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Zeno

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  1. As I've suggested elsewhere, if games are your "coping mechanism", your most important task may be to figure out what it is you're coping with - or running away from - and turn to face it more directly. Is it something in your situation at home that's giving you difficulty? Is it some psychological distress or trauma from your past? Is it existential angst? Whatever it is, escaping into the fog really won't help, especially when commitment to others is on the line. I must say your wife's response is especially unhelpful. Somehow, she needs to come to understand that you are quitting for her sake, but that it isn't easy to quit because the underlying neurological mechanism of gaming addiction is not under your direct control. You may choose not to play, but you may not choose - directly at least - not to want to play. It would be much more helpful to you if she could see that difference, see that you are doing something very difficult for her sake.
  2. An Observation My ex has left for home, and soon enough all her stuff will follow. As planned, I'd spent some time this afternoon cleaning the side-room where her stuff had been stowed. Also as planned, I've spent my evening reading - some really good science fiction - in my comfortable chair. Along the way, though, I found myself caught in an odd duality. On the one hand, my obsession with a new gaming PC rages on: I've selected the components I want and added them to a wish-list on the website of one of the online retailers. On the other hand, I've been watching live streams from E3 and the Summer Games Festival, and I've generally been bored by what I've seen. With only one exception, none of the games featured in the presentations was even mildly interesting to me. That exception is only of interest for narrative reasons: a game I enjoyed last year will have new content and expansions well into 2022 and I'd like to see what happens to the protagonist . . . though the thought of relearning the game mechanics and getting caught up in the grind kind of leaves me cold. So, really, what do I want a new gaming PC for? Anyway, I'm breaking my electronic curfew - looking at a screen after 10:00pm - to write about this, just because it's an observation that may turn out to be important: I may in fact have made the turn toward losing interest in games, once and for all. It's not a certainty, and I imagine I'll continue to flip-flop for a while; it may also just be due to the fact that the games featured in today's presentations were mostly from genres that haven't appealed to me in the past. I'll see what happens as the Grand Bargain plays itself out . . . and as I watch presentations from developers whose work I have most enjoyed.
  3. This Is a Test I spent a week visiting family up north while my ex-wife was here working on clearing the last of her stuff out of my house. She brought with her the usual chaos and, when I returned home, she was still here working. She stayed in the house while I was away, but moved over to a friend's house after I returned home; she then stopped by every day to continue working and to spend time with our (adult) kids, who have been living here with me during the pandemic. The living room has been full of boxes, cutting off my good reading chair. She has spent evenings working on sorting and packing, while talking with the kids, trying to establish some kind of functional relationship with them despite the burning resentment elder child still feels toward her. I wanted nothing to do with those conversations, so I found myself confined to my office again. I resorted to watching YouTube again, and started also to obsess over building a new gaming PC for myself. I very nearly jumped at the chance when I "won" the Newegg Shuffle, which afforded me the opportunity to buy a graphics card and motherboard combo . . . with money I just don't have right now. I let that go: I removed the items from my shopping cart, and let the purchase window expire. Yesterday evening, I helped move boxes and other items out of the house into the storage "pod" my ex had reserved; she didn't make the reservation before she flew down here, so the pod arrived only yesterday. After she left for the night, I was able to restore my living room, mostly, and could sit down and read . . . though it was already 11pm, and I didn't read long before sleeping through the night. My gaming-rig obsession is waning, now, and I took a walk this morning before working a little on the cleanup. My ex will stop by one last time, today, to wrap up a few more things before she flies home. She lives in another state, several hundred miles away. I think I'll be all right, and that I'll be able to stick to the terms of the Grand Bargain. What was interesting about it, though, is that it confirms one aspect of the account I have given of my slide into being a distraction-junkie: the chaos of my household pushed me to take refuge in my office and, once there, it was too easy to just fire up the computer and sink into one electronic hole or another. Well, when my ex leaves today, the chaos will be at an all-time low. I'll spend much of the afternoon cleaning the living room and the side room in which my ex's stuff was stowed, then I'll be able to pass a pleasant evening by reading in my comfortable chair!
