up really late, playing video games all day, and then going to sleep really late.

I’d miss school, work, and whatever responsibilities I had in order to play.

However, now my day is completely different:

  • Wake up early for work
  • Weigh myself (mission)
  • Listen to an audiobook in the car
  • More listening while working
  • Go to the gym after work (mission)
  • Drive home, audiobook again
  • Study programming for a few hours (mission)
  • Browse the internet
  • If I have time I’ll complete some optional missions

I’m well on my way to become an experienced programmer, and I have a great routine and structure to my life. It’s been so long since I was a hardcore gamer that I haven’t got any issues saying no to games anymore.

My Advice for Someone Trying to Quit

just do it

Don’t expect to change your life without taking some drastic steps. You have to do more than just uninstall a game or two.

You’ll have to change as many things about yourself as possible.

Get rid of that ugly lamp. Buy a new mousepad. Toss your old clothes.

These things might not be holding you back, but being able to change these little things will make it easier to change yourself.

And remember – The best time to start was yesterday. The next best time is now. The worst time is never.

Thank you for reading my story. Hopefully, I’ve inspired someone else who’s reading this to turn their life around by quitting gaming, it’s well worth it.

Signing off – Herman.

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

My name is Jeroen, and I’m an addict. Well, I used to be.

Today I am a Belgian personal coach and IT student, I am 24 years old and I used to game 10 hours a day whenever I had the time.

In high school I didn’t really have to work very hard to get decent grades. Well, for the first few years at least. When I was 17 I had to stay in the same grade for another year, due to poor grades – mainly caused by my severe gaming addiction.

I would wake up early and game a bit before going to school. At school I would think about gaming and my goals (in the game), finally return home, and continue gaming until my parents arrived from work. I ate my dinner and then went back to my room, gaming until bedtime. Rinse and repeat. This was my typical day from the age of 14 until I was 21.

Gaming Had a Huge Impact on My Life

escapism

While there are negative influences that came from gaming, it did also have its benefits.

Gaming was an escape. I used to get bullied in high school, and that’s exactly when the addiction became out of control. Through my game I could stop thinking about the bullying and other stuff that troubled my mind. Online I was just an anonymous boy. I could be anyone, and I was respected (most of the time).

At one point I was so good at RuneScape that I was ranked 25th best in the world in PVP. This is the kind of hype that kept me drawn to gaming. The progress and sense of achievement is what makes gaming so addictive. The unlimited amount of dopamine that’s sitting right in front of you.

Related: Why You Game: Your Need for Accomplishment

College Helped Me Quit Gaming

denmark

While in college, and getting my Physical Education Degree, I had some experiences that caught my attention and got me away from gaming.

My favorite experience was the 6 month Erasmus studies I did in Denmark. While being there we had a lot of little projects, and I got to meet new people and interact with several different nationalities. It was a very cool experience, and it kept me from gaming. I think the main reason here was the fact that I actually felt useful, and I could really contribute to a lot cool projects that also had social value.

I’ve always been fortunate to have good friends around me and caring parents. I played soccer and went to the gym. These are things that really helped me when gaming started taking full control of my life. I mean there were still bad parts, where I would game 10-12 hours a day for a week, which is very unhealthy, but without sports or friends, it could have been a lot worse.

Is Productivity Sustainable?

productivity

3 months after my Erasmus experience I graduated college as a sports teacher and fitness instructor. I got my first job, and started my own business on the side as a personal trainer. The first month when I graduated I actually spent a lot of time gaming between looking for a job. Luckily it didn’t take me to long to find one.

When I signed my contract I made big decision. I was going to put all of my effort and time into this job, and creating my own business. Not one minute would be wasted. I was going to be successful in real life. I had never been so motivated.

6 months later I soon realized that this was not a sustainable pace to live my life. I would wake up at 07:00, workout, work on the business, go to work, and get home at 23:00. I also had to work weekends.

Most people would say I was doing amazing. Freshly graduated, got a decent paying job, and I was growing my own business on the side. What else could a man wish for, right? Well, that’s not entirely true. I just didn’t feel too well. The long hours, and tons of physical activity started taking its toll. I would have the worst migraines in the middle of the day, and sometimes even get dizzy when I stood up. I realized I was working too much and it was hard on my body.

Finding Balance

netflix

I needed to take some time to relax. Life is not just about working your butt off and making money, it’s about balance. Doing what you love, working on projects you’re passionate about, spending enough time with friends and family, watching a Netflix movie, or any other things that you may enjoy.

After spending 7 months without watching TV or playing a single video game, I started watching some Netflix shows and started gaming. Not when I had other things to do, but when I felt like I deserved it. I think gaming and watching TV are a good activity if they actually help you relieve stress and if you enjoy it. But one thing I have learned is that it is all about moderation and balance.

Related: How to Relax Without Playing Video Games

Present Day:

I quit my job as a fitness instructor 4 months ago. I decided to go back to college to become a front-end developer. This course will take me 3 years, but I know it’s the right choice. I am still working as a personal trainer for my own business, which I really like because I help people become more active. The goal is to one day combine these passions of mine and make a living out of them both. These goals are what keep me going.

This is my story, and this what I have learned from my addiction. I wanted to share this with you guys who are suffering from something like I did or who have been through this as well.

Join our Movement

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

Ready to quit gaming?

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

I haven’t played a video game in two years and counting.

Quitting video games isn’t an unlocked achievement I put in my trophy cabinet to never think of it again. It’s an endurance training program. The goal of my program isn’t summarized in fighting back the craving every time I feel it until I win and relax (and repeat) – it’s how I don’t get used to relaxing because you never know when your gaming addiction will sneak back into your daily life.

I don’t mean that I’m at war 24/7 with myself, sweating anxiety and panic attacks. Things get easier when you do them on a regular basis. Gaming and not gaming follow the same rule.

My Gaming Addiction Started at 8 Years Old

teenager playing games

My gaming addiction started at 8 years old with Counter Strike. I loved how you could work as a team to achieve a common goal and have fun, show your abilities and self-declare ‘the best’. I desired to be the best at everything, recognized and valued.

As the majority of people who struggle with this addiction, I didn’t have an idea of how much games hooked me and made me believe they were the only ones who wanted to make me happy. When you’re a kid and a teenager, what matters is being recognized by groups. Why should I care about real life?

After Counter Strike I went to the world of MMORPGs. I still recall how sad I was because I couldn’t play a game because my PC specs were too low. At this time my parents never said a word about it – according to my mother, “it was fine because I wasn’t in danger outside.” We hardly knew the consequences of playing 10-12 hours per day.

I dedicated half my day, every day, for 15 years straight to playing MMORPGs. I felt I needed to play games for hours and hours – if not, someone would surpass me..

Grades Were Fine, Depression Was Not

teenager depressed

Games were a piece of my heart and soul, but my school life remained intact. My grades were great, I talked to people (although being shy) and had a minimal social life outside academic walls. When I got transferred to another school at 14 years old I met a new friend named Depression. We held hands for 6 years.

I didn’t want to talk to people, not feeling understood by society. Depression was now friends with games too, who could tell…They seduced me to play MMORPGs over and over. At 18 years old, I went to college guided by my mom’s feelings. I don’t blame her – how could I if I simply shut down my mind to live in a virtual world?

“My decisions were based on how I could be better at games, not at real life.”

I wanted to overcome depression. I sought professional help with a psychologist. She recommended posting more on Facebook to start making friends and being visible to the real world. I can’t explain how a professional would recommend the virtual world as the solution to the virtual world itself. I felt misunderstood and undervalued.

Note: Do seek help. Only you can solve this mess, however don’t neglect professionals. There are good and bad ones. Find one that works for you.

Suicidal thoughts chimed in. I was nothing in real life. I wanted to be a gamer, one of those streaming on YouTube and Twitch, or a professional gamer, winning millions of dollars and proving that I was ‘the best’ to everyone. I even told my mom I wanted to be a gamer, she was like: “do whatever you want, but I don’t agree with it”. Of course I interpreted as my family was against me and my ‘dreams’.

Related: Why Your Parents Don’t Believe in Your Dreams

I Decided to Quit Gaming

inhale the future exhale the past

At 20 years old I tried to stop playing games over and over, unsuccessful. At 23, I discovered Game Quitters. Someone decided to share his experience, to say we were not alone and yes, it was possible to stop for once and for all. I watched all the videos and interestingly, my doubts were answered where no one could help me.

November 1st, 2016: the last time I said ‘I won’t play games anymore’. Cold turkey, ‘all or nothing’. Each day taught me about who I was and what I could learn from others.

Not everyday is the same, so there isn’t a single formula to solve all your problems and questions. If you believe in a single formula, you get used to it. I adapted this sentence to ‘getting used’ to new experiences, solutions and interpretations about myself and my life everyday.

Even if you use an old formula today, you are actually using it for the first time. As, Heraclitus’ says: “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”.

When I finally started to live this phrase, I got used to learning everyday, to use my addiction to learn about myself, and about itself. It was hard, shaking in my bed and the impossibility to think about anything outside ‘you have to play games, you are losing time’.

Related: How to Deal with Cravings

Where I Am Today

man walking on hills

At 25 years old, reading books, walking for the sake of walking and gathering knowledge is what define me, for now. I study Psychology (oh the irony) because I love it, I want to help people live their lives with passion, with what they can and have in the real world. I’ve never been so happy and motivated in my whole life, virtual or real.

I have a path, I pursue goals, and I make decisions. Bad moments happen everyday, but now I have a choice in how I respond to them.

More than 2 years later, I still haven’t played games. I decided to quit games by sharing my story with you, as Cam shared his. Thank you, Cam.

Fifteen years later I see myself out of the world of games. As I said, I’m the ‘all or nothing’ person, dedicating my time and my life in goals that matter for the better of people. Please never give up. Thank you for reading my story. Thank you for those who choose to share their stories as well.

Join our Movement

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

Ready to quit gaming?

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

I booted up my computer. It was Friday and I had a lot of work to do, but hey, I kept the whole weekend free so it’s okay. I can start my work tomorrow, and play a game now. Before I knew it, it was 5:00 AM.

On Saturday I wouldn’t start on my university work either. I ate “brunch” at 2:00 PM and skipped dinner. I went to sleep at 7:00 AM on Sunday morning, and consequentially woke up at 2:00PM. By then I figured that my homework wouldn’t get done anyways, so I fired up my game. At 7:00AM on Monday “morning” I finally had a moment of clarity.

I Spent the Whole Weekend Gaming

dark keyboard

I skipped half of my meals and also a night of sleep. I failed to do my homework. I failed. But this time I didn’t return to the cycle of addiction. Normally I’d focus my eyes at the screen again to escape thinking about my gaming behavior. A paradox, but I fear a recognizable one.

Instead of running from the “fact” that I failed again, I put into doubt that conclusion. Was it fair to conclude that I failed? “To fail” means that you do not reach a certain standard. In this case, a standard that is set by myself. And that I had not met my standard was crystal clear: instead of doing homework, I wasted the weekend on a stupid game.

But this mismatch can also mean that the standard is the problem. And it was. Perfectionism is the disease of our time, and I am no exception. I wanted my life to be perfect, and in “reaching higher”, I had put so much guilt on myself that I went into hiding. Games merely gave me shelter.

So when I played games during the weekend, I didn’t fail. Demanding that I would do homework for the whole weekend at home was a ridiculous idea. Maybe the most disciplined among us can do such a feat, but it’s human to fail such a task. My standards were making me feel miserable so I did away with them and looked at my life. Without a standard, and without judgement.

My Life Was Miserable

man staring out the window depressed

I felt depressed. I seldom saw friends, or did anything productive. I skipped half of my school classes. And I played games, a lot of. And now that I wasn’t trying to hide from my own judgement I could finally look at this without fear. It was emotionless, rational. Gaming had numbed all my feelings.

Now for a solution I figured it would be too much to ask to shut down my computer right away. It would also leave me with a poor sleep schedule, going to bed at 8:00AM. So I decided that today would be the last day that I gamed. I also decided it would be too much to ask to not game ever, at least right now, so I decided to task myself with not playing any games for 30 days, after today.

When I shut down my computer at 5:00PM I felt a weird kind of energy. It was going to happen. I was going to break the cycle. And I was going to focus on that. Starting slow and easy: my goals for tomorrow would be to get out of bed, take a shower and not play any games.

30 Days Without Games

whatever it takes

The first day, Tuesday, was bad. Without my games there was no hiding from my loneliness. No reason to even get out of bed. No escape from the fact that I had about 3 weeks of homework waiting for me, due next week. But somehow I got out of bed and took a shower. Bought some breakfast at the grocery store, warmed up leftovers for dinner, and most of all, I didn’t play any games.

When I went to bed, for the first time in what felt like forever, I felt proud. Genuinely proud. And it felt weird, because by my previous standard I had achieved absolutely nothing. But for the first time in months, I made progress. And this feeling of achievement to look forward to is what got me through Wednesday. I was looking forward to lying in bed thinking: “today I didn’t play any video games”.

I Wrote My Family a Letter

writing a letter

On Thursday I decided that my parents and my brother should know about my situation. I shared details about my situation. About how terrible and lonely I felt. About my gaming addiction and interweaved depression, about my guilt. Writing this letter is one of the hardest things I did. It took me 2 days to write 500 words, but somehow I did it. I told my parents that I’d be coming home this weekend and I’d have something to tell them. They wouldn’t be too happy to hear that I might fail my class, but it had to be done.

I told my brother on Friday evening, I sent the letter to him online, and I called him on Skype. I read the letter to my parents on Saturday. I cried, my brother cried, my parents cried. But to have their support was important and the tears brought relief. With my parents watching me I made it through the weekend, and to my own shock that left me on Monday evening with the realization that I hadn’t played any games for a week.

Halfway through week three I was starting to struggle. The emptiness had caught up with me, and I still didn’t have a whole lot to do in my life. But I had something to look forward to.

I would go on a holiday to meet my brother who was studying abroad. I talked with him extensively about my problems, my addiction and depression. It made me understand my problems much clearer. And last, but not least, it was a break from doing nothing. Doing stuff is great, and my time with my brother was surrounded by his friends, whom I got along with.

With this newfound strength I finished the fourth week. My life slowly began to take shape. I went out for daily walks, I hung out with flat mates and I joined a club. Slowly but surely the void was filling. But also day 30 was coming up.

Resource: Need activity ideas to replace gaming?

I Tried Gaming Again

shiny computer

On day 32 I decided I’d play a game again, and it went quite well. I quit it exactly when I meant to. But on day 33 I didn’t. However I realized not all was lost. 30 days without gaming had taught me that there was something worth quitting for and I wrote a program that would shut down my computer if I exceeded a time that I set for myself. With this “gaming-clock” it was possible to moderate.

However I made sure that I kept filling the void. I signed up for a sport (a team sport!) and another club. I hung out with friends and flatmates. I even started being productive again. And by asking myself every time before I turned on the PC: “Is there something I could do that would make me happier?”, the time that I spent gaming decreased. And with that for the first time that year I saw a glimmer of happiness. But then Christmas came.

Christmas is great right? Well not for me. The holidays broke my rhythm completely and I stayed at my parents where there’s a whole lot of nothing to do. I went back to gaming out of boredom and frustration. It took me quite a while to recover, but the 30 days clean and subsequent introspection gave me the tools to do so. I never sunk as deep as I had in October. By February I returned to my schedule. Whether or not you beat an addiction is decided by how you bounce back.

Related: About to Relapse? Consider This First

In March I got a part-time job which started to take up more and more time, to my liking. With school I was starting to become a “busy” person. Things were looking up again. I started being invited to parties, being the “fun” person I once was. It’s funny to look at my calendar and seeing it fill up from February to now, getting busier and busier.

I had some more minor setbacks, but in general I always made more steps forward than backwards – progress. I filled up the summer holidays with trips funded by my job and I met a wonderful girl. (Too late) I consulted a psychologist who diagnosed me with “depression in remission”. And that brings me to today.

One Year Later

boy reaching for the clouds

Today it has been a year since I made that decision on Monday the 9th. A year since my moment of clarity. A year since the best decision in my life. And for the occasion I wanted to write out my story. To tell you, StopGaming, because hanging out in the discord is one of the many things that filled the void initially. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one kept me from going insane.

I hope my story helps at least one person. I wrote the whole story, not only the end result. Because I wanted to be more insightful. I wanted to explain how I was finally able to decide that it’s enough. And how I followed through on it, with both the ups and downs.

Questions I wish I would have been able to ask the future me a year ago:

  • Do I really have a problem? Yes. Unfortunately. You’re not a crazy person though, it’s common enough. And you can get out of it. But not without work and pain. Take it seriously, never let your guard down.
  • Shouldn’t I set myself the goal of never playing a video game again, instead of 30 days? If you can do that, go for it. But it is crucial that you believe, truly believe in your goal. 30 days seems like a good place to start for now. You can also do 30 and then evaluate!
  • What on earth do I do with my time? It doesn’t matter. Before you know it, another day is gone. But don’t play any games. In general: put effort into upgrading the quantity and quality of your activities and you’ll see that eventually your calendar starts to fill with appointments, meetings and parties. (There are a ton of ideas for new activities here.)
  • Is school important? School can help you get into a rhythm. Having some kind of rhythm is vital to recovery, attending a class in this respect is more important than finishing an assignment, because it gives a rhythm to your day. Recovery is the main objective, grades will come eventually. Contact your school about your problems (at least in my country they are understanding).
  • When will I see the light at the end of the tunnel? You won’t. It’s as if somebody slowly turns off the dimmer on a light. First you’ll see where you are, and then you’ll realize this place isn’t so bad after all.
  • What is the one thing you’d want to say to me? You don’t have to do it alone. Call your brother, tell your friends and go in therapy. And when you feel bad, tell someone before you feel the urge to fire up a game. And when you do feel an urge to, ask yourself; “what am I feeling bad about?’, then tell someone.

Join me for another 30 days without gaming.

Story written by OneYearAtATime0

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

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

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

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

Escaping Online

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Helped Me Quit Gaming

Have a firm commitment

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

Find new friends

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

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

Get out of your comfort zone

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

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

Dive into new projects

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

Benefits of Quitting Gaming

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

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

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

My Advice to You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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

“I am a 30 year old guy who stopped gaming last year. I hope my experience can help others.”

