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obelix_mtg
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I have tried writing journals in the past, but nobody would read them, so I always stopped. I like the anonymity of being able to do this in an internet forum where nobody knows me, I think it might help me get more real.

Today is my first day without gaming in a looooooong time. It hasn't been 24 hours yet, and I'm excited to be on the way. I've known I had an issue for years now, but I never really wanted to stop. I tried many soft approaches, like stopping one game to go to another one, but never really said the words out loud: I'm addicted to gaming. I did that yesterday, to my therapist first, then to my wife. Today, I feel excited about the prospect, but still struggle with the idea of never playing games again - rationally, I know that's what I need, but it does feel painful.

To say goodbye, I have started a process to sell my full Magic collection. I've had some of these cards for 20+ years, they are in many ways my most priced physical possession, and it breaks my heart to send them away, but I do think it will help me commit to this change.

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Welcome to the forums. Have you detailed out your addiction history, triggers, and feelings that gaming causes you to feel? Those can be quite helpful. 

Be patient with yourself and feel free to read around. Good luck!

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Welcome. I'm a new member as well I'm not 24 hours in either and have mixed emotions about all this. But absolutely agree that when you declare you're an addict and can see the damage it's doing; It's time to do something about it. I'm a huge magic fan as well, and MTG Arena was one I will have to quit as well with this new page in my life btw. Good luck friend!

Dave

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@obelix_mtg Welcome to the forums! Letting go of the past is never easy, even if it caused us much more pain than what we feel at the moment. However, I believe that it is necessary to do this with gaming because it is such a strongly engraved habit in our brains. Problem arises in time of stress when we tend to lose control and turn back toward old escape routes. As @BooksandTrees said, the best way to go about it is to write down a list of activities and hobbies you want to do to replace gaming. You will need several of them to cover the vast plains that gaming occupied. Good luck on your journey!

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16 hours ago, BooksandTrees said:

Welcome to the forums. Have you detailed out your addiction history, triggers, and feelings that gaming causes you to feel? Those can be quite helpful. 

Be patient with yourself and feel free to read around. Good luck!

Thanks, BooksandTrees! I have started the book and will be gradually filling in the worksheets in this journal as well. 

To begin with, here are my reasons to play games:

  1. They give me a sense of progress. I some games, like WoW, I am mostly a collector, and "achievement hunter". It feels incredibly good to have that exclusive "badge" finally reached. The chase of "100%" completion also hooked me to games like Final Fantasy.
  2. They provide massive instant gratification. Beyond WoW, the games that I have gone deepest in are Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone: card games where you make design decisions and gameplay decisions. They are not so much about instant coordination, but more towards strategic thinking, and I am very good at it. Winning makes me feel good and want to continue, losing makes me feel like it was a glitch that needs to be corrected by playing more.
  3. The combination of both: lately, I've been obsessing with Hearthstone as I was chasing Rank 1 in Europe (literally, top player in Europe) rating. It provided a clear goal and massive incentive.
  4. Escaping: I have noticed I tend to hide myself in gaming when other parts of my life feel scary. Whether it is a fight with my wife, a problem at work or, when I was younger, at school or with my parents, gaming has always felt like a safe haven. I think this behavior got massively reinforced when I was diagnosed with cancer at age 17 (I'm 35 now). I spent a full year in hospital undergoing chemo and radiotherapy, and the only thing that could take me out of that horrible world around me was video games.

 

And this is why I want to stop:

  1. Video games make me numb to everything else: I have an amazing wife, a good job with nice colleagues and live in Berlin, one of the most exciting cities in the world. However, all I can think about is being alone to be able to play again.
  2. Video games are risking my job: My addiction has gotten worse lately and, when working remotely, I have been doing a worse and worse job because I've been gaming during the day as well.
  3. Video games are risking my relationship: My wife didn't know I was gaming, as I was hiding it from her all the time, but she's been more and more pissed with me about my lack of involvement with her and my complete inability to bring anything new, interesting or challenging to her life. My mind is in the game all the time, so I've basically been a zombie around her.