  4. If you've never developed habits of concentration in the past, it may take some time to establish them now. Be a little patient with yourself, and focus on making incremental improvements, day after day. Find a method of productivity that works for you, using timers or to-do lists, or whatever works. Think about where you try to do work that requires concentration as much as when you try to do so; experiment with different settings, different restrictions, and see what works. Anything worth doing is difficult; you just have to kind of roll with that. This could just be ordinary "impostor syndrome": I'd be willing to bet at least half of the people around you - and maybe many more than half! - think exactly the same way. Everyone is faking it, a little, even outside a school context; or, at least, everyone thinks they're faking it, that they're an impostor surrounded by supremely confident and capable people who effortlessly live up to an impossible standard. Well, they aren't. We're all just muddling along, doing the best we can with what we have. Compare yourself to yourself. You may not have done well on this exam, and you may not have done everything theoretically possible to prepare for it, but you did something, which is more than you would have done had you still been lost in gamer-world. Give yourself some credit for that; the effort counts toward the establishment of better habits. If you stick with it, acknowledge what is good in what you did to prepare for this exam, and build on that progress, you will do better with the next challenge you face, whether in school or outside of it, and the same with the next one, and the one after that.
  5. Two Months! It's been two months since I emerged from the fog and began to get my bearings. I've experienced some turbulence and strong headwinds, for certain, but also some long, tranquil, sun-drenched days, long nights of sound sleep, and steady work toward my oldest and most important goals. I've become more and more ambitious with walking. On Saturday, I walked a loop of about 3.5 miles in the small city where I live; on Sunday, I extended that loop to about 4.5 miles. I took it easier, yesterday, with a walk around the block after dinner. I am, as of now, entirely agnostic on the question of whether I'll return to gaming when the conditions of the Grand Bargain are met. It is possible I will do so, and it is even possible I will be able to keep games in perspective and my life in balance. Given the changes in my outlook this first two-month stretch has brought, though, I don't know: How different will be my outlook in another ten or twelve months? Keeping this journal has certainly helped. My motivation to read a lot is deep and internal, but I've accelerated the pace a little just so I can show off my bookshelf as part of my monthly update. Here's what the bookshelf looked like a month ago: Here's what it looks like now: I've been wondering what will happen when the books I've read fill the entire top shelf. Will I level up? Will I enable Nerd Rage mode? At this rate, it seems I'll find out sometime in July. You'll notice the lineup of books waiting to be read - on the lower shelf - is also getting longer. Over the past decade or so I've accumulated a lot of books I really sincerely meant to read - honest! - but somehow - somehow! - never had the focus for. I still have a long shelf in my office on campus full of books waiting their turn, even though I've been bringing a few of them home every time I visit my office. I've also turned up some other books waiting to be read as I've been cleaning and organizing my house. My routine is going to be disrupted, this week and next, though not necessarily in a bad way. My ex is flying in to finish clearing her stuff out of my house, so I'm driving out tomorrow to go spend a week visiting my family up in the Great Lakes region (of the U.S.). With stops and with traffic it will be about a 12-hour drive, each way. I'll stop to visit a longtime friend on the way back. My mom distracts herself and fills time with television, so I'll have that to deal with, but it will be good to get out of town for the first time since the lock-downs started, last year.
  6. Welcome, @stalenstan! If you and your girlfriend both decide to quit gaming, you'll have a built-in support group. That could be good for both of you! Have you talked with her about it? Has she discovered this site, too?
  7. Have you joined the Parent Support forum? You can find it on the forum index page, at the bottom of the "Welcome" section. There you might get ideas and encouragement from others with similar concerns about their own children. I don't have much insight into your situation, as I'm the one who was a distraction-junkie. I do wonder whether your son has something going on in his life that is pushing him toward gaming, some conflict or other bad situation from which he is trying to escape. If that's it, then an indirect approach might work: don't make it about games, but about his own (other) goals for his life, where he'd like to be in five years or ten, and what other things in his life are making it difficult for him to get there. I would also say that, at 30, your son should be independent! He's going to make his own mistakes, and there's only so much his mother can do about it. Whether he listens to you, I suppose, depends on the kind of relationship you have with him now. (I write this as the father of two young people just now entering into adulthood.)
