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I'm going strong at 17 days game-free! It has been surprisingly easy to not play and to fill most of my time with other activities like practicing my french horn, reading, hiking, and watching hockey (let's go Blue Jackets!). However, there have been a few times that I have felt the void that gaming has left. I have felt the void most when my wife is with her friends or at her own rehearsals or activities. Two years ago, I moved to her hometown for work. I was preparing for my career to take us to the west coast, so her hometown was a great option for both of us. Having anywhere between a three- to eight-hour drive separating me from my friends has been tougher than expected, especially since my wife has no such issue. Also, I was bullied a lot as a kid, and never had many friends, so I used to think that I enjoyed being alone. After being alone AND being without games, it feels like I am feeling what true loneliness is (or I am just not as used to it after living with my friends for grad school and being married). Even with my other activities, I still had an hour here and there that have been open. It has been exceptionally hard to not play some sort of "easy-to-put-down," single-player, noncompetitive game that I feel that I can easily pause and save and drop and not come back to until the next time I am alone. The other difficult time has been at work. There have been days that I have not been very busy at all, so I have turned to YouTube or ESPN/NHL. After watching non-gaming-related videos or listening to music for a while and still having open time, it has been hard to not look at gaming news or attempt to find games that I think will be less of a pull for me for when I try to get back into gaming. There have been several games that have caught my eye, especially since they are indie games that have great stories that deal with depression and anxiety. What I have determined from these trials is this: my addiction is less about playing the game itself, and more about filling the time with something social and/or "productive." I have felt hopeful and free since I dropped gaming and sold most of my games except for these times. Going forward, I am going to try to stay away entirely from anything related to games until my 90 days are up. As before, I still can't see myself without games, especially those that tell a good story or have good puzzles to solve. I am still going to be vigilant and not buy those that are competitive, online-only, weekly-exclusive-driven, or multiplayer because I know that those are where my problem started. Moderation and balance is key, and I am hoping that my 90 days will help me be able to take a step back and play without going down a slippery slope. Good luck everyone, and stay strong! Take back control of your life! -Erik (ydinpoika)
Hello everybody! This is my first journal update after my introduction post, and today, I put my money where my mouth is. I sold my PS4, my old X Box and all games I had for both systems. I also deleted my Reddit account and unsubscribed from every streamer and gaming news channel on YouTube I was following. My wife couldn't be happier, and we've already seen the results of my newfound "freedom." There are times where she will be busy where I am not, and these are the toughest times for me. It helps to know that she does not feel like she has won some battle, and wants me to be able to use that down time to relax and have my alone time. After some discussions, we are hopeful that I will still be able to use this time to game after my detox process, but maintaining an awareness of the draw of certain games that I will need to continue to avoid. I feel free, but I also feel sad. Not sure if I made too big a decision in too short a time. I still have my Switch, which is my brain's consolation prize; I still have a game system that will allow me to connect with my friends and family after my detox. However, it was really hard to get rid of my consoles that had been with me through some of the toughest moments in my life, that allowed me to connect with my friends, and had thousands of hours sunk into them. These make for great memories and, as per economics 101, sunk costs should not be considered in making a decision, but that does not make it easy to let go. It feels good to not have to worry about keeping up with other players online to maintain my competitive edge, though. I'm looking forward to seeing how gaming feels after the detox period, knowing that the style of game I will be limiting myself to will be able to fulfill my desire for games and keeping my brain active via puzzles and/or quick reactions, while still maintaining balance with my other activities. It is going to be a busy week at work this week because I'm traveling in addition to writing my reports and proposals, so I will hopefully continue to maintain a solid barrier to my cravings. Good luck everyone! Looking forward to sending out another update later this week as well as hearing your thoughts. -Erik (ydinpoika)
Good morning everyone, My wife and I went to couples' counseling Tuesday night, where the extent of my addiction was made painfully clear; I was meeting seven of the nine signs of addiction this site details. Most troubling among them were the escapism and the deception. I was hiding credit card bills and paying them from my personal savings so as not to alert my wife to the microtransactions and other purchases I was making. As with all lies, it was discovered, and I have never felt so horrible as I did that night, watching her cry and hearing her yell at me. She knew me better than I knew myself thankfully, and knew I was running to gaming to escape my past, to escape having to socialize in an uncontrollable environment. She has been incredible in her support of me, which I absolutely do not deserve given what I have done. Although she has not given me an ultimatum, she does see this habit like a drug, and has put her foot down to help me through this. This is the beginning of my third day without video games, and it has not been easy. It feels like how I would imagine a drug addict would feel without their fix (without the physical symptoms, thank goodness). Half of me is saying that I am in control, and that I can shorten my play time to several hours a week as opposed to 30-40. The other half sees just how much gaming has taken over my life, and how unhealthy it has been for me. Harder still, gaming is my connection to my friends. I moved to a new city for work after I dropped out of my PhD program (unrelated to gaming problems), and have had trouble meeting new people. All in all, even though it has only been three days, I have come to realize several important factors. Gaming is an important hobby for me and a connection to my friends and family. However, it had become more than a hobby. I was no longer having fun, and was using them to run from my problems and to substitute for actual progression in real life. I was playing them because I was afraid of missing out on that next reward or that next level of power, not to have fun with my friends like I used to. I was playing them as opposed to doing other activities that are fun for me like reading or playing music or hiking. I am planning on selling my PS4 and several of my Switch games in the next few days. I currently don't see myself being able to quit gaming completely, but I now recognize that certain games will hook me more than others. I need to have games that aren't online only or hyper-competitive. I need games that I can pick up and play for an hour or two, and put down without feeling like I am missing out. I look forward to being a part of this community, and getting my life back in balance! I have already been practicing my french horn more than I had been, and am seeing marked improvement in my skill and stamina. Good luck to all of us! -Erik (ydinpoika)