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First I wanted to say that I believe that games can be enjoyed in moderation, I just happen to be bad at moderation, but I'm getting better.

I discovered JockoPodcast in January and you could say I became a disciple in March.  JockoPodcast has lots of stories from military people and book discussions focusing on discipline, leadership, and in a broad sense what it means to have a good life.  I highly recommend it because it isn't focused on faddish "self-improvement", but on self-transformation through practical advice for attitude adjustment.  After hearing all the war stories its hard to think of anything in my soft and pampered life as "difficult".  Even before I decided to quit gaming waking up at 4am as Jocko recommended, and consequently going to bed at 8pm, naturally decreased my overall gaming time because there was no longer several hours of "dead" time between dinner and bed.

After many hours of podcast I concluded that my life would be better without "most" gaming and I'm here because I'm acting on that belief, one small step at a time.  Previously my go-to timewaster was hearthstone or some other card game to fill in the hours I had to sit at my desk for work, a single player game or watching streams between work and dinner, and streams or gaming after dinner until bed.  This fundamentally made me a worse worker since I was doing my job between hearthstone games or sometimes while playing a game.  And I wasn't paying enough attention to my family and household and didn't have any other goals to pursue.  Playing games was my focus and the rest of life happened in between game sessions, sometimes frustrating me because reality took me away from a game I was particularly fond of.

Current plan - 30 day timeline:

  1. stop single player games for "entertainment" or to fill time
  2. stop watching twitch streams (at this time streams and work are my only non-family social interaction so that is rough)

Permitted gaming:

  1. pokemon go if I'm not at home and waiting for something to happen, like at the mall waiting for auto service
  2. desktop/console gaming with my children - the family plays mario kart together sometimes
  3. gameplay as long as I am streaming

I'm not naturally social so talking for long periods of time drains my energy.  Streaming is one way I can build endurance for real social encounters, even if nobody is watching I always continuously talk like they are.  I honestly don't like streaming at all, I just started doing it because it was the "cool thing the kids are doing", thats why I feel like for me personally it won't hurt me to indulge in gaming while on stream.

 

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6 minutes ago, GrainSiloEnthusiast said:

If you don't like streaming I think it would be well worth your while to find something else to do during that time instead! Life is too short to waste it on something you don't enjoy.

Of I feel like my will power is not enough to completely abstain from single player gaming, tying gaming into an activity that has an inherent limit is a possible "safety valve" and would be one way to minimize backsliding.

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Hello ace_dee and welcome to the forum!

It is great to feel inspired, glad you became a disciple of the podcast!:)

Quote

Current plan - 30 day timeline:

  1. stop single player games for "entertainment" or to fill time
  2. stop watching twitch streams (at this time streams and work are my only non-family social interaction so that is rough)

Did you plan for activities to replace the needs covered by the one removed?

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14 hours ago, PianoLearner said:

Did you plan for activities to replace the needs covered by the one removed?

Thanks for the reply.  Just waking up at 4am and forcing myself go to bed at 8pm removed a lot of the opportunity for gaming.  That wasn't intentional but it helped push me toward my decision to minimize gaming.  I didn't and still don't have a specific plan before I decided to minimize my gaming, but there are a number of other activities that I'm trying to do instead.

I decided I wanted to start a business and I'm taking daily actions toward that goal.  Then I'm learning Russian through duolingo but not forcing myself to do more than I want to daily to avoid burnout.  At work I'm trying to just focus on work and use my "downtime" to reply to forums like this one, research business or watch educational videos.   At home there is always some chore or home improvement that needs doing and I'm trying to be pro-active to the limits of my willpower and endurance.  This summer and fall I'll be taking college courses as a parttime student toward finally finishing my degree and that will eat a decent amount of time as well.

For "edutainment" I'm reading informative books like Jocko's and other non-fiction.  And for pure entertainment I've started reading comic books again and watching movies or tv instead of gaming (one vice at a time).