  8. I get that. For a while I thought games were my way of coping with what seemed an impossible situation in my home life. At some point, I realized that they were my way of not coping with it. Gaming was simple escapism, but what I was escaping from was my responsibility for my own life and, to too much of an extent, from my responsibility to my children. They're all right now - young adults both of them - and I have a solid relationship with each of them, but I didn't help them nearly as much as I should have in dealing with the situation we were all in. In other words, the only way to really cope with things is to face them directly and do something about them, not to run away into distraction. It does take courage, but that's sort of what adulthood - and parenthood especially - requires. Don't let your experience on day one shake you too much. It's the initial shock of loss. It does get easier. Your brain will recover from being hyped up on distraction all the time. What sort of gaming were you doing, and what hardware did it require? Removing that hardware, locking it away or - better - selling it off, may be a necessary early step, just to put the whole thing out of reach. If that won't work, finding other ways to block access to games and other distractions - social media can keep the buzz going, and can keep drawing you back toward games - can help a lot.
  9. Heh, yeah. I know whereof you speak. It's good that you've already ruled out early-onset dementia! (I'm 52, and I've had a close relative die of Alzheimer's at the age of 84, so that's why it occurred to me as a possibility.) Consider focusing on it as a problem of attention rather than one of memory as such. If your mind is elsewhere, caught up in gamer-world, you can easily miss a beat, here and there, including some beats that are important to people you love.
  10. I'm not sure anyone here can really give you the help you need, not least because it really won't do for complete strangers to second-guess your mother's judgment. I'm writing this as the father of two young adults, who well remembers the challenges of trying to set ground rules for teenagers! I can only imagine how I would have reacted if one of my kids had said: "Yeah, but these people on this one forum said . . . " I would not have been persuaded. As for your question at the end, it really depends on a lot of things. There are some people - maybe many people - for whom any time playing games is too much, and others who might be able to play for an hour or two, now and again, and then stop. You might be one or the other but, again, it's really not the place of anyone here to make that call. If your mother is not to be persuaded to let you try to play games in moderation, perhaps with boundaries she can enforce, then your best course is to accept it, and find other things to do in the world. There are many, many activities and projects that might engage your imagination and develop your skills, lots of other ways to have fun.
  11. I can't honestly say I know the answer to your question about memory issues caused by gaming, but it does mesh with my experience, somewhat. I've spent much of the last two months actually reconstructing the history of the past ten years, including the prolonged death-throes of my own marriage. There's much that was . . . blurry. (Cause and effect is complicated here, though I think it's fair to say I retreated into games largely to escape the tension and pain of the disintegrating marriage; the causes of its failure lay elsewhere.) So, yeah, I guess it's possible that constantly chasing after distraction made me unfocused in all other aspects of my life, such that a lot of what I experienced didn't "take" in the form of readily retrievable memory. I just wasn't really paying attention. I do have to ask: How old are you? I hate to even suggest that something else might be at issue, but if the memory issues don't start to clear up within a month or two after quitting gaming, and if they are making it difficult to function, you might do well to visit a neurologist. Do give it time, though. Too much gaming really can do a number on the human brain, it seems!
  12. Welcome! I would say this is a forum is about as good and as safe as the Internet can be, for people seeking either to get away from games altogether or to find some better balance with them. You'll get lots of good advice, some interesting insights, and a group of people cheering you on. I would encourage you to go ahead and start a journal, start writing out the day-by-day experience of the change you're working to make. You can learn a lot about yourself by doing that, and it gives others on the forum a chance to help you. One question off the top, because it's something I've thought about since I emerged from the distraction-fog nearly two months ago: What is it that frightens you about a life without games? If you can figure that out, and figure out how to face that fear and move past it, you'll already be a long way toward where you want to be going.
