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My addiction and why I want to quit


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Hi Everyone, 

My name is Mark and I'm 32. I have a professional career and a very supportive partner. I would say that I've had an amazing and lucky life thus far. My childhood was carefree, I grew up in an upper middle class home, and I was given so many opportunities. I'm confident, optimistic, and have always had lots of friends. But over the past 9 years my life has gradually been stalling. I always knew deep down that the problem was video games but I never realized it was an addiction until recently. I would say things like, "one day I will just have to give up video games so that I can concentrate on more important stuff." There were even some periods when I would uninstall games only to replace them with another game shortly thereafter. I also never really understood why I wouldn't want to game as much after coming back from a holiday. Now I know that was just a mini detox.

Growing up I always played games as a recreational gamer. I would never put games over real life activities. Then, at the end of my professional degree I started playing SWTOR. My friends back home said it would be a good way to stay in touch if we were all playing the same game. Quickly I morphed into the achievement  gamer. I was having so much fun in the game. And a big reason for having fun was because I was setting goals and continuously accomplishing them. Eventually I was pouring hundred and thousands of hours into games and less time into other areas of my life. I was always playing more than my friends. I was competitive and always wanted to be the best of all my friends. Frankly, I would have played even more if I hadn't already built up a large social circle and multiple other interests. My group of friends continues to cycle through popular multiplayer games like League of Legends, Guild Wars 2, Hearthstone, PUBG, and most recently Legends of Runeterra.

Outside of games my life began to stagnate. I gained weight and became less athletic. I stopped making new friends. I severely decreased my goal setting. I lost interesting in my relationship and my girlfriend of 6 years broke up with me. I went from being excellent at my job to average at my job (and I was ok with that). I tried to stay positive, but I did this by playing games to avoid addressing issues. There were some notable periods where I smartened up and made some progression, but overall I have been coasting through life for the past 7 years. In the past 1.5 years I have been trying to make some changes to my productivity. I thought the problem was that I was a procrastinator. I was always leaving tasks to the last minute. So I tried to be more organized, but I could never make a sustainable change.

My current girlfriend is amazing. She noticed how this life stagnation has been affecting our relationship. Instead of holding this in and breaking up with me for "losing interest," she has been sharing her observations and it has lead to a number of conversations. It has taken me some time to realize this but the problem is not due to me losing interest in her, the stress of my job, or my productivity. The problem is gaming addiction. I have hyper-stimulation to gaming, when I'm stressed I want to game to avoid stress, and when I'm procrastinating it is because I am thinking about games.

On May 8, 2020, I started my 90 day detox. I have shared this with my close friends and their support has been great. I already feel that my current relationship is on the mend. Thank you all for being here to support me. I'm happy to be a part of this community.

 

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Welcome to the forum, @Strykyr22!

I think we are very lucky to have such a wonderful partner who tries to really understand what we are going through.

5 hours ago, Strykyr22 said:

I have hyper-stimulation to gaming, when I'm stressed I want to game to avoid stress, and when I'm procrastinating it is because I am thinking about games.

 

This is exactly my problem as well. I settled being my "average self" just for the sake of completing my tasks in order for me to have more time playing. I can't even concentrate on my goals—not like when I was in college, because all I could think about is gaming. I'm glad you have been brave enough to start the 90-day detox. I'd be doing the same today after I finished my "game quitting plan."

Hope you feel better as you go through the end of the detox. Good luck! Cheers!

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  • 2 months later...

UPDATE: I have completed the 90 day detox, and I feel amazing!

On August 5, 2020 I reached 90 days on the video game detox. The process was easier than I thought. Well for the first 1-3 weeks I still had some cravings to play, but after that point the urge to play games I was previously addicted to (even though some of my friends still played) faded completely. Things that I previously found boring such as reading books all of a sudden became enjoyable. I read 3 books over the 90 days. My relationship with my girlfriend has greatly improved. I enjoy going to work again. Furthermore, I now get the same joy from small real life accomplishment that I got from in game accomplishments.

What role will games play in my life going forward? I have had a lot of time to think about this over the past few months. I have decided that I will never play online games or phone games without an endpoint. These games simply create meaningless artificial goals: leveling up, making a rank, improving your gear. I will play online board games or party games with people that I know in person ie. mario party, twilight struggle. This is a way to spend time with friends for a defined period of time and have some friendly competition. I will occasionally play epic single player games, but only after sitting down and thinking about what my current commitments are and how much time I can spend on something like that. ie Zelda BOTW. 

What is next? On day 91 of the video game detox I began day 1 of the youtube detox. I didn't replace gaming with youtube, however youtube was still taking up a significant amout of time. I think the process will be very similar and I already see further improvements in my life. Maybe at day 90 I will have identified something else to remove or limit from my life, or perhaps the will be a habit I will add to my daily routine. I heard somewhere that it takes on average 66 days for a behavior to become a habit. I think this process of evaluating my behaviors every 90 will serve me really well going forward.

I want to leave you with 1 final thought: "The secret to change and growth is not willpower. It is positive community." I paraphrased this from Neil Strauss in the book Tribe of Mentors. If you are here to change, the secret is to cultivate a positive, supportive community around yourself. This is a great place to start. Thank you Cam and others. 

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  • 9 months later...

Hi Everyone,

It has been 1 year since my original post and I wanted to come back and read it as well as share an update.

My life is now in a completely different place. I'm engaged, I'm building a house, work feels somewhat less stressful, I work out almost everyday, I rehabbed from a chronic injury, and I'm really enjoying a new hobby in astronomy. There have been some bumps in the road for sure. I tried to play a few games with friends by setting some really strict limits, but these would always be bent and never worked. I even got addicted to playing chess for awhile during that craze. However, since I did the 90 day detox, I have a quicker realization when the addiction starts and I know another detox will get me to the balance I want in my life.

90 day video game detox - complete and I rarely play anymore

90 day youtube detox - complete, I have gone back to it but for some reason only about 50% as much and I can put it down easier

90 day planning habit formation - I could not make this one stick

When it comes to planning/organizing things have improved a bit. The biggest gain came from writing down all of the smallest possible tasks on a one day to-do list and physically getting the satisfaction from crossing so many things off.

All the best my friends. See you in a year!

 

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On 5/13/2021 at 11:22 PM, Strykyr22 said:

Hi Everyone,

It has been 1 year since my original post and I wanted to come back and read it as well as share an update.

My life is now in a completely different place. I'm engaged, I'm building a house, work feels somewhat less stressful, I work out almost everyday, I rehabbed from a chronic injury, and I'm really enjoying a new hobby in astronomy. There have been some bumps in the road for sure. I tried to play a few games with friends by setting some really strict limits, but these would always be bent and never worked. I even got addicted to playing chess for awhile during that craze. However, since I did the 90 day detox, I have a quicker realization when the addiction starts and I know another detox will get me to the balance I want in my life.

90 day video game detox - complete and I rarely play anymore

90 day youtube detox - complete, I have gone back to it but for some reason only about 50% as much and I can put it down easier

90 day planning habit formation - I could not make this one stick

When it comes to planning/organizing things have improved a bit. The biggest gain came from writing down all of the smallest possible tasks on a one day to-do list and physically getting the satisfaction from crossing so many things off.

All the best my friends. See you in a year!

 

Woahhh!!! Congrats on your successes, and I hope that you will be able to continue to strive forward (and upward) spite of all the bumps on your road 🙂

Po

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