As for social interaction I've never really felt  the need to interact with strangers daily.  On twitch I was a regular on several streams and every couple of days showing up to say hello, having the streamer acknowledge my greeting, and a bit of banter about the game being played was enough. 

About once every week or two I feel the urge and I may sign up for a martial arts class and go a couple of times a week less to train and more for the social aspect.

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                                                                Day 10                                                                 

Its been easier than I thought it would be.  I had the "quitters flu" for a couple of days around day 5 where I didn't want to do anything but sleep but I hunkered down and powered through it, at least going through the motions of my daily activities.  I'm not going entirely cold turkey, I'll check my pokemon go and exchange gifts with a couple of friends to keep up my ball supply 🙂 but I'm not on it more than maybe 10 minutes every other day.  Still no hearthstone or twitch streams and no single player games which was my goal.

Like I said in my intro post I never really thought gaming was that much of a problem. Even though I did recognize that my gaming was a substitute for other, more meaningful activities.

Takeaway so far.... first get back to the basics.  Before I decided to make big changes I started with small ones. 

The first step was to arrange my sleep schedule so that I woke up and went to sleep at regular times.  And I attempted to keep my sleep schedule consistent regardless of the days activities including weekends and holidays.  That consistency gave me the option to adjust my schedule based on the activities I wanted to include in my day.  In my case I shifted it from waking up at around 8 to barely get to work, to waking up at 6 to work out, have breakfast AND see my kids off to school.

With that under control I went after my diet.  At first, and still now, I don't worry about how much I eat but what I eat. I'm avoiding processed foods, anything with corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, and minimizing added sugar.  Also I'm cutting out fast food from chains entirely, and if I need something fast I'll get a deli sandwich from a grocery store.  Also I'm attempting add more fruits and vegetables and eat more of them per sitting when they are available.  That change gave me more daily energy and generally I felt better.

And the final "basic" step was to include consistent exercise.  I hadn't had problems working out before and even if I don't really enjoy it sometimes its something I can make myself do.  But unfortunately I have a bad habit of "binge" exercising and pushing myself, so I'll go a few months consistently, injure myself, take a few months off to heal, feel bad about it and repeat the cycle.  Now I'm more "mature" and going slow and steady even if that means I have to be more cautious about listening to my body.  Instead of always grinding through a specific routine despite pain I gave myself permission to push back, skip movements that don't feel good and use less weight or fewer reps if that lets me go through the motion.  I'm not worrying about progression at all.  At my age I recognize that I'm not building for anything, I'm slowing down my rate of decay, that that is fine by me.

A good read for adjusting your strategy of self improvement is Scott Adams Systems Not Goals

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3 hours ago, ace_dee said:

I'm not going entirely cold turkey, I'll check my pokemon go and exchange gifts with a couple of friends to keep up my ball supply 🙂 but I'm not on it more than maybe 10 minutes every other day.

I wondered about this. Like, I don't think Pokemon Go compares to WoW, LoL, RuneScape, Overwatch, CSGO, etc. I just don't know if it would give the same lethargy that other headline games give.

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14 hours ago, BooksandTrees said:

I wondered about this. Like, I don't think Pokemon Go compares to WoW

It isn't really a game like the others because there is that physical component that your progression depends upon.  Obviously people can gps cheat or stupidly play from their cars. But under normal circumstances I would consider pokemon go to be a "positive" activity compared to others.

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On 5/26/2020 at 11:52 PM, ace_dee said:

First I wanted to say that I believe that games can be enjoyed in moderation, I just happen to be bad at moderation, but I'm getting better.

I discovered JockoPodcast in January and you could say I became a disciple in March.  JockoPodcast has lots of stories from military people and book discussions focusing on discipline, leadership, and in a broad sense what it means to have a good life.  I highly recommend it because it isn't focused on faddish "self-improvement", but on self-transformation through practical advice for attitude adjustment.  After hearing all the war stories its hard to think of anything in my soft and pampered life as "difficult".  Even before I decided to quit gaming waking up at 4am as Jocko recommended, and consequently going to bed at 8pm, naturally decreased my overall gaming time because there was no longer several hours of "dead" time between dinner and bed.

