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Skaliq

Skaliq's Journal

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Days 1-3: Recap

I started working out again, bought a small tank and some pets to keep them in, ordered some pet supplies, and reorganized the schedule for the remaining 3 weeks of summer break. 

Day 4: On Keeping Pets

Sundays are a day off for me. It's the day that I keep as margin so that I can wrap up whatever's not done during the week, do all errands in batches, and just chill. At least it functions as a day off if my schedule is functioning properly. Which it did this week - no overdue studying today! 

The most interesting thing that happend today was keeping care of my new pets: a small 20-gallon tank on my desk houses a bullfrog and some goldfish. These little chores took up a large chunk of my time combined but they pay off when my little critters eat and grow well. Changing water, making goldfish food out of veggies, and giving food to crickets which are in turn fed to the bullfrog. You know you've gone too deep when you're buying food (grains and vegetables) for food (crickets) for your frog which was originally being sold as food in the marketplace. Yes, bullfrogs are considered delicacies here in China which is where I live. 

I like the idea of "topic of the day" kind of journaling style. I'll mostly be writing about things that I do instead of gaming until I run out of ideas. 

Edited by Skaliq

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Day 5: On Work and Rest

There's a lot to do these days, mostly to my fault of wasting 2/3rds of summer break gaming. 

The surprising thing is that I'm working more than ever and I'm still quite relaxed. I take ample breaks and sleep more than ever. The sacrifice is that I've got no time sit down and relax at the end of the day. My "end-of-day relaxation time" has been re-allocated to smaller breaks throughout the day. If it isn't, I'd have to work hours non-stop until burnout. 

I make things sound all positive, but it isn't. I didn't finish some things assigned today due to excessive internet surfing. That illustrates exactly why I leave Sundays empty. That foresight! I also really want to finish Portal. I tossed some crickets into the black hole that's my bullfrog instead. 

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Day 6: On Games as an Art Form

I'm one of those people who really care(d) about how the medium of video games is evolving into a more refined art form. I've written things like "video games as literature" and "analytical review of Shelter 2" for the school magazine, too. That's why I just can't get myself to unsubscribe from Games as Literature and Extra Credits on Youtube. Maybe I should. Maybe not. 

In my first attempt, I allowed myself to play single player games that have a short (so no RPGs) story. But the problem was that I had to make my Windows PC and Steam account accessible, which made it easy to install other, more addictive games. Competitive online games are simply too stimulating. All I've got now is a Mac. Quite inconvenient to game on. 

Here's how I came to terms with this yesterday: Yes, video game is an emerging art form, but there are mediums and genres that I don't consume and it's fine. I've just got to think of games as another audio drama, theater, opera, classical music, etc., and enjoy fiction that I don't get addicted to. 

Edited by Skaliq

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I understand. I've played RPGs that had stories that rivaled the greatest books and movies...and you were at the heart of the story...which was.doubly attractive! Gaming can certainly be an amazing art form....seductively so sometimes.

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Day 7: On Insomnia

There's nothing that drives me more insane than not being able to sleep when I'm obviously tired. The noise inside my head just keeps on going. But usually, I know I'll manage to fall asleep...eventually.

It's torturous to realize it's 4 AM and still be unable to sleep, however, as it happened during my most recent gaming binge. It also happened to be the hottest time of the year and the air conditioner broke down. So I wouldn't conclude that gaming causes insomnia. I'd say they're irrelevant. Mostly because I'm one week free of gaming, and I feel extremely tired at the end of the day due to working a lot, and yet I couldn't easily fall asleep these past few days. But whatever the reason, screw insomenia. It's the worst thing ever. 

Interesting side-note: I dreamed of a friend nagging me to go to a net cafe yesterday to play Overwatch. I graciously refused. I'm surprised by my the choice of my unconsciousness. 

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It's strange... I can sleep as soon as I lay on my bed when I'm tired. I hope you sleep well today. I rarely had some days that I couldn't fall asleep and the reason was that I had to make some serious decisions. It was stressful, but after a couple of days, I got much better. Maybe you would figure out the solution. Hang in there!

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I had sleeplessness for a while when I first quit. Of course I was coming off junk food as well as games so the withdrawal was more pronounced. You'll get through it!

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@Tom2 Damn, I envy you. Sleep has been a challenge for me ever since middle school when I made a habit out of sleeping late. 

@Mettermrck You're continuous feedback really helps! Here's a long-due appreciation for your contribution to the forum. 

Edited by Skaliq

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I think you should get some tips and tricks from anybody else but me, as I don't know much about insomnia. I'm sorry I can't help about this issue. I think going to bed at a regular time would help. (and no nap)

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Day 8: On Deep Procrastination

Today was a sluggish day. I felt languished, didn't get close to anything done, decided to update my computer to newest Sierra while I drew some still life, and the computer broke down afterward. RIP. Hopefully, things will be better tomorrow. 

