I could use some advice.

This forum is for those of you who are in the middle of or have successfuly beat the addiction. Whether your addiction was gaming, smoking, eating, etc. you are welcome to use this forum to help you get through it or share your story of how you got through it!

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I could use some advice.

Postby McDaniels on Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:24 pm

Hey guys. I've been addicted to video games for a very long time, and at this point in my life I feel like whether I continue to game or not will determine my ultimate happiness. I need to sacrifice short term gratification in order to gain what will be better for me in the long run, but as I'm sure everyone here knows it is easier said than done.

A little bit of background information: I started gaming when I was around six years old. My first games were on the Nintendo 64 which my parents got for me. At first my play time was restricted, and it didn't really impact my life. When I was 11 I began to play games online. I started with Star Wars Galaxies. I played the game during almost all of my free time, and my parents allowed me to play it as much as I wanted. I hate to blame my parents, but I feel like my addiction is partially their fault. At 11 years old I didn't have the willpower or the foresight to understand how addicted I was becoming, and the negative effects of that addiction. I have continued to play video games since, and I"m currently 17 years old. I have literally played video games during almost every hour of my free time for the past 6 years. I probably play easily 70 hours or more per week on average, and it has really damaged all aspects of my life.

I'm a senior in high school and I'm in the process of applying to colleges. I've realized for a long time how bad for me gaming is, but it wasn't until this past year that I realized it was now or never. I have to change.

I tried quitting last spring, and I was able to cut back my time significantly for a few months, but this was just because there were no games that I was interested in. When new ones came out I was right back to square one.

I need to quit gaming for my own sake, but it is very difficult for me. I truly believe that video game addictions are just as strong as drug addictions, and in some ways they are harder to overcome. My problem is that when I stop playing video games what do I do? I've done nothing but play for almost 7 years... I haven't developed any hobbies that could fill that empty space of 6 or 7 hours per day after school. I need something to do that is constructive, improves me as a person, and is fun. I've played games for so long that my standards for "fun" are quite high. Sitting down and reading a book is not fun to me versus playing modern warfare 2 or some mmorpg. I don't know if those standards will ever go away, but after playing video games for so long, nothing else is really as fun to me anymore, and that is a huge part of the problem for me.

Does anyone have any suggestions for me. I really need to quit entirely. I can't just play an hour per day. I've tried an hour per day before and it just turns back into 7, I need to quit completely and never play again.
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby MaryBraveBird on Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:24 am

hi mcdaniels,
and congratulations on your insight and will to quit gaming! i'm convinced that's the most important step in the process.

as to how to spend your spare time: i'm dealing with the same problem and always have. i was never addicted to computer games but spend a lot of time just surfing the internet or sitting in front of the tv. it's not a healthy way to spend your spare time and it doesn't improve your well-being, your personality or your health. what i'm going to try, and what many people recommend when trying to get rid of an addiction, is sports. It releases adrenaline and endorphines, makes you feel better, and improves your health. if you want to get out and meet new people, you could join a volleyball or basketball team or whatever sounds interesting to you. if you just want to be more active and spend your spare time in a more meaningful way, you could just go for walks, go running, go to the gym, ride the bike, etc.
i'm going to start doing that as soon as i can get someone to go to a gym once or twice with me. i'm a rather shy person and am not comfortable when i'm going to a place where i don't know anyone. so i need someone to accompany me the first few times until i feel more comfortable. a pity you don't live near me, otherwise we could go together ;)

good luck and keep us posted!
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby Sirena on Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:42 am

Hi Mcdaniels, Welcome to GW.

You sound mature beyond your years. My s/o is 41 and has no where near the insight you do. His choice of game is WOW.

I agree with Mary. You need to be more physically active. Even if you don't enjoy it!! It will release "feel good" chemicals in your body that can equal those released during gaming. Once this happens, you will begin to enjoy it more, especially when you see and feel the results.

Another suggestion....get a part time job for after school or volunteer at a hospital, or some other place. Both will fill up your afternoon and keep you out of the house. Plus, a job will give you some extra money and volunteering to help others gets your mind off "me" and gives a sense of accomplishment.