After many hours of podcast I concluded that my life would be better without "most" gaming and I'm here because I'm acting on that belief, one small step at a time.  Previously my go-to timewaster was hearthstone or some other card game to fill in the hours I had to sit at my desk for work, a single player game or watching streams between work and dinner, and streams or gaming after dinner until bed.  This fundamentally made me a worse worker since I was doing my job between hearthstone games or sometimes while playing a game.  And I wasn't paying enough attention to my family and household and didn't have any other goals to pursue.  Playing games was my focus and the rest of life happened in between game sessions, sometimes frustrating me because reality took me away from a game I was particularly fond of.

Current plan - 30 day timeline:

  1. stop single player games for "entertainment" or to fill time
  2. stop watching twitch streams (at this time streams and work are my only non-family social interaction so that is rough)

Permitted gaming:

  1. pokemon go if I'm not at home and waiting for something to happen, like at the mall waiting for auto service
  2. desktop/console gaming with my children - the family plays mario kart together sometimes
  3. gameplay as long as I am streaming

I'm not naturally social so talking for long periods of time drains my energy.  Streaming is one way I can build endurance for real social encounters, even if nobody is watching I always continuously talk like they are.  I honestly don't like streaming at all, I just started doing it because it was the "cool thing the kids are doing", thats why I feel like for me personally it won't hurt me to indulge in gaming while on stream.

 

thank for recommending jocko. it's really helpful. 

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1 hour ago, Annie said:

thank for recommending jocko. it's really helpful. 

I've listened to maybe 70 of the podcasts and every one had something interesting and insightful.  It is natural motivation while working out or doing chores.  Also I read two of his books and so far they have been great.

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May I as how you managed to wake up at 4am? Did you gradually lowered your sleeptime or was it one big step and fighting through
the first days of being tired? My sleep schedule is still off and I tried it a while ago but still struggling with it.

 

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12 minutes ago, mks said:

May I as how you managed to wake up at 4am? Did you gradually lowered your sleeptime or was it one big step and fighting through
the first days of being tired? My sleep schedule is still off and I tried it a while ago but still struggling with it.

 

The first day is pretty easy.  The second day sucks and you find yourself reaching for excuses to not do it.  I only did it because I told my wife I was going to do it, even though she was pissed off at me because I woke her up the first few days until I figured out how to do things more efficiently in the dark.  Important to lay out your workout clothes right next to your bed (if you sleep w/ partner) so you can pick them up and put them on as soon as you step out of bed without turning on the lights.  If I was single then the plan would be to turn on the lights as soon as the alarm went off and turn on heavy metal.  Then work out as the FIRST thing you do after brushing your teeth and maybe taking a morning dump if you need one.

Then as soon as I left the bedroom I put in an earbud and turned on a Jocko podcast and those are motivating enough to push through the whole morning routine.

It wasn't too hard for me because I was already waking up consistently at 6am and going to bed by 10-12pm.  The main thing isnt the specific time but the consistency and the small discipline to take control over the sleep and wakeup times.

I didn't decrease the amount of sleep I got, just rotated my schedule.  So if I was planning to wake up at 4am then I went to bed at 8pm.  The first two or 3 days I couldn't get to sleep until 10 but at some point I was so tired in the evenings that went to sleep as soon as I hit the pillow.  You have a bit of jet lag for a week or so and naps of 10-30 mins during the day really help.  But even if I couldn't get those its still pretty straightforward.

Now that its been about 3 months I'm more comfortable with the schedule and I'm going to experiment to see if I can get away with less sleep and still feel good throughout the day.

