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James Good

Question of the week: When did you realise you had a problem with gaming?

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We had some great interaction on the last question of the week. Thanks, everybody! It'd be great to keep it going.

 

I initially thought that this would be an easy question for me to answer. However, after thinking about it for a few minutes I realised it wasn't going to be that simple.

While there was definitely a time in my life where things weren't going great, and I was definitely addicted to gaming, it's hard to say if that period of time was when I realised I had a problem.

For some context:

I first joined Game Quitters about 4 or 5 years ago during University (My first post on here was 2016, but I had done the 90-day detox a year before), after realising I was maybe spending a bit too much time playing games. 32 hours straight is definitely too much, right?? 😂

However, it wasn't until my third year of university that things started becoming really problematic. I was using gaming as an escape from my work and eventually dropped out with only a few months left to complete. 

But, if I try to pinpoint an exact time that I thought "you know what, gaming is actually a huuuuuge problem, and I need to do something about it", I come up empty.

 

So I guess for me it wasn't a specific moment in time, it was a culmination of failing relationships, poor diet, lack of sleep, failing exams and pretty bad depression leading me to realise gaming definitely isn't helping me.

 

Let me know if you have a more concrete idea of when gaming became a problem, maybe hearing your guys' stories will help jog something in my memory. I think I've blanked a lot of that time period out!

Peace.

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I've had ideas of cutting down gaming/Twitch for a longer time, sort of in the "I wish I had an hour more daily to work out" style, but it was always rather episodic and mostly in my head.

I figured out gaming/Twitch was a problem for me after two weeks of denial, when my ex broke up with me, and two weeks of YT research (TED talks about relationships, general life advice), where I was finally able to fully focus on myself. The realization I lived such a destructive lifestyle was really a big "oh f*ck" moment, so I joined up on this forum about three weeks ago. I also realized the relationship had to end, how did it end and, most importantly, what were the causes.

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I realized I had a problem with gaming when I noticed my playtime in middle getting longer and longer but I felt numb it at the time, The toxic community I was in enabling my behavior and after some doubting and subtle manipulation, I was back in gaming land, slowly letting my grades waste away, seeing school as just a mandatory lesson before I could head home and actually game, when I started fighting my addiction was this year when I realized that I had become a monster, hurting the people I loved and losing my positive outlook on life and turning it into one of a hopeless pessimist, only looking for external gratification to make my existence. 

I abused my girlfriend mentally and I became forceful and narcissistic, no one was my equal and everyone was simply property to conquer. 

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This was not obvious for me because gaming was always my pleasure, relaxation time, fun time, free time. For many many years this was fine and I didn't see or felt a problem. When depression came, and games no longer filled me with joy, I began to play just to pass the time. Instead of being a fun activity, I realized gaming was deeply rooted in my identity, and I played because what else was I supposed to do? 

Then came the bigger problem for me, when I started to focus on new things, my mind was constantly "in the game" thinking on what I would do next in the game, and analyzing possibilities in the damn game, instead of focusing on life. Simply my thought process was focused on games and then I realized I was in deep shit, and started looking for help.

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2 hours ago, dahankus said:

This was not obvious for me because gaming was always my pleasure, relaxation time, fun time, free time. For many many years this was fine and I didn't see or felt a problem. When depression came, and games no longer filled me with joy, I began to play just to pass the time. Instead of being a fun activity, I realized gaming was deeply rooted in my identity, and I played because what else was I supposed to do? 

Then came the bigger problem for me, when I started to focus on new things, my mind was constantly "in the game" thinking on what I would do next in the game, and analyzing possibilities in the damn game, instead of focusing on life. Simply my thought process was focused on games and then I realized I was in deep shit, and started looking for help.

Same here!!

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The last few months of my life have been filled with stress, confusion, bouts of depression, fits of anger, and emotional outbursts. I knew something was wrong and I wanted to change but I was having a hard time finding out what the real problem could be.  I thought it was my job, so I quit that. I explored getting a life coach or personal therapy and went to 1 session and knew right away this was not what I was looking for. I just thought that I was just unlucky.. some people are just destined to be happy and successful and others will never reach their goals. All I knew was I felt completely unfulfilled and nothing I was doing seemed to be helping.