Regardless of what you do....you DO NOT need to be home in the afternoons with so much time on your hands. Also, as you get out and begin doing more you will meet more people and begin to have more of a social life.

Keep us posted.
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby gamerchick on Mon Dec 07, 2009 10:40 am

Hey there!
It's awesome that you recognize what it is you are struggling with b/c I think that really is a significant thing.
I understand where you are coming from (though I am relatively new to the gaming scene) and want to encourage you in your pursuit of other things, esp school.

I think maybe finding something that you may have an inkling of interest in and pursuing that, whether it's a particular instructional class or activity, and knowing that you can be just as successful in that as you have been in game and achieve just as much of an enjoyment from accomplishing real life activities as well as have fun. Hopefully through those things, you will meet others with similar interests and develop relationships that aren't game dependent, which will further bring you joy outside of the game.

Unfortunately, it will take concerted effort on your part but the balance is so worth it. Make sure you change your surroundings (whether it is to remove the games from your computer for a while etc) so that what is familiar isn't a pull for you to return to. One day, you may be able to achieve balance b/w the gaming world and real life and enjoy both....it is possible so don't be in despair that you may never be able to game again. It's just that what you need right now is a healthy dose of the excitement of real life and that it really is there and that you can achieve so much more in it than you can in a game!
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby anotherguy11 on Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:08 pm

Hey we have pretty much the same history except our choice of games lol. Start going to the gym. Find a friend that is into it and ask to tag along. You feel great as you see yourself getting stronger and bigger overtime. Especially if you've never gone before. The first month gains are crazy! Besides that the only other advice I have is go to college and rush a fraternity. You will be having to much fun to even think about games. Just make sure it doesn't affect your grades or else it will be just as bad as having a video game addiction. I think right now I'm at a balanced point in my life. I don't have too much time for video games because I'm usually studying or with my girlfriend. When I do have that extra time though the games are as fun as always.
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby kitten1984 on Tue Dec 08, 2009 5:43 pm

I'm happy that you have come to see that games are taking over your life. :clap I know that this is a big step for you. Have you ever thought about doing some type of modeling. Like putting together cars, airplanes, monsters or anything else like that? Or maybe going out running or jogging? Maybe try and see what other skills you have that's good. Drawing maybe or painting. Your only 17 and you don't want to end up like my 27 year old husband who is throwing our maggiage away for WoW and he doesn't spend time with his Child. :desk Just keep that in mind if you want fall back into gamming. Life is what you make. Keep you occupied/busy with other things. If you have friends out of the gamming world try haning out with them at their place or something else. I hope you do find something to keep you busy because it's going to be a hard a long road to beat if you can get over this. Congrats. on taking th steps that you need. I hope things become easier on you as tiem goes by.
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby McDaniels on Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:20 pm

kitten1984 wrote:I'm happy that you have come to see that games are taking over your life. :clap I know that this is a big step for you. Have you ever thought about doing some type of modeling. Like putting together cars, airplanes, monsters or anything else like that? Or maybe going out running or jogging? Maybe try and see what other skills you have that's good. Drawing maybe or painting. Your only 17 and you don't want to end up like my 27 year old husband who is throwing our maggiage away for WoW and he doesn't spend time with his Child. :desk Just keep that in mind if you want fall back into gamming. Life is what you make. Keep you occupied/busy with other things. If you have friends out of the gamming world try haning out with them at their place or something else. I hope you do find something to keep you busy because it's going to be a hard a long road to beat if you can get over this. Congrats. on taking th steps that you need. I hope things become easier on you as tiem goes by.


Thank you for your response. I wrote something in your topic, and I hope you take that to heart.

Thanks a bunch for your suggestions, and I'm sorry that your husband is so far gone.

