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The One Year Challenge


Wildermyth
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This is the very first day of my gaming free life and also the very first day of my personal challenge of quitting games for at least 365 days. It helps me to have specific goal in mind that is easily trackable and that I can look forward to working on.

The last game I played was Final Fantasy XIV Online which ironically is the sequel to another MMO that was the first game I became heavily addicted to. The game in question was Final Fantasy XI and I played it so much that I even got a job with working hours that made me sleep during the day and stay up all night (when my american friends were playing). Playing FFXIV made me reflect on this and how much I've grown since then. I could really see it clearly how meaningless it was to progress in one of these games. The social aspects aside, these games are designed to lure you in at every corner and they demand a lot of investment for even the smallest tasks. As a ceremonial thing I deleted all my characters, the game and then ultimately the game account. 

Apart from keeping track of my progress with my one year challenge I also intend on reflecting on one memory during every journal where I'm typing about a situation where gaming caused me much pain and suffering. This will help me flesh out many of my experiences that have occured over the course of my 30 year long gaming life. My hope is that they will reinforce my motivation for beginning this new chapter of my life and also to reach new insights.

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Fellow long time gamer here, Altered Beast was my first game. With so many things you have been through and so much experience against a life time of gaming,

I am looking forward to your next journal entry.

Cheers

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Posted (edited)

Today I was reminded of one of my most frequent memories when it comes to my gaming addiction. Similar to one of the stories Cam told in his Tedx talk I also fooled my closest ones to get back into the gaming chair in secret. This particular memory is from about 15 years ago when I was in my second relationship. I had a girlfriend at the time that was outgoing, nerdy and generally a very positive person. We had a lot of fun for the most part but we also went through many hardships due to my gaming habits (amongst other things). I would many times escape into the reality of video games whenever life pushed me too hard. During this period I had many struggles finding a job I was comfortable with, because of course I wasn't ready to give that much time to anything besides gaming. I worked at a Gamestop warehouse at the time which ironically was a very tedious job. I had to test games for a couple of minutes to see if they booted or not and then I sent them away for either repair resale. Besides this I also packed a lot of boxes with various orders that were going out to all the retailers. One of my escapes during monotonous and tedious work was to listen to music but my employer demanded that we didn't use headphones because they wanted to be able to communicate with us at any given time. Needless to say I was going crazy most days and all I could think about was getting into the gaming chair and forget about all that boredome and repetition. I quickly developed a strategy of figuring out when my girlfriend was at school and then I would pretend to get ready for work, go to the bus station but ultimately never get on the bus. What I did instead was to walk around listening to music for maybe 1-2 hours until I knew no one was home and then I would sneak back in and play my favourite games until my girlfriend was back home. I remember being so stressed out at the notion of being caught or someone in our corridor telling on me. But it never happened and I continued with this until I was so fed up even thinking about work that I called in sick to get out of it. I ended up being home for two weeks straight just gaming non-stop and finally my employer called and said I wasn't welcome back anymore because I hadn't stayed in touch nor proived any medical statement regarding my long absence.

I understand now that I put a lot of people in a difficult position at the time. My girlfriend deserved honesty and attention because she had done absolutely nothing wrong. My employer deserved an employee to rely on in order to run their business properly. There are only so many excuses one can make and in the end we can only learn from our past and be sorry for the ones we hurt. If we are lucky we might even ask for forgiveness. I know I will try over the coming years.

Edited by Wildermyth
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Posted (edited)

Just started working my first week since a long summer vacation. I'm met with a lot of stress and frustration due to boredom at work in combination with long hours. All my collegues are also experiencing this so it's not related to me specifically. In my line of work we sometimes have to start a process over at the beginning of a new term and it takes time to get everyone busy with something meaningful. This has of course put a lot of stress on my ability to find comfort outside of work. I've mainly been exercising and shopping stuff for my apartment but my mind constantly lingers around the thought of picking up a new game. It's such an easy escape from everything with immediate gratification. I've yet to start producing music with my new home studio as it seems like a big project to get going. I know it's not really and I just have to boot up the program and take it from there. I'm aiming to do this over the weekend to really be able to put my mind into it. My hope is that this new interest will take off and I'll be able to look forward to it whenever I think about it. 

I've also started exploring geocaching which is really fun and addictive! There's a big community surrounding it as well so that helps in making it feel like a meaningful activity. I'm gonna pay to get the premium access so I can start collecting some more advanced caches soon. Really looking forward to it!