 

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Day 3, things have become a little harder. I still haven't found any other activity that excites me as much as gaming. So far, I've been focusing mostly on work, which has felt good because I do see my productivity going up, but I'm worried about the 3-day weekend that is coming up. Did you guys need to force yourselves to get interested into non-gaming stuff? I'm struggling with this.

I also had a not so great experience today during working hours: I finished a meeting early, and fired a youtube video of a streamer I like playing Magic. It was only 20 minutes, but I feel bad about them now, and it was kinda hard to stop watching it, so much that I made it late to the meeting after. It's not like gaming directly, but it made me want to game pretty bad, so I think I need to steer clear of gaming-related content for now.

 

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2 hours ago, obelix_mtg said:

Day 3, things have become a little harder. I still haven't found any other activity that excites me as much as gaming. So far, I've been focusing mostly on work, which has felt good because I do see my productivity going up, but I'm worried about the 3-day weekend that is coming up. Did you guys need to force yourselves to get interested into non-gaming stuff? I'm struggling with this.

The hard is always tough, and I think that many people went through the same. It took me quite some time till I got interested in other things besides gaming. I would not necessarily say that you need to force yourself into getting interested, but it is good to push yourself to try new things, and you will eventually find what you enjoy. On top of that, remember that you have spent hours developing the habit of gaming, so to replace it will take time and effort. 

2 hours ago, obelix_mtg said:

I also had a not so great experience today during working hours: I finished a meeting early, and fired a youtube video of a streamer I like playing Magic. It was only 20 minutes, but I feel bad about them now, and it was kinda hard to stop watching it, so much that I made it late to the meeting after. It's not like gaming directly, but it made me want to game pretty bad, so I think I need to steer clear of gaming-related content for now.

If they trigger you to game, I would recommend quitting them alongside gaming. After I quit, I still watched streams but mainly eSports, which I enjoyed, but they did not make me want to play the game as much as watching gameplay highlights directly. But I have quit those now as well because I am aware that I need to burn all my boats to move forward fully.

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One thing I did not realize when quitting games is that my life did not only revolve around the game itself. 90% of my YouTube feed was also gaming content. Many of my friends are gamers. So it makes things much more difficult.

I agree about the numbness and relationship issues... This is another big reason I decided to quit gaming.

I am frequently amazed at how much extra time I actually have to try other things now.

Edit: The anonymity is interesting... I feel almost the other way around. O don't care if people know who I am. I am fine with it, this is who I am and what I am going through. I am trying to be honest with myself.

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5 hours ago, apatton090 said:

One thing I did not realize when quitting games is that my life did not only revolve around the game itself. 90% of my YouTube feed was also gaming content. Many of my friends are gamers. So it makes things much more difficult.

I agree about the numbness and relationship issues... This is another big reason I decided to quit gaming.

I am frequently amazed at how much extra time I actually have to try other things now.

Edit: The anonymity is interesting... I feel almost the other way around. O don't care if people know who I am. I am fine with it, this is who I am and what I am going through. I am trying to be honest with myself.

On the anonymity point, I think it's due to two things: on one side, I feel embarrassment about having let video games take so much control of my life. I have always portrayed myself as successful towards my parents, friends, etc., and I fear they might be disappointed by finding out. I have only discussed this with my wife and with my therapist. On the other side, somewhat related, I fear it could have a negative impact in my professional life. I am a senior executive in a startup with hundreds of employees, and I fear if my challenges were known it might impact my career.

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You don't have to go pub

On 5/7/2020 at 10:08 AM, obelix_mtg said:

Did you guys need to force yourselves to get interested into non-gaming stuff? I'm struggling with this.

I also had a not so great experience today during working hours: I finished a meeting early, and fired a youtube video of a streamer I like playing Magic. It was only 20 minutes, but I feel bad about them now, and it was kinda hard to stop watching it, so much that I made it late to the meeting after. It's not like gaming directly, but it made me want to game pretty bad, so I think I need to steer clear of gaming-related content for now.

Yes I did have to push myself to find and practice things that were non-gaming related at first. Now I'm somewhat used to doing them although it's still a struggle to keep doing them each day. 

