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NEW VIDEO: I Quit MMOs and THIS Happened

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Hello all, 

I'm an average 34 year old guy who grew up gaming. I've never had it really become a problem until recently. My dad and brother and I all played video games during my childhood, as well as board games, card games, etc. It was always fun to learn, interact, and strategize. I'm competitive but not to the degree where I alienate people or no fun to play with. I do have a history of depression and anxiety that started around very late highschool and through college and has stayed with me in one form or another throughout the rest of my life. I've struggled with my weight, self confidence, and energy levels for about as long as I've dealt with the depression. 


Lots of factors have played into some of these issues, and I think I've experienced gaming addiction in smaller forms, but after my most recent issue I think it has pervaded more of my life than I had realized. My biggest challenge right now is trying to understand what has changed to make it so much worse and what I can do about it. Gaming is still something I want to be able to enjoy but I want to learn more to identify the triggers and behaviors that tell me that it is creating an issue and build personal boundaries to curtail those kinds of things. 


A lot of my challenge I believe has related to my recent feelings of isolation and loneliness. I consider myself a "social recluse" in many ways. I crave and need social interaction, but I also need alone time to process things. My job has been a very social oriented position, speaking in front of many people, heading conference calls with people much more important than me, and working with teams to reach different goals. I moved out of state to be with my fiance and her daughter, my job offices relocated to another state, so while I worked with the same people, many of them were 8 hours away. Having moved out of state and working remotely from home, I already had this sense of isolation that was slowly getting to me before covid. After covid, it was maginified in ways I never imagined and it greatly impacted me. No longer having the option to go see a movie, or meet up with friends at a restaurant, visit family, etc. being stuck at home for both work and personal time started to wear on me. 


The gaming portion started in a few different forms, moving from one game addiction to another. Pokemon, animal crossing, Destiny 2, and several others occupied a TON of my non-work time. My fiance and her daughter both play games as well so it felt like a way to bond and be distracted from the craziness of the world. It was also a nice way to interact with my friends from out of state or those I simply could no longer visit nearby. Ultimately, however, my work was not effected and I didn't feel like it was an issue. 


A few months into covid  the isolation started wearing. When my fiance and I weren't getting along I truly felt alone. Now, I have many people who I consider good friends and I have a good relationship with my family, but I was afraid to reach out with my struggles as I know EVERYONE is going through some real bad stuff right now. I didn't want to be a burden. So I self medicated with games, collecting, etc. Whatever I could do to not thing about covid, the state of the world, how stressful work and home life had gotten. This is when things started to get out of hand. I started spending money for things I wouldn't have otherwise, and started becoming hyperfocused on my "hobbies" allowing it to stop me from doing things around the house, focusing on work, and taking care of myself. When this would get called out or I'd be asked to do something I'd get anxious, defensive, and frustrated. I often found myself sneaking away and isolating myself more, not knowing that this feeling of isolation was causing many of these feelings. 


The mental and physical wear and tear I have gone through led me to taking actions that led me to resigning from my position. My coworkers provided me an outpouring of support for the decision and wanted me to be able to focus on myself and improve things. Thinking this would relieve some of my issues due to no longer having the extreme 17 hour days of getting yelled at and nothing going as planned, it only made things worse. Now with the tension of not having my income, other personal issues, and feeling more isolated and worthless my escape with gaming only amplified. I began playing a "F2P" game which I historically have stayed away from. At first just doing the free stuff I decided to buy a pack to get a character I liked, and then another because that character worked well with the other. THEN my favorite character of that series was able to be easily obtained if I just spent a little more. This is one of the games that has "energy" so you are time gated from achieving things unless you pay. Having been used to playing games where you grind to get the things you want, not being able to just keep playing and living in my fantasy world hitting objectives and making progress was difficult. To keep things going I'd buy in game currency to refresh my energies and get the items I needed to progress. 