Edited by Wildermyth
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Sounds like you have some good hobbies under your belt. I used to produce music almost obsessively. Definitely a lot of fun, just be sure not to go overboard. Keep us posted

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18 hours ago, Paul A. said:

Sounds like you have some good hobbies under your belt. I used to produce music almost obsessively. Definitely a lot of fun, just be sure not to go overboard. Keep us posted

Cool! What kind of music did you produce? 

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On 8/19/2022 at 2:53 AM, Wildermyth said:

Cool! What kind of music did you produce? 

The usual, trap and drill beats. Pretty much the typical “type beats” you’d find on YouTube

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Posted (edited)

It's finally the weekend and I'm looking forward to starting with some of the modules in the game quitters program. This week has been a real challenge for me as I'm experiencing cold turkey in addition to a lot of stress at work. It hasn't been all bad though and I'm hoping to rest my mind a little and be thankful for the positive things that also occured. A part of me hasn't really realized how tough this is going to be and it's slowly catching up to me.

I'm also beginning my treatment in two weeks for my autism which will surely reveal a lot of stuff about my previous gaming habits. I have a lot of insights already but I'm hoping to get into contact with other people on the spectrum who struggle with compulsive behaviour, whether it's gaming related or something else. I know for a fact that quitting gaming has made me realized that some of my behaviours that I previously thought were exclusive to gaming are in fact issues that arise in a lot of things. They have never bothered me because I've always just excused them as gaming related but now I can paint a more clear picture of how they hinder me in my everyday life. It's both scary and a little comforting at the same time. I'm beginning to see the whole me for the first time.

Edited by Wildermyth
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Posted (edited)

Got a notification today that my Steam account had been successfully deleted. This particular account has been a real struggle for me as I got heavily into PC gaming during the pandemic. I fell for the classic Steam sale trap and bought more games than i could handle. It really triggered my compulsive behaviours because I was forcing myself to complete each and every one of them in particular orders, with particular completion rates etc. I think I finished about 80% of them in about 1,5 years until I really started to question what I was doing; and this was the beginning of my realization that I had an addiction. This was 30 days ago now because Steam lets the account be in "limbo" for 30 days until it's permanently deleted, which means that I've managed to stay away from it for a month. And the really good thing is that I've barely thought about it since so it shows what progress you can make in just 30 days time.

My final struggle really has been the temptation of one of the more popular MMO's out there today. My mind has been going back and forth: "Just one game, how bad can it be" ... "This time I will manage to balance my time". I even downloaded the installer and were mere seconds from pushing the button, but I then resisted. As Cam goes over in module 2 it's such a low threshold to start gaming these days. Even MMO's let you download them and play for free for a long period of time until you decide to really commit. I have very little control over this fact and all I can do is try to resist it as it continues to hit me. My hope is that I will be able to continue for over a month just like with my Steam account realizing that it has started to leave my thought process. My brain knows that this is the last potential oasis so it wants to bring me there as often as it can - but I won't let go without a fight.

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The start of this week has been really great so far. From time to time I get these energy boosts out of nowhere which makes everything just a little bit easier. I've had a lot of positive energy going to work today and I slept really good as well. I've been trying to take better care of my stomach (I have IBS) so this is most likely part of it. Whenever I eat or drink unhealthy my whole body reacts in the worst ways. Just like with games we only focus on the immediate benefits with food and not the long term. Thinking about it this applies to most things in life that we enjoy doing. We would be better off if we took more time to paus and reflect and in those moments find the strength to say "no" sometimes.

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Posted (edited)

Was listening to Module 3 today which was about identity and pushing forward. Gaming has always been a big part of my identity. In college I was called "Luigi" (because I was tall) and in university I was called "player 1" by lots of people - even by some of my teachers. At work I'm the go-to guy for everything gaming related and I like to discuss various topics relating to the culture and industry of gaming. I've written so many school essays about video games and I even printed 12 full numbers of a gaming magazine with my friends during my teens (It was called PS2 ZONE).

The MMO world was another part of my identity because I was very social when gaming and I was known to spread a lot of warmth and friendship. This was a big factor in getting me addicted to the MMO genre because it literally felt like a second home. When I decided to leave one of my favourite MMO's for good we even held a ceremony where my best friend from the game met me at a palace and I transfered all of my things to his character. To turn up the drama I even played some sad songs in the background. It was a big deal for me because it felt like moving from my home town to a new and somewhat frightening city. I relapsed once with the game but it didn't go on for long as I was reminded why I left in the first place.