I got addicted to gaming from a very young age. My parents bought me a Nintendo console when I was around 5-8 years old. Damn that thing got me so excited! I still remember shooting those ducks with a fake gun on the screen!… Slowly they bought me more and more games. I got better at them and then I moved to Playstation 1. My favorite console ever.

Tekken 1 was my first game ever, then Tomb Raider Lara Croft 1. Then tons of others! I also bought the Playstation magazine that came with demo games every month! I was so competitive! I was getting so mad when I lost… To be honest my parents never thought my passion for gaming was unhealthy. They thought it was funny. “Let the kid be a kid and we go do our adult stuff.”

Gaming Became My Escape

digital prison

Onwards to my teen years gaming was my escape from the world. Escape from bullying, from bad family communication, from bad parenting, failed relationships, and psychological issues.

And then Lineage 2 came – an MMORPG similar to World of Warcraft. I hated it at the beginning, but then when I started getting the hang of it I got super addicted. My character was my life! I remember I used to daydream about the game during school time. Draw pictures of weapons and enemies! Making phone calls with my guild clan members. I even had my own guild. All those using dial-up internet! My parents paid so much money for internet back then.

Then faster internet came and everything changed. Unlimited internet made me start to lose the red lines. At 17 I did my first 24 hour grind leveling dungeon. Imagine playing 24 straight hours at the same spot to get one level! The sun came up and I thought “wtf did I just do… Is this real??” And went to bed.

Problems Started to Come

problems

My psychology started to change. I became more bored of real life, more avoidant of people, and sports started to get less interesting and more tiring. I became less fit and more fat. I had bad eating and sleeping habits, and poor posture.

I started to fight with parents a lot more due to them putting pressure on me for too much gaming. Sometimes our fights were escalating too much, and they would shut down the internet or electricity and I would rage. Boy those were really bad times but that game was my life. I was very respected and liked online. That was tremendous to me because in real life I was getting bullied and mistreated a lot, and thus had very low self-esteem.

Related: How to Build Self-Esteem

Off to University

university computer science

Guess what I decided to study? Computer Science. The reason? Gaming. I had this idea that I will make a game similar to Lineage. I wanted people to experience what I felt when I played it. I also choose a university that was far away from my parents so I could get away from their controlling pressure due to my gaming habits.

After starting university I discover I hate it! Physics? Math? Circuits? Tons of stuff I didn’t even like in the slightest. Extremely boring to me. Only programming was a little fun I can admit. But not so much to do it at my free time or grow an interest for it outside of university.

Courses keep piling up and so does my addiction. My social life suffers. I try to hide my emotions and anxiety to control myself but I barely can. My life starts to make me depressed. I attend half the lectures, I get such severe anxiety that I start to get stomach cramps. I rarely told my parents. I just tried to hide everything. Sometimes I did tell them they would make everything worse by escalating it. It took me 6-7 years to graduate from a university that was supposed to take me 3.5 years to finish.

Time to Make a Change

do something great

I start to learn more about myself and my way of life. At 25 I start to give up on MMORPGS. I am starting to wake up. I still played World of Warcraft, League of Legends and later, Hearthstone. Slowly I realize my mistakes. At 28-29 I give up on gaming entirely.

I still use a PC for work or surfing. I’m struggling to find work now because I hate my degree. I can’t stand working on a screen anymore. My back hurts. My neck hurts. My posture is awful. I go to a gym to fix it.

I still have self-esteem issues that I am working on. My family and I are working to fix our issues after all these years. I am inexperienced with relationships and still a virgin. I moved back in with my parents at 25 and still live with them at 30. I feel kind of stuck, but at the same time I am trying to move forward little by little. There are bad days and good days. I am learning every day more stuff about myself and the world. I am trying to help by volunteering.

Your situation might be better than mine or it might be worse, but for a moment, stop and think about how you manage your time. How does gaming make you feel? Why? Is it too much? Can you control it? I never could. I tried many times, and couldn’t. I never look back. My opinion is all those hours wasted, the escapism to a digital trouble-free world along with the psychological baggage being carried in real life is not worth it over some dopamine and virtual pixels in the end.

I hope you got something out of my story. Love to you all!

Related: Is It Ok to Play Games in Moderation?

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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

“My /played in World of Warcraft reveals a 650 days of game time.”

It is 2010, I am graduating high school and my “/played” in World of Warcraft reveals a combined 650 days of game time across all my characters. I have conquered Azeroth numerous times, I am notorious across servers, and my stats suggest I am one of the best PVPers to grace the pixelated landscape we call home.

My high school peers have conquered something entirely different. College acceptance letters sweep through the halls, pumping up and down in excited palms. Where they are physically holding achievement, my achievement is relegated to some intangible world, one that will inevitably be washed over with the next series of updates.

While they will live out their best as undergrads, it will take me years to figure out what my best even is. Ironically, I have overcome the effects of wasted time by impulsively spending my time.

Then I Met a Little Girl

little girl playing inside

Fast forward 2 years and I am living in Santa Barbara. I am a live-in nanny for two girls (8 and 10), the youngest being recently diagnosed with severe ADHD. Meanwhile, I am seeing a therapist who’s diagnosis for me is anxiety. I, lost and afraid of the uncertainties of my future, am in the presence of a little being, for whom the world is a playground. She, constantly told to contain herself, has this tall jungle gym of a man who embodies control (partly because his anxieties make him hyper-aware). Together, we are each other’s superheroes with the purpose of helping the other.

Related: Why ADHD and Video Games Can Be a Brutal Combination

I foster her passions with empathy. I teach her to be conscious of the outcome of her behaviors – that probing hands are acceptable when playing with most things, not people or people’s things; that an interrogation is not like a conversation and how you can get the same information through both; that someone who does not like you can be someone who just isn’t ready to understand you. Through this I find a desire to teach and support. I find passion.

She unknowingly shows me the significance of a moment. I learn how to be confident – she gets us into awkward situations, often, that I learn how to remedy even the most uncomfortable situations; I push and pull my environment and perspective like her, molding a framework that works for me; I learn to be curious about everything, in much the same way she does. We find power where others see disability.

Today I Pursue Life With Passion

cliff jumping

I have since gone to create my own experiences. I have traveled across the US to present research, explored a variety of jobs, traveled across 4 continents, published poetry, started conversations with the most unique strangers, and more all in chase of passion.

Throughout these experiences, I have had the occasional urge to play video games. Relapse is something I have learned to cope with. My relationship with video games will last the rest of my life. However, not unlike ADHD, this thing called addiction is perspective. A little tweaking, and it becomes the reason to push my boundaries.

The one thing that remains constant through my life is the love to teach and support others, a calling that I will utilize as a professor. For now, I am passionate about being passionate and so I will be just that.

Written by Cameron Chernobieff

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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

“I was a state-level tennis player before entering college, but that went right out the window.”

I’m a 29 year old male, working as a Senior Software Engineer in Washington DC. I got introduced to gaming around the age of 14-15. Road Rash, a very old Windows 95/98 racing game, and then a few years later Age of Empires. I was hooked, AoE2 was (and still is) one of the best games I’ve ever played.

I played alone, because online gaming hadn’t taken off yet. Even LAN gaming wasn’t popular back then. I also dabbled in Quake3 and UnrealTournament, with a bit of Command and Conquer here and there. A couple of years later, right before I went to college, LAN parties exploded. I got introduced to Warcraft. College brought in DotA. This is where my gaming addiction really kicked in.

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

Social Gaming

LAN parties at college were legitimately social experiences. Everyone was playing DotA and Counter-Strike. I was a state-level tennis player before entering college, but that went right out the window. LAN and internet gaming helped me make so many friends. And, that’s all we did together. Play and talk video games.

I was fortunate enough that it did not impact my grades. I did end up graduating with a Computer Science and Engineering degree with a 3.7 GPA. But if anyone asked me what my hobby was, I would proudly say a gamer. Hell I even wasted $3,000-$4,000 dollars of my dad’s money building PC gaming rigs. Even lied to my parents saying it was needed for course work. GPUs were expensive back in late 2000s.

I got into University of Penn, for a Master’s program in CS in 2010. This is where the gaming addiction reared it’s ugly head. I graduated with a 3.4 CGPA in 2012- half my grad school hours was spent on DotA2. Ended up getting a decent job, but was totally unfocused at work.

Just A Mild Addiction?

So far gaming was mildly addictive, but there were other things happening in my life which made me feel like I was progressing in those fronts. So I did not pay too much attention to excessive gaming.

Then in 2014, I decided to pick up an XboX one and a TV for my new apartment because I had lot of cash to burn and never owned a console, so I wanted to dabble in it. A few of my old college buddies were on Xbox Live. It was fun, and it allowed me to keep in touch with them (we are all geographically distant – DC, Seattle, New York, EU). They introduced me to Destiny. God! That game almost ruined my adult life. I had 2,000 hours in Dota2 and Dota over 7 years. And I managed to put in 3,000 hours in Destiny within 2 years.

I had gotten out of a 7 year relationship, and used video gaming to cope with the break up. I was in a depression – 27, lack of focus at work, no friends, no intimate relationship with a significant other, gaming addiction, suffering a major health issue (dental) and asthma, and absolutely lacked exercise or physical activity. Rock bottom. Stress and anxiety followed.

Video Game Addiction Quiz for Gamers

Life is Better Now

What snapped me out of this addiction, was last Christmas I ended up meeting a few of my grad school friends, and they were so far ahead in life. They had better paying and more fulfilling jobs, most were either married or in relationships, and overall they were all really happy. Some were in great shape as well. Everyone had thriving social circles and plenty of friends. None of this just happened for any of them. They all did the time, and reaped the rewards. I did the time as well, just got the rewards in the virtual world.

Today I don’t own a gaming console, or gaming PC, just a basic Intel NUC with Ubuntu/Fedora for programming at home which my profession demands. I have no Steam account, no BattleNet account, and no Xbox Live account. They took a month to permanently delete. I followed Cam’s advice – replaced gaming with activities that target the same highs which video gaming provides as a proxy:

  1. Strength Training – There is something raw and primal about lifting weights. I’m a skinny guy.. But even lifting 185lbs deadlift makes you feel really really good. Also this prompted tangible, measurable progress that I had been substituting “leveling” up a character in the virtual world with.
  2. Tennis – I suffer from asthma, and cannot engage in long duration endurance activities. I tried long distance cycling and running, but went back to playing tennis. It’s an activity with short movement bursts and allows me to recover in between points. I’m currently a 3.5 on the NTRP, and would like to hit 4.0 in two years time. Again, measurable progress.
  3. Being Social – Still working on making friends in my city. I have good friends, but they are all far away, and we can only meet once in a few months.
  4. Completing courses on Coursera and Udemy. Learning and resharpening my coding skills, which I will see benefits from in my software engineering interviews at top tech firms I plan to apply for soon. More progress that can be tracked.
  5. Dating – Managed to get a couple of dates with some really well rounded and beautiful women. Nothing has worked out for the long term, but hey, some progress on this front. Someone finds me attractive, which is a great confidence booster when you are trying to recover from low self-esteem.
  6. Day trading – Making my money grow. I was living paycheck-to-paycheck, and as an engineer you make decent pay, but my money wasn’t growing. I have been investing mostly in tech stocks since this is a industry I understand well, and have made a few hundred dollars in a year after taxes.
  7. Wood work and carpentry classes – I started with the free ones at Home Depot, and then enrolled in a local community college for weekend classes. I like working with my hands, and hopefully spending time with like-minded people will lead to friendships.
  8. Animal shelter volunteering – I had a wonder Alexandrine parrot for a decade, she passed away in 2017. I reached out to the local shelter and asked if they could use a hand with basic cleaning, moving boxes, and bookkeeping activities. It’s a minor contribution, but I really feel giving back to the community is cathartic.

Forge your own path in the real world, folks. Life is too short to be lived in the virtual one. Good luck.

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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

“We have big plans to travel, start a family, build a home, and live abroad.”

What a year it has been. My life has changed so much in one year that in the occasional moment I actually don’t recognize myself.

I have fought off a long depression, lost weight and got into shape. I have grown mentally and spiritually into a more confident, aware and happy person. I challenged my social anxiety and awkwardness, and can now look people in the eye and hold a conversation. I even mustered all my courage to ask a girl out, we fell in love and I asked her to marry me. She said yes! I also discovered a passion to pursue, and created a vision of an epic life that I’m (we’re) working toward.

This has all been accomplished by a guy who just over a year ago… didn’t work, woke up just to game all day, every day, was overweight with no regards to eating healthy or exercising, dwelled deep in depression with suicidal thoughts, and who was living a lonely, directionless, miserable half-life.

Related: From 60lbs Overweight, to 6-Pack, Married, and 6-Figure Business. Nicholas Bayerle’s Story

Is Gaming Bad?

No. I think they can be absolutely amazing when used for the right reasons. But they can be bad when you use games like I did, to escape adversity I needed to face, to pretend I was achieving goals when my life stood still, to procrastinate, and to cover wounds that required attention and healing.

I’d say it’s not about quitting games. It’s not about finding other things to fill the time games used to occupy. It’s about having a vision for your life, living with intention and purpose toward it, and to experience life to its fullest – whatever that may mean to you.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows though. Behind every step forward, there was me forcing myself out of my comfort zone, and facing many fears and uncomfortable situations.

Near the end of last year, I had a total breakdown. My world, my hard built habits and routines were turned upside down and thrown out the window. But reflecting on the situation now, I realize those things needed to go to make room for new things. Wonderful things.

I now have a great job that leaves me with time to pursue my passion. I have a life partner to support each other through adversity and also double the amount of fun we both have. We have big plans to travel, start a family, build a home, and live abroad. We’re both working hard toward our individual and mutual goals.

3 Steps to Quit Gaming:

Step 1: Establish Your Foundation

breathe

This is the most important aspect of changing for the better, and if you do nothing else but maintain this your life will begin to shift almost automatically. Your foundation involves the following:

  • Get Enough Sleep! Maintain a regular sleep schedule, and get the amount of sleep you need. It’s recommended to sleep 7-9 hours a night, but it can actually vary everywhere between 4-11 hours. Be sure you know your individual need! Exercise and diet may be factors too.
  • Eat Real Food. A clean diet involves avoiding processed food, additives, and sugar. Learn to read labels, and if the label contains a bunch of words that sound like a scientist wrote them, avoid it! I tried a keto diet and intermittent fasting, and loved both! Find a diet that suits you.
  • Exercise! Start small, but be consistent, and build your routine up slowly. I recommend doing something you enjoy, making it as low-thresholded as possible, and scheduling it during a time that you’re most likely to do it. The trick I got myself to exercise was doing it at home, with minimal to no equipment, by watching exercise videos from a preferred YouTube channel as a part of my morning routine. On top of that, I played basketball with friends, went skateboarding, and nowadays, I run with my fiancée.

These are called keystone habits, meaning they are foundational habits that impact every other habit. They even have a supporting effect on each other! Sleep well to have more willpower and energy which will help you make better decisions regarding food and getting yourself to exercise; Eat healthy to sleep better and have the energy to exercise; Exercise to sleep better and have your body craving nutritious food.

I also recommend meditation, which is backed up by science to improve happiness, and reduce anxiety and stress. Meditation provides actual physical changes in the brain on those who practice it regularly!

Step 2: Schedule Your Day

plan

Create a morning and an evening routine. Having a well planned morning will make you excited about waking up and get your momentum going to have a great, productive day. Mine looked like this:

  • Wake up immediately. I disabled snooze and placed my phone across the room so I had to leave the bed to turn it off.
  • Make your bed. It’s an easy task to create a sense of accomplishment first thing in the morning, and builds momentum to be productive. Plus you have a more clear and organized mindset when your surroundings are in order and no mess or disorder bugging you.
  • Water & vitamins. Getting hydrated will give you a boost of energy.
  • Mediation. I did 15 minutes. Do whatever amount is low enough to get you to do it consistently every day. Consistency is the key here, not the time of a single sitting.
  • Coffee & chill. This was my carrot (motivation) to look forward to mornings. I allowed myself the luxury to just enjoy some good coffee and browse Reddit or watch Youtube.
  • Workout. Provides you with energy for the rest of the day, and for me, it was one of the hardest tasks, so getting it done as early as possible helped a lot.
  • Cold shower. You have to push yourself, but afterward you feel amazing. Not only that, it’s also a great way to start the day by going out of your comfort zone.
  • Get ready for the day. Do everything to make yourself presentable from hair to feet. Making yourself look great will also make you feel great.

That’s it! Craft your own, write it down and make it visible. Seriously. Keep it somewhere you can’t avoid to see every morning. A whiteboard in your room can work wonders.

Read: The Miracle Morning for Addiction Recovery

My evening routine was much simpler: hot shower, brush teeth, etc. Then dim the lights, and read. Your evening routine’s purpose is to act as a cue that the day is done and it’s time to sleep. I have big problems falling asleep, especially during summer when daytime is so long, so having an evening routine has been really important.

Note by Cam: An eye-mask and earplugs have helped me sleep as well.

To plan my day I use Google Calendar. It’s not perfect, but so far the best I’ve found. I plan my days hour by hour so I know what I should be doing and won’t have to waste energy and willpower pondering if or what I should do.

The free hours you have will be limited when you schedule everything. Take 24 hours in a day: 8 hours goes to sleeping, another 8 likely for school or work, leaving 8 hours which includes commuting, cooking, eating, cleaning, picking up kids, walking the dog, time with family/partner … whatever have you.

Start to see the importance of scheduling, and thinking about how to organize your days so you can maximize the time you have to achieve your dream life. Life is all about the choices and sacrifices we make, so make sure you are aware and in control of what you invest your precious time into. Discard anything that is not aligned with your highest potential.

Step 3: Create a Vision

vision

Don’t just fill your time with hobbies, but with things that move you to where you want to go. If you don’t have a vision and goals for your future, now is the time to start figuring that out.

With all of the time that stopping gaming left you, you can now use it to build a vision for your life. The vision will change and shape as you move forward, and that’s okay, but more important than where you’re going is that you are going, because it’s only by going forward that you will know if it’s the right path, or if you need change direction after all.