About a week ago in an effort to find some inspiration or motivation..some goal to work towards, I typed something like "Will quitting video games fix my life?" into YouTube. I found the gamequitters channel and spent the whole weekend watching videos. I had found the inspiration I was seeking. I knew what I had to do, I was going to do the 90 day detox and I was going to dedicate all my energy towards changing my life. I had never seriously considered quitting video games before.. I guess I never really thought they were such a huge problem. It was only through hearing other people's stories and their vulnerabilities (Cam and others) that it hit me like a brick wall. Gaming has had an immensely negative impact on my life and it had gotten out of control. So here I am. Genuinely excited about my life for the first time in a long, long time.

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When did you realize you had a problem with gaming?

About 13-14 years ago I believe is about the time I started to realize what quick sand gaming was.

Everyone has a story. short version I didn't have a support system in place. I learned quitting things was the only way to get by. I did just enough to get by, never really thrived. I was getting sick of the way things were and I was seeking answers. During work I was inspired to seek out help. Yet when I was off work, every free hour I had went to World of Warcraft. I wanted to seek answers, but I noticed I couldn't break away from the games. I became aware of how powerless I was to the gaming. 

If I was going to get the help I needed, I was going to have to toss the computer out from my home. It was that simple. Which by God's grace I did.

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First year of my high school me and my friends just couldnt wait to go back to home and play overwatch since it was new back then. To be honest this was i think best year of my life, anything that is good and pure in gaming like making new friends, and having good time together was the main part of that gaming year for us. Sometimes we would not even play and just send to each other memes and non stop laugh.

But with the start of the second year group started to shrink and eventually second year i ended up playing with only one friend because others moved on. Back then i started to realise that i have problem, i began to skip classes, lie that i don't really play gamesanymore to my friends because i was embarrassed and my bad habit also reflected negativly on everyones mood in my house.

With the start of final high school year( in poland high school takes 3 years) i promised to myself i will stop with games and will focus on studying. And to my suprise for over month it worked. And then one day my friend that i spended previous year playing with asked me to play with him. After 3 days of non stop playing i truly realised that i have a problem but still ended up doing nothing serious about it for almost 2 years. The rest of the year i played alone.

I curse this day till today . And so we are on the same page i don't blame my friend at all whole fault is on my side.

Edited by Tony S
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Sometimes in case it was an addiction. I've known it was probably an issue when I was younger and my parents keep cutting off technology time from us millennial folks of the family: me and my sisters Lauren and Simone. They did that to us when Windows Vista was still alive and well - that was the year 2008 - by parental control. (*sigh* F*** you, censorship! I'd rather watch porn than prep BS.) I knew it that gaming is a problem since then if people go on obsessive levels. I did it for moderate amounts of time if not seldomly, and I knew for sure I am not a gamer.

One day, my sister Simone was playing something random first, then Tap Tap Reborn. I have done several mobile games before The Sims Freeplay took over a year away from me (at least I dealt with life okay on a time management). And when school did take over my life, I had rearranged myself and said no to gaming. I'm about one week into the detox challenge and counting!

Edited by Natalie
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I realized it was a problem when I was 18 or 19, but it was fun so I kept making excuses for playing it. I realized it was a serious problem when gaming would just pissed me off if I didnt win EVERY round, then when I would get off the game id be pissed and yell at my kids. If my kids would try to talk to me while gaming, I would snap at them. That is when it was obvious it was something I had to stop. Not included how out of shape I became. I didnt gain weight really, but I was out of shape. Jogging for 1 minute and I would be panting, running up 10 stairs would make my legs feel like they were on fire. This being from a guy that used to play all sports, including cross country and track.

I was killing myself and being a horrible parent. Event realizing this, it has still been a struggling, still making excuses. But atleast I know the problem.

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This is pretty clear cut for me.