 

Edited by ace_dee
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                                                                Day 15                                                                

No major snags so far.  In between the last post and now I disabled my twitch account.  For me, mindlessly watching streams was as bad as mindlessly playing games in terms of non-productive time.  It was my only non-family social interaction and without that crutch I have to make an actual effort to talk to people if I want that to be a part of my life.  I'm fine with temporarily doing the "Dexter" thing of feigning emotions and interests, at least temporarily.  Hopefully it becomes more natural later.

Last week was the first time in a while I've done a full set of exercise routines so that is nice.  My current routine is the AthleanX quarantine home workout https://youtu.be/vc1E5CfRfos

You are supposed to do 3 sets but I'm smoked after 1 so thats good enough for now.  That is MWF then on alternating days I do the Alan Thrall warmup with a slightly higher intensity https://youtu.be/s9Tcj0YK5zM

then run the really short distance I can.  Pushing past 1 mile which is good for me considering I hate running and have never really done it seriously before.  Then after that a light martial arts workout that I remember from when I did kickboxing.

At this point even the thought of re-installing battlenet and hearthstone on my work comp sort of disgusts me.  I never uninstalled anything on my htpc where I played lots of games and haven't felt the urge to play at all.  I guess I was at a place where I had completely stopped enjoying playing games and the only thing keeping me there was the fear of the unknown "whats next" if I finally did stop, along with the "sunk cost fallacy" that I've wasted my life on games and if I quit now I finally have to admit that to myself.

It's been really smooth sailing.  I'll see how things go at 30 days but really I have so much to do now that I'm not even tempted.

------------------

What I say next isn't going to make me very popular on this board, it will offend a lot of people and some it will just make feel bad.  But this is my journal and anyone can stop reading at anytime.

I believe that addiction is a myth.  There is no magical, external, force that compels us to do something we don't want to do.  We make choices based on our current priorities.  For some people their priority is the high and pain relief they get from heroin, for some people that handful of sour patch kids is their highest priority despite the cumulative effect on their health, and for some people their highest priority is the feeling they get from playing games over doing anything else.

The reason that people want to believe in addiction is because it frees them from accepting the responsibility that they CHOSE to commit these acts that have negatively impacted their lives.  If it was an external force then the individual is absolved, they can't be blamed, and anyone who does blame them is labeled as a bad person.

You could say my religion is free will.  I believe I make my own choices.  I believe if I do wrong then that is because I chose to for whatever reason and I accept the responsibility and consequences.  I say this is my religion because I know rationally there is no good argument for absolute free will, that consciousness is probably no more than a chemical reaction which is in turn probably controlled by an external simulation.  And I don't care.  My faith says I'm in control.  That my choices matter. And that I can change my behavior if I want to.

The idea of having absolute ownership of myself is both a dreadful and beautiful notion.  I have to give up the concept of blame itself, I have to bear the full weight of the outcomes of my decisions and actions.  Some days that weight is almost too much too take and I think dark thoughts about how to drop the burden.  But I haven't given in and the fact that I haven't means I've chosen to keep bearing it.  But with that burden comes strength.  The strength of belief that failure is impossible, I can only quit or I can die.

As long as I'm breathing I can keep picking away at a problem, maybe I have to temporarily retreat and regroup to come at it from a different angle, maybe I can quit by deciding that problem isn't worth solving at this time.  But each of those is my CHOICE.  I am the captain of my fate, I am the master of my soul.

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                                                               Day 20                                                               

Time flies.  Everything seems to work.  I don't even think about my no-gaming progress.  Just keeping busy is enough.  I started using a bullet journal app and it seems to be working for keeping things on track.  Whenever I don't know what to do I quickly glance at it work on another task, either repeating like language learning or one I scheduled for the day. 

I can watch my children children play games and I don't feel the "call".  Recently they started Minecraft Dungeon which is "baby's first ARPG"  but they are enjoying it.  I can watch them and even occasionally join then and don't feel the urge to get lost in the game.  I have pokemon go still on my phone and open it every once in a while but have never used it to procrastinate. 