These are the aspects that are probably hardest for me to leave behind because I don't think you can interact with people globally quite in the same way as gaming. It's a good safe space if you just want to start introducing yourself on a neutral ground where everyone can shape their identities in ways that can be hard in real life. Still, I believe the focus should be on shaping most of your identity in real life as we can grow too comfortable in seeking shelter in the gaming space. Even though it can work as an ice breaker it can also start to become your primary interaction with the world and that's when it starts to get problematic.

On this topic the alias Wildermyth is actually a name I intended for a new gaming account where I had new goals with gaming - but it ended up being the alias I took to represent a new life without gaming. It adds to the power of transition and control I believe.

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Did Module 4 today which was about finding alternative activities to gaming in order to prevent boredom and stress. This is something I'm rather good at as one of the reasons why I quit gaming is because there are so many other things I would rather do. I work at a youth center where one of our goals is to engage with young people and teach them about all the joys of various hobbies and the value of community. Mostly we are focusing on music activities but we do many other things as well, such as nature travels, sports, different media entertainment etc.

Besides gaming I've always been interested in nature, whether it be hiking, canoeing, geocaching or mountain climbing. This is one of my main focuses now when I have so much time on my hands. I'm also invested in going to the gym and trying to build a stronger body, in order to enjoy these nature activities among other things. In terms of skills I've also started my journey as a music producer and I'm always open to watching a lot of film from my favourite directors.

 

Some other things I also really enjoy:

1. Motorsports: mainly Formula 1 but also WRC (it's held in my home town)

2. Cooking: italian or asian food primarily.

3. Color books: very relaxing and nice to do with other things in the background!

4. Watching documentaries: I like to learn about certain parts of history or just science stuff.

5. Riding my bike: I like to go on small adventures and explore my home town on my bike.

6. Listen to music: Kind of a no-brainer.

7. Interior design: I love to plan my home in detail and order beautiful decorations from various artists.

8. Writing diary: a good way to collect your thoughts and to express them; just like this Journal!

9. Culture activities: like going to the museum, science stuff, famous places etc.

10. Swimming in the ocean or some nearby lake.

 

When we're at it I might just share my bucket list:

1. Fly and steer a small airplane.

2. Go on a whale safari

3. Eat at a Michelin restaurant.

4. Learn to play an instrument.

5. See a great white shark close up (almost did in South Africa!)

6. Go kayaking in Grand Canyon.

7. Fly an air ballon.

8. Get a tattoo.

9. Become really great at making sushi.

10. Get a strong and muscular body.

11. Eat a steak tartar.

12. Go parachuting (Done!)

13. Go bungy-jumping (Done!)

14. Visit the opera.

15. Watch a really big stage play.

16. Watch a big concert.

17. Visit Chernobyl

18. Experience a summer festival.

19. Get a drivers license.

20. Compete in a large training competition.

21. Visit all the continents.

22. Wander through a jungle.

23. Wander through a big desert.

24. Hike during the winter in a mountainous area.

25. Learn to ski.

26. Se a Formula 1 race in real life.

27. Drive up to Lofoten, Norway.

28. Drive down to Monaco, France.

29. Fire a large machine gun.

30. See a volcano up close.

31. Visit NASA.

32. Visit a famous movie location.

33. Drive a lap on Nordschleife, Germany.

34. Visit the location for the series Twin Peaks.

35. Climb a mountain in the Himalayas.

36. Go on a Fjällräven Classic trip (Korea most likely)

37. Take a bath in a hot water spring.

 

 

 

Edited by Wildermyth
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Posted (edited)

Been hanging out with some friends today and was met with some challenges regarding game talk. This is something that will naturally occur with many of my friends since they like to game a lot. I wasn't bothered by it though and I didn't feel any urge to go play myself, but there was this little voice in my head telling me I was maybe a bit too excited to have the conversation. I personally believe though that there is a point in welcoming these challenging scenarios and not resist them. With my autism I struggle a lot with compulsive thoughts and the only realistic way to deal with them in the long term is to welcome them, let them have their say and then resist to act upon them. By doing this you are slowly repairing the part of your brain that thinks that a certain pattern has to be established in order to get satisfaction. I don't think this can be applied to everything game related but in terms of having to deal with loved ones who happen to game or talk about games it's better for me to just stay put and gather my strength as I'm confident I can overcome my urges.

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Been busy finalizing my apartment the last couple of days so I haven't thought much about the forum or gaming in general. I even installed a racing rig at work without getting any major cravings, and racing games were my absolute favourites along with an expensive rig I owned.