I'm not good with timelines so I don't remember the exact day or month, but some time in late 2013/early 2014, when I started working for Primerica, gaming was getting in the way of me achieving success with the company. Instead of going home to study, or going out to prospect, etc., I instead stayed home and gamed. Thus my journey to freedom from gaming started around that time.

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When I went to university almost three years ago, I was about to quit gaming. And it felt very natural that way – I met a lot of new people, who were truly amazing in comparison to my classmates, I was busy studying and writing. And then I met a girl who was obsessed with videogames. Back then I was unfamiliar with the concept of personal boundaries, so instead of telling her that I wanted some time alone, I spent hours listening to her rambling about gaming. It is hard to work (or do anything productive), when somebody is bombarding you with messages, so I developed two rather toxic habits – surfing the Net in a really unhealthy way all day long, craving for more content, and video game addiction. Yes, I believe that I developed my own addiction myself.  Honestly, games were the only way for me to escape her attention.

I believe it was the January or the February of 2018 when I told her how I really felt, I was fed up with her being herself. I remember it quite distinctively.  I was on a family trip and asked her not to message me and leave me alone for three days. She neglected it and kept sending me memes about games, screenshots of games, letsplays, stupid gossips… Now I know that everything could have been done more smoothly. But I was… angry. I burnt all the bridges. She left my life. It seemed to me that I was free.

She left something behind though. Good old bad habits. I was never free from them. I kept playing, problems were piling up, I was unable to hand my assignments on time… Occasionally I came across Cam’s videos and Game Quitters Community. I even joined last March but was too shy to write anything. There were serious attempts to get through 90 Days, but I never succeeded. Sometimes I wonder whether it is even possible for me…Though I will keep trying.

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Trick question, for me. I've already realized I had some sort of a problem way back around 2010. But back then I though I had it under control and could quit whenever I wanted, but, of course, I never wanted to. Why would I, if it helped me cope with negative feelings and if it were under my control? Only recently, about a year ago, more or less, is that I could break through this tautological rationalization and face the fact that gaming was the actual problem by itself.

At first I thought I would be fine just reducing gaming time, but I wasn't strong enough and what should be just an hour of gaming would easily become the entire day. I needed to stop it for a while, maybe for ever. Then I started to look around the internet for sources. I found a mobile app called GameAddiction, which offers information and sources about the problem, and it led me to Cam's TED talk and to Game Quitters' YT channel. I felt like "this is the new beginning I thought I was never gonna get". Life saving, probably.

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My wife of 10 years left me and I was looking at what I had become and started wondering if I was addicted. I found this website and watched some videos and one sentence stood out to me.

If I was gaming I would only do the bare minimum in my life to get by, so I could maximize the amount of “free time” I have to game

This just happened 3 days ago. 

Edited by McAaron
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Answer to the question is the second paragraph. I went on a little bit of a rant here, sorry 😄

I've been obsessively gaming ever since I remember. During highschool, I started to sense that maybe this is a problem, but didn't consciously come to the conclusion that I'm addicted. Then, during the bachelor studies, I've realized that I'm not only gaming too much, but that I'm unable to reduce it if I try. Regardless of that, I never really attempted to stop gaming. I was okay being completely mediocre and passing my classes by the skin of my teeth, often asking for help with assignments from some of my hard-working friends/classmates. I was pretty much just doing uni work and gaming. I didn't meet any new people and since my degree was computer science, I didn't meet any girls. Here and there I would go get drunk with friends or even work out, in more productive phases, but they didn't last too long. Then, in the last year of my bachelors, I took a step back and really thought hard about what I want to do in life, found my passion in life(which I have since lost LOL but that's another topic) and shortly after, I randomly got into a short relationship with a girl. These two things combined(a goal to strive for and a girl) made me not need to game at all. In fact when we started dating, I completely stopped playing or even watching all video games. I didn't force myself, I just stopped because I didn't feel like playing. I felt like the real life was so much better and even when I tried to login to league and play a game, I was immediatelly put off and felt like going out meeting people or working towards my goals. Those were the best times. She broke up with me 2 months after(different reasons), but it didn't get my down too much and for the first time in my life, I started actively meeting girls. I gamed a little bit at that time, but not too much. Then I got admitted to a very good university in a foreign country, to a programme which was my passion at that time. So I finished my bachelors and moved there 2 months early, to build social life, work hard and crush it in general. I was going to live by myself for the first time and be an adult. And what happened?

 

The new environment in which I had an entire apartment to myself combined with not having ANY responsibility(it was summer break) combined with not having people in the city to take me out, I started gaming again. Hardcore. And I mean 16 hours per day kind of gaming. I just couldn't stop myself. I had all these plans of going to events, meetings, getting to know people, studying beforehand to get a headstart on a very difficult programme - all that went to shit. I gamed nonstop, I only went out to get groceries, I didn't even explore the beautiful city for like a month. In that month, I realized that I have a huge problem and it needs to stop. I had multiple games that I played, but the main one was league, I had years of life on that game and right before the programme was about to start, I finally made the decision to delete my main account. That was so huge. It was my main link to the gaming world, it was essentially my life. And so my journey of recovery began. The rest of the story is for another topic, but I will say that after this decision, I had the most hard-working 2 months of my life and passed the most difficult course of the entire 2 years of that programme with a very decent grade. 

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I realized I was addicted the moment everything else I used to enjoy failed to make me happy. My art career that I’d worked so hard for had dwindled cause instead of making art I would just play games. My legs and heart became weak, I gained weight but still, all that mattered was a stupid game that made me furious 85% of the time I played it.

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On 9/29/2019 at 11:43 PM, Sabrina said:

I realized I was addicted the moment everything else I used to enjoy failed to make me happy. My art career that I’d worked so hard for had dwindled cause instead of making art I would just play games. My legs and heart became weak, I gained weight but still, all that mattered was a stupid game that made me furious 85% of the time I played it.

This. When after another gaming session where I was frustrated, I asked myself "I thought hobbies were supposed to make me happy and relaxed, not angry and resentful?" This only got worse when I had kids, and I was choosing playing games over spending time with them. It was a real WTF moment.

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I had to reduce my video gaming and take a break from it because it was negatively affecting my life in various ways.  I never grew up playing video games, and currently I only played them inconsistently.  Despite my lack of addiction to gaming, I still experienced bad side-effects.  So, at this point, I truly question whether video games are contributing to my overall well-being, whether I should scrap them for good, or just continue to be a casual gamer in the long-run.  This would depend heavily on developing a good sense of 'awareness', in that if my life is lacking in other areas due to gaming, that means I must take a break.  

Anyway, here's a short list of the crappy side-effects of gaming.  

1)  I was becoming more volatile, irritable, impatient.  This personality change occurred while I was gaming, and slowly was leeching into real-life interactions too (eg. short-tempered around family).

2) I was becoming more isolated.  The 'light-bulb' moment switched on when I found myself wanting to join a social guild in the mmorpg because I missed interacting.  Like, what?  I'm typing to total strangers online who could care less if I lived or died!  I do have two friends from gaming that I still keep in contact with by phone, and I have met one gamer in real life too.  I still consider them friends outside of gaming, but this is an extreme exception, and very rare that gaming friends extend themselves beyond the video-game realm. 

3)  I was physically getting sick.  I began to experience lower back pain for sitting longer than an hour.  Also, there was too much visual stimulation.  My body would tense up, I could not tolerate staring fixedly at the computer screen because my eyes would start to hurt, I'd experience severe migraine attacks too.

4)  I had a mental fog.  

5)  I was distracted from achieving other goals in my life, and finishing projects, or doing other hobbies that I enjoy.  There were so many sewing/knitting projects that I put on hold.  Procrastination.

6)  I had a loss of purpose.  I didn't look forward to anything.  

7)  I became numb to everything else;  didn't enjoy other activities, no real motivation to push myself to improve, other things seemed boring.

 

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