On a similar note, let's talk about deep procrastination a.k.a. slumps. It has always been something hard to tackle for me. It lasts for an extended period, and I can't even summon the energy to do anything beneficial. It comes periodically, once or twice a year, but there's no way to predict it. The only "safety net" that I can think of is productive lifestyle habits, and even that tends to fall apart. Nothing that I do to get out of it works except time. Ehhh. Someday I'll find a solution and journal about it. 

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I feel you. Keep in mind it's only temporary.

Working out really helps, in times like that I just do some weightlifting or calisthenics and hormones kick in to raise my mood above the sea level. Of course i have to drag myself into doing that, but once I get going it's a breeze. I suspect it works for everyone in a similar fashion.

May the force be with you)

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I second Vlad. Working out helps give me energy, gives me self-confidence that I'm doing something positive, and it burns off anxiety. And this is a beginner couch potato talking here. ?

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Day 9: On Lingering Thoughts

I sometimes still wish I could replay Bioshock Infinite. It's my first singleplayer FPS and my favorite game of all time. I love the characters, the story, the universe, everything. 

I sometimes still wish I could replay Life is Strange. It's the only game that made me cry multiple times. It's my second favorite game of all time. The story is breathtaking. Arcadia bay will always have a special place in my heart. 

I sometimes still wish I could finish Portal. I want to experience the masterpiece in environmental storytelling. 

I sometimes still wish I could finish Nier: Automata. The characters, the atmosphere, it's mesmerizing. 

I sometimes still wish I could play Overwatch. I want to jump into the "melee-only" custom game mode which I particularly liked. I want to see my favorite hero Zarya back in the meta. I want to experience Doomfist first hand. 

I sometimes still wish I could play Hearthstone. I want to see my pet deck Elemental Shaman become a thing. I want to reach legend again. 

But I can't; I won't; I'm not a gamer. The fact that I won't play games forever is a hard one to swallow but it's true. I'll just verbalize my temptations and learn to live with it. As time goes on, things will be better. I just had to vent my lingering thoughts about my favorite games so that I can properly part ways with them. 

My hackintosh which broke down can't be fixed. I'd been using a Hackintosh because I wanted the gaming capabilities of a PC as well as the conveniences of familiar MacOS without spending a fortune. Maybe it died out at an opportune moment. Even though I disabled the Windows partition at the beginning of the detox, the high system specs of the hackintosh build still made it possible for me to run modern mac games. Now I physically can't. Adieu, my beloved custom build. My old Macbook Air's here as replacement. 

Today's all about saying farewell to things I cared about. 

Edited by Skaliq

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I know how sad that post was to write. I have many fond memories if Bioshock Infinite. What a story, what a world. And Skyrim, Mass Effect, Witcher, Dragon Age. It's like saying goodbye to old friends. You are powerful, Skaliq, for pushing past this. ?

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@Skaliq I totally can relate and I sympathize with you.

I want to share a concept that has certainly worked for me, see if it works for you. We humans are hard-wired for survival, that's why we are strongly triggered by scarcity. It's well-indicated by sales tactics like limited editions, one-time offers and old-as-time history of profiteering on real and perceived shortages.

I also miss a few games. If I think that they are gone from my own little world then it's no less than a tiny catastrophe. But I understand that those games are abundant and ever-present in the real world, and technically I could buy more copies of the game that I could store if I decided to. I just decide to pick real life over games. So I feel better.

Imagine a huge tip truck filled with DVDs or other information storage media with the games you miss on them. So this truck has been bringing you those things and dumping them right in front of your house leaving humongous piles every single day for the last 2 weeks. You managed to dispose of maybe 10% but the remainder start to resemble an artificial mountain. You asked the truck driver, when were they going to stop? He told you that he didn't know exactly, but he had been booked for this route for at least another month. How do you feel when you imagine those constantly growing piles of games? Do those games start to feel a little like advertising spam trying to clutter your mail and email boxes?

Please share your thoughts on the concept and the effect if you do the abovementioned imagination exercise.

I admire your will power and cheer for your progress.

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Embrace the impermanence of life. The only constant in life is change. Moving on does not take away any of the memories or meaning that you had with games. You're simply closing this chapter of your life to create space for a new one. 

This video can help with gaming nostalgia.

Edited by Cam Adair

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Thanks for the feedback guys, it helps out a lot. 

Day 10: No Regrets. 

Yesterday (day 10), I had a blast hanging out with my family up until late at night. 

