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The One Year Challenge


Wildermyth
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This evening I started thinking about all the times I've called in sick to school or work just to stay at home and play video games. I became so efficiant at it over the years that I almost scheduled it at one point. Whenever there was a really big game release I almost counted on calling in sick to prolong the weekends. And there were times where my abscense was met with suspicion and loads of questions but I never backed down and changed the behaviour. Getting back in front of the tv and know that I could forget everything else for a day was like covering yourself in a warm blanket after a long day out in the winter cold. 

This mentality really messed with my loyalty and general motivation. I had so many issues with getting up in the morning and starting that whole tiresome routine up while barely having opened my eyes. I was so exhausted and unfocused that I got depressed on several occasions, having to go to therapy to bring my spirit up. Going to work felt very much like going to prison to me and I just wanted to scream out loud how much it hurt me to be there. Of course I didn't and I never got to the root of my causes. My therapist back then never even questioned my gaming habits because to me they were not the problem - they were the solution. I saw gaming as the salvation in an otherwise boring and meaningless life. They held me together like artificial breathing and I enjoyed every second of it. It's almost scary to think about now how little I had to live for at that point. Or rather: it's scary to realize that gaming made me feel like there was nothing else to live for at that time. Sure, I had lots of issues related to my health and I had a hard time finding new friends after college, but I could've dealt with those issues so much better if it weren't for video games. I had some dreams even back then but I never even concidered them to become reality because of me being caught between games and life.

Today I'm in a much healthier position. I have a good physique, a job that I like, plenty of friends and family to care about and most of all: a future. I have so many things I want to do now and I truly believe that they are all possible. Having left games behind there is suddenly so much time and energy to make use of and I couldn't be happier going forward.

Edited by Wildermyth
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Today I thought about my childhood and my introduction to video games. I was about 6 years old when my family invested in a pre-owned NES with a couple of popular games. I remember how challenging they were and that I even had to ask a friend to finish them for me so that I could see the end credits. I really liked gaming at the start and I felt invested in everything about them; from the gameplay to the visuals and the catchy music. Later on my family also got a PC and this led to me getting more technical with gaming equipment because suddenly it wasn't as easy as putting a cartridge into a console. Most of the time I had no idea how to start a game as they required various DOS inputs but sometimes I made sense of the manuals that came with the CD-ROM and was overjoyed when reaching the opening gaming screen. I mainly stayed on console though and when we got a SNES my other siblings (especially my sisters) became more involved. This was great in the sense that we all made the effort to borrow games from people we knew so rather quickly we'd put together a solid collection of games.

It wasn't until we moved on from SNES to PlayStation though that I really got attached to gaming and felt like it was my main hobby. I remember the wonderment I felt with the transition to 3D graphics and more complicated games in terms of gameplay and story. Some of my best memories in general come from the initial PlayStation era and some of the games that became Sony flagships later on. This was also when I made friends with a lot of people that were both heavily into games and played them more casually. I think this part of the 90's was defined by how mainstream gaming became and how many genres were popular among the general audience. Almost everyone I knew played fighting and racing games, and in todays gaming landscape that's no longer the case as some genres have become increasingly more niche.

During the 90's I also became best friends with a school mate that was heavily into games. Almost all we did when we hung out was playing games, talking about games and looking forward to new games. He had a really warm and respectful family and they spoiled him with so much gaming related stuff. He always had the latest consoles and games, which made it feel like going to an amusement park every time I visited him. Most of all he lived in a very calm and friendly home environment which made me relax a lot when playing my favourite games. At my own home I was often met with more chaos as I had lots of siblings running around and making noises.

Thinking about these memories now makes me not regret that I initially started playing games. I had lots of friends from time to time and I liked to stay outside and do activities as well. It wasn't until I hit puberty that I started to become more distant and confused with life. I had a hard time adapting to social norms and the constant pressure of succeeding in school. There was suddenly so much to take in and to try to control and gaming made obstacles feel so much more managable. I think this is what ultimately led me down the path where I am now where gaming became more of a coping mechanism rather than a joyful distraction.