  13. Zeno

    WE

    It's good that you're waking up, and it's good that you're back. THEY certainly are insidious, aren't they? Hooking into those ancient parts of our brains that are primed for distraction. Devilish, I'd almost say. Well, however long it takes to wrest control of your life from THEM, however many times you have to restart, it will be worth it.
  14. TURBULENCE I've been experiencing a weird sort of agitation, for the past few days, spinning around the question of how quickly I can pay off that debt and get back into gaming, and around the question of whether I even want to get back into gaming any more. The answer to the latter question is, as always, "Yes-No" . . . though it may be shifting toward "No-Yes". I think the issue is continued disorientation in the face of all the time I now have. I have been quite productive every weekday, checking off a lot of tasks. That really draining administrative thing I was doing last week is now finished and submitted, and I'm developing a new project to collaborate on a book with a colleague. I'm also planning for my road trip, next week, and getting things in order before I go. Even so, I end up quite tired in the evening, and would enjoy an hour or two of relatively passive entertainment. I no longer enjoy movies, and I don't want to get into a TV show; I don't always feel like spending the entire evening reading. Also, my social life is a shambles. The end stages of my marriage left me isolated, and somewhat sour toward people in general, and the pandemic only confirmed the temporary wisdom of avoiding social situations. The main activities that would get me out and about have not yet started up again, and may not do so for months. (The kind of dance I enjoy is almost the ideal setting for the efficient spread a droplet-borne pathogen.) So . . . what? I've revisited Dumb Space Game, a couple of times, though I've been saved from it by persistent server troubles on the developers' side. The game, as noted, is old and somewhat neglected and, while they still manage to part fools from their money, they don't seem overeager to fix the problems people are having logging into the game. Works for me. The delay is just long enough for me finally to lose interest. But then, yesterday, I violated my own ban on YouTube to check out a couple of feeds that report when graphics cards are (briefly, fleetingly) in stock at various retailers. I started spinning around that axis, keeping open the Best Buy site for the card I would eventually get, were I to return to gaming, to see if it comes in stock within the expected time window. Another close look at my budget has sobered me up, again. I mean, I'm all right, but my household budget is riding a knife-edge . . . especially since I am devoting as much as I can get away with to paying down that debt. My summer financial situation is weird, in that all my salary from summer teaching (May-August) is being paid before the end of the fiscal year (June 30), so I basically received a double paycheck this morning, but have to use it to budget for June and July . . . and it's just enough. My end-of-June paycheck will cover August. Oddly, a hard look at my finances seems to have stabilized me. I'm feeling more calm, all of a sudden, and more committed to the Grand Bargain. But here's the thing: after I emerge from each round of agitation, it seems to me I'm farther removed from gamer-world, and its pull on my attention and my imagination becomes weaker. This gives me a weird kind of hope. I have no doubt I'll go through rough patches, now and again, in the coming months, but the cumulative effect may be that I'll end up being content that gaming is something that I used to do.
  15. TRADING AWARENESS FOR THINGS OF LESSER WORTH A quick thought on a Sunday morning, before I go out for a long walk. In preparation for teaching one of my classes, this week, I have been rereading - for about the thirtieth time - Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac. Leopold is the forester-writer I quoted earlier in my journal, in the entry on the "key log". Part I of the book is the Almanac proper, a month-by-month collection of observations and stories centered on the property Leopold and his family owned in Adams County, Wisconsin, a derelict farm on which they would spend weekends and other breaks from Leopold's job in Madison. In one of the entries for March, Leopold writes: In the question toward the end, substitute "entertainment" for "education", and the impact is the same. (By the way, the phrase "banded by Phi Beta Kappa" is a bit of word-play on Leopold's part, a reference to the practice of placing metal bands on the legs of birds in order to be able to record their movements and life-history.)