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Writing through the tears, WoW ruined me...again


mscottb
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I've been addicted to gaming since before WoW was released, Diablo 2 and RtCW were the first games I played excessively. But no gaming experience has ever come close to the ecstasy of vanilla WoW. I remember being about 17 years old and creating my first character shortly after it was released, there was a whole world to learn and master, the most authentic virtual reality ever created, jeez I'm getting shivers thinking about it, the 'dragon' I've never stopped chasing. WoW and smoking weed were my only focus in life. 

Between 2005-2008 I went to community college and dropped out after one semester, worked a few low-skill jobs, went back to community college, dropped out again, worked another shit job. In 2008 I went back to college a third time to study IT, transferred from community college to a state school and in 2012 earned my bachelors in IT. I wish I could say the story takes a positive turn here, but to be honest I had no passion or interest in my major, I never kicked my gaming or weed addictions, I didn't have to work very hard at all to earn my degree and so I didn't get nearly as much out of the experience as I could have. I got a job doing web development for a utility company, and was making nearly 70k after 4 years, unfortunately I absolutely hated it. (Hard to say if I hated the job or was still too addicted to games to enjoy anything else, I certainly didn't apply or push myself there, just counted down the minutes until I could leave.) I imagined myself working there in my little cube for the next 40 years and it terrified me.

In 2017 I quit, sold my house, moved to the Czech Republic (Prague) and got a certification to teach ESL. Those 2 months ware easily the best of my life since I was an adolescent. I stopped gaming, the ESL course was so intense there literally wasn't time for it. Once I got the teaching certification I decided that Czech is too difficult a language and most people there aren't too friendly, so I moved to Spain (Madrid). I got a job prepping students for the Cambridge English Exam, I made some friends, was taking Spanish classes, dating, joined a sort of running group. I was still gaming but not MMOs, detrimental but not all-consuming, I was pretty busy so I'd occasionally spend a Sunday gaming but most days I wouldn't play. My life was the best it had been in the last 20 years, I was happy, optimistic, challenged. My family and friends were proud, they could see I was thriving. 

I returned to the US in August 2019, I had a month off from teaching, it was my first time home in 2 years. The nostalgia of Classic WoW got the best of me, I decided I'd just try it out...and fell into the deepest gaming binge of my life. I can't describe or really even remember how good it felt, I remember thinking to myself "I'm destroying everything, and it's so good I don't care." I watched (it honestly felt like I was watching, like a passive observer without a choice) as I neglected friends and family, people who loved me that I hadn't seen in years, to play CWoW. When I did venture out, I wasn't my fun, cheerful self, just making an appearance to give a token hello then leave to get back to the game. I stayed with my mom and hardly spent anytime with her, when I did it was forced and hurried (that was hard to type, still hurts a lot, fuck I'm so sorry mom). I returned to Spain but I had no intention of returning to teaching, I stayed at AirBNBs and played CWoW at least 16 hours a day, living off of my savings. I abandoned my teaching job, I left my students and coworkers without warning or explanation. I went out with friends a few times but really didn't want to be there, they could tell I'm sure, I made no attempt to make plans with friends or the 2 girls I'd been dating.

That went on until January 2020, the high CWoW had been providing me began to fade, I was finally getting bored. By February I felt almost no relief while playing, I was forced back into the reality I'd let crumble to nothing. I didn't care if I lived or died, at times I wished I was dead, I cried as I laid in bed at night, I'm crying right now. I felt tremendous resentment towards my family and friends, I was hurting so much, where were they? After I'd completely neglected our relationships, so ridiculous. I built a life in a new country and pissed it all away for a pretend character that's worthless to me now.

Since February I've found an apartment, began lifting and yoga again, began taking a Spanish class, gotten some freelance web work. Yesterday was my first day without gaming in a long time, I haven't played CWoW since February but I've got a Switch I was playing a few hours a day. It's especially tough to quit during the quarantine, but I'm spending my time practicing guitar, Spanish, writing, reading, reaching out to mend relationships, and contemplating my next step. I'm considering returning to school for my Masters/Doctorate Degree, but for what I don't know. Law sounds interesting, and it's challenging enough to engage me, but I've been reading up on it and there aren't as many available positions as I'd expected, although maybe a challenge that requires commitment is exactly what I need. I know that if I could commit to something the way I committed to CWoW I'd be exemplary. Using the TSM addon in CWoW, I wrote an algorithm to scan the auction house for under priced listings, then bought them to flip. I have 28k gold on my account, someone made a youtube video bragging about 13k gold and people were impressed /flexoff.

I've finally admitted to myself I'm a gaming addict and it's nothing to take lightly. I have to quit for good, casual gaming will never stay casual for me, as long as gaming is in my life it will be my highest priority, everything else will play second fiddle. Even if I only played Sundays, the other 6 days would be a cyclical countdown 'til game time. Thanks for this site Cam, it's been immeasurably helpful to learn about the addiction and how to break free. I'd also recommend meditation focused on forgiveness, search youtube. If you're anything like me you've blown off family or friends who love you countless times, wasted opportunities for friendship, romance, new experiences, education, career etc. It can be hard to see how much you hate yourself, the self-resentment becomes a part of you, you don't even realize it's there. You have to forgive yourself and know that you aren't lazy or weak, you've taught your brain a pathological pattern to satisfy itself, that's all. If gaming hadn't been invented you'd probably be addicted to designing buildings, building custom motorcycles, playing basketball, who knows?

Learn about the addiction, how it works and how to treat it, forgive yourself, give up gaming and any other addictions so you can give yourself the fulfilling life you know you are capable of, that's my plan and this time I'm never going back.

 

Edited by mscottb
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Wow. You're clearly a very talented individual, time to move forward with your life! You write that you want to expel gaming from your life completely, does this mean you've decided to stop using a Switch? It's easy to rationalise playing games that you aren't necessarily that interested in like a competitive gamer playing a single-player game or a PC gamer using a console, but doing this just maintains the desire to play the games that really get you going and eventually leads you back to them. But also, it's easy to look at your time gaming with disgust and say things like 'I'm never going back!' but when you find yourself in a situation where you're a gaming-addict, it could be argued that creating a rigid-award system is the way to proceed. For example, during an academic year, you don't play games from September-June but once you finish your exams, you rent a computer or remove your computer from its hiding place and start to play for a few weeks with a set date established for when you need to stop. But in any case, commit and finish a 90-day detox and then re-evaluate. Coping strategies are different for everyone. 

Edited by LordFederickRamsay
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Welcome to the forum @mscottb.  Thank you for sharing your story, I'm really grateful to have read it.

I hope that you find a way forward that works for you.  I remember the days of Classic WoW, the nostalgia felt from those initial feelings of wonder and discovery and how they never match up to going back to it, even when you're happy, especially when you're happy.  I've found I'm at my most vulnerable when I've started to build something positive again, I get scared after pushing past the initial rush and start to doubt myself, self-destructing a little bit.  

Good to see you here talking about your experiences.  Hopefully you have plenty of good people in your life to discuss this with as well.  Speak soon. 🙂

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  • 3 weeks later...

This post has saved me from a possible relapse, as in this quarantine I have considered to play a nostalgic game that I used to play when I was younger (it's called Tibia) which is extremely addict... seriously, stay away from it... so I am very grateful that you shared this with us because your story matters so much to a lot of people, like me, that are going through something similar. 

I hope you are doing well.

Ánimo, hermano... juntos podemos vencer nuestra adicción.

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