I will never regret all the time I spent on games because I genuinly feel that they brought me lots of joy given the insight I had at the time. But as of now I have other goals with my life and games just don't fit into that new framework. I want to explore life with this new mindset of mine and really put some of my skills to the test. I'm confident it will be one of the best decisions of my life.

Edited by Wildermyth
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On 9/7/2022 at 12:23 AM, Wildermyth said:

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

That looks AMAZING I am so jealous!!! 😍 Please enjoy it for me 😩

(Our room is immaculately tidy because I'm a neat freak now. But we have 70s bright red shag carpet, dark wood paneling walls, and popcorn ceiling. Plus our furniture is all mis-matched. I do the best I can but it'll never look this good without pouring thousands of dollars into renovations!!)

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I was reminded today about my very first relationship, which got quickly out of hand due to a number of factors. I was about 20 years old and my girlfriend was a bit younger than me. We initially met on a web forum where we talked for quite a while before we actually met. Young and naive as we were we concidered ourselves a couple even before we'd met and this put a lot of pressure on both of us when we actually started dating in real life. There were so many expectations and changes to adapt to and it was happening at a rapid pace. What I didn't discover when talking to her online was that she had lots of mental issues relating to her family and school life. Much of this was out of my control so I was often left with the damage that these two caused. And as for myself I was a bit lost at the time and I had low confidence. Needless to say we became a very chaotic couple and had lots of disagreements and full blown fights. She reacted sometimes by harming herself which was the tipping point that made me say "NO" eventually.

Embedded into all this chaos was of course my habit of gaming a lot. At the time I had grown attached to my very first MMO and I was gradually playing more and more as my relationship got worse. I usually answered her on MSN by tabbing out of the game every now and then but sometimes I would forget for several hours because I was so hooked. Later on in the relationship we both started playing WoW and she started to become addicted to MMO's as well. We were both escaping our own miseries by trying to get into a fantasy world; and it didn't help at all. When we were fighting it even took its course in-game and it had us avoiding eachother if we met by accident in the game world. It got incredibly ridiculous let me tell you. At one point I even logged into her account and stole all her most expensive bags and transferred a large sum of her money to my own characters. Not one of my most gracious moments that's for sure. Att the end of our relationship I even booted up the computer right after we'd have sex because getting back into the game was all I could think about. She clearly indicated her discomfort with the whole situation... but I ignored it.

I think much of my fear of the real world was cemented in that relationship unfortunately and it only made my obsession with games get out of hand even more. I had like 5 consoles, a PC and tons of games and peripherals. Investing so much money into gaming made it even harder to distance myself from it. I remember when I broke up with my gf that I was so relieved - not only because I was rid of the chaos but because I suddenly had so much gaming time on my hands. No one to distract me, no one to put up boundries, no one to complain; just me and all those new wonderful games that awaited me. This is a feeling that repeated itself in almost all my future relationships and in some cases it even made me postpone a lot of grief, which was hard when it eventually caught up with me. I wish that I had known back then how much it hurt me and my love interests, but unfortunately I didn't. All I can do now is to try and be happy that I finally have this insight and that it will only get better from here. And maybe if I get a good chance I'll talk to some of my exes and explain how my issues really impacted our relationship. It would potentially help me a lot in trying to forgive myself for it and to give them a perspective that was perhaps lost back then.

Edited by Wildermyth
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Been thinking about the crazy "highs" I got from playing certain games, where I could hurry home and then feel the excitement rise within me. So far I haven't experienced any such feeling from another activity and maybe I'm not supposed to. My hope is that something else will make me feel the same over time but I'm also content with feeling happy on a more streamlined level no matter what I do. My brain however is used to getting these quick bursts of immense happiness and it feels like a loss in that regard. I know that eventually it will only feel like a win but I'm not really there as of now. My mind wanders around those "glorious" days of pure escapism.

Edited by Wildermyth
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