Day 11: On Video Game Music

Today I had a quick realization on why I can listen to gaming music without triggering any cravings or nostalgia. I don't associate them with gaming. Instead, for a good two years now, I've listened to them while studying. My current "Study" playlist contains a carefully curated list of video game, movie, anime, etc., instrumental soundtracks that I listen every time I want to focus. At this point, it's closer to a background noise. Thanks to that, I could concentrate and study Chinese and Mathematics today while listening to tunes from video games that would otherwise give me cravings. 

Edited by Skaliq

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That makes sense about video game music. I notice that video game music, the really good ones, lead me AWAY from the game to a higher plane of sorts. Other video game music, of.course, can cause nostalgia and thus cravings.

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I'm glad to hear you're getting along great with your family!

I can remember only soundtracks from FIFAs and GTAs, and they had some wicked game music!) But I guess the songs are mostly way too energetic to feel waves of nostalgia.

Studying Chinese is so cool! :)

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Day 12 & 13:  On Scheduling

There's a system that I followed a few years ago - before gaming addiction - which is to schedule every minute of the day. The original idea comes from my favorite productivity blogger who made it possible to reach 4.0 GPA back then, Cal Newport. He schedules his entire work day (9 to 5) into large blocks of time every morning. Then, Shawn Blanc expanded upon the idea in which he schedules every hour of the entire day, including breaks, margin, "just for fun" and date nights. The aim is to be intentional about how we spend our time working and resting. The goal is not to set rigid schedules. On the contrary, I'd adjust my schedule multiple times a day on average as life happens. My friends would call me THE "master of schedule" sometimes. 

Why talk about this now?

1. Last week, I spent five days logging every minute of my day into 15-minute increments on my calendar. I didn't plan; I simply recorded to visualize how I spend my time. 

2. Then I slacked out for a few days and spent three days without a schedule. 

3. Then, I spent two days scheduling my day in advance in the morning and trying to follow them. I also logged how I spent my time, too, adjusting the schedule as needs arise. 

The differences are phenomenal. As you can guess, the third option leads to maximum productivity, the first choice is second best, and the second resulted in entire days of procrastination. There are other insights to be drawn, too.

The first experiment made me realize I'm spending way too much time browsing the internet, even if it is related to Game Quitters.

Also, my productivity plummeted if I tried to work on my most important task (MIT) the last. It seems obvious in hindsight, but I felt 'obligated' to do homework from Chinese class first because they're urgent and necessary. That made me neglect long-term projects like finishing a 4000-word essay over the course of a few weeks. Less urgent, but monumentally important as it's part of my high school diploma requirements. Scheduling time for writing in the morning finally made me progress in the task. 

Then, there are minor adjustments to make. First, my sleeping schedule is a mess, fluctuating from 9 PM to midnight. Second, journaling takes more than I scheduled, often delaying my sleep by a quarter hour or so. Third, I'm now able to predict when I'll feel sleepy (2 PM) so there should be countermeasures like scheduling nap time or workout. 

P.S. For maximum irony, my 4000-word essay is a mathematical analysis of Hearthstone. Yes, I quit gaming because I was procrastinating on an essay about video games.  The paper is very technical, only using data sets from Hearthstone to do all sorts of statistical manipulation, so it doesn't cause too many cravings :) (Though I admit it's a slippery slope. Too late to change the topic now.) 

P.P.S. Finally deleted my Blizzard and Steam account. The process is so complicated! They're worth a few hundred bucks, but the positive benefits should be worth multiple times that. 

Edited by Skaliq

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Yeah, I notice I function better when I schedule much of my day or at least have a general idea. I can then he flexible from there. Being busy is really what keeps me away from addictive behavior. Glad you're getting so organized, skaliq!

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Day 14: On Career Paths

In the next three months or so, I have to file my college application. In the next month or so I have to choose which university and major to apply to. And I have no goddamn idea what to pick. Universities, yes, I can just research for strong engineering programs for countries I'm applying to. But major...I'm in a position where I can major in nearly any science program that doesn't involve too much chemistry and be okay. Physics, mathematics, biology, bioengineering, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, environmental science, etc. And I have no preference within these fields whatsoever. It's like choosing between 10 bowls of lukewarm water. Nothing sucks. It tastes above-average, certainly a more enjoyable experience than drinking sea water or boiling water. But it's tough to choose between them. Damnit.

I thought Crash Course Computer Science is the most intriguing Crash Course science series so far, but basing my major off Youtube videos may not be the best method, lol. 

Well, I guess at least I'm not applying to the UK, where changing major is close to impossible. There's always the choice of switching inside the engineering branch if things go south. 

Edited by Skaliq

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My very first college major was nuclear engineering. Enjoyed the subject but couldn't handle the advanced math. ? Does one of those fields really grab you and ignite your passion? You can always change but for now just think about what aspects of science and technology draws you in the most.

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