Over the past few weeks I have cut my gaming time to one hour per day on week days, but on weekends I simply can't occupy myself with other things. I have drastically cut my gaming time though at this point, and things are going well. Tonight I decided that I will stop playing video games entirely for one week. I hope that at the end of this week I will see how much progress I've made and how much better I feel and choose to continue without gaming. It will be hard to go a week but I am confident that I can do it. Just an hour after I chose not to play I was having strong urges to get on my xbox, but I didn't. It will be a long week but I hope that it will be the week that I stop for good. It is such a difficult thing because I'm always being reminded of the games. My friends at school play. Everyone at school plays xbox 360 these days. Tonight again only an hour after I chose to stop playing I was watching football and an commercial came on for my favorite game, call of duty 6. It is tough to stop playing but I can do it.

I hope that after a while without gaming I will kind of forget how fun it was, and that will make everything else more fun so I won't feel the need to play games anymore. It is going to be a process, and I don't know if I will ever lose that "standard of fun" that gaming has given to me, but I can only hope.

Thanks for all of your advice guys I appreciate it. I used to play mmos including WoW. Those games are extremely addictive, and what really enabled me to get to the point that I'm at is quitting WoW. I started playing xbox 360 and stopped playing WoW entirely. I find that it is much easier to cut back my time on xbox. I couldn't control myself when I played WoW. I would play all day every day, but with xbox I have the ability to turn it off and do other things. So if anyone out there feels like they're stuck or is trying to help an addict, try buying them an xbox 360 and call of duty modern warfare 2. Let them play it as much as they want at first. Eventually they will start playing it less because it just isn't the kind of game that you can play all day without getting bored.

Also... destroy the computer. Addicts don't have the willpower to do it themselves. Ever since I was 12 or 13 years old I wished that my mom would make me stop playing. I didn't have the willpower to do it myself or to even tell her to do it, but I really wanted her to. It is weird to think that more than anything else I wanted my mom to force me to stop playing, but at the same time I couldn't tell her and I couldn't do it myself.
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby Lekainen on Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:26 am

McDaniels,

I'd like to echo what others have said: first, don't despair. You're grappling with the problem earlier than most, so you are 20 years ahead on a very important curve. Even if it seems to kick your ass every day, you're still winning because you're starting early. Second, realize that you're struggling with an addiction, and that relapses will happen, and each time they do you can 1) be lame, call yourself a failure, and use them as an excuse to keep gaming or 2) pick yourself up and dust yourself off. Beating the addiction could even put you ahead of a curve later in life: if you kick this habit now, you may at some future point "catch up" while your workplace or family peers are themselves struggling with gaming or other addictions.

To counterweight that, though, you have three additional challenges because you are young. First, you may have fewer alternatives to gaming than adults, in that you may not have the resources to jump in your car and drive to a gym or a friends house or a hiking trailhead or whatnot. If you're in a city, public transportation may offset this somewhat.

Second, your physical brain is still in it's "plastic phase". If it's true that brains rewire themselves to become good at games (which is what some research seems to indicate) then your brain may have rewired itself more than an adults would during the same period of time, and as you noted, you've been at it for a long time. If so, your brain has trained itself to farm little dopamine rewards from computer games very, very well, and it may not know how to get dopamine from other things. Consequently, you are going to face long periods where nothing seems as good as games, not because games actually are better than anything else, but because your brain is simply physically incapable of enjoying anything as much as a game.

Third, unless we relapse into a dark ages, you have an additional challenge because not only are computers everywhere today, but they will be everywhere in your future, and the games will just get better and better and better. In terms of making even more addictive games, the industry has just begun. Alcoholics have the easy out: they never have to touch a bottle again. Your dorm room will have it's own computer or two.

My recommendations to you stem from my own struggle with gaming. I'm married to a game addict, but truth be told I've gone through phases where I played too many games, too, and I still struggle with it because I'm partly disabled and gaming is easier for me than many other things. Do I struggle with a cane, with a wheelchair, with back pain, to a gym to swim, as a shadow of my former self as a soldier and Army officer? Or do I kick back and play through mass effect and do WoW dailies where no one can see what I've become? It's a hard choice.

Here are the recommendations:

1) Read. It sounds cliched, but it isn't. Read about computer addictions. Read about the research that shows how your brain rewires to do it, how dopamine is involved, how game designers are using the very mechanics that allow people to learn to make addictive game. Understand what's happening to you, and what other people are doing than can help or hinder you. If nothing else, if you read about addictions and seriously consider what's going on, you'll have a kick-ass college entrance essay or a few easy A's in sociology or psychology 101. I actually wrote a master's thesis on gaming issues. No shit.

