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NEW VIDEO: I Replaced Gaming With Real Life (Nicco Transformation)

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Christopher

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Hi guys, 

I just want to start by saying how reassuring it is to know there's a community out there that recognises the concept of gaming addition for what it is - a life altering condition that affects your impulses (decision making, rationale etc...), relationships, lifestyle, health, education; all of which can suffer from excessive gameplay and addictive tendencies towards gaming.

My story begins when I was around 12 years old. I'd just been moved away from friends and family due to my mum having a mental breakdown and suffering from alcoholism. The fresh start began reasonably well, but with her relapses it became increasingly difficult to cope with. I discovered a game called Runescape around a year later, this provided me with an escape and I quickly became hooked (not realising, at the time, what psychological effects it may have).

I played for around 4 years, on and off, but manage to still find time to socialise. It wasn't until I was around 17 that it started to become more of a problem. I found other online games too, including: Gunz Online, WoW, LoL. I found it difficult to stay away from WoW and Runescape especially as I was part of a clan and there was pressure to train my character to compete with others. This led to gaming having a detrimental effect on my studies; I had to resit a year at college due to failing and it wasn't until my final year that I quit gaming and managed to get into a university.

I saw university as a fresh start, I made good friends and socialised a lot. I still thought about the games and had some relapses, but these rarely extended beyond a week or two, at which point I would realise my error and distance myself from them again.

It wasn't until after graduating that gaming became a real problem again. All my friends moved away and I found myself stuck in a job I didn't like, other job prospects were looking slim due to recession and I was gradually becoming more depressed. I began dealing with my problems in the same way I had whilst growing up - I turned back to gaming. I played on and off for another 4 years, occasionally pulling myself away to do some volunteer work or attend job interviews. The problem was that, at this point, the stress of real life felt so difficult to cope with it was much easier to escape into a fantasy world, where I can achieve goals and improve my gameplay.

Throughout my addiction I have had relapse after relapse, rarely feeling as though I have managed to escape my addiction. At my worst points I would play 8+ hours a day, often playing until the sun came up. It wasn't until now that I feel ready to share my experiences and, given more recent relapses, decided to find answers for dealing with addiction (rather than thinking I can deal with it alone).

Although I have spend a lot of time gaming, I have also had numerous times where I have quit playing, ranging from 6 months to 3 years. During this time I picked up new hobbies and interests such as; playing guitar, climbing, running, cycling. I am now 28 and training to be a teacher. I acknowledge that gaming has been a huge part of my life and has both helped and hindered me, but the hinderances far outweigh the help it has offered. The pressures of my course have led me to have a compulsion for gaming again. Due to its demanding nature, I'm often left exhausted with little motivation to get out and be active, or to put my mind to learning a new song on the guitar; I'm left with the easy option that offers the most reward for least effort, which is gaming. In the past I have given away my in game wealth, changed passwords, changed email and once even gave away my account (it turns out they didn't even change the password), every time I manage to get my account back. This time, I have deleted my recovery questions; changed my password; changed my email; deleted the new email address and even blocked the Runescape website on my laptop.

I hope I haven't bored you too much, but it's as useful for me to write and reflect as it is for you to read if you're going through/have gone through similar experiences. I have spent far too long in the gaming world, trying to escape from reality. I think what has driven me to write this post is that it is now getting to the point of no return - if I continue to have these relapses, the longer I leave it, the harder it will be to ever turn my life around. For me, computer gaming used to be fun, a hobby (which is such a lovely, positive word), but for a long time now it has been a compulsion, something that affects my focus, how I behave, how I think, how I treat and interact with others, my sleeping pattern and my decision making. It has left me distant and lost me more friends than gained.

The future? Well, providing that the current government (UK) doesn't destroy the teaching profession further, I'd like to finish my qualification and become a teacher. I'd also like to travel (gaming has limited my travelling experiences), read more, go for more walks, see friends/family more, create new and lasting friendships/relationships. For me, none of this can happen while gaming is a part of my life, gaming consumes me, it calls me back to its empty achievements and fruitless goals. None of this can happen whilst gaming - which is a shame, because I used to love it.

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Hey Chris! Thanks for joining us here. I definitely encourage you to write often, as it helps you clear your mind and process your experience. You'll find many others here doing the same. From your post it sounds like the key is going to be finding some resting activities you can do at home that help you relieve stress. It's always interesting how we use gaming when we're "too tired" for other activities... when gaming is an activity that takes a lot of focus and concentration too - it's just easier to get started (power on, follow instructions, play), vs. say with guitar where we need to choose what actions we're going to take on our own.

Any ideas for things you can do at home to relieve stress?

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You're right, I do think that my justification for gaming (more recently especially) was based around being too physically and psychologically tired to do anything else - when in reality it is gaming that can be a huge contributor to the feeling of physical and psychological exhaustion. Psychological due to the amount of concentration required and physical because your body becomes used to being stationary, to the point where activity seems too strenuous (especially when moving means you have to come away from the game). To be honest, it's only now that I see the irony in the way I've been dealing with my stress and exhaustion.