You don't have to go public right away with your addiction. You don't ever have to.

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Today is day 6. I went through Module 2.

  • I have reached out to a couple physical gaming stores to sell my full Magic The Gathering collection (slow progress here, I should probably follow-up) 
  • I have sent a request to Blizzard to fully delete my accounts, which will erase forever my WoW and Hearthstone progress (this one was not easy, proud of it)
  • I have installed and activated Cold turkey for a couple days - which is helping a lot with avoiding side distractions like consuming content about the game. I will reactivate Amazon, Netflix and Youtube, though, and I must remain careful not to find gaming videos.

I also went through Modules 3 and 4, but I am yet to complete my worksheet for new activities. That last part is proving difficult for me to do, because part of me is struggling to completely give up games, I miss them and they do feel more interesting than other activities I can undertake. I know it's a very important step, and I will get to it soon.

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Oh, man. I like you @obelix_mtg! First of all, I wish you best of luck in your journey to clear away from games.

On 5/7/2020 at 4:08 PM, obelix_mtg said:

I still haven't found any other activity that excites me as much as gaming. So far, I've been focusing mostly on work, which has felt good because I do see my productivity going up, but I'm worried about the 3-day weekend that is coming up. Did you guys need to force yourselves to get interested into non-gaming stuff? I'm struggling with this.

I had to comment on this. This is a very complicated subject, but I have a pretty good answer considering I already quit gaming once almost a decade ago and was without games for years. First I want to talk from experience and then i will get a bit philosophical.

...

Did I have to force myself to get interested in non-gaming stuff? Yes. I remember myself trying to read a book back then - even though it was really interesting I couldn't read more than like... 10 pages at the time? Maybe even less. Dopamine rush just wasn't there in the same degree. Every few minutes and I would unconsciously close my book and walk out, only to force myself back into reading. But it was worth it, and of course it got easier with time, but a lot of time - months, not days! Today I can read as much as a couple of hundred pages a day if I want to.

It was similar with other activities as well - even though I enjoyed things like watching a movie or hanging around, it couldn't compare with my rush of competitive League of Legends, not for a some time at least.

But here's the thing, obelix. Ask yourself - what is an addiction, and how come some things are addictive and others are not? It is simple - everything that can easily stimulate our brain's reward systems is addictive. Sugar, drinking, cigarettes, sex, video games, drugs - they all have one thing in common - they trigger reward mechanisms hard, especially ones that work on the basis of dopamine. 

In a sense - you are suffering from a particular kind of an overabundance of excitement! Don't seek a replacement for it, it is a trap. You have to suffer through this period, let your brain realize what you crave is not essential, let it also slowly start to forget what it even feels like to game. 

One might think to himself - "does that mean that I will never feel as excited and good about something as I felt when gaming?" And the answer is - No, it doesn't mean that at all, and for several reasons. First, there is a multitude of different kinds of excitement, fulfillment and pleasure, so much so that a lot of experiences in life cannot be compared quantitatively. Even on a neurological level, not all happiness is dopamine based - fuller pleasures come from a wider range of chemicals, for example serotonin. 

Furthermore, all addiction lowers our ability to enjoy other things - it deafens our senses. It is common knowledge that an addict always needs more and more of what he craves to get the same rush, and the reason is that our neurotransmitters start to demand a higher dosage to produce the same effect - but it demands the same of ALL other activities, not only the one we are addicted to - so some activities that before where enough to stimulate our reward systems now are not strong enough. Brain needs some time to adjust itself back to its starting position.

So, to summarize, I advise you to be patient. You have to let yourself be bored for a while, and you need to push yourself into new activities for a bit. Let your brain adjust, let it heal.

 

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5 hours ago, obelix_mtg said:

Today is day 6. I went through Module 2.

  • I have reached out to a couple physical gaming stores to sell my full Magic The Gathering collection (slow progress here, I should probably follow-up) 
  • I have sent a request to Blizzard to fully delete my accounts, which will erase forever my WoW and Hearthstone progress (this one was not easy, proud of it)
  • I have installed and activated Cold turkey for a couple days - which is helping a lot with avoiding side distractions like consuming content about the game. I will reactivate Amazon, Netflix and Youtube, though, and I must remain careful not to find gaming videos.