I started by making a mind map where I put everything I wanted out of life, or at least what I knew I wanted in the moment. Then I planned my days so I was working toward my goals. My days were suddenly filled with purpose and meaning, instead of just hobbies and entertainment to pass the time.

You don’t have to know your purpose or passion yet. To discover them, you’re going to try new things, truly giving them an honest go, and develop useful skills to aid you in the future. Learn a language, woodworking, or programming to name a few useful ones. You can even make a list of things that might interest you, then try them out one by one, crossing off the ones that didn’t spark a flame.

That’s the purpose of quitting games. To free your time to be used with an intention. Envision your life and live each day toward it.

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cam adair game quitters

When you started gaming? What games?

I started gaming as soon as I could pick up the controller, maybe five or six years old. I used to watch my mom and her neighbor play Legend of Zelda and Star Fox on the Super Nintendo and I remember my first gaming experience beating the first Corneria level with a sliver of health only to run out of lives on the next asteroid level!

It was all downhill from there, from being the Nintendo 64 kid (basically) opening up the present under the Christmas tree to skipping class to play my GameCube and spending 6 years playing world of Warcraft around 18 units of college classes.

What did you like about gaming?

What immediately comes to mind is the sense of validation. My parents were very hard workers and were determined to provide me with everything I needed on a concrete level. However I would say withholding of encouragement in things I was interested in. I remember running out of my room to show my parents something exciting in my game only to be rejected or given a quizzical look.

Video games provided simple rules for success: get the exp, shoot the bad guy, score the loot. It made a lot of everything else seemingly too complicated. Things like real life friendships, relationships, responsibilities. I also liked the way video games advanced in graphics, narrative, and art form I think it got me interested in technology, arts from the beginning.

Watch: How Your Need for Accomplishment Keeps You Gaming

When did you notice it becoming a problem?

I think the first major wake up call was six years ago when I had to make a phone call to my mom that would make her cry. I had missed a deadline to re-apply for nursing school and I was unemployed at the time. I had been playing Final Fantasy 14 and was deeply involved in a guild raiding regularly.

After the hard smack of shame that phone call represented I got into a private channel with my guild leader and told her I had to quit the game cold turkey. I went on to take month off of gaming altogether and afterwards restrict my gaming to certain genres.

What consequences did you start to experience?

I think I was struck at first by how challenging real life stuff was as I got into my mid twenties… Showing up at work, being sociable in real life, and my school work all took on this “why bother?” quality.

Not being a kid anymore I had nothing to hide behind except video games and I could see it for the first time as the real barrier to life it was for me. Eventually my shame amassed enough that I came to know real depression and neuroticism all the way up to suicidal ideation at one point which I stepped down from and never saw again as I began to take interest in my personal growth.

When did you decide to quit?

I decided to make 2018 the year to quit on January 3rd, 2018. I was laying in bed playing Hearthstone on my phone. I remember I was really mad about losing at an arena run and mad at my phone for having short battery life and my charger cord for being just as short.

All at once I was struck by what an ugly person I felt like. The rage, the inability to come back to real life after four hours of gaming, and the shame worst of all.. it all stood before me in stark relief. And I didn’t want to be that kid anymore.

Watch: The Secret About Quitting Video Games

I had been dealing with the death of my father in November 2017. It had been suggested to me to use video games as a stop gap between me and being totally consumed by this trouble. I decided to use gaming to provide a relief from the grief that had been plaguing me for the month after.

Up until then I had gaming pretty well managed and had it down to short evening single player sessions. But in my mourning I got into multiplayer gaming with Overwatch and Hearthstone (thanks Blizzard for being too good at your job…). I had abused it for most of December before I hit that rock bottom in January.

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

My plan was to quit cold turkey. I hit really heavy pangs of boredom within a week and it was very surreal. I kept it under control via meditation, running, and what I call my “methadone” in the form of board games.

I picked up a board game called Splendor to play during the very common lulls at work. I also joined a weekly Dungeons and Dragons meet up at my local board game store and made new friends that way.

Those would trigger very familiar cravings but it would be a lot easier to watch and manage as I could only do these in person with a group of people. At days 30 and 60 of no video games I treated myself to an hour of virtual reality with a friend. Through these I found “softer” ways to game.

What benefits have you gotten from quitting?

First I’ve afforded myself a new sense of adulthood. Things like getting a job, moving out of my mom’s house, and finishing school have all helped, but I would always come back to video games to make myself feel small again.

I’m getting a better “can-do” attitude when confronted with issues. My social life is taking a new sense as I find I’m less needy and worried about what people think of me. My inferiority complex triggers much less. When I see a way I want to improve myself it’s become much less daunting to take the first steps.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

For anyone reading and thinking they can’t do this, you can. You’ve always had it in you, you just have to put it to work. It’s not easy at first, but you will learn to do it in a real and lasting way that you will decide.

The goodness of life is always there if you choose to seek it, you just have to realize it’s not waiting for you on a computer screen.

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.

“One time I played until 5am. I was only seven or eight years old then.”

This is my experience with gaming and why I continue to abstain.

I was recommended by my dad to really try and dig through my life and remember how games affected me and the difference from then and now.

I think doing this will be a good tool to prevent relapse. It is very hard to think about the negative effects gaming had on me. To be honest, the details are really fuzzy and those memories don’t come back easily.

I’m writing this to remind myself to continue my detox forever.

Must Read: Why You Should Quit Gaming For 90 Days

A Bit About Myself

I am 17 years old now, a senior in high school. I’m Chinese-American, probably on the intelligent side, and focused in school. I started dancing when I was four, and continue diligently today. Last year I moved away from my family and friends to attend the Orange County School of the Arts, and I decided to quit gaming.

My first experience playing video games was on an old computer, with an old cd, playing a game called bot with my dad. I was really into it, too much, actually. Was I born with this addiction?

I started actually gaming in elementary school, playing Pokemon on a Nintendo DS with my sister. I remember walking home playing the game, and also playing through the night trying to beat the game before the rental was over.

One time I played until 5am. I was only seven or eight years old then.

My parents took it away, and we tried playing in moderation, but that didn’t work.

I remember finishing my work so fast in second grade, my teacher would let me go to the computer room and play some sort of airplane game on the computer.

Then I remember stealing other people’s games.

I once stole my babysitter’s gameboy and also a DS of a kid I was staying with in the YMCA. I feel ashamed to write this, but also empowered. The past is the past.

Of course at that time, I didn’t really realize the significance of my problem. Everybody else was playing so why couldn’t I?

I had a clubpenguin account and spent hours on it with my sister. I was so addicted. When the monthly subscription was ending, I stole my parent’s credit card and payed for another month. They found out, of course.

I don’t remember the consequences now. All of them blend together, and none of them worked.

clouds

Middle School

I entered middle school and made new friends. I started focusing on dance more, trying harder in school, trying to fit in with middle school social life. I’ve always been an intelligent kid, so school was never too difficult for me to pass. I think this is why I always went to games.

I became super addicted to Minecraft.

I would finish my work so fast and have nothing else to do that games became so immensely fun. I got really into Minecraft because all my friends were playing it. The idea of multiplayer games was so attractive. All of us could play at the same time and have fun together! Even now, I still associate Minecraft with happy memories.

Watch: How to Stay Friends With Your Gamer Friends

I would always play on the school computers in the library. Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade passed by with me visiting friends to play at their houses because my parents wouldn’t let me, although I did figure out the password to our home computer multiple times by secretly watching them typing when I asked them to login for me (to do homework).

Then when they were asleep I would get up in the middle of the night to login and play Minecraft throughout the night. If there is one thing gaming affects, it is your sleep. I even got to the point where I was playing right in front of my parents, thinking I could hide it with alt-tab before they looked to the side to see me.

Keep in mind at the end of every paragraph, I remember something terrible I did. My parents got me a Kindle for Christmas, one that was black and white and didn’t have games on it. Me being me, I found a way to have video games on a paper-white Kindle.

A lot of the games cost a dollar, and the Kindle was already connected to my parent’s Amazon account. You can imagine what I did. I bought the first few games carefully, waiting to see if my parents would find out. When they didn’t, I ended up spending $400 on stupid Kindle games like word searches and Sudokus.

Now is where I see my problem so clearly.

High school came around. This is where things get really bad. The new game everybody was playing was Hearthstone. At the time I was trying to quit so I told everybody that the game was stupid and I wasn’t going to play. But then, the peer pressure was too much to handle.

Everybody was talking about the game and I wasn’t being included because I didn’t know anything about it. So I started.

Eventually it came to a point in the game where you had to spend money to get more fun, more interesting gameplay. So how much did I end up spending? Upwards of $500.

This is when I also started watching streamers and YouTubers. It was easier to hide, and easier to access, so it was better for me.

Again I tried to stop, as I did the five times before, and each time I believed that this time, it would work, but again, it failed.

Junior year came around and it was the worst. The new game was Clash Royale. I got so into it. I didn’t have a phone so I found ways to play on the computer. When my family was eating dinner, I would tell them I was doing homework but I was playing games instead.

I’m sure they knew what I was doing the whole time. I’m not that good at hiding things, we never are.

Clash Royale was a cheaper game, but I still spent $100-200 on it in total. Oh and the way I would hide the transactions was by buying gift cards and using them instead of a credit card. I had a lot of saved cash to spend over the years. I was playing games during class time constantly on the school laptops.

Gaming Affected My Energy

The thing I hate most about games are the way they affect my energy. I only started to notice the effect they were having on me in my junior year. I found that often I would decide to go home because I was too tired to dance, or I “had too much homework” even though I know now that I could’ve finished it easily.

I haven’t talked too much about me and dance, but it has been my passion for six years now. The fact that gaming was taking over my commitment to dance is a serious thing.

During this period in junior year, I lacked inspiration to do better in school and dance. I could not get it from other people, nor myself. I was stagnant, not growing, and just living with this constant desire to be playing games.

A Turning Point

On the positive side, I gained inspiration after watching a fantastic dance show. I decided I wanted to be a dancer and that I would switch schools and move away.

Moving to a new school gave me the opportunity to start new, to change who I was, to change the people I had around me. With the new me – I was a non-gamer – a person who stayed away from the internet in general. And I started the detox before I moved schools.

I decided with my workload, taking 5 AP classes and dancing four hours a day (at an arts school), that I wouldn’t have enough time in my schedule to finish my school work, dance, and play games. I am now on day 187 of my 90 day detox.

I’ve spent over $1,000 on games when adding it up.

All of this money is put to some virtual world, trading my real money or my parents real money for some fake gold or gems or something stupid like that.

7 lessons I’ve learned from my experience without games:

1. Do the detox. I still have a hard time remembering these horrible events in my life because I don’t want to remember them. Everytime I spent more money, I forgot about the last time I’d spent money on games. I don’t think I could’ve remembered any of this before the detox.

2. After the detox, do what I’m doing now. Try and think about your life and all the negative things it’s done to you and how much better your life has gotten after, either socially, or emotionally, or physically (working out). I personally believe this will help prevent relapse.

3. Continue your abstinence after 90 days. Don’t treat it as a mark to start playing again. After thinking about how your life is after, it should be easy for you to continue.

Watch: Caution: Gaming After Your Detox

4. Follow Cam’s advice. There is a list on Game Quitters that has a lot of fun hobbies. I picked up photography to substitute gaming in my free time. Whenever I get bored instead of gaming, I watch photography videos and go out and practice. Something that a lot of people do is work out instead of gaming.

5. YouTube and Twitch as just as bad as gaming. Watching games gives you the same thrill and dopamine rush as playing. Don’t see these as better than gaming because they really aren’t. Don’t say you quit gaming but are still watching Twitch daily. Trust me, I tried this.

Watch: Should You Watch Gaming Streams?

5. Delete your accounts. Yes, I know it’s hard. You’ve spent money on your accounts, you can still keep them there in case for the future when your addiction is gone. But your addiction is never gone. Isn’t the goal to quit gaming? So why have them sitting there, tempting you? Just get rid of them. They aren’t worth it.

6. If you find yourself struggling in quitting games, change your surroundings. Move somewhere, start getting out of your comfort zone and make new friends. I’m not saying you should ditch the friends you currently have, but maybe you should leave them to their own world of games and try to interact with other people.

7. Saying things aloud. Letting yourself hear your own honest words is so much more difficult than writing it down. Instead of just writing a journal, try and say it to yourself (something I’m still working on). Hearing yourself say it has a huge impact on your beliefs.

There are so many benefits I’ve gained from my decision to quit playing video games. I have more time, more energy, more happiness to pursue dance, school, photography, card magic, and a social life!

My friends are more real, and we have more personal connections instead of commonalities with the games we play. I dance four hours a day, have school for five hours a day, and still have time to practice my hobbies. I have become more confident as a person, I have become more open, more assertive, and more honest.

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

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“What should I try first, quit gaming or killing myself?”

Since I was very little everyone noticed I was really smart. Calling oneself smart right from the beginning usually raises some eyebrows. In my case, it wasn’t a blessing to brag about, or a one-way ticket to instant success. It felt like a curse for most of my life.

Much later I found out there are common issues that come in-hand with unchecked intelligence: overthinking, procrastination, depression, increased school failure rate…

It’s not so cool to just have neurons and not the first idea of how to use them or why, as it wouldn’t be so cool to be stranded in an island with a million dollars. If you feel like this too, I get it. You’re not alone.

I talked “weird”, I acted “weird”, I was “socially unfit” according to some teachers and doctors. Then I was bullied.

At Home Things Were A Mess

My father drank too much, my mother worked too much, my grandma doted me too much. Everything in my early life happened in excess. It’s an excess to talk fluently about politics at 5, being dropped from a car and left behind in a parking lot at 7, or still spoon-fed and dressed, like a French king, at 10. Though I regret nothing. Even if I could.

I will never say I was “bound to”, or somehow destined to game too much. But I also recognize a universal truth: people like to feel good. When things are tough, we like to break away, find our personal safe spot and get our much needed dose of dopamine and comfort. Nothing wrong with that: pleasure, satisfaction, relaxation, and enjoyment are all main drivers of the human experience. They are what make us do new things, or keep going at the old ones.

Most times. Dopamine and comfort can also lead to escapism and stagnation. I came to know both too well.

Watch: How to Overcome Escapism

Everything about video games was positive at first. My cousin and uncle introduced me to the world, family members that I trusted, fellow men to look up to. My gig was PC turn-based strategy, mainly the Total War Saga and Paradox. I could forget my problems and feed my ego with an endless (and repetitive) stream of megalomaniac fantasies.

I was still a child so I wasn’t allowed to meet people online. I guess this makes my story a bit different from the average gamer. Instead I could go to my uncle’s place every summer and show him my improvements, fairly good for a kid but still meaningless considering I was playing against a dumb machine. That’s the reason why if someone asks, I’ll usually say: “I wasn’t even good at them”.

This isolation actually helped me a lot when I quit many years later: thankfully no social interaction also meant no gaming friends to say goodbye to, no habit of playing free-to-play MMOs, and so forth. I ended up buying all my games (that means making my mother buy, with lies and sometimes threats) for pride and achievements, and the economic barrier set by getting rid of them always kept me from returning when everything else failed.

Things Got Out of Control Fast

From 8 years old onwards the only activity I can mostly remember was video games. The same two or three games, again and again. Like a literal drug I’d take to numb myself.

I had a serious case of unattended existentialism and the first thing I noticed when I stopped playing was how little the games were the actual problem and how deep I was trapped inside a pit of never-ending despair. That realization was yet to come.

Meanwhile, I dropped high school, all my relationships were toxic, and I had nothing to wake up for in the mornings. In fact I didn’t. I entered a gaming-passing out-gaming cycle. 8 hours a day. Then 12. Then 16. Every day.

For me, quitting was a quest for meaning in its purest form. To keep playing meant not asking the real questions, to hide from the most basic layers of reality. Scared to live, I was dead.

seville

When I was 19 I felt I had enough and fled from home.

I was then reading The Element (Not The Secret, mind you) and my head formed the crazy idea that if I went and stood in front of the right places, like the book implied, something would happen, decidedly relevant and inspiring. A life-turn.

It did. I reached Seville and while vagabonding I stumbled upon the Dramatic Arts School. I had discovered theatre at 16 and loved it, so there was not a single doubt. It was a hell of an adventure, if you want the crazy details you can read them here.

In summary: in only two months, I transitioned from socially awkward high-school dropout, to college student living semi-independently with two amazing girls, lots of new friends and a bright future to look forward.

And Then, Video Games

Not simply video games, to be fair. Again, games were just a symptom; the pretext, the mind-numbing drug. In the end I was terrified to take responsibility and choosing to be, not simply to exist, with all its consequences and metaphysical fright. There are incredible things in this world, things worth every challenge they can throw at you to get them. However I would not allow myself to accept that yes, I wanted those things.

Yes, I could fail. Yes, it could happen to achieve everything I wished for and then become bored or disappointed. And yes, I would eventually die and “lose” everything I fought for. I wouldn’t come to terms with life as something fluid, changing, relatively ephemeral, supposed to be that way and therefore not a bad thing in the slightest (after all, it’s not like there are alternatives to compare, outside a game, I mean).

But no, I wouldn’t concede. It had to make sense the way I wanted, I wanted to control everything so bad. It wasn’t to be, so I gave up on everything else.

bed

Well, that and I was also really clumsy at organizing myself. How could I not be? My grandma was bringing breakfast to my room until not so long ago, after the detox.

The worst mistake of my life was not taking the initiative to learn to be self-reliant, head-on, without laziness, without excuses. Do not be like past me. Think by yourselves, experience all by yourselves, take action in your own terms.

We’re nothing but slaves of those we depend on, no matter how kind or well-intentioned our masters are. For a grown-up, this should be unacceptable.

It really got crazy back then. I would wake up late, skip classes, steal a bit of breakfast from my flatmates, play video games, feel terrible (and nauseous), skip shower and meals (I wasn’t doing groceries and didn’t have the strength to raise my arms); then spend the night at the PC again.

I was ashamed to be seen (and smelled) in that state so I went out of my room less and less. I became a shut-in and the only thing I did was gaming.

Until there was a time I spent a night in Psychiatric Ward after having my first serious suicide thoughts, become scared shitless and go to the hospital on my own accord.

I should have nightmares about that night, there was literal screaming, metallic rattling and all you can imagine from that kind of place, exaggerated as it may sound. I was so “out” in that moment that I didn’t care, I could only think about “Some wacko please come kill me and spare me the job”.