Quite often I've neglected certain aspects of my life in order to spend more time gaming, becoming lethargic towards things that matter and giving into my urges and compulsions. I used to go climbing every Sunday, but I've not been climbing for weeks because every time Sunday comes around I give the excuse that I'm too tired or have too much work to do, in some cases it's true, in others it's not.

I have a few ideas about what I could start spending my time doing, on top of making sure all my work gets done, but being strong enough to keep up the motivation is going to be hard. I used to do yoga at home to help me with my climbing, I always felt refreshed, more cheerful and more relaxed afterwards, but again, my compulsion to game left me with the excuse of "I'll do it tomorrow" and, of course, tomorrow never comes.

I feel relatively positive after posting on these forums, with small pangs of craving and anxiety mixed in, I think I'm going to take a look at some of those books you recommended because one thing I lacked in the past was affirmation (which is also why I'm posting here).

So reading is on my todo list, as well as yoga; I'm going to try and start up the guitar again, although it's been so long I've probably forgotten which way to hold it. I think I need to make more efforts to be sociable too, whether it's climbing with friends or the odd trip to the pub, but to do any of these things I'm going to have to make sure gaming doesn't enter my life again. I've proven time and time again that I can't control the amount that I play and it often results in disrupted sleeping patterns and seclusion, neither of which are particularly healthy.

I'm going to try to be more mindful, taking it a day at a time and noticing habits, attitudes and behaviours that might have stemmed from my gaming so that I can take steps to adapt them.

I didn't intend for this to be such a long post, but thank you for your reply/question. I don't think I've ever written this extensively about myself.

Edited by Christopher
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Hey Chris,

Love the first few posts you have here, you seem to have a good knack for observation. I will definitely be following your journal. I can certainly relate to your experiences. Welcome to the forums! I would recommend committing to a 90 day detox, and maybe picking up Respawn to get oriented in the right way, or read some of the books that Cam commonly recommends here, such as The Slight Edge.

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Hey Kortheo, thanks for your support, much appreciated.

I look forward to sharing my experiences and getting them written down will really help.

I checked out Respawn last night, some really great advice in there, i'll definitely be using the steps, especially the calendar and journal idea. It's good to find something like this that doesn't sound too preachy or judgemental. I'll have to look into some of those books Cam mentioned, they sound pretty useful.

Edited by Christopher
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Hey Chris, welcome! :)

Thanks for your long posts. I subscribe to what Travis wrote: your knack for observation got me hooked and I'll be following your journal.

I definitely encourage you to go climbing again. It's social, great for your health, and gives a huge sense of accomplishment. Those things trickle down into every aspect of your life.

Good luck!

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Hey Tom, thanks the kind words :).

I checked out a bit of your journal earlier. I thought your post about relapsing when you think you're where you want to be in life and are therefore 'safe' is a really important point. This is a trap I've fallen into so many times in the past. You're right in what you say, I'm not using the right 'medicine'.

Cheers!

 

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I've bumped into that same problem before. I think to myself that I'm doing great, and put my guard down a bit. Maybe my habits start to lapse a bit, etc. So on the one hand you can't get lazy and have to keep up with things. The other thing that can happen is that due to your success, your perspective can broaden and you can want more for yourself, and then you can realize how far you actually are from what you want. If that makes sense. So even though you're doing great, don't underestimate how far you still may have to go to reach your goals - another reason not to let your guard down.

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Greetings Christopher and welcome! 

One thing I've noticed is there's a sense of escapism. For some of us like yourself, there was something about the environment we were (are) apart of that causes us to play games as a means of coping. I'm not saying this is an absolute but a tend I've come to see, even for myself included. Like you, I was gaming even when I didn't really want to. I was looking for that next game to be apart of because that was in a way where I felt more accepted.

I'm 27 and haven't played a video game in 40 days. Ironically enough I'm a game designer / writer / creative currently producing two card games and a graphic novel. In about a months and change worth of time, I've started making steps to do some of the things I've wanted to.

I find gamers in a way to be consumers. I've consumed enough and want to give back. 

You've already started the respawn, which is awesome. Cam's done some great work. 
Chris, you've come to the right place. In a way it's time to Press Start for real. 

 

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There's so much truth in what you say Octsober. The move away from my friends when I was young was a very difficult one and once I was in an unfamiliar environment, I found myself wanting to be accepted - which, unfortunately (as a southerner in the north), I wasn't. I sounded too posh apparently!

I escaped from difficulties at home and in school into the virtual world. I wouldn't say that I never had any friends, but I just didn't feel comfortable/accepted, I was quite lost.

Best of luck with your card games and graphic novel. I imagine it's so much more fulfilling being an active content creator than a passive consumer (although I'm sure it has its difficult hurdles).

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