I also went through Modules 3 and 4, but I am yet to complete my worksheet for new activities. That last part is proving difficult for me to do, because part of me is struggling to completely give up games, I miss them and they do feel more interesting than other activities I can undertake. I know it's a very important step, and I will get to it soon.

I found the worksheets extremely helpful.  I don't remember which module but one of them is about filling up your daily schedule.  Once I had a bunch of activities I wanted to try, I just filled up my calendar with them as much as possible.  Now I don't even have to think about what I want to do today because everything is already there, and I have something to look forward to.  It's good to figure out those activities right away because it fills up time that you would normally want to game.

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One of the activities I am trying to pick up (which, to be frank, I was timidly attempting before quitting games as a way to get closer to my wife) is writing some kind of literature, more specifically a screenplay.

I have made some progress on it over the weekend, but it's now 6pm and I'm kinda bored and tired and deflated and don't really wanna keep writing.

I really appreciate having this forum now, writing this post is in a way procrastination but it doesn't feel as bad.

Apologies for the somewhat incoherent rumble, pretty much direct stream of thought here.

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I haven't written in a few days but I'm back here. The last few days have not been easy: my wife is getting increasingly depressed with her professional situation (she's been job hunting as a data scientist for a few months without success and when covid hit things got way worse), and she's crying or yelling most of the time. I have been really tempted to go back to gaming, which I have managed not to do, but I have fallen back to mindless browsing / youtubing way too much. This is frustrating because I have the feeling I am not really making progress on quitting gaming.

I have a list of activities that I am trying to get into, which is proving hard because I always find some work-related thing to do instead. To create more mental space for myself I will be working only 9-13h for the next couple of weeks to really force myself to commit. I haven't really filled a calendar with exact activities on specific time slots, do you guys think that would help?

  • Playing tennis once a week (I am starting today, really excited about this one)
  • Write a short excerpt every day about whatever netflix thing we watched the night before
  • Continue writing my screenplay, with the goal of advancing at least 5 pages a week (I have not touched it since last Sunday when I posted last time)
  • Work together with my wife in a business model that I think could work as a company we would build together.
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1 hour ago, LordFederickRamsay said:

So, from reading your other posts, I'm guessing the content you're watching on YT gaming-related?

 

Not only, I'm also kinda wasting time watching stand-up comedy and the like, but a bunch of it is.

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14 hours ago, obelix_mtg said:
  • Playing tennis once a week (I am starting today, really excited about this one)
  • Write a short excerpt every day about whatever netflix thing we watched the night before
  • Continue writing my screenplay, with the goal of advancing at least 5 pages a week (I have not touched it since last Sunday when I posted last time)
  • Work together with my wife in a business model that I think could work as a company we would build together.

Dang, I remember when I used to play tennis every week... Haha.  Good old days when I got exercise.

7 hours ago, obelix_mtg said:

Not only, I'm also kinda wasting time watching stand-up comedy and the like, but a bunch of it is.

Saaaaame lol.  The DryBar YouTube channel has been my replacement for gaming channels.

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I have now made a full calendar for next week, with a lot more explicit timeslot allocations for things I have been procrastinating on. Will be writing here every other day or so to report on my progress, hopefully it will make it harder for me to fall down the rabbit hole of firing up YT or going back to reddit forums to read about the latest strategy tip for a certain game.

Today, craving is quite painful. I read a few ideas for decks in reddit for hearthstone and felt really tempted to log in and prove all those noobs I know better. I was in the shower literally daydreaming about the games I would play, and when I snapped back and remembered I have flagged my blizzard account for complete removal and that if I don't do anything about it over the next couple of days it will all be wiped forever, a few thousand euros and a few thousand hours gone forever with no trace, I almost cried.

I am proud to say I managed to go through it and didn't cancel the account removal, which means in a few more days blizzard will complete the process, and I guess I am writing here because it was hard and now I kinda need to hear from this community that you guys are also proud of me, as ridiculous as that sounds given I don't know any of you.