After months of that lifestyle, I couldn’t hold on anymore and returned to my hometown, to my previous NEET state. I gave up on everything that minimally mattered to me. I was completely crushed, devastated. The suicide thoughts came back. I had one last option to try before truly considering committing to the end. Everything converged into one single question.

“What should I try first, quit gaming or killing myself?”

Quitting games or quitting my life. I can’t be happier to be writing this.
I googled my struggles, as Cam also did and brilliantly joked about in his TED talk. This time, instead of a disappointment a certain video came up.

I remember my first impression was: “Man, this Cam guy is not your average Tony Robbins (super alpha attitude and over the top delivery, you know?). I can relate to this, this guy knows 100% what I’m going through”. I followed the links, reached the forum and bam, I was in. [Disclaimer: Tony Robbins is awesome, I just felt his mindset was beyond this Universe back then. Now, only a few galaxies away.]

The first months were madness. 16 hours a day of existentialism, death anxiety, depression, panic attacks, withdrawal symptoms and nothing to do. Nightmares, hand shaking and body spasms, cold sweating, mild fever, nausea… And let’s not begin with what was going on in my mind.

It felt like quitting cocaine cold turkey. It took me 9 months going back and forth until I made a real commitment and got rid of Steam on July 28th, 2016.

Game Quitters

Credit: Rokia Kalouache

Since I quit, I could travel to 5 countries in 3 continents, meet new friends and find my first love (with a rainbow twist!).

In terms of my future, I’m in the process of joining the Spanish Armed Forces, and then I’m looking forward to my university studies. I’ve always loved politics: coming out from the closet of my feelings was way easier than the closet of my aspirations.

I kinda hate quotes and mentions, they make you look like a smartass. But then there’s Victor Frankl and his thesis about “finding a meaning for your own suffering”. All the symptoms, all the issues went away as fast as they arrived. A few of them, the milder ones, still come and go much less frequently and weaker; they may be occasional visitors for the rest of my life. But I’m not afraid anymore. Everything passes, given enough time.

Our only job as conscious beings, our only absolute free choice, is to never give up. Ever.

Quitting games is not easy. Living in general isn’t. You must find a meaning, not only for the things you enjoy or desire, but for your struggles, your fears, your doubts.

It’s ok to feel life is going to come down on you, it’s ok to feel you’re about to hit the ground so hard while you take on the whole world if needed be. That’s what I didn’t understand. That’s how I noticed games were not the problem when I finally quit them.

It’s not about being consistently overjoyed. That is humanly unsustainable, at least the way I conceived it. It’s about always being mindful and one thousand per cent focused on your purpose. The residue of this purpose, if genuine, is happiness.

cam and jose game quitters

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

“The existential crisis I had postponed since I was 17 finally caught on. I was 24 now, what the heck was I doing with my life?”

When I was 4 or 5 years old, a friend of mine got a Nintento Entertainment System. That was in 1991 or so. We played Mario 1, 2, and 3. Me, as forever-player-2, was Luigi.

It was amazing! The sheer fun of this simple adventure on the TV, amazing. I sucked, because I couldn’t play all day like my buddy. But it was even amazing to just watch him play.

I was hooked.

Years later, I remember playing Heroes of Might and Magic II with my brothers. We could play for hours and hours. We poorly understood English and the game, but through trial and error, we found out how the game worked, and we learned a new language while doing it. (Thank you gaming.)

Our parents would urge us to go outside. Get some sun, make some friends, move your body! “Naaaah” Because what could compete with this fantasy world? With this compelling narrative? And these amazing graphics?

My gaming habits sticked, of course. It had become second nature. I didn’t have any trouble at school really. But once I was in university, it became a problem – I started using it as a drug.

When in the real world my life wasn’t going that well – I would flee to gaming. Need to study hard? Rejected, or dumped? Months of gaming is the cure! Just numb myself a bit with a long session of RPGs and strategy games.

Not only was gaming an escape for me, but anime and porn as well. Some other easy dopamine injections. My old roommates still can’t believe I finished 600+ episodes of One Piece in a few weeks. It all seems harmless at first, but your ‘life energy’ is slowly sucked out. I became more a hull of a person than a full rounded character. But it didn’t matter,… because I mainly interacted online.

My computer was just this instant satisfaction dispenser. Although it was more numbing than real enjoyment.

The apex of my compulsive gaming was Skyrim! It was incredible! I don’t know how many hours I spent in that fantasy world. It didn’t matter what my buddies where doing, if I had exams or not, or whether it was 30 degrees outside. 
*(Celcius mind you ;), so around 86 Fahrenheit).

No matter what, I was going to be an orc mage warrior, and I was going to kill dragons!

This went on for months. Until I realized I wasn’t that happy. I hadn’t been for a long while.

The existential crisis I had postponed since I was 17 finally caught on. Like a tidal wave of realism and pain gulfing over the fragile ego I had left. I was 24 now, what the heck was I doing with my life? Where was I going? Was I just going to sit inside for the rest of my life – gaming, jacking off, sleeping and repeating? What about my graduation that was long due? What about all the experiences life had to offer? What about girls?

Suffice to say, I became quite depressed.

In the past if I felt a bit depressed I would hop on my digital steed and drive off to kill some undead. But that wouldn’t work anymore.

It had to stop. I don’t remember how I exactly did it. But slowly yet surely, during the next months, I drastically reduced the amount of gaming and binge watching. I started reading constructive blogs and books. Classics like “How to Make Friends and Influence People’ and blogs like NerdFitness. (I don’t think Game Quitters was around in 2011 :).) My entire mindset had to change.

So I immersed myself in positive reading, even if I didn’t feel like it. I went out and started socializing, even if I felt like hiding under the covers. And I worked out, even if I felt like lethargically lying on the couch. It was a slow and painful grind. With lots of small relapses, setbacks, but also small victories.

Especially my self esteem and social skills had suffered these past years. Step by step relearning how to normally interact with people was awkward and painful to say the least. But with practice it did come back. It’s even intuitive by now!

In the end I grew stronger! I got fit, met girls, made new friends and worked hard on my studies. My personality, that had withered in my screen lit room, was slowly reviving. I even started achieving some amazing things. Running half a marathon, rowing a 100k race, solo traveling in Asia for 6 months, hooking up with the hottest Venezuelan girl ever, and much more.

But more importantly – I became way more confident and self reliant. Now I have a set of values and goals I work hard for. I don’t hate myself anymore – I really like me actually :)! And that is a really nice way to live.

Is life easy now? F*ck no! Do I still feel the need to flee reality? Yes, and I do create a healthy mental distance sometimes. But I do tackle my problems now. No more evading of hard truths or emotions, but facing them head on.

And that is what is important. It is your life. You have just a few decades in total. Fight and work hard for what you find important. Always get yourself to the next level! There is so much more out there. But you do need to let go of some artificial worlds!

Timon ??

This story was submitted by a member of our community. Want to inspire others with yours? Submit your story here.

“I decided to quit playing video games when I realized what I want in life wasn’t going to happen if I continued wasting my time.”

red backpack

It has been 444 days since I last played a video game. For those who like numbers, that’s 10,656 hours. When I was playing video games I was spending 8 hours a day on average. That’s over 3,100 Hours! Wow!

Since I’ve quit, I’ve invested those 3,100 hours wisely to invest in myself, my relationships, health, passions, and I have never been happier!

I decided to quit playing video games when I realized what I want in life wasn’t going to happen if I continued wasting my time. After years of missing out on opportunities, enough was enough. Lots of really bad things happened during my early-to-mid 20s, and each painful time I would rely on video gaming to “relieve” myself. Deep down I knew I was just distracting myself.

I was aware that I was denying myself of my dreams.

Because I turned to gaming every time negative emotions came up, I didn’t have the skills to tackle the emotions. The stress compounded so much over time that it felt overwhelming, thus the cycle was set.

Watch: How to Overcome Escapism

I was depressed, powerless, and inexpressive. I wanted to feel alive when at the time I could see no way out. The worst was realizing I would never get any of that time back. It’s like your bank telling you had $100,000 in your account (Okay, more like $100 but hey one day!) then finding out it’s only worth $10 because you wasted your time to act.

Change started after I read the book called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. I learned about keystone habits, and how much it would ripple into other habits. The book sparked ideas, so I decided to set an official date for when I would quit. Chances are if you’re reading this then you are ready for the message Charles has to give you.

Playing one of my last matches of CSGO…

I had switched to my deagle, and decided to reload. At this moment myself and an enemy terrorist bumped into each other. They were also reloading.

My heart was racing, I felt the rush of adrenaline and the magazines were loaded. At the last possible second we both fired and I landed my final headshot. Immediately I felt the rush of dopamine flood my system, with virtual messages saying “you are the winner”. It felt good, it felt rewarding, I felt accomplishment, yet I knew I was deceiving myself.

Seconds later my alarm went off to signify the one of the most important decisions of my life. I fought the temptation to keep playing, especially after that game winning play, yet I decided it was time and pulled the plug. (And admittedly I couldn’t of asked for a better way to go out!). I am thankful for the memories video games had provided me, however moving on from something that was destructive for me has paid me more than any video game could provide.

Watch: How to Deal with Gaming Nostalgia

The Impact of This Decision

Gauntlet Records

From this moment on I would have to face challenges head on. It meant no more distractions, no more excuses, and no more running from my problems.

I took responsibility to face my challenges directly head on no matter what it took. Just like forging a sword, it must get thrown into the fire and smacked around a bunch before it can come out strong.

After the first week of intense cravings, it gradually got easier and easier to fill my time with activities that I would genuinely enjoy.

I found healthier ways to gain the sense of accomplishment that video games were providing for me. My willpower has increased significantly as quitting video games also help me quit other bad habits and develop my discipline.

I’ve also started to favor long term rewards and delayed gratification instead of instant quick fixes to things. I’ve read more books, with a total of 12 this year which has been more than I’ve read in my entire life up until this point.

The biggest payoff is I finally reconnected with my passion of writing music. A dream I thought wasn’t possible to pursue. With my new found skills, I was able to build a studio and start up my own independent electronica record label called “Gauntlet Records”. Quitting video games was a huge step in making this happen.

Never underestimate the value of your time and what you do with it. Every moment counts!

“My desire to be smart, successful financially, and have a meaningful marriage was more important than playing a video game.”

freedom

750 days ago, I made a choice.

My gaming was out of control. I don’t really need to explain it, because most of you know what it’s like to grind daily, and have an obsession with whatever the game you are playing. Let me tell you about how I stopped gaming and started living!

The Beginning

It didn’t come easy at first. I started at the age of 4 playing on the NES with my Dad in 1985. My mind was always wired to think about gaming.

In the first few weeks of these 750 days, I would dream about playing. Gaming songs would get stuck in my head. It definitely didn’t help when gaming friends were asking me to play.

I cut everything out that related to gaming (yes, even the streams!). I picked up cooking as a hobby to keep myself from gaming in the evenings… the rewards are delicious!

Free Download: 60+ Hobby Ideas to replace gaming

The Other Grind

In April 2015, I got married. In October 2015, I got laid off.

I worked in the energy industry for a decade, and was very good at what I did (operations, legal, land, and consulting work). Industry layoffs were rampant, and I wanted to get into something with stability.

programming

I chose to immerse myself in all things programming. It’s really tough to change careers, and getting that first foot in the door is always the hardest part. I was really good at getting to the final interview, but couldn’t get past the “you don’t have X amount of years of experience.”

Every single day, I kept mashing my keyboard. Python, R, SQL, Typescript/Javascript, HTML, CSS… onto Machine Learning, DevOps, into Django, into Angular, React, Redux. I didn’t stop.

People kept telling me that I should just take 3-4 minimum wage jobs, and quit trying so hard to do something I have no experience in. Let’s just say that I made a choice to ignore those voices, and kept building up skills.

The Present

I eventually got fed up with the job search. The last night of my “corporate search” ended while watching Office Space with my wife. I decided that I was going to be my own boss.

It’s taken time to build up a client base, but I’m now building full stack web apps where I can leverage my past work experiences, and blend them with new skills. April has been the largest grossing month of my career. I do eventually want to delve into data science, biostats and medical research… but that’ll wait for just a little bit! (see below)

The Future

My wife is now 5 months pregnant, and I’m grateful that I can focus on being a grandson, son, dad, husband, friend, and developer.

These 2+ years have been the most difficult, yet rewarding experience that I’ve ever had. I could have used many excuses to go back into 24/7 gaming mode. I lost my job, and my savings ran dry after six months of a job search.

Financial troubles can be an absolute disaster to any marriage, new or established. My wife and I put in the work to communicate better, and being in the present is what made that happen. If I would have gamed, my marriage would have been over. If I would have gamed, I also wouldn’t have the programming skills that I had today.

Everyday you will be given a new choice. Life is too funny, complicated, and beautiful to do anything that you deem to be a waste. The choice is yours. What do you want?

If you found yourself 60 pounds overweight, your grades dropping, and you had no confidence… what would you do? The idea of body transformation probably sounds like a pipe dream.

Would you continue to escape into video games?

Nicholas Bayerle

Or, would you make a decision that could change the course of your life forever?

That’s the exact situation Nicholas Bayerle found himself in.

After his dream of being a professional Motocross rider came to an end, he found himself 60 pounds overweight, grades dropping, and no sense of confidence.

In fact, as you will learn in his story, it got to the point where he was so embarrassed of himself that he was wearing multiple sweatshirts to try and cover up his weight.

From Skinny to Buff – How Fitness Changed my Life

Today Nicholas has a 6-pack for the first time, he’s been married to a (his words) “super hot chick” for the past five years, and his business takes home multiple 6-figures. What changed? He quit gaming.

Watch: Why I Quit Gaming: Nicholas Bayerle

Nicholas and I go in-depth not only into his story, but also how he’s managed to get to where he is today.

One of the biggest changes he made was learning to master his health, which he believes (and I agree), acts as a foundation for the rest of his life.

By mastering his health – an area that we ALL have control over – it has allowed him to apply the same discipline into other areas of his life, like relationships and business.

 

What to Do After Quitting Gaming

 

With Game Quitters there’s a lot of talk about what to do after you quit gaming.

For each of you, that will be something different. Maybe you want to focus on improving your social skills. Maybe you want a boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe you want to travel and start your own business.

But no matter what area you are interested in, your health is going to have an impact. Because it’s not so much about your health, as much as it is about your energy and confidence.

To be forthright, as Game Quitters continues to grow I will continue to focus on being the BEST in the world at helping you quit gaming.

But helping you quit gaming and then leaving you to fend for yourself seems like a disservice. I’m committed to doing more to help you succeed far beyond just quitting gaming.

So I’m committed to sharing with you other experts who are the masters at their craft in other fields, whether it’s in health, productivity, relationships, dating, business, or any other area I get emails about, to support you in achieving your highest potential.

Nicholas is one of those, and the fact that he’s overcome his own video game addiction is a cherry on top.

I hope you enjoy the interview with him today, and if you’re interested in a Game Quitters program to master your health, then take action now. Don’t regret your decision not to act, and never understand what life can really be like if you take back control.

“I failed, seven times, before successfully quitting World of Warcraft.”

moons

The eighth time was the first time I had a conversation about quitting without feeling judged. It was also the first time I used acupuncture to help myself.

It was seven years ago. He was my professor. I spent the day working up courage to tell him I was trying to quit a video game. I expected inevitable judgement and dismissal, and an aggravating line of skeptical questioning about how video games could even be a problem.

I was completely braced. He was completely unfazed.

Instead, he shared his experience as a smoker, then as a mentor for other smokers. He informed me acupuncture has successfully treated addiction for 40 years 11 11. Kolenda, J. (2000). A Brief History of Acupuncture for Detoxification in the United States. Acupuncture Today, 1 (9). Retrieved from http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=27686 × . He suggested I try it.

I gave myself acupuncture that night.

The results were noticeable right away. Unlike the last seven times I failed to quit, I had to work less against myself to stay away. Whenever I had the craving to play, and had the choice between reinstalling or recovery, I was able to choose recovery. I was more level-headed emotionally. Acupuncture alleviated the severe tendonitis I gave myself gaming 16 hours a day. I had more energy. For the first time in five years I began to have normal sleeping and eating patterns again.

Recovery was still challenging, but acupuncture helped me build courage, take control, and keep it. For seven years.

Due to necessity, acupuncture’s success in treating video game addiction is well-researched. China declared video game addiction a nationwide epidemic in 2008 12 12. Ives, M. (2017). Electroshock Therapy for Internet Addicts? China Vows to End It. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/13/world/asia/china-internet-addiction-electroshock-therapy.html?_r=0 × 13 13. Fallows, D. (2007). Internet Addiction in China. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2007/09/07/internet-addiction-in-china/ × . The New York Times and The Journal of Asia Pacific Psychiatry report that “the highest prevalence of problematic internet use is in Asia 14 14. Ives, M. (2017). Electroshock Therapy for Internet Addicts? China Vows to End It. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/13/world/asia/china-internet-addiction-electroshock-therapy.html?_r=0 × ,” with South Korea being the highest in the world 15 15. Montag C, Bey K, Sha P, Li M, Chen YF, Liu WY, Zhu YK, Li CB, Markett S, Keiper J, Reuter M. Is it meaningful to distinguish between generalized and specific Internet addiction? Evidence from a cross-cultural study from Germany, Sweden, Taiwan and China. Asia Pac Psychiatry. 2015 Mar;7(1):20-6. Doi: 10.1111/appy.12122. PubMed PMID: 24616402. × . The first Internet Addiction clinics were in Asia. Acupuncture’s 40 years success treating addiction made it an integral tool for recovery for Internet addicts 16 16. Kolenda, J. (2000). A Brief History of Acupuncture for Detoxification in the United States. Acupuncture Today, 1 (9). Retrieved from http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=27686 × , 17 17. Pulling the Plug. China.Org.CN. Retrieved from http://www.china.org.cn/china/features/content_18592980.htm × , 18 18. (2015) MRI Finds Acupuncture Relieves Internet Addiction. Healthcare Medicine Institute. Retrieved from http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1533-mri-finds-acupuncture-relieves-internet-addiction × , 19 19. Zhu TM, Jin RJ, Zhong XM. Clinical effect of electroacupuncture combined with psychologic interference on patient with Internet addiction disorder. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2009 Mar;29(3):212-4. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 19548435. (effect psycho +ax) × .

