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Hi! My name is Sean, and my problem with video games started when I was very young. I was around seven years old when I first started playing video games, and fell in love with them. Gaming has always been a solitary affair for me; it became a sort of joke within my group of friends that Sean would disappear over the summer emerging only once the school year started. I would spend days and days at my computer. School was the only thing that provided me a social life, without it I would have probably talked to no one except my family. My family showed signs of concern sometimes, but because I excelled at school (school being something that comes easily to me) I got away with my obsession. They even would compliment me on how hard I worked, even though I knew that I did only the bare minimum, and that most of my time was spent building virtual civilizations or leading parties of fighters and wizards into great fortresses or deep caves.

There was a safety in computer games that I could not replicate with anything else: the safety of the new game or reload button, where if things didn't go exactly how I wanted them to go I could just redo it, and nothing of the previous failures would remain (except in the form of my wasted time, but what does that matter if I do not value it?). Even though my gaming was entirely solitary (I have never played multiplayer games for any extended periods of time), looking back it had a remarkably social aspect to it in a twisted way. I was always anxious about NPC responses, and wanted all the characters within the game to like me, and so I would always play the good guy and try to get the best possible outcomes. This was a safe sort of social space, something that allowed me to satisfy, at least on the surface, a loneliness and need for contact with others as long as I didn't think too much about what I was doing, and just allowed myself to react emotionally to the stories and the characters on my screen. 

I've been gaming excessively for about twenty years now, and I suppose I should be thankful that my life probably went as well as it could through all those years. I managed to graduate from college with honors, to maintain a job (not a very good one, especially for a college graduate, but whatever), and to have a network of friends who, while I'm not as close to them as I once was, are at least not estranged from me. Gaming, I feel, drove me into a depressive state that I only recently emerged from, and has taken so much time from me that I will never get back. I am in the process of applying to law school, and every time I work on my applications I feel shame at all the time I wasted gaming. I'm also afraid that I will respond to the stress of law school by jumping back into video games, and that I will fail in my studies.  I decided to join this community after my most recent attempt to quit gaming failed, which I had begun at the start of August but broke down last week. I realize now that I cannot do it alone, and that I need the help of others to break this vicious cycle of self-hate and escapism that gaming turns my life into. Today I deleted, as well as I could, my Steam account and my GOG account, which gives me hope. 

Anyways, I look forward to being a part of this community, and I'm (tentatively) excited about what the future holds!

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Hi Cam! Thanks for the welcome. That's a really good question, and as I think about it its hard to say. Potentially its just me being bitter about the choices I know that I made in regards to video games and my life, and it is hard to take that responsibility and really shoulder it. However I know that I couldn't have made the recovery I did about two years ago from my depression if I had been gaming at the time.

Since I have viewed my gaming as a waste of time for most of my life (maybe starting around 14-15 yrs of age when I began actively avoiding socializing to play games), my gaming sessions would end with me hating myself and labeling myself as a categorically lazy person. So I thought my life was useless, and really I just wanted to not bother or hinder other people, and there was a period that I was entertaining suicidal thoughts (didn't come close to acting on them, but I would mull them over for long periods of time and fantasize about it). I'm really not sure if that was derived from video games or if I used the video games as a narcotic to get away from those feelings. Doesn't matter at this point I suppose, but it's an interesting thought that I don't have an answer for. 

I was "clean" from about May 2016 until February 2017, when I thought it wouldn't be all that bad if I just picked up the controller and played the latest Final Fantasy for a bit (FFXV I think?). Of course that just sent me spiraling back into playing video games with practically all the free time I had. However, the most important thing to note during those roughly eight to nine months when I was free is that I was able to, with help from a therapist, really see myself, maybe for the first time, and engage in a process of forgiveness towards myself that still continues to this day (and I struggle with it, tbh). When I fell back into playing video games I did not fall back into my depression, even though I was not happy about what I did. I retained those lessons of being gentle and kind to myself, and those lessons I consistently had failed to internalize while attending therapy while I was gaming. 

Overall, I think it's better to say that it wasn't gaming that drove me to the state I was in, but rather the person I become while gaming. Maybe there's a better way of phrasing it; I don't want to reject the responsibility I have in my own problems. 

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Hey Sean,

I hear you man. I don't think I'm depressed, but I come closest to it when I game or consume tech in other ways (youtube, netflix, etc). I feel guilt & shame over having wasted my time when I have so many other things I'd rather accomplish (i.e. real life).

I started gaming around the same time as you and barely ever played multiplayer also. I also only play good guys, although I never reflected on the fact that I might be replacing my social life with NPCs in a computer game. Interesting insight.

I did also manage a long streak (I think a couple of years) of no games, but eventually got sucked back in.

These forums are a definitely a HUGE help. I highly recommend you start the 90-day detox and a journal in the daily journals section. Keeping a journal helped me slowly analyze myself, discover new things about my addiction, and gave me more mental ammunition for fighting the addiction. I think it'll help you as well.

Do post the link here if you start a journal - I'll def be following!

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