I was also invited to a ski trip next year by my friends and their family. This feels great because winter is when I struggle the most with going outside and distancing myself from gaming. I always wanted to learn how to ski so I can look forward to each winter season so this is a great opportunity indeed. I'm also thinking of buying a pair of ice skates so I can go out on the lake when it's frozen.

I also realize when I'm doing these Modules that I've went through this process many times before as so many things feel familiar. Still, it's nice to have instructions to follow and really take your time to reflect and progress. I've never had the confidence I have now to change all of this which is very comforting.

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Hey, I am also shooting for a year, and have also struggled massively with getting outside and not gaming through the winter!!

I'm about a quarter of the way through, since I just got 90 days 3 days ago.

I will be looking forward to hearing about your progress and rooting for you all the way!

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3 hours ago, GrainSiloEnthusiast said:

Hey, I am also shooting for a year, and have also struggled massively with getting outside and not gaming through the winter!!

I'm about a quarter of the way through, since I just got 90 days 3 days ago.

I will be looking forward to hearing about your progress and rooting for you all the way!

Thanks! And nice to hear about your progress. I'm about a month in now and I hope I can reach 90 days without much struggle. 🙂

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Been struggling a bit with some other addictions besides gaming. Whenever I lose control of things I seek comfort in one of these addictions, and since gaming is out of the picture I'm stumbling into my other ones. Their draw is not as strong as gaming but they are still problematic enough to stress me out and ruin my mood. I've been met with small obstacles lately that have prohibited me from exercising the way I want and to produce music so I've had a hard time occupying myself with something productive. I'm hoping to go to the gym tomorrow or at least read a book at a café. I need to get away from home I belive and try to cool down and be content with not doing a whole lot. I'm still afraid of boredome or being left out of energy after work; because that's when I'm the absolute weakest mentally. I know for a fact though that when I'm on track I usually go on for quite some time in that positive state - I hope this will happen tomorrow!

Edited by Wildermyth
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Hey, totally feel you on that whack-a-mole experience with additctions. 

For me, learning to accept boredom and use it to my advantage has been quite helpful. I've been experiencing lots of urges to restart gaming lately, going all the way to downloading a game and then withdrawing the last moment. What helped me was acknowleding that I am a) bored and b) not interested in doing anything "productive". 

Truth is, everything you do (including literally laying down and being bored) can be incredibly productive if you let it be. Not everything has to add up directly towards your goals, but everything does trickle down into them one way or another. It very much depends on our perception of what's going on. 

Learning to take boredom as an opportunity to reflect, recenter, and regain energy has helped me reduce my urges towards addictive behaviour with the least amount of effort and stress. Before, I'd try to force myself to be hyper-productive, burying the urges in work. While it worked, it ultimately did not help my motivation or lowered my stress, and only led to more boredom, which I did not know how to cope with. 

Let me know what you think!

Po

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On 9/6/2022 at 3:52 AM, Pochatok said:

Hey, totally feel you on that whack-a-mole experience with additctions. 

For me, learning to accept boredom and use it to my advantage has been quite helpful. I've been experiencing lots of urges to restart gaming lately, going all the way to downloading a game and then withdrawing the last moment. What helped me was acknowleding that I am a) bored and b) not interested in doing anything "productive". 

Truth is, everything you do (including literally laying down and being bored) can be incredibly productive if you let it be. Not everything has to add up directly towards your goals, but everything does trickle down into them one way or another. It very much depends on our perception of what's going on. 

Learning to take boredom as an opportunity to reflect, recenter, and regain energy has helped me reduce my urges towards addictive behaviour with the least amount of effort and stress. Before, I'd try to force myself to be hyper-productive, burying the urges in work. While it worked, it ultimately did not help my motivation or lowered my stress, and only led to more boredom, which I did not know how to cope with. 

Let me know what you think!

Po

I am trying to be more content with doing less and not force myself through activities that might seem more productive. I still struggle to be creative though when there is an interruption to my routine and I usually fall into to less constructive activities that feed my addiction. Overall I'm trying to get away from the need to plan everything ahead and to set up too many goals that require everyday peak performance. It's fine if I workout two days on a week instead of three, and I don't have to continue a certain pattern even if I do happen to start it up. It's especially hard for me concidering my autism as rituals are needed for feeling comfort and safety. It is not necessarily a behaviour that I have to rid myself of, but rather accept and find a healthy way to do. Previously video games have filled that need but now when it's gone from my life I'm a bit disoriented in regards to where my needs will end up.

The biggest win so far though is that I don't think about video games anymore when I'm bored. They are starting to fade out of my previously learned behaviour and that feels very comforting.