Somehow that switch has flipped where the more I don't "feel like" doing an activity that I know is required of me the more I'm determined to do it.  Fuck my feelings, I'm someone who gets shit done. Thats who I am now and will be until my dying day.

One book I can highly recommend is Jocko Willink's The Code, The Evaluation, and The Protocols.  All of his books are great but this one has a specific purpose;  To give people an overview of what it takes to be a good person, and a method for judging themselves daily as to whether or not they are on the right path.  I've been using the evaluation process for nearly 40 days and it was part of my decision to moderate my gaming.  I knew I wouldn't have time to do the other activities if I was spending my time and energy in games.

You have your two systems for making decisions, logic and emotion.  To make yourself do what you want you need to overcome the objections of those decision making systems.  But the trick is you can use one system against the other.  If you are becoming emotional, you beat it with logic, if you are making "rational" excuses you bring in emotion to brush them away.

I'm trying to always maintain awareness and conscious control over my decision making process, even under stress and time pressure.

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                                                              Day 26                                                               

This week was rougher than usual.  Broke a toe on monday so I didn't work out.  I know that is just an excuse and there are exercises I can do without using those body parts.  But I don't think giving myself a few days off to focus on healing is the worst thing in the world.   Also got some dental work done wednesday so I couldn't eat solids for one day and had a hard time with it for a couple of days.  Again not good excuses but I didn't feel great and let myself slack.

The call of gaming was pretty strong thursday and friday but I didn't succumb.  Did sleep extra to avoid jaw pain that came after the anesthetic wore off.  Everything has returned to pretty much normal except for a slight limp.  I know the toe is still healing and I'll have to be cautious which is never fun, makes me feel old and fragile.  Today I'll plan an exercise routine for next week to substitute for the bodyweight and running routine I usually do.

So far it seems like giving up twitch is definitely harder than giving up playing the games themselves.  That is something that I can just open up on any device pretty easily and get that validation of being part of a community, no matter how superficial it was.

I don't think I'll have any problem making the 30 day detox I initially planned.  I guess I was just ready and at that point gaming felt more like an obligation than an enjoyable activity.  But until I got there and realized it for myself no external influence could help me.  Any attempts would just have made me dig in harder.

Hard Truths

  • Up to this point in my life I expended a large portion of my time and energy in gaming
  • Escaping into gaming has slowed my growth as a person
  • Excessive self-absorption in gaming has made me worse in all of my more important roles: husband, father, son, friend, employee, mentor, citizen, etc
  • I failed to develop moral courage because I would always retreat to gaming to avoid the emotional difficulties that are a natural part of living in the "real world"
  • I don't get a do-over, that time is lost, and all I can do is learn from my mistakes

I will be better tomorrow than I am today.  I'm willing to pay the cost of pain, fear, and weakness to make that happen.

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                                                              Day 30                                                              

I guess this is supposed to be a major milestone but it feels like any other day.  Its >30 days ago I uninstalled battle.net and steam from my work comp and decided to stay away from gaming media.  Quitting Twitch cold turkey was definitely harder than not gaming but it was the right move as that had pulled me back more than anything else during previous dry periods.  I'll miss the connections I made with the streamers and viewers but I just need to replace those with a better connection to my family and my local community.

I accomplished my initial goal without any major snags or cravings.  I guess I'm finally "mature" enough to detach from my situation, analyze, and come to the logical conclusions, at least in regards to gaming.  

Thinking back on things, one roadblock on my path previously is the idea that giving up gaming was really symbolic of giving up on one of the last "joys" I kept from childhood.  Over years so games just sucked me in and let me completely focus on the game world totally ignoring what was going on around me.  Real life is messy and difficult and ambiguous, and you never really know whether or not any effort you make will pay off.  The game world has a clarity to it that is compelling. Things happen based on rules, they are consistent, and there is a measurable reward for time spent, even if it isn't meaningful. 

