My first video gaming platform was Sega Megadrive. I think I was five or six years old when I started playing it and it quickly became my favorite pastime. When I was seven, my mother bought us our first computer that had Windows. At first, I had some children's games on that computer, but at some point I found a gaming magazine in a market that had a demo CD as an attachment. Instead of buying candy, I bought that magazine and started playing the demos on computer. Most of them were crappy or I couldn't get them to work as I was so young and inexperienced with computers, but one demo that I really liked was Age of Empires II. When I had played through the demo content, I knew I had to get this game. As a child I had always been into medieval history and knights so this game was a dream come true.
After this PC gaming was clearly my number one hobby. I saved all the money I got to buy new games, and wished for new games on my birthdays and christmas. I played mostly shooters and strategy games at first, but later I started really getting into RPG's. My school grades have always been decent and I've always had friends, so I never thought that gaming so much was a problem. But now that I look back I'm sure it has had an effect on my grades and other hobbies throughout my life (Especially at the times I've been playing World of Warcraft).
When I was a teenager I played a little less, started going out more (drinking beer), and even had my first relationship with a girl. I finished highschool with decent grades and after doing military service I got my first full time job, so everything was actually going as it should be. At the age of 23 I successfully passed the tests to get into a university, and for the first time in my life I moved away from my home town. I was really excited, but of course this was also very stressful time as I had no friends in this new city, and studying in the university requires way more work than highschool, which I had passed easily basically just by listening in the class. And that's when my gaming started to really get out of hand for the first time.
My first year in the university went ok, but not great. I managed to get almost as much courses done as I was supposed and I met new people to drink beer with, but I actually met no one I would have come really good friends with. So rather than hanging out with other people I spent more and more time playing games and procrastinating on my school assignments. So my second year in the university I was binge gaming my weeks away, probably the only distraction being occasional parties in the weekends. I got only few courses done, and my third year was even worse. I basically threw those two years of my life away doing nothing but playing games.
On my fourth year, I started to feel a little ashamed of myself so I felt I really have to progress in my studies. And so I actually managed to finish more courses in the first half of my fourth year, than I had finished in the past two years combined. So I was still gaming my days away, and doing the minimum amount of work just before deadline, and of course I was feeling really stressed all the time. The funny thing is, that I still didn't recognize my gaming as the root of the problem. It was just something that i was doing on my free time, and I had basically made my whole life to be free time, because no one is looking out in the university if you are studying or not. You only get kicked out if you are absent for many years, and even then you can apply for more time to finish your studies. I just thought that I was for some reason less interested in school, career, hobbies and other "normal life" -stuff than other people, or that I was depressed or something.
When the first half of my fourth year was coming to an end, I started realizing how much I played for the first time. That's when I found this website and the videos of Cam Adair about video gaming addiction. So I decided to try quitting, and I actually managed to stop playing for few weeks around christmas, only to start gaming again when I had a terrible hangover after a new years party. In those few weeks I had realized that I probably need to quit gaming for good. So in that spring, I was quite drunk with one of my friends in a bar one weekend and I talked a bit about my thoughts on video gaming, and how much time it consumed in my life and what kind of actually useful things I could've done with my time. He played games too, and also had some problems with his motivation in school, so we ended up making a pact to stop playing games for three months. I have never been as effective in finishing university courses as I was during those three months before summer ,and for the first time in years I had the feeling that I can actually get things done and go forward in my life. I also read books and played guitar for the first time in many years, and managed to get myself to go jogging 3-4 times per week.
Our pact ended few months ago, and after that I have been gaming the whole summer, and my playing has at times been even more compulsive than before this three months of no gaming. Next week I will start my fifth year in the university, and I'm supposed to do my first thesis this year. I was supposed to stop gaming about a month ago, but there has always been some game i need to finish. Now I really can't postpone this detox anymore, and I know that this year has to be my most effective year so far if I want to get my thesis, so it's clear I cannot play games during this time as I am totally unable to do it in moderation.
It has been really interesting, terrifying... and actually kind of fun, to write this post. It really became longer than I thought and has made it clear to me that I need to quit. I guess it's time to start by cleaning my apartment now. Thank you for your interest in my story.