How Does Acupuncture Help Video Game Recovery?

A study done in 2009 at Chengdu University on the improvement rate of Internet Addiction Disorder showed that acupuncture paired with psychotherapy had 91.3% improvement, versus 59.1% from psychotherapy alone 20 20. Zhu TM, Li H, Du YP, Zheng Z, Jin RJ. Intervention on network craving and encephalofluctuogram in patients with internet addiction disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2011 May;31(5):395-9. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 21692281. × .

Quitting video games is already hard enough. With acupuncture, the chance of improvement goes from nearly half to nearly 100%.

Video Game Addiction Damages the Brain. Acupuncture Treats the Damage: Studies show that video game addiction damages the brain in two ways:

  1. Decreasing grey and white matter mass 21 21. (2015) MRI Finds Acupuncture Relieves Internet Addiction. Healthcare Medicine Institute. Retrieved from http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1533-mri-finds-acupuncture-relieves-internet-addiction × , 22 22. O’Callaghan, J. (2015). Could video games increase your risk of Alzheimer's? Navigating virtual worlds can reduce grey matter and make you prone to mental illness, claims study. Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3087905/Navigating-virtual-worlds-reduce-grey-matter-make-prone-mental-illness.html × , 23 23. Zhou Y, Lin FC, Du YS, Qin LD, Zhao ZM, Xu JR, Lei H. Gray matter abnormalities in Internet addiction: a voxel-based morphometry study. Eur J Radiol. 2011 Jul;79(1):92-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2009.10.025. PubMed PMID: 19926237. × , 24 24. Kuss, D. J. (2013). Internet gaming addiction: current perspectives. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 6, 125–137. http://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S39476 × , 25 25. Lin F, Zhou Y, Du Y, Qin L, Zhao Z, Xu J, Lei H. Abnormal white matter integrity in adolescents with internet addiction disorder: a tract-based spatial statistics study. PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30253. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030253. PubMed PMID: 22253926; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3256221. ×
  2. Changing brain chemistry pathologically 26 26. (2015) MRI Finds Acupuncture Relieves Internet Addiction. Healthcare Medicine Institute. Retrieved from http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1533-mri-finds-acupuncture-relieves-internet-addiction × , 27 27. Kuss, D. J. (2013). Internet gaming addiction: current perspectives. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 6, 125–137. http://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S39476 × , 28 28. Linden, D. (2011). Video Games Can Activate the Brain's Pleasure Circuits: Like Cigarettes, Video Games can Cause Rapid Brain Dopamine Release. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201110/video-games-can-activate-the-brains-pleasure-circuits-0 × .

fMRI studies show that acupuncture rebuilds grey matter and also normalizes brain chemistry 29 29. (2015) MRI Finds Acupuncture Relieves Internet Addiction. Healthcare Medicine Institute. Retrieved from http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1533-mri-finds-acupuncture-relieves-internet-addiction × , 30 30. Zhu TM, Jin RJ, Zhong XM. Clinical effect of electroacupuncture combined with psychologic interference on patient with Internet addiction disorder. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2009 Mar;29(3):212-4. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 19548435. (effect psycho +ax) × . Additionally, video game addiction has measurable negative effects by blood serum, which acupuncture also addresses 31 31. Zhu TM, Jin RJ, Zhong XM, Chen J, Li H. Effects of electroacupuncture combined with psychologic interference on anxiety state and serum NE content in the patient of internet addiction disorder. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2008 Aug;28(8):561-4. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 18767577. × . The whole point of recovery is to rewire the brain to stop craving video games and start feeling rewarded by other activities.

Acupuncture boosts this process at the brain and blood level, which leads to the next point:

Acupuncture Makes Recovery Faster and Easier:

brain

Quitting games can take quite some time to start feeling right. Since acupuncture works directly on the brain and blood, it produces positive effects sooner. The first two weeks are the hardest. Relapses happen the most here. Why? The first two weeks are when the brain has yet to rewire and heal from craving stimulation and video games constantly. Acupuncture normalizing brain chemistry means fewer cravings 32 32. Zhu TM, Jin RJ, Zhong XM. Clinical effect of electroacupuncture combined with psychologic interference on patient with Internet addiction disorder. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2009 Mar;29(3):212-4. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 19548435. (effect psycho +ax) × , 33 33. Zhu TM, Li H, Du YP, Zheng Z, Jin RJ. Intervention on network craving and encephalofluctuogram in patients with internet addiction disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2011 May;31(5):395-9. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 21692281. × , 34 34. Linden, D. (2011). Video Games Can Activate the Brain's Pleasure Circuits: Like Cigarettes, Video Games can Cause Rapid Brain Dopamine Release. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201110/video-games-can-activate-the-brains-pleasure-circuits-0 × , 35 35. Zhu TM, Li H, Du YP, Zheng Z, Jin RJ. Intervention on network craving and encephalofluctuogram in patients with internet addiction disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2011 May;31(5):395-9. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 21692281. × , fewer compulsive desires 36 36. Zhu TM, Jin RJ, Zhong XM. Clinical effect of electroacupuncture combined with psychologic interference on patient with Internet addiction disorder. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2009 Mar;29(3):212-4. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 19548435. (effect psycho +ax) × , 37 37. Linden, D. (2011). Video Games Can Activate the Brain's Pleasure Circuits: Like Cigarettes, Video Games can Cause Rapid Brain Dopamine Release. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201110/video-games-can-activate-the-brains-pleasure-circuits-0 × , 38 38. Zhu TM, Li H, Du YP, Zheng Z, Jin RJ. Intervention on network craving and encephalofluctuogram in patients with internet addiction disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2011 May;31(5):395-9. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 21692281. × , and less anxiety 39 39. Zhu TM, Jin RJ, Zhong XM. Clinical effect of electroacupuncture combined with psychologic interference on patient with Internet addiction disorder. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2009 Mar;29(3):212-4. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 19548435. (effect psycho +ax) × , 40 40. Zhu TM, Li H, Du YP, Zheng Z, Jin RJ. Intervention on network craving and encephalofluctuogram in patients with internet addiction disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2011 May;31(5):395-9. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 21692281. × , 41 41. Zhu TM, Jin RJ, Zhong XM, Chen J, Li H. Effects of electroacupuncture combined with psychologic interference on anxiety state and serum NE content in the patient of internet addiction disorder. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2008 Aug;28(8):561-4. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 18767577. × , 42 42. Wolever RQ, Goel NS, Roberts RS, Caldwell K, Kligler B, Dusek JA, Perlman A, Dolor R, Abrams DI. Integrative Medicine Patients Have High Stress, Pain, and Psychological Symptoms. Explore (NY). 2015 Jul-Aug;11(4):296-303. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2015.04.003. PubMed PMID: 26044918. × .

It is possible to start feeling better, sooner–maybe even from the first treatment. This means a smaller chance of relapse due to frustration and not seeing the positive effects of quitting. And that is not all that acupuncture does:

Acupuncture Minimizes Secondary Symptoms of Video Game Addiction:

Secondary symptoms include: Pain from repetitive stress injuries (tendonitis, carpal tunnel, etc), neck pain, wrist pain, low back pain, sciatica, and more 43 43. Dimitrova A, Murchison C, Oken B. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Jan 23. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0155. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28112552. × , 44 44. MacPherson H, Vickers A, Bland M, Torgerson D, Corbett M, Spackman E, Saramago P, Woods B, Weatherly H, Sculpher M, Manca A, Richmond S, Hopton A, Eldred J, Watt I. Acupuncture for chronic pain and depression in primary care: a programme of research. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2017 Jan. PubMed PMID: 28121095. × , 45 45. Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, McLean RM, Forciea MA; Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians.. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Feb 14. doi: 10.7326/M16-2367. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28192789. × . Acupuncture has also been shown to effectively treat stress 46 46. Wolever RQ, Goel NS, Roberts RS, Caldwell K, Kligler B, Dusek JA, Perlman A, Dolor R, Abrams DI. Integrative Medicine Patients Have High Stress, Pain, and Psychological Symptoms. Explore (NY). 2015 Jul-Aug;11(4):296-303. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2015.04.003. PubMed PMID: 26044918. × , depression 47 47. Wolever RQ, Goel NS, Roberts RS, Caldwell K, Kligler B, Dusek JA, Perlman A, Dolor R, Abrams DI. Integrative Medicine Patients Have High Stress, Pain, and Psychological Symptoms. Explore (NY). 2015 Jul-Aug;11(4):296-303. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2015.04.003. PubMed PMID: 26044918. × , 48 48. MacPherson H, Vickers A, Bland M, Torgerson D, Corbett M, Spackman E, Saramago P, Woods B, Weatherly H, Sculpher M, Manca A, Richmond S, Hopton A, Eldred J, Watt I. Acupuncture for chronic pain and depression in primary care: a programme of research. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2017 Jan. PubMed PMID: 28121095. × , 49 49. Wang Z, Wang X, Liu J, Chen J, Liu X, Nie G, Jorgenson K, Sohn KC, Huang R, Liu M, Liu B, Kong J. Acupuncture treatment modulates the corticostriatal reward circuitry in major depressive disorder. J Psychiatr Res. 2017 Jan;84:18-26. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.09.014. PubMed PMID: 27693978; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5125902. × , 50 50. Fan L, Fu W, Chen Z, Xu N, Liu J, Lü A, Su S, Wu T, Ou A. Curative effect of acupuncture on quality of life in patient with depression: a clinical randomized single-blind placebo-controlled study. J Tradit Chin Med. 2016 Apr;36(2):151-9. PubMed PMID: 27400468. × , and anxiety 51 51. Zhu TM, Li H, Du YP, Zheng Z, Jin RJ. Intervention on network craving and encephalofluctuogram in patients with internet addiction disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2011 May;31(5):395-9. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 21692281. × , 52 52. Zhu TM, Jin RJ, Zhong XM, Chen J, Li H. Effects of electroacupuncture combined with psychologic interference on anxiety state and serum NE content in the patient of internet addiction disorder. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2008 Aug;28(8):561-4. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 18767577. × , 53 53. Wolever RQ, Goel NS, Roberts RS, Caldwell K, Kligler B, Dusek JA, Perlman A, Dolor R, Abrams DI. Integrative Medicine Patients Have High Stress, Pain, and Psychological Symptoms. Explore (NY). 2015 Jul-Aug;11(4):296-303. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2015.04.003. PubMed PMID: 26044918. × .

Additionally, excessive gamers may also have insomnia 54 54. Lin YF, Liu ZD, Ma W, Shen WD. Hazards of insomnia and the effects of acupuncture treatment on insomnia. J Integr Med. 2016 May;14(3):174-86. doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(16)60248-0. Review. PubMed PMID: 27181124. × , fatigue 55 55. Tian L, Wang J, Luo C, Sun R, Zhang X, Yuan B, Du XZ. Moxibustion at Gaohuang (BL 43) for chronic fatigue syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2015 Nov;35(11):1127-30. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 26939325. × , 56 56. Shu Q, Wang H, Litscher D, Wu S, Chen L, Gaischek I, Wang L, He W, Zhou H, Litscher G, Liang F. Acupuncture and Moxibustion have Different Effects on Fatigue by Regulating the Autonomic Nervous System: A Pilot Controlled Clinical Trial. Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 25;6:37846. doi: 10.1038/srep37846. PubMed PMID: 27886247; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5122953. × , and headaches 57 57. MacPherson H, Vickers A, Bland M, Torgerson D, Corbett M, Spackman E, Saramago P, Woods B, Weatherly H, Sculpher M, Manca A, Richmond S, Hopton A, Eldred J, Watt I. Acupuncture for chronic pain and depression in primary care: a programme of research. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2017 Jan. PubMed PMID: 28121095. × –all of which are treatable with acupuncture.

Acupuncture has no side effects:

The main reason acupuncture is used by major organizations such as the United States Army, Veteran’s Affairs Hospitals, and most major health insurance providers is that it has ample evidence of effectiveness without side effects. Contrasted with drugs, acupuncture (when done correctly by a licensed acupuncturist) is much lower risk for the benefits gained, and cheaper in the long run.

How Can You Use Acupuncture in Your Own Recovery?

Use acupuncture to minimize cravings and symptoms so you can focus on recovery goals. Start acupuncture as soon as you decide to quit to feel better sooner. The first two weeks are the hardest. Give yourself an edge.

If you have any of the secondary symptoms, such as pain, tell your acupuncturist. It is important to prevent permanent damage from happening. Since acupuncture has no side effects, talk to your health professional about getting acupuncture treatments before trying drugs.

Make no mistake: Acupuncture was a huge contributor to my success, but recovery still took persistence. Quitting video games was singly the hardest but most rewarding thing I have faced. I strongly believe that if you can quit your video game, then you can do anything you want in this world.

Today’s article is by Diana Yang, L.Ac., DACM, founder of Limbic Acupuncture in San Francisco. Limbic Acupuncture is the first clinic in the United States to specialize in acupuncture for Internet Gaming Disorder. A former intern at Restart Life, she is a licensed acupuncturist and life coach. She is a firm believer that gamers are the most brilliant people in the world, and that the way to win IRL is to “Think Outside the Skinner Box.” Follow her on Facebook.

“Thank god my parents always kept an eye on me. I don’t know what would have happened with me if they didn’t.”

My name is Dominik and I’m a 15 year old freshman high school student from the Czech Republic. I’m here to talk about my past addiction to video games and how I overcame it.

My story with video games starts in December 2005 when I received a Playstation 2 for Christmas. When I was younger I didn’t play games that much, but gradually year by year I played more and more, and it turned into an addiction.

The thing that I loved about gaming was how much fun you could have with your friends, and sharing your common interest in games. I also loved the sense of progress, and rewards.

My addiction wasn’t that bad early on, but that all changed when I had access to my first computer with internet. I suddenly had access to a lot of very addictive video games, and a greater community of gamers.

The game that got me into my addiction was League of Legends (LOL). I played all night long, and even denied that I did to my parents. Almost all my free time was spent on games, and I really didn’t do much to improve at anything else. I lived in Spain at the time, and went to school as any other kid.

I was lying to my family, didn’t try hard at school, put aside my friends (only hung out with the ones that played League of Legends), and I also became a little myopic (2.5 my left eye and 2.75 right eye) – all because of games.

On July 1st, 2016 I decided to quit. I couldn’t continue to go on like this. I was going to go to a very hard high school, and I realized that gaming made me a person that I didn’t want to be.

I decided to stop playing forever.

During this period I was trying to get my hands on every advice I could to learn how to stick to my decisions, and quit gaming forever. Naturally this led me to find great channels on YouTube like Game Quitters, and Brendon Burchard.

I didn’t relapse thanks to all the support that I got from everyone. I really owe a lot to everyone that helped me.

It has been 9 months since I played.

My life is great! Here is a list of things that have improved since I quit gaming:

  • I became healthier (exercised more and ate healthy)
  • My grades improved in school
  • I improved my relationships with other people
  • I started chasing my dreams
  • I improved my physique
  • I learned programming
  • … and a whole lot more.
before/after

Before/After

I’d like to say that it all starts with yourself. Nothing is going to change without you being willing to put in the effort. Work hard and enjoy life, the struggle is worth it. You will become who you want to be, I can guarantee you that.

Want to share your story with the community? Submit yours here.

Hey Cam,

I live in Maryland, and I’m 17 years old. Two years ago, you changed my life forever. Now I’m finishing high school, doing my dream as a job, and traveling the world by myself!

You probably don’t remember me, but when I was 15, I was addicted to video games. I would usually play for 6-8 hours after school. I’m home schooled, and I would sneak in game time in my school hours when my mom wasn’t around. It got to the point that my next door best friend would come home from school, and instead of going over to his house to play video games or go outside, we just stayed in our own homes and talked over Xbox Live.

It got really sad. All I could talk about was the game. It was on my mind all the time.

I would go and sit and watch a sunset, and all I could think about was the game and how I wasn’t leaving my gun up.

I was 15, and I really didn’t have much of a plan for my life. I kept telling myself when I got older I wouldn’t play anymore, but the truth was, as I got older, I actually played more often. I would drown my frustration, boredom, and sadness in video games.

One rainy Saturday, I got on the game. It was the perfect conditions for me to play. My family was gone all day, my friends were gone, and we had just stocked up on snacks. I played for about 10 hours that day. When my parents came home, they asked me what I did all day, and I felt ashamed to tell them I had been playing video games all day.

They weren’t mad at me. They weren’t even sad. They were disappointed. I could see it in their eyes.

I stayed up all night that night lying in my bed wishing I could change my life! I hated feeling that way!

The next day I said, “This isn’t how I want to spend my life.” I went online and typed “how to quit playing video games.”

I love watching videos and the first one was “How to Quit Playing Video Games.” It was a TED talk.

Homeschoolers love TED talks! I thought, “This is going to be great!” I watched it and thought, “This is just what I needed!” I read comments and the guy responded to all of them! I commented, and he responded to me within an hour!! It turned out to be YOU! You were starting a YouTube channel called Game Quitters!! I was hooked!! I remember your first video! I decided, “I’m going to do this!!!!” I got the (older version of) Respawn, and it was amazing as well!

The next day my friend come over and asked why I wasn’t on Xbox yesterday. I told him I was taking a break for a bit. He was confused. He kept talking to me about it, and I was tempted to break my commitment on my first day off! I decided to write him a long letter telling him what I was doing and why.

The next day he agreed to join me in quitting! It was so cool! We started our 90-day journey, and we ended up building benches, tables and forts together, playing sports, riding our bikes, and having WAY more fun without the video games!

Eventually, the 90 days was over, and I felt so amazing!

Not too long afterwards, you asked for volunteers to do a test survey, and I decided to participate. I started my 90 days all over again! It was great!

——————–That day changed my life! —————-

I started to find that life wasn’t boring; it was amazing! I started working harder at my job. Sometimes I would just sit outside and enjoy the sunsets. I learned how to budget and wisely use the extra money I was earning! I got a second job, and I worked harder than ever. I started investing in the stock market! I read and learned. I picked up my family’s camera and started snapping photos because I had all this free time, and I was so bored sometimes!