I'm finally willing to accept that the "joy" that I got from gaming was false and a subversion of my brain's reward system, similar to how soda and candy trick your brain into wanting more even though you know intellectually it is bad for you. Years ago I gave up soda and candy and now I'm ready to give up gaming, at least the obsessive, alone, time eating gaming that I used to do.

Though I'm not planning on giving up gaming entirely.  I never felt like I was an "addict" and wasn't in control of myself.  But my priorities have finally shifted from maximizing gaming to real life success.  And there is no reason that I can't include measured and conscious gameplay as a portion of the activities I do.

Prohibited gaming

  • games with addictive mechanics (time gates, limited inventory, gatcha, blind bags, energy systems, daily quests - login rewards or other time-based mechanics)
    • that basically prohibits all mobile f2p games - story based or puzzle mobile games are probably fine
  • any gaming in the bathroom
  • any gameplay during work hours
  • solo gameplay within an hour of bed time
  • gameplay for the purpose of avoiding other activities
  • watching twitch streams whether or not I participate in chat

Allowed gaming

  • couch co-op
  • "appointment" multiplayer gaming with people I know
  • reasonable pokemon go play while outside
  • single player gaming but only if I set a time limit beforehand and an alarm to go off in that time limit

One dark side of the quitting gaming is I let myself get into a reddit loop of continuously checking the subs I'm subscribed to and reading and replying to many comments daily.  So far that doesn't appear to be affecting anything in real life but with my newfound awareness I'll keep my eye on things and make changes if necessary.

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Day Whatever, stopped counting at 30

My attitude feels like it is adjusted and I feel confident that I'm not going to fall into the bad patterns again.  On further analysis it appears that Twitch was a major trigger and getting rid of that keeps from being called back in to binge gaming.  I also deleted my Discord account for the hell of it.  I barely used it and mostly it was used for gaming stuff anyway.

The fundamental problem:  life is hard.  You fail a lot, you progress SLOWLY, you feel ashamed of things you probably shouldn't, everything is so fucking awkward at first, you can never be absolutely confident in your decisions because RL decisions have an infinite number of permutations.  Gaming is so seductive because it bypasses all of those tribulations:  Meaningful progress is fast and unambiguously tracked, failure costs nothing (except time), you can usually practice infinitely and have fully control of when you show others what you are good at if you bother to show anything at all, even in the most complicated game there are a finite number of possible decisions and the consequences are immediately apparent.  The absorbing spectacle of gaming gives you something to distract you from your anxiety while you "run out the clock" on the difficult real life decisions you have been avoiding.

Resilience and confidence are like muscles.  They need to by exercised. Even if they start really weak you have to get through that starting phase before you can develop your true strength.  For people who are either naturally gifted or had a supportive environment growing up that difficult, weak, phase is overcome in childhood.  For the rest of us we need to not only recognize it for what it is but also have the wherewithal to push ourselves through the pain that we have been running from our whole lives until we can start to FINALLY building ourselves up.

Detaching and evaluating yourself from an external perspective is one of the most difficult things to do.  Particularly if you know that you will find yourself wanting under judgment.  Recognizing problems require taking that initial ego hit, being honest with yourself, and genuinely accepting who you are, flaws and all.  But once you do that, the whole rest of your life opens up.

-----------------

One thing to remember is that you can't define yourself based on what you don't want.  You can't say "well I don't want to game all day" and expect to have any success.  Instead you need to take the first step and figure out what you DO want.  Once do that you can make a plan.  Most of us suck at planning, it is a learned skill.  At the start just figure out small, daily steps you can take toward your objective.  Eventually, as you become more consistent, secure, and disciplined, you can let yourself plan further and further ahead in more and more complex operations.  But worry about that later.   For now write down that goal or mission, write down your daily steps, and execute.

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