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On relapse - and the peculiar case of yours truly


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Hi folks! So a couple of hours ago I overcame years of procrastination and decided to give it a shot and sign up for this forum. If anything I owe that much to Cam for all his fantastic videos on how to deal with this complex vortex of emotions that gaming is.

Now, I wanna give some background info on my gaming habits. I was NEVER addicted to MMORPGs (for some reason they didn't quite interest me, being accostumed to setting and determining my pace), but was heavily into RTS (I have close to 500 hours on Europa Universalis IV and close to 300 on Empire Total War) and RPGs (Skyrim, I'm looking at you). I played games from 1994 (at the ripe old age of 4) up until 2014, when after breaking up with a messy (and addictive) gf I decided to give it a shot and not play at all. I started experiencing the joys of life and from Q4 2014 up until 2016, I didn't play a bit.

Then, as 2015 drew to a close, a new gf dumped me to study abroad and I fell in the deepest anguish I've ever felt. It was some disturbing era of my life, riddled with suicide thoughts. This, coupled with a new girl I met shortly after (a mild gamer herself), meant that after some months of blatantly refusing, I ended up gaving way to her requests to game a bit.

Now, here's the complex bit: when I was a teenager I would play some 16hs a day, for real. I spent hours upon hours buidling an angevin empire on Medieval II Total War, thrashing Sith Soldiers on KotoR and sniping the life out of the german army on CoD. I couldn't stop playing, sure, but I didn't feel anything else. There were no secondary effects (plenty psychological, sure, but none physical that I remember) - just the sheer necessity to keep on playing non-stop, which, btw, I remember enjoying.

Nowadays it's kinda the other way around: I was able to get a grip on myself and control my gaming. Sure, I spent a couple of days of 12 hours gaming straight, but those were isolated cases, far from the norm. Yet I started experiencing something weird: bouts of anxiety and terrible migraines whenever playing. Not only during the very act of playing but during my waking hours (and indeed, hideous nightmares haunt my sleep with such viciousness that while sleeping I don't feel quite better; I mostly get pursued by Alma Wade from FEAR or from the Alien from Alien: Isolation, so imagine how intertwined these dreams and gaming can be, even if I haven't touched FEAR since 2014). Indeed, the very fact that I should have games installed and close at hand have kept me up at night crying, turning to one side and the other, being completely overtaken by the pumping adrenaline and even sometimes distorted eye movements. Say, two days ago I booted up Medal of Honor Allied Assault (not having achievements and the like made me think I could give it a shot) and ended up with terrible headaches and a sense of exhaustion, despite having played less than two hours. And guess what? I'm completely incapable of enjoying not only this game, but any other game I tried to play in the last year or so.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this? Like, not suffering from an incontrollable need to play but actually experiencing such crippling symptoms that you're forced time and again to withdraw from gaming?




PS: I just realised I didn't elaborate on the achievement thing - I reckon that's something for another day, but to sum it up, I reckon my gaming habits got all the more nastier when achievements came into play. Gaming became a futile pursuit for recognition and I believed them to have been the reason behind my loss of delight when playing, but my experiments with Medal of Honor and other achievement-free games has yielded negative results, probably meaning that they might be unconnected phenomena.

There's also something else worth considering: after giving up gaming I became obsessive with other stuff, like hoarding books. Seems I can't get a grip on myself no matter what.

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