Fast forward to today.

I’m sitting here in New Zealand. Yes, New Zealand! I am interning at a camp with missionaries, and I’m growing and learning so much! I travelled here by myself from the United States as a 17 year old. I got to tour the South Island for a week by myself taking photos, and I have been here at my internship for a month and a half already. I still have a month left. The amazing part that I wanted to share with you is that my video game quitting story is the thing that got me INVITED to come to New Zealand!

I have changed some lives through telling my story of quitting video games, and I have been invited to speak at youth groups. I think when I return I will begin to accept those invitations and speak to kids all over Maryland about the problem of video game addiction and how to fix it!

I am thankful for your help overcoming the hold video games had on my life. I have people waiting for me to come home so I can take their senior pictures and they’ll even pay me to do it. I have started a little business with photography, and my dream is to be a National Geographic photographer! I now have 4 jobs: dishwashing, woodworking, mowing and photography! I’m in my last year of high school, and I’m going to finish my school when I get back from this once in a lifetime trip! I have talked to so many wonderful people and told them about my story!

Cam, Thank you for changing my life forever! I feel so blessed right now!

I’m so thankful for you! I cannot thank you enough!

From,
Andrew J Lawlin

Want us to help more Andrew’s in the world not only overcome a video game addiction but live a meaningful life? Donate today.

I remember my rock bottom — I was playing Fallout 3 and I was stuck. I couldn’t get past a certain area without being annihilated. I was backed into a corner and I didn’t have a save that helped me out.

In the game you can see how many hours you had put into the game. My count was 57 hours. I had put 57 hours into a game that was now fruitless. I remember setting the control down and thinking 57 hours.

How did I get here?

I looked around my apartment and it was thrashed. Dishes hadn’t been done, garbage hadn’t been taken out, and my apartment looked like a fraternity had blown through it.

57 hours. I could have started a small business, got in shape, and on and on. Ten minutes after I set down the controller, my ADHD wanted me to pick it up once again. One more try. I sighed, deleted everything and realized that I had nothing, absolutely nothing to show for those 57 hours.

Except a lot of regret.

ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 58 58. Wiki: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder × , is something that affects 17 million people and to many of them, video games are a serious addiction. Video games constantly feed our ADHD’s need.

Immediate Feedback

When you make a mistake in a video game, you know it. You turn down the wrong corridor, take the wrong path, fight the wrong monster. Done. Game over. Our ADHD loves immediate feedback because it knows what it needs to change.

When things are ambiguous and obtuse, our ADHD wails like a 4 year old who didn’t get a piece of candy. Video games offer that feedback and we can make adjustments quickly.

Leveling Up

In many video games we can gain levels. We improve because of the work we put in—we see the results of our effort and we can then have better and harder challenges. We learn exactly what we need to do to earn experience points. Unlike our job or relationships, we can quantify our actions and risk to see the benefits.

Watch: How Video Games Fulfill Your Need for Growth and Progress

Pseudo-community

When we are playing an MMORPG, we have a guild, and “friends” that we talk with. But this is the equivalent of eating Milky Way bars for dinner. It tastes great, but the nutrition it provides us is lacking.

In those relationships there is no give and take, no doing life with each other. We are living in a virtual world that ends once the power is cut off, once a simple button is pressed. Those relationships have zero risk and therefore, zero reward to them.

Unrelenting Challenge

Video games provide level after level of challenge. They prod you to keep conquering, gaining and winning—and when you figure it out—you get rewarded.

But it teaches that in life, the risk can fail, but you get to try again and again. This isn’t true. We have consequences to our failure. Risk is good, but video games don’t let us have a healthy prediction of risk.

I felt a bit lost.

monopoly

When I detached from my video game addiction, I wondered what do I do with my time now? So I started a couple of things.

I joined a board game club. I started learning about all the other board games that were out there. I loved the challenge, learning the rules, but I found that there was a much stronger social cohesion there. I was actually making more friends. We even went on a cruise together, just to play board games.

I also started making money on the side. I needed a challenge, an area where I could “level up” myself. I started editing writing for people. I soon got better and better and got more (and better paying) clients.

I didn’t have the immediate results from video games, but I could spend 2-4 hours editing and have something substantial to work on.

Watch: How Gaming Gives You a False Sense of Achievement

That was years ago. Since then I’ve been able to travel with my side money, hitting Australia and most recently, China. I’ve started expanding my side hustle into coaching. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never played another video game since, but I only play in social settings (party games) and I don’t have a system in my house (or will I ever.)

My ADHD railed against the thought of being without my video games. They fed my ADHD’s worst traits. But the time I’ve gotten back, the freedom to things that actually make an impact has made all the difference.

Today’s guest post is by Ryan McRae. Ryan is the founder of The ADHD Nerd, a blog dedicated to helping people with ADHD be more productive, focused and happy. He recently wrote the book Conquering the Calendar and Getting More Done (which you can get for free here). He has spoken all over the world, including Afghanistan. He can be reached here.

“The lies allowed me to continue with the bad behaviour. Play games all day, lie about shit I needed to take care of, repeat.”

Sjoti

Growing up, school was easy for me. I got well above-average grades without much effort.

Gaming was an integral part of my life, I’d play on my Gameboy all day and later I moved to playing purely on PC. I’d combine playing with paying attention in school and that worked until I was about 16 years old.

I had to choose my major and continue in that, but in higher education, I noticed that I had to put in the effort. What the schools would give me was not enough to succeed, so my methods didn’t work at all.

I didn’t notice how bad my behaviour was.

I’d game all day, sometimes go to school, notice that I wasn’t going to make the cut, so to escape I’d game, and game, and game.

Instead of changing things up I just continued, because the world of games was all I knew and everything else was boring, not as exciting and just couldn’t hold my attention.

Watch: What If Gaming Is The Only Thing You’re Good At?

Competitive Games Made It Worse

I’d play to be the best, and try to join a more competitive scene… which sucked up even more time and attention.

I slowly started to notice a pattern where I ran away from anything as soon as I had to act like a responsible human being and take action. No matter how small the thing I needed to do was, whenever I had to take action I just felt like there was this sort of barrier that I couldn’t get through.

This caused me to not take action in just about anything, and this started to penetrate my social life as well.

I turned to lying after some time to avoid dealing with people.

It felt like the lies allowed me to continue with the bad behaviour. Play games all day, lie about shit I needed to take care of, repeat.

It took me too long to realise it pushes people away. People don’t want to deal with someone who points fingers all day. Someone who acts irresponsible and never takes responsibility for their actions. Someone you can’t rely on. All traits of a despicable person when I look back.

It gets comfortable, never having to deal with anything. And man, practice makes perfect, so constructing lies got easier and easier.

This got to the point where I’d photoshop a report card so I could avoid disappointing others and fake success.

Gaming allowed all of this.

It allowed me to keep up this lie and avoid thinking about it. Gaming just let’s me avoid feeling bad and often a motivation for lying would be having more game time. It was a vicious cycle that just built upon negative things and caused even more negative things.

6-14 hours a day of game time at a time.

I took a wrong approach. I was trying to look for the reason behind the barrier and I couldn’t find it, so the barrier stuck around.

I Needed to Stop Lying

That helped me a ton. My social life slowly got better, however, I still kept fucking up my education. This should’ve been the first realisation that I needed to take action, instead of just thinking about it.

Five years later, a year back from when I’m writing this, I started talking to others more. I started to listen more. People said to me that my gaming habits were unhealthy, that maybe quitting might be the right thing to do.

I tried moderation, failed horribly, and I got so so sick of myself and my own behaviour that I decided that a change was long overdue.

I’m 21 at This Point.

20th of June 2016. I quit smoking and gaming on that day. I’ve changed so much for the better.

I’m getting compliments from people around me, setbacks now motivate me. I’ve learned that life can hit me in the face and I can still continue.

I’m no longer a zombie. I am now honest towards others.

I must admit, over the last 7 months there have been some difficult times. I’ve had days where I fell back into the old behaviour of avoiding everything. I’ve learned that if I can remove two huge addictions in my life on the same day and keep at it for 7 months (and counting), then I can basically eliminate any other bad behaviour and keep the good stuff around.

This is one of the major reasons this has been such a huge success for me. Eliminating the bad forces me to deal with myself, which in turn allows me to think and deal with bad habits.

Confronting myself and being honest with myself allows me to be a better person.

This all turned the second half of 2016 in a year where I deal with being responsible. Being responsible towards both myself and others is now something I take pride in. I no longer point fingers and blame others for my own mistakes. I confront myself with that head-on and I learn from that experience.

I’ve been growing since day 0 and I’m still growing on day 222 and I do not plan on stopping. Part of my growth can be attributed to this community. Thank you, Cam and everyone else, especially everyone in the Discord Chat!

“You will never be able to achieve anything truly great if you spend all of your time playing video games.”

I am 24 years old and a Sergeant in the US Army.

I’m the guy who thought it would be a good idea to go on patrols and try to find people to shoot at me, so that I can shoot back at them – kind of like Call of Duty in real life.

I did a tour in Iraq in 2015. The weather was hot, like boot melting hot (~125 degrees fahrenheit).

The people were nice for the most part, except for the crazy ones who would drive around vehicles filled with a thousand pounds of explosives.

But life hasn’t always been this way and for much of my life, I was a gamer.

I started by playing Neopets when I was in the 5th grade. Soon after, I found Runescape. I got to combat level 98 on top of my various trade skills which took hundreds, if not thousands of hours of playtime to achieve. Quite an accomplishment if I do say so myself.

Next up is… World of Warcraft. Ah yes, this is where I truly shined. Over the course of five years I racked up about 400 days of solid play time – about 10,000 hours total.

I was so dedicated that I really didn’t have much of a social life in high school as my friends all also played video games for the most part. Whenever we would hang out and have a sleepover, we would bring our gaming systems and play together.

Off to College

college gaming dorm

The first semester I actually focused on my classes some and finished with decent grades. But this meant that my gaming performance was sliding a little bit.

I learned from my mistake and devoted so much time to gaming my second semester that I just stopped going to two of my classes, leaving me with only two other classes to worry about.

I entered the euphoric gaming trance which normal people refer to as “depression”, and was so committed to gaming that I didn’t go to class for a week straight one time. I barely passed the two classes, but my gaming performance was top notch.

That’s pretty much where my gaming career ends – kinda abrupt, I know. After that second semester I realized that I was destroying my life and decided to join the Army.

I still play video games occasionally, but I find that I get bored with them after about a week or so, then I will read, or play guitar for about two months until I feel like playing a few games again, and the cycle has just been repeating.

I’m not exactly sure what happened. Maybe it was just a mix of my poor academic performance in college, and being away from everything for 14 weeks when I was at basic training… but I just changed.

Maybe I Just Grew out of It

army wilderness

Now, I don’t even really have time for video games and, honestly, I don’t even notice. I am currently involved in three business ventures on top of my long days in the Army.

Whenever I do have free time that could be spent gaming, I would much rather read books on leadership and personal development. Basically I have stopped spending all of my free time on video games and have been investing that time in my future. It feels great!

I am nearing the end of my five-year commitment with the Army and am looking forward to going back to NC State University.

Instead of looking forward to all of the free time I will have to play games, I am actually excited to go back to learn and meet new people. I haven’t completely stopped playing video games, but it probably averages out to about one hour per week, if that.

I’m sure many of you at some point have wished you could get all of the hours you have spent gaming back, and use them for something else. I know I have.

You Have the Power to Change Yourself

motivational quote

There is no Universal Law that says that you have to be the same person you were yesterday. You can continue down the path you are on and live a life full of regret and mediocrity, or you can decide to pursue your dreams that you have pushed to the side in order to make room for gaming.

You have the power make something of yourself and change the world around you, but you will never be able to achieve anything truly great if you spend all of your time on games. The choice is yours. No one else can make it for you.

Learn more about Adam’s story by watching his YouTube videos.

After her experience with Adam, his mother, Melanie, started an organization called Families Managing Media to help other parents understand how to successfully navigate the role technology and gaming play in the lives of their children.

“I didn’t have a job, and I wasn’t looking. When my girlfriend would leave the house for work, I would boot up my computer and open a bottle.”

When I was 6 years old my family got a PC and I started playing games like SkiFree, Keen, GTA, and Lemmings.

As a restless child who was constantly battling boredom, video games provided me with the stimulation I desired. They were simply more fun than any other activity, and it was exciting to be in control! I felt like the master of my small computer generated universe – it gave me a sense of power which I lacked in my real life.

I Kept Gaming Every Chance I Got.

I made friends in school and my parents made me join a few hobbies. But I knew what I wanted to be doing; I wanted to be playing games.

My humble beginnings transformed into a serious problem when I got my own computer. I’m still not sure why my parents thought that was a good idea – I’m pretty sure they saw what a little addict I was. But alas, I got a refurbished PC in my own room around the age of 13, and ever since then it was game over.

I spent all my free time behind that monitor, gaming or internet browsing until early morning on school nights. Self control and awareness weren’t in my agenda. The games I played evolved as well. I picked up big titles from Blizzard like WC3 and WoW, and a whole slew of Steam games to boot.

Online Gaming Became My Go-To.

It gave me a sense of connection and community. I sorely needed some kind of human contact, and these games provided me with just enough pseudo-connection to keep me pacified.

I’m not proud of it, but I gamed my college experience away too. My dorm mates were all gamers, so it was easy to continue my compulsive computer use. Hardcore gaming hurt my grades, destroyed my sleep schedule, and stunted my personal development.

350

I didn’t outgrow my shyness, in fact, it got worse. And I hadn’t even hit rock bottom yet. Around 2011 I found my raison d’etre: drunk Dota2.

Let me preface this with a little bit about myself. I have an addictive personality and alcoholism runs in my family. The combination of booze and a Skinner-Box MOBA game created an unholy blissful paradise.

Just One More Game… Just One More Drink…

Amidst the hangovers and sleepless nights, I somehow graduated college. I moved into a small apartment with my then girlfriend, and proceeded to bloom into a full blown alcoholic and Dota2 addict.

I didn’t have a job, and I wasn’t looking. When my girlfriend would leave the house for work, I would boot up my computer and open a bottle.

At this point I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t care. I resigned my fate to a rollercoaster of drugs and video games. Full steam ahead! That is, until the morning that I threw up blood… “I guess I’m dying” I thought to myself, “Fuck”.

I want to tell you that this was the moment when I turned my life around 180 degrees. But how do you steer a life with 20 years of momentum behind it? Little by little.

I knew I needed help, but I was not ready to join an in-person support group. So I began lurking around reddit groups like /r/stopdrinking, /r/stopgaming, /r/nosurf.

Communities That Changed My Life.

I read stories, posted my own ramblings, and found solace in our shared struggle and pain. As I see it, these groups gave me a sense of belonging, and created meaning in my life.

Even with the best intentions, quitting an addiction is no easy feat. I relapsed over and over again. I would fall down, and I would get back up. I would delete Dota2 and pour my liquor down the drain, only to reinstall and buy more in a matter of days. But the intention to quit was there, I had a burning desire to overcome my addictions.

After a year of relapses and failed promises, I decided that enough was enough.

I had proven to myself that I couldn’t keep my convictions. Something had to change. And that something was my environment. As long as I had my gaming computer, I would game. This thought crystallized within my mind during yet another sleepless night where I played Dota2 until 6am.

I hated myself. I hated my life. Enough was enough.

I ripped the hard drive out of my PC, packed up my rig, and started driving to the dump. With tears in my eyes, I violently threw my tormentor into a dumpster. I would later regret not selling my PC instead, but at least my impulsively desperate act makes for a good story!

So that’s my past. I’m not proud of the way I spent my time, but it has created an unyielding fervor to better myself and help others who share my struggles.

Two Years Sober and Game Free!

Although life isn’t magically perfect now, I am proud of who I am and how I spend my time. Was quitting games worth it? YES, absolutely.

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My journey has created a uniquely clearheaded perspective on the overuse of technology, and what it can do to your life. I feel passionately that our society is headed in the wrong direction, and that our device use has become a problem.

Specifically, young men are prone to video game addiction, and people of all ages are apt to overuse social media and smartphones. Our devices are tools. They are useful. But when mindlessly overused they can greatly damage the quality of our lives.

I have thus created an online presence, MindfulFinn, to promote the mindful use of technology. You can follow my journey on YouTube and Instagram.

Thanks Cam and Game Quitters for spreading awareness about video game addiction. We’re all in this together.

“I kept playing for months, often for whole afternoons, until my son was born.”

jared yee

Video games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

As a kid I would play PC games, Playstation and Gameboy with friends, and often fantasize about the day my parents would let me have one of my own. That day didn’t come until I had finished high school.

I played games throughout university, but infrequently. When I started working full time I began spending many weekends playing video games to relax. It probably had the opposite effect, but that didn’t stop me racking up hundreds and hundreds of hours of play.

I got married early, at 23, which is a bit crazy, but we both knew we had found the one. It’s been hard work, and we are very happy.

When we got pregnant with our first child, my wife would often be asleep before I got home from work. She experienced intense fatigue during early pregnancy, and I didn’t know what to do with myself so I started gaming heavily, up to 4 hours per night.

My Son Was Born

When our boy came along, I didn’t have as much time to play games and I felt frustrated. At the time, I didn’t realize how absurd my frustration was. Here were my beautiful wife and son, and I wanted to play games all the time.

In reality, the stresses of fatherhood were affecting me in ways I didn’t understand. The comforting immersion of video games gave me an escape. People close to me noticed my frustration, and how much I was playing. Someone suggested that I quit games and it was the last thing on my mind.

I was so attached – perhaps addicted – to games that I thought something terrible might happen if I gave them up. Nevertheless, in November last year I decided to give it a shot. I relapsed in February, but have been completely game-free since then.

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What Happened When I Quit:

Nothing bad. In fact, my life has expanded in ways I never expected and I’ve been doing things I’ve neglected for years.

I don’t mean to show off in any way, but in the hope that it encourages you to try quitting games, here are a few things I’ve managed to achieve since I made the decision.