Once I got that character I loved, of course I needed to get the team that synergizes with him so that I could keep advancing! As you probably know since you're on this site, it became a slippery slope very quickly. I was hiding my purchases from my family. Because I lost my job I pulled out my 401k to help pay bills, but having all that available money was too much for me to handle responsibily. I tried contacting google play and the publisher asking if I could at all get a refund or if they could remove my account and I spent days and days of communication and gotten no's. By this time I had already uninstalled the accounting hoping I could get the refund, but after getting what I felt was the final no, I figured why not install it again since I already paid all this money. Why lost that investment, right?


This sunk cost fallacy led me right back in and kept me spending. Fortunately I moved a majority of my money into a joint account so that I felt it was untouchable. I paid off a credit card and told myself the rest was for bills until I found work. I soon found myself buying against that paid off card until it was maxed out again. I began researching f2p addiction to try to understand these new behaviors and why i started going down this rabbit hole so quickly. I then started "borrowing" from the money I moved to the joint account rationalizing that I wasn't hurting anyone if I found a job quick enough. Ultimately I think I knew I would/wanted to be caught so that it would stop. 


I was. 


I was woken up with my fiance asking about the money and me just breaking down. Mostly relieved to have it out and be able to talk about it, but also just ashamed and embarassed that I wasn't stronger. Already having lost my job, and now blowing money on a game that meant nothing, I no longer recognized myself. I was not the emotionally strong provider I thought myself to be. I reached out to my parents and visited them while following distancing guidelines, I explained to them what I've been going through and why I think it was and was met with support. 


I've uninstalled the game and am reseaching the issue more (which is how I found this forum) and am now seeking to find applicable help. I'm not sure I understand the guildelines of what I need to do to improve so I want to learn more to take steps where I can still enjoy my gaming time without it enveloping my thoughts and behaviors. I also want to be able to reassure my fiance that things are being addressed so that we can rebuild trust again. 


I have no excuse for my actions, and while I don't feel like I've been myself for many months now, it was ultimately me who made the decisions I did, and I hate myself for it. 


Anywho, I just wanted to put this out in the ether in case anyone could relate or give advice, share stories, etc. If you took the time to read all of this, thank you for listening. 

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I'm glad that you've been able to take a look at yourself and see the truth of your gaming addiction. You have to do what you can now to save your money before you lose it all.

In another thread you asked:

Do you consider any gaming at all a relapse?

Considering you took money from you and your fiance's savings account to play mobile games, the answer for you is yes it would be a relaspe. For MMO or AAA game addicts, our hooks are PC or console games and might be able to play 5min of tetris without caving in to hour-long binges, but even that might trigger a relapse. Gacha games are also pointless and devoid of any value beyond feeling-high in the moment. Moderate gaming is no longer a posibility for you because by taking money from a joint account to fund your addiction, you have gotten this close to stealing from your fiance. If not theft, then at least the betrayal of trust.

I think you should give your smartphone to someone you trust (or throw it away) and get a cheap flip phone instead. Then when the cravings hit, the possibility of addiction won't be there.

Gaming Addiction also sounds like a bad side-effect of whatever relationships problems that are going on so you might need help with that too.

I don't know that I'm a full on addict

Yes, you are a gaming addict.

but with commitment, you can become a recovering gaming addict.

Games are considered Behavioural Addictions https://icd.who.int/browse11/l-m/en#/http://id.who.int/icd/entity/1448597234 as opposed to drugs that are considered chemical addictions. Games are programmed to mimic the addictive compulsions of drugs in order to get your money.

I wanted to answer you here instead of the Relapse thread to speak to your situation specifically. This might sound harsh to you but I write with the best of intentions. Give your smartphone to your fiance or whoever else you trust.

Edited by Bird By Bird
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I don't think accusatory is the right word here, the first step will be recognising you have a problem. It's nigh-impossible to help someone improve or change if they don't have that innate desire themselves or the awareness of the need for change. You were a little on the fence about what title or umbrella to put your current situation under, and Bird is just trying to help.

Take it or leave it really - these forums are full of a community that would like to help. Some people will resonate with you, some will not. As long as you get what you need and go in the right direction then it is a win. Nobody here is an expert (that I am aware of), but they're willing to share their story and their experiences in the hope that it will help.

I wish you all the best on your detox!

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