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My experiment with moderating gaming post-90 day detox


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Hello all,

I completed the 90 days of detox and trialed an experiment with moderating my gaming on Day 91.  In the end, it was a failed experiment. 

After work, I had a bit of time left in my evening, a few hours before bedtime.  I had finished preparing tomorrow's lunch, doing the dishes, catching up with the latest local news on television, and even had a cup of herbal tea to relax myself.  It had been a tiring day at work, and I just wanted to chill out.  Next to my keyboard sat one of the many knitting projects I had been working on these past several weeks.  I turned on the computer and logged into my favourite MMORPG.  This time around, I filtered out all of the social panels so that it resembled more of a single-player game atmosphere.  At this point, I just didn't want the nuisance of communicating with others in a game, especially to be used only as their 'tool' to get what 'they' want out of a game, whether that's speed-leveling, completing tasks or just wasting my bloody time talking to me about every-day shit that I  could care less about.  NO thanks.  My only purpose to login was to explore that beautiful virtual world again. 

This is the question that was on my mind during detox:  Am I craving the dopamine effect?  Or is this just a feeling of nostalgia?

To make a long story short, it was a brief experiment. 

It only took me half an hour to revisit some fantastical places that I used to frequent, to enjoy the atmosphere, and appreciate the artistry of this virtual world.  Thirty minutes is all it took.  And during that half hour, my eyes flicked back and forth from my knitting project to the computer screen.  I was actually craving to work on my crafting project instead of gaming!  I was floored.  So, it was a mixture of knitting and also glancing up at the screen for the next hour or so.  I ended up AFKing in the game because I was so focused on my knitting. 

Additionally, I noticed that my back started to ache, and I was developing a slight headache.  And then my thoughts led to, "Oh great.  What kind of tasks do I have to complete in this game to get to the next level, and how bloody long is it going to take?  I have to sleep soon!"  I was frantically looking at the clock and becoming more irritated as time ticked on.  I was getting angry at the game because I remembered how much of a time sinker it is.  Especially MMORPG's. 

In summary:

1) I took out the social aspect of the game to reduce wasting time talking to complete strangers who are 95% of the time annoying AF.

2) I began experiencing physical pain within an hour of gaming, manifested in a headache and back pain.

3)  I began to feel annoyed, irritated, and bored.  Resentful memories popped up in my mind. 

4)  I became more interested in finishing my knitting project instead.

So, in conclusion, I don't think it was a dopamine fixation at all.  It was only a lingering feeling of nostalgia and quickly fixed within thirty minutes of aimless wandering about in a virtual world.  I think the 90 Days of not gaming helped reset the chemical imbalance, and also normalized my reaction when I'm exposed to too much visual stimulation.  Like, for example, in the past I would have to game for hours to feel 'euphoric', for lack of a better word.  But during my recent experiment, my body reacted very badly within merely thirty minutes of logging in.  I felt sick.

What I found the most interesting is that my cravings switched to a different hobby:  knitting. 

Anyway, this is anecdotal evidence, at best, but I hope that what I wrote will provoke some reflection for people that are thinking about moderating their gaming after they finish the detox.  I know that it didn't work for me but mainly because I lost interest and have other hobbies I am focusing on.  Logging into that MMORPG just wasn't as exciting as it used to be. 

I'm wishing you all good progress in your detox and a prosperous new life!

~ Dannigan

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