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Good news: My Blizzard account is no more, I lost all progress that I dedicated years to.

Bad news: My reaction to this has been to relapse, I have wasted like 6 hours this week playing stupid mindless defense tower browser games. When I first read that recovery is not a straight line I thought to myself "that's for weak people, of course I can do this straight up", but then I obviously went and fell on my face.

I am standing up again. Today is day 1, I have deleted my account in the browser games website.

I am playing tennis today, weather permitting, which I have been looking forward to all week, so that's good. I also turned a significant amount of my procrastination tendency towards doing stuff I had been postponing for months: I cleared my "pending paperwork" folder (I live in Germany, so not a small feat), and prepared my 2019 taxes.

I'm also gradually discovering which activities are more engaging for me: I spent the full Tuesday afternoon writing a Medium and LinkedIn post about the discrimination women suffer in the professional world, which I then posted and has generated some discussion, and I have been researching a business idea of something my wife and I have been talking about building together.

I am, on the other hand, struggling a bit with my screenplay writing: I find it really hard to have a direction with the story I am trying to tell, and can't really make up my mind what is it that I want to say with it all. It's mixing elements of video game addiction, social isolation and coming of age by making own decisions rather than following your parents', but it's a little bit of a hot mess of them all and I am lacking a clear vision, plus it's really hard for me to really create the mental space it takes me to abstract and reflect on this.

 

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@Fagus asked me in another thread, I will try to expand here on what were the triggers that got me to this relapse.

I have been really happy for the most part the last few weeks, I am a lot prouder of myself since I admitted out loud to myself, my therapist and my wife that I am a video game addict. I am getting to do things I wanted to do but that I never had time for, and I am also doing things I needed to do but that were not that exciting and for which I never quite seemed to start. However, the good feeling of pride that comes after doing them is sometimes not enough of an incentive to get started. On Thursday, which was a day off here, I had a very low energy day and, since I didn't have work I found myself with too much time to kill in the afternoon.

Rather than find something else to do with that time, I started browsing the internet and, lo and behold, ended up with a stupid browser game. It was a mindless game that made me feel horrible about myself later, but had progression and things to achieve and it killed a couple hours of my afternoon on Thursday and hooked me to also spend like 4 more hours on it Friday.

I think it was a combination of boredom and escapism that brought me to the game first, and the progression and immediate gratification feeling were what hooked me. I need to be more accepting of boredom for this to work

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Life is basically a rollercoaster for you now. Spikes of pride when you delete your Blizzard Account, admit your addiction or sell your Magic Card collection. But at the same time you feel grief over the loss of these things, that were in some way the most important in your life.

There is nothing to fill the void that gaming left. Your wife isn't any happier and all the things that made life scary are still here. And the possibility of gaming is also still here, lurking in the background.

Maybe you ask yourself if this commitment was a good idea? This forum is quite anonymous. You could just stop writing here and no one could stop you from returning to gaming. If you just hadn't talked to your therapist and wife, you could sneak back to gaming without anyone knowing of your attempt to quit. There is still the option of playing secretly and not tell anyone, like you probably are used to. But that would increase the burden of shame and guilt even further. Shame and guilt which then lead to even more gaming.

That's at least how I felt.

 

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Congrats on deleting your accounts. I think a lot of this process is being able to let go of things so that you can become something new. For me I had to let go of my old N64 console and games. I'm also trying to let go of my Magic cards, but interestingly with covid my local shop is not taking cards at the moment. So for now I guess I will hold on to them, unless you have any suggestions for how to get rid of cards? 

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15 hours ago, apatton090 said:

Congrats on deleting your accounts. I think a lot of this process is being able to let go of things so that you can become something new. For me I had to let go of my old N64 console and games. I'm also trying to let go of my Magic cards, but interestingly with covid my local shop is not taking cards at the moment. So for now I guess I will hold on to them, unless you have any suggestions for how to get rid of cards? 

On getting rid of cards, I am selling them to a buylist, but encountering some hurdles (i.e., they don't take cards in exotic languages)

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