  • Started reading fiction. Before I quit games, I hadn’t read a novel since high school (~8 years). I read Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky) and am now a few hundred pages into War and Peace (Tolstoy). The latter is 1400 pages long and I have no plans to stop. It’s fantastic.
  • Read a bunch of non-fiction books. I read Deep Work by Cal Newport, The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, and the audiobook for Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. All highly recommended.
  • Started a 9-week running program (Couch to 5km) with the goal of running 5km (3x per week) by mid-October. I am up to week 5.
  • Traveled interstate for a holiday (I live in Australia) and booked another trip to the USA and Asia.
  • Became an early riser, starting each day at 5:30. I read, meditate and sometimes watch TV series like Chef’s Table before my family wakes up.
  • Quit a full-time job I didn’t like, and got a new part-time job at a digital marketing agency.
  • Started freelancing and building a new business (work-in-progress!).
  • Set up my first consulting contract with a business.
  • Completed a short course in Ancient Greek at an Australian university.
  • Started writing regularly (evidenced by this article!).
  • Started a web development course on Udemy, learning the fundamentals of HTML, CSS and JavaScript (so far!).
  • Tutored my sister-in-law in English and creative writing to help her with high school exams.
  • Signed up as a career development mentor (volunteer) at a catering/hospitality college in Sydney.
  • Started meditating for 10 minutes per day in the mornings (using the Headspace app).

I’ve left the most powerful benefit for last.

It’s a bit tricky to quantify, but I have found myself spending more time with my wife and son than ever. I can’t get enough of them. I’ve felt more present at family events and in social situations (which I previously disliked and found awkward).

I never thought I’d get a kick out of eating fresh mandarins from the tree in the backyard with my son, but yesterday we did, and it was terrific.

It’s difficult to know whether I would have done any of these things while still gaming. Nevertheless, it is quite clear to me that none of these things would have been as much fun if I were gaming regularly.

My decision to quit gaming has had surprising benefits. It hasn’t solved all of my problems or made life magically frictionless. Nevertheless I’ve achieved more (and enjoyed more) in 6 months than I have in years.

Quitting gaming may not work for everyone, but I’ve found it tremendously helpful. Give it a try. I’d love to hear how it goes!

If you like Jared’s story, than you’ll definitely like Respawn.

Jared Yee is a freelance writer and marketer based in Sydney, Australia. He quit games in 2016 a few months after his first child was born, and hasn’t looked back since. Outside of work, Jared enjoys reading, running, meditation, and above all spending time with family.

© Copyright Jared Yee 2016, All Rights Reserved

Cam’s Story

“I dropped out of high school, twice.”

Cam Adair

My name is Cam and by the age of 21 I had been addicted to playing video games for over ten years.

This addiction affected many areas of my life, including being a major influence in my decision to drop out of high school not once, but twice. I never graduated, never went to college, and struggled with depression for many years.

I want to be very clear, I don’t blame video games for why this happened, nor do I think video games were the problem.

I’m not here to vilify gaming, tell you that it’s bad or debate with you about whether you or not you should play; because I don’t believe gaming is bad and if someone wants to play then I would encourage them to go ahead and play.

What I do want to share with you is about my experience playing video games and how the decision to move on from them has taught me more about living a meaningful life than anything I’ve done before, and how over the last five years my journey has led me to founding Game Quitters, the largest support community for people who struggle to overcome a video game addiction. Today Game Quitters has members in over 60 countries around the world.

Growing up

I was a fairly normal Canadian kid. I went to school, I played hockey and then I would go home and play video games. I was happy, I felt smart, and I had friends.

My nickname was even “Smiley.”

That all changed in the 8th grade when I began to experience intense bullying. For example, the fun game to play for kids in the 9th grade was “Can we put Cam in a garbage can?”

Every day during lunch hour kids would chase me around the school, trying to put me in a garbage can. I would kick and scream and squirm and do everything in my power to avoid this happening, because otherwise I would be humiliated.

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Life on my hockey teams wasn’t much better, and after a game in Red Deer, Alberta we all got on the team bus to head back home, and for an entire hour I laid at the back of the team bus in fetal position being spit on.

To be honest, sharing about these situations now feels very odd and bizarre to me. They seem like a different life. But they are true and they are experiences I went through, amongst many others.

What these experiences did was cause me to isolate myself away. I didn’t really enjoy going to school much anymore and hockey wasn’t any better. The less I went to school and the less I went to hockey, the more I played video games. They were a place for me to escape to, a place I had more control over my experience.

I didn’t have to worry about kids bullying me online because if they did I could just block them, move to a different server or play a different game. Eventually I dropped out of high school, and retired from hockey, the game I loved more than anything else.

For the next year and a half I was depressed, living in my parents basement, playing video games up to 16 hours a day. My parents would get on my case that if I wasn’t going to school then I had to get a job, so I worked the odd job here and there, but I would rarely last over a month before I quit.

I Pretended to Have Jobs

Every morning my dad would drop me off at a restaurant where I was a prep cook. As soon as he drove off I would walk across the street, and catch the bus back home. I would sneak in through my window and go to sleep — I had been up all night playing video games.

A few weeks later my parents would wonder where my paycheck was, so I would make up an excuse that I quit, or I got fired, or whatever else I could confuse them with. Then I would “get” “another” “job,” rinse and repeat. After doing this a few times my parents just gave up and left me to figure things out.

Looking back I’m embarrassed by this behavior, but I was doing anything I could to play video games. They were a way for me to check out and escape from my situation.

When I was gaming I didn’t have to think about how bad my life had gotten, and how depressed I was.

Unfortunately, although I could escape from dealing with it, games didn’t fix the problem, and things only continued to get worse, until one night when I wrote a suicide note.

Thankfully I didn’t go through with it because I’m writing this to you right now, but what that night did make me realize was that I needed to get professional support. I no longer felt safe with myself. So I asked my dad if he could help me and I started to see a counsellor.

My Counsellor Made Me a Deal

He said I either had to get (and keep) a job, or I had to go on anti-depressants. I’m not sure why, but if there was anything I was certain of at that time in my life, it was that I did not want to go on anti-depressants.

I’m not specifically against them or anything, but I just knew they were not something I wanted for myself. So I got a job.

What the job gave me was stability and with stability I felt inspired that I had a second chance. My life had gotten completely out of control, but this was an opportunity for a fresh start. And I could make this new life anything I wanted it to be. I wanted to see what I could do with it.

I didn’t have very many goals at the time, but one of the goals I did have was to learn more about social skills and how to make friends.

With all the bullying I went through growing up I never really understood why it seemed like 50% of people liked me, and 50% didn’t. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that’s just something called life, but at the time I wanted to feel more in control of my social experience.

So I figured if I was going to improve my social skills, I had to start going out to meet people. I didn’t really know anything else I could do, so I committed to going out every single night to nightclubs. I would be there to learn so I wouldn’t drink alcohol, and I would carry a journal to write down the lessons I was learning. Eventually I started to post these lessons on a blog.

But I knew if I was really going to do this, then I couldn’t play video games, because I would avoid going out, and just stay in to game.

So I quit cold turkey and for two years I didn’t touch a game. To succeed, I was just never home. I would work from 7am to 4pm, come home, nap, shower, get dressed, eat and go out.

But Then I Relapsed

I had just moved to Victoria, B.C. because I was feeling depressed again, and felt like I needed a change of scenery. Looking back I was just running away from my problems, and instead of using video games to escape I moved to a new city.

I had just moved in with new roommates, and one of them was a professional poker player named Ben. My first night at the house Ben and I started talking about our past gaming histories, and we realized we used to play the same game — Starcraft. Ben said he was going to go to the store and buy it for us to play.

I told him I had quit, and really didn’t want to play video games anymore. He just laughed it off. Later that night I was sitting at my desk working on my blog when he came home with a big grin on his face and put the game in front of me.

“Just one game,” he said.

I sighed, and agreed to play. Over the next 30 minutes he absolutely destroyed me.

Humiliated in defeat, I committed to doing everything possible to improve so he could never beat me like that again, and for the next 5 months I played 16 hours a day, and did nothing else but game.

I stopped working, never went out to meet new people, and barely even left the house. I would eat, sleep and game. Every single day.

About one month later my two roommates left on a three week trip. I remember being so excited to have the house to myself, where I could just game all day without anybody knowing, or having to feel a single ounce of guilt anytime my roommate, James, would invite me to go on adventures.

Around this time I realized my gaming was out of control, and I needed to quit again, but I decided to do it at the end of my 5 month stay in Victoria to give myself the closure I was looking for. This isn’t something I recommend to others because it’s a slippery slope, but I do recognize that for me, this helped.

I Quit Once Again

I took time to reflect on why I was so drawn back to games, even after I had quit successfully for two years. How did I go from not gaming for two years to playing 16 hours a day, again, overnight?

What I discovered was that there were four main reasons why I played. It wasn’t just because games were fun, but because of these specific reasons:

1. Temporary Escape

With games I could escape. When I was feeling stressed out or needed a break from the day, I could just game and forget about the situation. And I certainly didn’t have to deal with my depression or anxiety.

2. Social Connection

Gaming is a community, and it’s how you interact with a lot, if not all, of your friends. It’s where you feel welcome and safe. It’s where you feel accepted.

In our society we stigmatize gamers as being nerds, loners and losers. We say they are lazy and they are wasting their potential, so they don’t feel accepted outside of games, and because they feel this way, their online gaming communities are a place where they all have a special bond. It’s them against the world.

Also because I was playing with friends, I didn’t feel like I missed out on being social by staying in on a Friday night, because I was being social — I was gaming with my friends.

A lot of parents believe the relationships you have with your gamer friends are not real relationships — and this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Last year I traveled to Singapore and for the past seven years I’ve been interacting with a fellow blogger online named Alden Tan. We spent the week together hanging out and having a great time. We still stay in-touch today. The relationships gamers have online are real and meaningful relationships.

3. Constant Measurable Growth

Games give you a feedback loop. You get to see growth and progress, and it happens immediately through instant gratification.

Today I DJ, and I surf, and both of these fulfill the same need for constant measurable growth, but it’s much harder to see my progress. I don’t have a scoreboard, a badge or a new level to achieve; I just fall on my face less.

4. Challenge (Sense of Purpose)

Games give you a sense of purpose, a mission and a goal to work towards. And they are specifically designed this way. It’s part of the invisible game design. You always know what the next thing is that you need to do. You have to beat this boss, get this weapon, achieve this level. If you don’t have a sense of purpose outside of games, they will provide it for you.

These four needs are all human needs we have and there’s nothing wrong with them.

We all need a break from stress. We all need to feel social connection. We all want to grow, to be challenged and to have a sense of purpose. The power comes in understanding what these needs are, and then being intentional to choose how we fulfill them.

For example, if you were going to stop playing video games, you would need to fulfill these needs in alternative activities — otherwise you will continue to be drawn back to games, just like I was.

Gaming is just an activity. You don’t game just because you “love video games,” or because games are fun; your drive to game comes from your desire to fulfill these needs.

After I learned these reasons I figured if I struggled to quit playing video games than surely there were many others out there in the world who struggled as well, so I looked online to see what the current advice was about how to quit playing video games, and let’s just say I became pissed off.

Imagine identifying that you have a problem, a real problem, and you feel inspired enough to search for an answer.

You don’t really know where to turn. You know your family won’t empathize, and will instead take the opportunity to shame you for playing in the first place: “told you so!” and you certainly can’t bring it up with your friends, they all play and will wonder why you’re making such a big deal about it.

You Don’t Have Anybody Else.

So you go where you know you can find an answer: Google, and with a subtle rush of hope you type “How to quit playing video games” and hit enter. If anybody knows how to quit, your friend Google will!

Instead of getting practical advice that can help, you get advice like, to study more — when the whole reason you’re playing video games is to avoid studying — or, to hang out with your friends — when all of your friends play.

Is there anything more frustrating than being courageous enough to admit you have a problem (and need help), and then assertive enough to actually search for an answer… only to get one you know is shit?

What I do know is that this process is discouraging, and the consequence of it is that people who were originally open to seeking help are now just like “fuck it, I’ll just continue to play video games.”

These gamers didn’t need a “typical adult” to pretend to have the advice they were looking for, they needed a fellow gamer who had been through the same experience, who understood it and could speak their language.

So I felt called to share what I had learned through my journey as a hardcore gamer who struggled with the same question, and what helped me recover from my addiction, and into a new chapter in my life.

In May of 2011, I published my story and what I had learned in a blog post online titled How to Quit Playing Video Games FOREVER and the article (more of a rant) went viral and instantly became the go-to resource online for those in the gaming community looking to quit.

Every day I woke up to new comments.

And these weren’t comments just saying “thank you”, they were thousand word essays of fellow gamers sharing their life story. It was an outlet for them to finally speak up about their experience, and today there are almost 1,600 of them.

And they were young. I received comments from gamers as young as 10, 11, 12 years old, young teenagers opening up and being vulnerable. I also got comments from other demographics as well, including wives of husbands who were neglecting their families for these games, concerned parents, and everything in between; but it was this group of young teenagers that really stood out to me.

Imagine being 12 years old and you’re self-aware enough to recognize that you might have a problem.

So you search for the answer in Google, and read an article that is six pages long. Then you go through the comments — many of which are over 1,000 words — and you’re courageous enough to leave your own.

At school your teacher struggles to get you to write three paragraphs for an essay about something you don’t care about, but here you are writing multiple pages about how you struggle to quit playing video games.

And then you’re assertive enough to click “Contact” in the menu bar, and email the author to ask for additional help. And you’re 12 years old.

So between the quantity of comments, the quality of them and the ages, I knew there was a real problem here, and it wasn’t a problem only I dealt with.

Two years later, in September 2013, the article turned into a TEDx talk, which today has over 125,000 views, and over 1,000 comments.

With an incredible response to the TEDx talk I realized I needed to do more. Sure, I could answer all the comments and emails I received on a daily basis, which I did, but in almost 3+ years since my article came out there were still very few resources outside of mine available.

You Deserved Better

You deserved the best tools and resources to support you to overcome this problem, and instead of waiting for someone else to solve it I would take matters into my own hands.

In January of 2015, I launched Game Quitters and it’s been an incredible ride ever since.

Today we have members in over 60 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Singapore, South Africa, Russia, China, Japan, India, Morocco, Poland, Indonesia, Finland, Germany, the U.K., New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Tunisia, South Korea, Israel, and the Netherlands, amongst others. Our members represent all six habitable continents.

We have a YouTube channel with over 90 videos and over 150,000 views. We have over 5,000 members, a community forum with over 14,000 journal entries in the past year alone —  where members share their journey and interact with others — and over 80 new posts on average each day.

We have an online program to help you quit playing video games called Respawn.

We have 20,000+ unique visitors to the StopGaming community on reddit every month — with growth doubling over the last six months. Our community is growing rapidly, but…

We’re Only Scratching the Surface

Research from 2009 suggests that in the U.S. alone, 8.5% of youth show diagnosable signs of pathological gaming 59 59. “8.5 percent of U.S. youth addicted to video games, study finds,” Iowa State University, 2009. Retrieved from: https://www.engadget.com/2009/04/20/8-5-percent-of-u-s-youth-addicted-to-video-games-study-finds/ × . That can be as many as a few million youth.

If you add in countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia, and European countries such as Finland, France, Germany 60 60. “Half of Germany's adult population plays videogames,” Newzoo, 2011. Retrieved from: https://www.destructoid.com/half-of-germany-s-adult-population-plays-videogames-208505.phtml × , and Poland, I estimate there are at least between 10 and 50 million video game addicts in the world right now, many of whom struggle in silence.

This issue is much bigger than me and I’m only one of millions who struggle with compulsive gaming or a video game addiction. You can read the stories of others in our Case Studies section.

There is also a need for research and that is why we have partnered with Dr. Daniel King from the University of Adelaide in Australia to run a scientific study on our 90 day abstinence protocol – the “90 Day Detox” – a first of its kind in the academic literature.

Imagine a world where if you’re a gamer who struggles with a video game addiction, you are able to find a support community who you resonate with, where you feel welcome and safe, where you feel understood.

Where you get to learn and be educated on why the problem happens, and exactly how to recover from it. And for this recovery to not just be about surviving without games, but thriving and living a meaningful life.

That’s the world I imagine; that is my dream, and our mission is to positively impact at least 10 million video game addicts in the next three years.

Today I am not only a recovering video game addict, but the leading expert and pioneer of the video game addiction field.

I speak regularly at international addiction conferences, and on college campuses. Recently I have been signed by CAMPUSPEAK, a higher education speaking agency.

My work has been featured in two TEDx talks, and in major media outlets such as VICE, FOX, CW, The Huffington Post, TV Asia, and the Gavin McInnes Show.

In my spare time I enjoy traveling (22 countries to date), DJing, and surfing. I currently live in beautiful San Diego, California.

“I look back and remember who I was a year ago. I was a completely different person.”

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We all have our own reasons for why we want to quit gaming. For some of us, it’s to get better grades. For others, it’s to improve our social skills and confidence. For Josh, it was to improve the relationship he had with his family.

I’m in Grade 7 and making a change now will be crucial, not only for my future, but also for my family. I know I might want some games to play, but if it hinders my family’s relationship it would be something that would be hard to mend.

Josh began gaming when he was four years old with a gameboy. Like many of us, his gaming began as just a side hobby – his gameplay limited by his father.

As he got older he moved on from the gameboy and started to play computer and console games, including League of Legends in the 6th grade. He wasn’t allowed to play on the weekends, but after school he had a lot of free time and would play for three to four hours until dinner.

He didn’t enjoy gaming as much as others, but it was a way to hang out with his friends, and he didn’t really have anything else to do. Video games provided entertainment.

Gaming didn’t have a negative impact on his grades, but he did start to circumvent the rules his parents had for him, including playing on the weekends and buying new games which led to arguments with his family.

Arguments Became More Frequent

Midway through grade 7, with arguments happening more frequently, Josh began to think about whether he should continue gaming or not. Gaming was becoming a big issue, he was having emotional breakdowns and getting really sad – he didn’t want to have a bad relationship with his father.

Plus, if he was to quit now, it would probably have a positive impact on his future, and the earlier he started building his future, the better, because he would have more time to grow. This became part of his why – the purpose behind his decision to quit.

After a Google search he found the StopGaming community on Reddit, and found it inspiring and full of encouragement.

“It’s great that people out there have the same problem, and we can come together as a group and sort things out together.”

