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Ben, quitting after 12 years, 10,000 hours of gaming


Ben515

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My dad was a highly-functioning drug addict (he computer-programmed from home), and I spent most of my early child-hood playing video-games while my dad was high and coding or watching TV. My parents died (Mom at 6 and Dad at 12 years old) and I was raised in a physically and emotionally abusive foster home. The foster parents were pious Catholics but I had been raised Budhist so we did not get along. I read 4-8 hours per day from age 5 to age 12, so I was very smart and did not fit in with the other children. At school I was bullied and beat up often. I lived near a First Nations reserve and within an Iranian community and both the Iranian clique and First-Nations clique would group to pick on me (I'm white). I was beat in locker rooms and my teacher knew and didn't do anything about it. Sometimes my teachers would humiliate me as well. I had problems with puberty and my voice was very high pitched and annoying. I've always been afraid of everyone and have a very negative self-image. Since around age 12 until now (12 years later) I have been playing about 40 hours of video games per week. Some weeks I can play 80 hours. I played Starcraft 1, Warcraft 3, Starcraft 2, Dota, and Dota 2. At some points I started playing Europa Universalis 3 and 4 trying to convince myself it was historical so it was beneficial. I've been living alone since age 16. I don't have records for many of the games, but Dota 2 alone, which I don't actually play relatively that much, I've played it for 500 hours

I've never felt depressed. I don't know what it feels like. I wasn't sad when my dad died. I just played video-games and forgot about it. Despite all these traumatic things I've never felt sad or cried about it. I think that I was able to escape through video games so well that I'm basically living in an alternate reality.

I'd always loved Math and Chemistry, my highschool teachers said I would make a brilliant scientist. I always told myself I would cure cancer or invent cold-fusion. However, I found Grade 12 Math and Chemistry challenging, because I never did any homework. I'd get a C on the exam without studying or doing any homework. Whenever I had to do homework or studying, I would procrastinate for weeks, saying one more hour of video games, then and then another, and then another and then end up never doing it at all. For this reason instead of the sciences I took Political Science in university. I could write the course essay and get an A and get a B on the exam with about a 20% attendance rate and having never read the course texts. This allowed me to play more video games.

I joined the militia, and was able to make enough money to survive working a few days week, plus I would do a 1-3month full-time course each summer, for about 5 years. I actually enjoyed the breaks, but a few days before I was slated to come home I'd remember my gaming and be re-assured that I'd go back into my schedule. I served in Afghanistan and suffered a traumatic knee injury. It hurts to walk, and I have arthritis in my knee now. It's extremely painful, I tried physio for a year and had very minor improvement. I'm starting to get problems in my back and hip now because my posture has changed due to not being able to fully extend my knee. The medication I'm on is hard on my stomach and my bowels are in bad shape now too, I get bad stomach pains and feel sick and lethargic most of the time. I know this is also because I don't do any physical activity.

After I graduated I travelled abroad for 6 months. I ended up visiting about 25 countries. The entire time I had this feeling of anxiousness, and I would watch You-Tube videos of my favourite game being played.

I'm now finishing up a masters degree. I've done OK maybe an A average but I still don't read any of the assigned books. I've been working on a few business projects and telling people about them but I'm not actually putting in the work I need to succeed. The CEO of the company I used to work at likes the ideas and wants to invest in my business but I need to do the work required. It's a new technology for the mining industry that I've been sort-of working at for a few years now.

I feel really sick and lethargic. I know I need to try and fix my knee injury and get back to good health, as well as put in the time needed to develop as a person. I have very high ambitions, I dream about building a large company, and talk about it when I see people, but I'm not actually doing the work. 

I think I would have been severely depressed growing up with what I went through without video games, but now I'm in a place where I have a loving girlfriend, friends, who I fake being a competent, self-controlled person around. But when I'm alone I'm still playing 10-16 hours of video games, and avoiding work.

If I don't stop playing video games I know I will die. Not from immediate issues, but from slowly declining health. I'm very skinny but I feel out of breath when I talk on the phone and always feel tired. I think there's another disease ailing me other than the arthritis/medication issues but I haven't kept up on medical appointments due to the video-game escape mechanism.

I'm sad because everyone tells me they think I'm so great and amazing. I'm told often by people they are impressed with me (I've written a book and bought some property in our city). I know the truth though, I just do enough to get by and survive, while escaping my reality through these games. I need to stop. The biggest problem is nobody believes me, I told my girlfriend who I've been with for 2 years and she just said I'm over-exaggerating and I work really hard. I don't have anyone I can confide in. All my friends are involved in my business projects so I can't let them know. Nobody knows how tormented I am by my own inability to conquer this demon and accomplish the good I know I can do.

I'm going to stop playing video games for good tomorrow. Today is my last wasted day. I'm just going to quit cold-turkey and never play them, ever again. Wish me luck.

Edited by Ben515
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Hi welcome Ben,

I hope we can help you to overcome that obstacle of gaming addiction. It may be hard but it s doable. The thing that helped me the most was this daily journal. Just to have a daily habit of thinking about my feelings towards gaming and beeing gratefull for the things i have in life, put this thing into the right perspective.  As a starting point I can recommend Cam's book respawn. There are many info's in it, i.e. about what you will have to expect from a detox. The best way to get through this is to be proactive. Use the motivation you have and build a frame of habbits and reactions you can fall back to if things get hard und you are tempted.

Good luck we have your back!

greetings Mario

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Wow. That's quite a story there.

Despite everything you've been through it sounds like there are at least some really positive things in your life. Those could be the reasons you have for quitting video games when it starts to get really hard and you have a huge craving to go back to playing them.

Otherwise, know that this community has your back and we hope to be able to help you to conquer this obstacle.

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Hi Ben, thanks for sharing your story! You have a heavy weight to get rid of so to say, but it'll be all the more epic when you overcome your addiction.

We're here to help you all the way, just keep us posted so that we can help you out. Mario has the right idea though, if you go through the Respawn guide and keep a daily journal to keep yourself accountable, those will be immensely helpful on your journey to success. If you get an accountability partner you will have someone who is also quitting gaming that will be able to provide you with the support you need, having an accountability partner has been immensely helpful to me recently.

I am saddened to hear your story but getting through your challenges will make you all the more stronger.

I wish the best for your recovery and let us know any way we can help!

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Hi Ben and welcome! :) It's sounds like you had a pretty turbulent start to life and you've managed to come this far, so pat yourself on the back! It sounds like you have ambition and dreams which is great.

Write some goals down to reach those dreams and remember nothing is impossible! As the other's have suggested...keep writing in your journal everyday, it's a great way to get your feelings off your chest.

If you feel like rubbish...write it down. If you feel happy...write it down. If you are really struggling then post in the forums. We are all here to help. :)

All the best, just remember one thing...You can do it!

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Thank you for the kind words!

Day 1: Watched Netflix all day to transition back into being "Present" instead of escaping. I also started doing some physical exercise while watching to try and regain some mobility.

Day 2: Watched Netflix until 5pm then gave in and played some Starcraft 2. However, I'm meeting friends just for fun at 10pm which I haven't done for months, so that's an improvement.

So I went 37 hours without playing any games, then got super bored and have just played a few hours. Does anyone else cut back gradually?

Also, I wanted to buy Cam's book Respawn, is there a way to do it without a Paypal account, like with just a Visa?

Edited by Ben515
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You can simply attach your VISA to a Paypal account and use it that way, no? You can't get verified without adding a bank account, though.

For some people, playing in moderation works. For most of us though, I don't think it's a good idea. It may work for you though, won't know until you try!

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