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pootle

Hi ^_^

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Good evening (or morning, by the time I've finished typing this).

I'm Emily. I've been playing video games since I was seven, so it's been... well a long time. I'm nearly 32 now. I'd always played games a lot, but it wasn't til a couple of years ago they became a real issue for me; my problems began when I started playing Neverwinter when it released on the PS4.

Immersing myself in imaginary worlds has always been somewhat easy for me, probably stemming from my nature as an introvert. Always been kinda socially awkward and shielding myself in those places made me feel like someone else. 

I immersed myself in my characters. When I played, I wasn’t the shy and socially awkward Emily, I was fierce and outgoing, friendly and popular. In a matter of months, I’d gone from being a casual player to running a relatively successful guild. What started as a bit of fun suddenly became like my job – when I wasn’t online playing the game I was organising guild events, creating spreadsheets of guild members to track activity, or smoothing over the inevitable online clashes between people. I felt important – people wanted to speak to me, I was liked. These were things I craved, not realising I already had them, and the game gave them to me. At the time I wasn’t working, so I’d drop my kids off at school, come home and log straight into the game, and play it until I had to pick them up again. When I eventually dragged myself away from it at night I’d lay in bed thinking about it instead of sleeping, strategy and ideas swimming through my head until I couldn’t physically keep myself awake any longer. I’d sleep for a few hours, then get up and the cycle would continue, over and over.

My online persona’s progression became more important than my own; I didn’t shower often enough (I know, gross), and I think I was probably personally responsible for 50% of the sales of dry shampoo because it was quicker than washing my hair. I was a mess, and I couldn’t see it.

For a time, I don’t think even the people close to me realised how deep I’d fallen into my addiction. Inevitably, my real-life relationships began to suffer. I developed friendships through the game that were bordering on inappropriate, I turned down social invitations with real-life friends in favour of the game, I stopped going to bed when my partner did and spent time in chats with online people from all over the world instead. And in my head, it wasn’t an issue.

It took my partner of seven years saying he honestly didn't know what I'd do if he asked me to choose between him and the game to realise that I really did have a problem. 

It took me some time but I eventually weaned myself off of the game - had I known this place existed, that would have been so much easier, because despite my partner being so supportive I still feel like a lot of people have scoffed and disbelieved it's even possible to be addicted to something like video games.

I haven't given them up entirely - freelance games journalism has always been a part of my life and I don't want to give that up because I enjoy doing it - but I do feel I'm now getting to a place where I can separate games from my real life. They're an addition to it, not the reason for it any more. I can now go for days on end without feeling any urge to play anything. I have a steady job now - although it could be quite accurately be said I work more than is healthy; I'm writing this at 12.30am on my second night shift in a row and I've had two hours sleep in the past 48 hours - and my relationship with my partner is much better. Neverwinter is no longer present on my console, I gave away everything I had on it to deter me from going back again. 

It's a shame that I've only found this place as I've come out the other side of addiction, but I hope that maybe what I went through and coming out the other side can be of some help to others, even in just a small way.

 

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