For the first month he joined a club for Gunpla, which are plastic models you can build and customize based on the Gundam animation series. He wasn’t exactly sure what he was looking for, but he used this time to explore the world around him instead of the virtual world online.

cycling

He also found cycling which was a lot of fun, but he would still spend more time than he’d like watching streams on YouTube. This is something Josh is still working on.

Recommended: Should You Watch Gaming Streams?

His friends would try to get him to play – they didn’t really believe him when he said he quit – and he would just say no. They eventually gave up. Instead of losing his friends, Josh focused on going out more often and organizing things to do together, like going to Disneyland.

He found his social life improved a lot by quitting video games and it helped him to take more of a leadership role with his friends. He also met more of his classmates, instead of just being friends with the ones that were gamers.

He found that by taking school more seriously, his classmates would approach him for advice on doing well in school.

He worked on developing qualities like showing appreciation and having empathy for others. He also found his attitude and personality improved, as he became more friendly and social, since he was no longer pre-occupied with 4-5 hours of gaming.

And then Pokemon GO came out…

Josh hadn’t played a video game in over 350+ days, but the social pressure to play Pokemon GO became too much to handle. He had also been thinking about playing it for a year before it was released.

Recommended: Should You Play Pokemon GO?

Two weeks later he realized he was playing too much again. He was pre-occupied, thinking about it all the time and he even had a hard time sleeping one night. He began to wonder what else he could be doing with his time instead.

He decided to quit Pokemon GO and invest his time in other activities, such as:

  • Taking his studies more seriously
  • Road Cycling, including pursuing opportunities to enter a competition soon
  • Spending more time with his family

There is still social pressure for him to play Pokemon GO, but he has other goals now. He wants to find a purpose for his future career, continue to be more social, and taking time to reflect on who he wants to be after school is over.

His Advice For You

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not Josh

During our conversation, Josh continued to reiterate the importance of getting out of the house. He said:

Going out is key to avoid cravings. Whether you’re socializing or not, it doesn’t matter, but by getting out of the house you’ll see a lot of things you wouldn’t normally see. When you’re in your house, you’re confined to the things you always see. And that can be boring.

To get out of the house, Josh recommends to keep it simple. When his family goes out for lunch, he joins them, and then he roams around the area to explore.

Recommended: How to Get out of the House More Often

He also encourages you to be more social and talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. When you were gaming there were a lot of people you may have been judging, and now this is an opportunity to build your own personality.

Finally, he encourages you to reflect on your actions. There will be times that you think you will want to play, but in these moments you need to pause, and remind yourself what your purpose is – what your goal is by quitting. Sometimes you will forget it, so it’s key to remind yourself of your why.

Best of all, the relationship he has with his family has improved, and that was important to him, not only to have a better relationship with his father, but also his grandparents.

I encourage everyone who is struggling with video games and thinking about quitting to go for it. It helps you secure your future, and it also brings happiness to those in your family.

Josh turns 14 in the fall and he has a bright future ahead of him. And that future is even brighter because of his decision to quit playing video games.

Thanks for sharing your story, Josh!

“I seriously didn’t think it was possible to be addicted to video games.”

photo-1428591850870-56971c19c3d9

Matt began gaming in 1989 and gamed consistently until he left university with a Sociology degree, having initially studied architecture.

A vicious cycle of depression and addiction to games such as Warcraft 3 and Halo 2 caused the end of Matt’s relationship with his girlfriend at the time. Gaming was not only taking all his time, but also his attention.

He would sometimes not even answer her phone calls in order to continue playing games. They seldom went anywhere together.

Real Life Got In The Way of Gaming

After leaving university and beginning a career as a counseller for autistic children, he found a much healthier balance with video games and even quit for a few years. This was partially due to just not having the time or money to game, or buy a laptop capable of gaming.

All that changed when an old friend bought him one as a gift, and this signaled his return to gaming heavily. The new laptop opened the doors once again to online gaming, which Matt always had more trouble controlling.

Switching jobs and being unemployed left Matt with a lot of time on his hands, and he ended up spending most of it playing Starcraft 2. The online competitive environment and reward systems made the game very addictive.

Preparing for grad school to study landscape architecture left Matt with a choice, how much more time was he going to waste gaming?

Matt had always been able to control gaming just enough to do okay in school throughout his life, but even in this “moderated” state gaming still took up almost all of his non-study time, leaving him with no time to pursue other more productive or healthy hobbies or activities.

Gaming Is a Full-Time Job

During his time being unemployed, and afterwards during semester breaks, Matt found himself playing Fallout for 40-60 hours a week. It became a full-time job, one that doesn’t pay very well.

Living with his old friend while studying at grad school had also made it more difficult to get away from games, because his group of friends expected him to join them.

To combat this, Matt tried an innovative tactic to moderate his gaming: giving his best friend’s girlfriend parental control over his gaming, and thereby limiting his time to 10 hours per week.

Although he had some success with this because of the embarrassment associated with asking his friend’s partner for more game time, and also being left out of friend’s activities due to being out of hours, it didn’t resolve the problem entirely.

Matt often found himself playing his 10 hours in just 2 days, and realised he still had a problem just like before; he began to seek out counselling and therapy as well as the StopGaming community on Reddit to help him quit.

After trying to moderate for the first few months after again recognising the negative impact gaming was having on his life, Matt finally decided to quit cold turkey. Like many others who have successfully quit he now sees it as a necessity to anybody who wants to kick the habit.

“Swallow your pride, ask for help and seek advice. Create a plan and execute it. If you “fail”, dust yourself off and keep trying.”

At first Matt faced problems with wasting time on the internet, particularly Reddit and Amazon Prime. He shared some tips for reducing lost internet time here.

I just found the Chrome extension Stay Focused. It is a time limiting extension that in my opinion is pretty well done. All you do is select a time allotment and add the websites that you think lead to procrastination etc. and it’ll block the websites after you reach your daily/weekly time limit.

As well as this, he recommends having a written to-do list, preferably that you can carry around with you, and to also reflect of the games of which you have had control issues with. By doing this, you can better understand why you were gaming, and also what hobbies you may pursue to replace video games.

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

For example, for those who have had issues with RPGs like Matt, you may like the sense of pride that comes from growing the number of days on your “game-free” badge on Reddit, or the measurable physical effects of working out.

For Matt, as well as keeping fit, his main hobbies since quitting have included going out more with his friends, making sure he studies well for his grad course, and gardening.

Although quitting gaming is just one step along the road to a better quality life, Matt does see himself as being more capable of facing new challenges now than ever before, and he feels a greater sense of control in his life.

Photoshop and CAD skills gained over the years have helped him to secure a summer internship that will help him to keep off of games over the break, and all of us at Game Quitters wish him the best for the future!

“The line that spoke to me the most was, “There are some people out there who are gaming, and they don’t want to be.” I knew that I was one of those people.”

Meet Joe. After 25 years of gaming he decided to make a change in his life. Like most of us who want to quit gaming, Joe faced challenges at first.

He had a fear of missing out once he decided to get rid of his games, he had fond memories of gaming in the past, and felt a sense of loss from the amount of time he’d invested in gaming over so many years.

Joe hid his recovery from those around him; it made him feel fake doing so, but he feared how others would react if they knew of his addiction. Admitting recovery meant admitting the problems he was facing to those he loved the most.

He Found a Support Community

Then Joe discovered Game Quitters and realized he wasn’t alone on this journey, and that there were many people like him with hopes and dreams of a life beyond gaming.

For Joe, a life beyond gaming meant being a better husband to his wife, and a better father to his newborn daughter. Through Game Quitters he developed the courage to discuss his addiction and recovery with those closest to him.

As the days and months have passed, he has felt less and less tempted to pick up games again. Communication with his wife is better than its ever been, his daughter is now a toddler and he is enjoying being there for her as she grows up.

Just imagine if Joe had continued gaming to this day? He chose a different path.

One Year Game Free

Now Joe has been game free for an entire year and we’re going to explore how he did it, and how you can follow in his footsteps.

One of the strengths Joe had is that he has been very clear on his reason for quitting games from day one, in his own words:

Having a great family is my biggest definition of success – The reason I quit is because I have a lot to lose. I have a wonderful wife and a baby daughter who I want to be fully engaged with.

I cannot have games as a part of my life because I cannot play in moderation. I want to be the father I always wish I had, and provide my daughter with the childhood I missed out on. My wife is such a wonderful and understanding person, and I would be a fool to let games ruin our relationship.

Answering the “why” question gave Joe the motivation necessary to persevere and quit games for good. Self awareness is critical for success in quitting games – recognizing the problem is the first step towards finding the solution.

Joe Is Happier Now

A key part of the Game Quitters community is that we all learn from one another, and Joe took this to heart from day one. Being open to suggestions from others helped Joe discover meditation. Joe highly recommends meditation for any fellow game quitters, and had this to say about the positive effects its had for him:

Meditation is worth the small amount of time it takes. Learning to be still for a while and carry a sense of mindfulness throughout the day makes me more capable, organized, and energetic.

Joe realized through being mindful that he didn’t need to feel guilty about the positive memories he had of some of his experiences gaming in the past.

Through letting go of his attachment to that stage of his life, Joe was able to feel more at peace with both accepting there were times he enjoyed games in the past, but that it’s now something that no longer serves him.

Happiness and entertainment are not the same

An important insight for Joe about the ‘positives’ of gaming is that “happiness and entertainment are not the same thing.” Gaming may provide entertainment, but it didn’t make Joe feel proud or happy about what he was doing in his life. All the hours Joe put into gaming over the years did nothing to make him feel fulfilled as a person.

Since quitting gaming, Joe has also engaged in self development. Joe admitted that at first he wasn’t a fan of self development books. He thought reading a self development book meant admitting he was a loser, but his mindset completely changed after reading “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.

Suggested: 5 Books You Must Read To Help You Quit Playing Video Games

He credits this book with the new approach he’s taken to building habits. A key aspect of this is focusing on enjoyment of the present moment and of the activity itself rather than relying on willpower alone to get him to keep his habits. Joe has never felt more empowered about his ability to change any part of his life.

“Learning to live in the present moment is my favorite benefit from quitting games.” Click to Tweet

Over the days and months since he quit gaming, Joe slowly began to open up about his old addiction. Communication to his wife about his addiction has allowed their relationship to improve, and allowed Joe to become the kind of husband and father he always wanted to be.

He Now Supports Others to Quit

Joe has now taken a leadership role within the Game Quitters Forum as a moderator, and being over one year game free, has gained a great sense of purpose and fulfillment from helping those who are still on their journey towards quitting games and recovering from their addiction.

Opening up about his experiences has given Joe a sense of freedom, as we’ve all been able to follow his journey and support him along the way. Just as the suggestions and guidance of others in the community were critical to Joe’s success, he is now paying it forward to others.

Finally, quitting games has allowed Joe to feel more at peace with himself and more satisfied in life, I’ll leave you with the following words:

I’ve learned that I should dream, and I should take little steps every day to achieve those grand dreams.  Also, it’s vital for me to be able to enjoy the journey towards my dreams.  In the end, it’s not really about whether or not I get to the finish line, but whether I found joy in the days, weeks, months, and years of experiences in pursuit of that dream.

If you think Joe’s story is inspiring, imagine how inspiring your own story will be too. If you’re ready to quit playing video games and turn your life around, grab Respawn.

This is a guest post by Ben Brewer from Instinctual Introvert.

benbrewerIn 2010 I played Starcraft 2 professionally. For two years I flew around the U.S. and competed against the best in the world.

In the last tournament of my career — Intel Extreme Masters in New York City — I got my best result to date. I beat a top-3 player in the world*, a Korean named DongRaeGu*, and finished 4th place in the tournament, winning $1,200.

What a ride it was — that tournament, and my professional gaming career as a whole.

Yet, at the end of those two years, something in my life was still amiss.

Ten Years of Addiction

My entire life I always had a game to turn to: Warcraft, Call of Duty, Dota, Starcraft. These games were my safety net; my home-away-from-home. And for ten years I was massively addicted.

Games were more than just a place to pass the time. They were life. And thus, everything that didn’t involve gaming got pushed to the back burner.

That’s why I had terrible social skills, few real-life friends and poor grades in school.

Feeling Out of Place

I was naturally reserved growing up. Making friends was not my forte. However, I still had a few friends in my early years who I clicked with.

But after I turned 11 — everything changed.

Two things happened: My parents home-schooled me; and I discovered the universe of online gaming.

This was wonderful (or not so wonderful) for a shy kid like me. Rather than push through the discomfort of making friends — I could simply play with a buddy online.

It was the easy way out.

But years later when it came time to get a job and attend college, all those neglected years came back to haunt me.

Turning My Life Around

Ultimately I discovered that video games — while fun — had no place in my life.

In my third year of college, I was giving a presentation and I bombed it.

If I could have disappeared right then and there — I would have. It was the lowest point of my life.

Yet as I walked out of the classroom that day, I vowed to turn things around. The first line of order, I knew, was to quit video games. The second was diving into self-development and learning how to socialize without making an utter fool of myself.

matrix

The Return

Things were on the upswing for a year after quitting. I saw measurable improvement in my life.

But, just when I thought I’d gotten past my biggest vice for good — I got the uncontrollable urge to go back and play. Just a little, I thought. And this time it won’t get out of control.

You can guess what happened next: Binge.

The Triggers

Video games had caused destruction in my life — that was clear. So why couldn’t I resist the urge to play, yet again?

The answer, I found, lies within the mind. When you repeat the same habits over and over — it wraps neural circuits in your brain with insulation called myelin.

The thing with myelin is that it wraps — but it never unwraps. No matter how far you run, your mind will always have that connection.

That’s why having a game plan is critical. You must be aware of the triggers that make the addiction rear its head — or, as I learned, you’re doomed.

First Trigger: One Hour

The ways in which we try to outsmart ourselves. I’ll play for just one hour. I’ll keep it under control.

Three days in? Ah what the hell, another half hour won’t hurt.

But every decision is easier made the second time. And that one slip turns into a full-fledged slide. One hour turns into two, turns into three, turns into five.

Second Trigger: Streams

You’re only watching someone else play. What’s the harm?

Yet a seed of possibility is planted. And every time you watch a stream you water that seed. And before you know it — the seed has sprouted and overtaken your mind.

Bottom line? If you were as addicted as I was, the last place you want your focus to be is games, in any shape or form.

Watch: Should You Watch Gaming Streams?

Third Trigger: Depression

The down days are inevitable. You will have them. Everyone has them.

These times are especially critical. Why? Because your brain only wants “what’s best” for you. It wants to be happy — while damning anything that gets in the way.

And video games for you and me? They’re the comfort zone; our good friend that has always been there to lift our spirits up.

But it’s a trapdoor. And that trapdoor leads to one place only.

Fourth Trigger: Friends

Perhaps you’re like me, you had a hard time making friends, and video games just so happened to be perfect. A place you could make friends with ease.

Yet now that you’ve quit, you’ve had to leave them behind. So what do you say when one of those friends calls you, out of the blue, and paints a vivid picture of what it could be like, to once again, relive the glory days?

That’s where the line must be drawn. Will you do what’s best for your friend? Or what’s best for you?

At the end of the day, this is your life, and you’ve only got one ticket.

Watch: How to Stay Friends With Your Gamer Friends

Filling the Gaps

Here’s the thing: Avoiding the triggers above is easier said than done. If you truly want to quit forever — you must take it a step further.

How so?

For me, video games were meeting needs in my life; needs that weren’t being met in real life. If I wanted a chance at quitting, I had to find a way to meet these needs.

Instant Gratification

Video games offer a quick-fix solution. No matter how bad a day you’ve had, video games are still there to release the pressure valve. You can simply immerse yourself in a reality where your problems don’t exist.

How I got past it

I reframed how I look at life. I’ve fallen in love with the process of working towards something bigger.

I’ve got a vision in my head of what my ideal life looks like. Nothing beats the feeling of chipping away a few more pieces, every day, and seeing my hard work pay off.

No, not even video games.

Purpose

Everyone has a desire to feel their life is meaningful and amounting to something more.

With video games, you get that in the form of measurable progress—winning gear upgrades, earning new titles, climbing the ranks.

How I got past it

In this case, envisioning the future was crucial. What do I want my life to look like in 10 years? Will I be happier playing games? Or will I have wished I would have taken action to create a better life?

The choice was clear. And the next step, then, was figuring out what hobbies would make my life feel meaningful — so I wouldn’t have to turn to video games to feel my life had meaning.

For me that meant lifting weights, reading more books, and learning the guitar—all things that I can “level up” in, and that give me something to continually aim for.

Check out Cam’s 60+ New Hobby Ideas — great replacements for video games.

Social Connection

Quitting games cold turkey means one thing: All your relationships online just got severed.

Only one problem with that. If you’re like me — you didn’t have many real-life friends to fall back on.

How I got past it

I had to make myself uncomfortable. That meant stepping outside my comfort zone and getting past my fear of socializing.

It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life… but it had to be done.

Humans are social creatures. If you don’t find a way to get that need met, it’s simply a matter of time until you turn back to gaming to get your fix.

kids skateboarding

Competition

Being able to compete with anyone, at any time? My dream scenario.

I’m very competitive by nature and nothing spikes the feel-good chemicals more than dominating an opponent online.

How I got past it

What could possibly be more fun than beating someone?

In all actuality, I’ve found a competition that’s much more fun. And it’s the competition with yourself, and taking your life to the next level every day and every year.

Being able to look back to a year ago in sheer amazement at how far you’ve come.

Quitting Games — The Turning Point

For me it has all been worth it. Sure, there’s been growing pains from quitting. And the change has been gradual. I didn’t just stop playing and… POOF… things were amazing. I’ve been on this journey for quite some time. But each year, it only gets better.

And now, because I don’t waste countless hours on games, I can funnel that time into:

  • Building relationships
  • Learning the guitar
  • Building a business
  • Traveling to cool places in the world

… and much much more.

Games are simply an afterthought now, what with the kick-ass journey I’ve embarked upon.

How about you guys at Game Quitters? What hobbies have you picked up to steer clear from video games? Share yours in the comments below.

If you are still playing games but you want to quit right now, check out Respawn.

Ben Brewer is the author of instinctualintrovert.com — a blog for introverts, to show that overcoming fear and anxiety is possible.

* Trigger warnings: