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Avnat Netzer

Ready To Take First Steps To Quitting

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Hello,

I've been gaming probably since I was 10 years old starting with strategy games like Age of Empires. In high school is when I got my first gaming console and found my self spending much more time travelling across Tamriel than with friends or family.
It wasn't until college when things got unmanageable. By this time what few friends I had commented on my video game playing and I got defensive saying, I kid you not, "I can stop whenever I want to". Those words literally escaped my lips and it was something right out of a comedy sketch. My friends thought that was hilarious and bet me to not play a single game for 30 days. I won the bet out of spite but it was way harder than I had expected.

My first couple semesters of college were fine but my grades started to slip. Often around the time of a project or paper I would binge heavily. This was some of the first times I had ever played straight through the night until morning 12 and sometimes 18 hours straight. It is staggering how so many hours can feel like seconds in a video game and come out of a binge still not being satisfied.
I got into this loop of playing games, sleeping late well past my morning classes, barely making assignments and attendance.
It was like that for close to 4 years. Lost touch with all of my friends. Ignored calls, pretended to be too busy. People were confused and often hurt by my behavior. Eventually the school had enough and I was given an ultimatum. After all that time I was still a year off from completing my degree in computer science with all the courses I needed to retake. I could either drop out or be formally dismissed.
I blamed it on the school having no empathy and doing little to support me when I needed it. I dropped out with no degree, few job prospects or options.

I made many attempts to stop or limit game playing with some success. I tried either stopping completely or "limiting" my play time to just a couple hours a night. Eventually transferred into a different school, started dating my now fiance, and got my first job as a programmer even before finishing my degree. Just this year I completed my bachelors, got engaged, and even made a bunch new friends. I can reasonably start tricking myself into thinking I have things under "control". I know that's not true.

I still binge and I can only really enjoy playing games if I've been playing for at least 6 hours. I'm in a stage in my life where even if I spend 3 hours on something it has to be worth it.
I'm starting to get unhappy at my job and question whether or not I'm really capable. Video games are the obvious answer to my doubts.
Games give me a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Whenever I've gotten anxious or upset games have been a quick way to release the tension. But the cost is too high.
Some days I'm fine and can go a whole day without thinking about games. Other days, especially ones where I have too much time, it's near impossible. This past weekend was one of those times and I'm horrified.

So now I'm going to try this:

  • 90 day detox
  • List of Hobbies & Activities:
    • Drawing
    • Digital art
    • Reading
    • Learning a new programming language
    • Board Games
    • Game Development
    • Take on a new programming project
    • learn a new recipe
    • clean a room / do dishes
    • keep a journal
  • Plan for the night (and after work)
    • turn off all technology by 11pm
    • read or draw
    • clean my room
    • work on a project
    • write in my journal

My hope and goal is to fill my time with enough rewarding activities that I will start to gain a sense of accomplishment that I no longer need to take from video games.

Any recommendations, advice, and life lessons you guys have would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for all your help and support!

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