Edited by Wildermyth
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I was just now thinking about lots of things I've accomplished since I quit gaming and while some of them might seem trivial I truly struggled with them due to my gaming addiction. To try to reflect and rejoice in the fact that I've now finished/started them I'll list them here below:

1. I've started with geocaching. I've had a small interruption with this activity since I had to do a small surgery on my ankle but I've started it up and bought a fun geocaching app. I'm hoping to get back into it as soon as my ankle allows it.

2. I've bought an electric toothbrush. Previously I felt they were expensive because I wanted to use my money for gaming and I also felt a bit stressed about learning how to brush my teeth differently. But now I use an electric toothbrush daily and it's both easy and very benefitial for my health!

3. I started reading books. This has been a lifelong struggle since I have a hard time concentrating on things that don't give any audiovisual feedback. So far I'm only reading non-fiction as I like to learn new things about life but maybe down the road I'll give fiction a chance as well.

4. I rented an external storage room to free up space in my apartment, and I also transported everything over there by bike. This has been a huge deal for me since I own a lot of things related to my hobbies. Of course lot of space was freed up when I got rid of everything gaming related but I still have lots of things that can't fit in my tiny apartment. It's also nice to have a storage to put my bike in when winter comes!

5. I've finally set up a saving account both for my future apartment and my retirement. This is a major deal since I previously felt that anything I saved was hurting my ability to enjoy gaming at its fullest. But to now always have a buffer to take from is so reassuring since I can go out and eat, do fun stuff with friends and things like that without having a bad concience.

6. I finished my home decoration. I postponed this due to all the gaming things I had everywhere that just didn't allow for my apartment to be arranged in a certain way. I tried to compromise and say "I'll do it when I get a new apartment" which led to me just stacking all these nice furtnitures I wanted in the hallway because I couldn't find the space for them. But when I quit gaming I sold my TV, my armchair and some other gaming related things and suddenly I had a lot of space to work with.

7. My music studio went up and running. As part of my home decoration I also finished the one activity that I look forward to doing most at home which is producing music. The result was way beyond my expectations and I can't believe that I once concidered not even moving all these things into my apartment. Previously they were all packed into boxes not even seeing the light of day. I'll show a picture of the result below:

 

 

IMG_9007.jpg

Edited by Wildermyth
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On 9/7/2022 at 2:23 AM, Wildermyth said:

started reading books. This has been a lifelong struggle since I have a hard time concentrating on things that don't give any audiovisual feedback. So far I'm only reading non-fiction as I like to learn new things about life but maybe down the road I'll give fiction a chance as well.

Eyy! Same for me, the less I game the less excuses I have to not read every day. I also find podcasts/audiobooks much more appealing, but the amount of knowledge and insight reading provides makes it worth my time. 

Also, your set up is damn hot! That looks so cozy!

Edited by Pochatok
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Just finished the last module and it made me reflect on a set of skills that I want to have in the future. Thought I might share them here:

 

1. Learn how to drive a car.

2. Learn how to ski.

3. Learn how to navigate with a map and compass.

4. Learn a new language (that will help me in my work with young people)

5. Learn how to bake some really nice cakes.

6. Learn how to produce good music.

7. Learn how to make really great sushi.

8. Learn how to invest money and make them grow over time.

9. Learn how to buy an apartment.

10. Learn how to play the piano.

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I reflected on one of the last modules today which was about creating new habits and following that progress more closely. One of the quotes read: "What gets measured gets managed". I believe this to be true in many cases but in my case I have to tread more carefully with this due to my autism. One of my personal issues is that I try to create a structure around everything I do in an attempt to seek maximum control and a feeling of safety. The downside to this is when it's simply not possible and I'm instead left with a feeling of discomfort and stress (in the worst case I start to avoid activities that cannot get measured and controlled). To me I have to find a balance where I accept that some things can be measured and predicted and some can not, and even if the former is true I'm not obligated to act upon it. One of the best feelings I know is to have a day that is completely unplanned where I just go about my day intuitively. I like to ride my bike for instance into unknown directions and whenever I find something interesting, like a new café or store, I stop and take a look around and really savor that moment. This rarely occured when I played video games because it always felt like I skipped out on making progress in my games.

I do have an app though where I now keep track of three simple goals, where one of them is my one year gaming challenge. The other two has to do with saving money for an apartment and also trying to have a more healthy relationship to my sexuality (no porn). I dread the thought of having to check the app once a day to check off countless of things so I'll settle for these three at the moment and see where it goes. As stated in the post above I have plenty of goals with my life but I'm just not sure that I want to include them into an app like this just yet.

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