2) Work out, with an eye toward sports. Working out helps you rewire your brain, stay fit, and prepares you for sports. Sports have an advantage in that playing sports, even if you don't win, can engage the same reward/improve process that gaming does...except that it's good for you, but you can't do it all day (as opposed to games which are bad for you, but you can do them all day.) . Look around for casual sports teams, or ask the 'rent about a gym membership, but at the very least put on your sneakers and jog: it's hard to play a computer game when you're half a mile from your keyboard. Do it enough and you'll even start getting natural highs, which are different, but comparable, to gaming highs.

3) Volunteer. One of the few activities that provides dopamine rewards instantly, so that the activity will feel comparable to gaming as well as being constructive, is being nice to people. Soup kitchens, habitat for humanity, literacy programs all need people. Plus, as a side benefit, do them for a year or so and they start looking good on college applications (or reapplications to better colleges).

I can't give you an easy answer: after all, gaming IS the easy answer. I can only give you what my experience and research have shown me work for me. Good luck!

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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby McDaniels on Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:28 pm

Thanks for the reply Lekainen. That was very well thought out and it made sense. I definitely think that I can overcome this and move on. I don't think I've ever thought that I can't do it. I'm a strong person with a strong mind. I think that my ambition is what is going to be the difference for me. I've always been ambitious. I've always wanted to go places in life, to be somebody. Before this year I kind of thought "Oh I'm young I'll just work hard next year. I'll learn this or that next year. I'm only 16 I have all the time in the world." I knew all along that I didn't have all the time in the world. I wanted to start early, but gaming prevented that.

It was only this year that I was able to overcome that and realize that it is now or never. I know that I would be incredibly depressed if I didn't achieve something in life. I envisioned myself twenty years from now sitting in front of my computer 300 lbs, unmarried, no job, and I imagined how sad I would be. That was the motivation that got me off of the games.

It is hard as hell to stop. Getting off my computer and playing xbox was a great move, but it wasn't very hard. It has only been one day without gaming for me and I'm already struggling. I really considered just playing an hour of call of duty today like I did for the past few weeks but I told myself no... I promised myself not to play for a week so I won't play until next Sunday night. It is hard though. I heard all of my friends talking about call of duty in just about every class at school today and it was hard to tell myself "no you don't need that, don't waste your time".

Gamerwidow has been a great asset for me as well. Your responses are great, but just being able to vent and talk about my experience has been incredibly helpful to me. I think I will post each day this week chronicling my first week going cold turkey. I've gone a week without games before on vacations, but its different when you're at home. Wish me luck.
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby McDaniels on Tue Dec 15, 2009 4:07 pm

I've been thinking about going back to playing but I haven't decided yet. Maybe I will play a bit tomorrow or maybe I will keep to my promise and go all week. I kind of thought about it and I'm not really addicted to gaming like other people. I've been able to cut myself down to 1 hour per day so what is so bad about that? The problem for me is that all of my friends play so there are reasons for me to play xbox beyond just for the fun of it. It helps me keep in touch with friends and meet new people. On the other hand it does make other things feel more boring.

I'm kind of lost right now. Not sure what I will do. What are your opinions?
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby Tawnee on Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:43 am

So today you tell yourself that you don't think that you are really addicted?

Yet even at 13 you couldn't stop playing and wanted your Mum to enforce it.

You promised yourself that you wouldn't play a week and yet 4 days into it you want to play again.

You can't even last a week.

You are addicted.

Please try and last the full week out. You will be disappointed with yourself if you don't.

But if you give in, don't give up. Just keep on trying.
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby Lekainen on Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:10 am

In line with what tawnee said, if you want to avoid gaming tomorrow, then schedule something else during the time. Go to the gym. Stay after school for an activity. Go to a movie. But don't come near your gamepad.

On the flip side, you are eventually going to have to establish a healthy, functional, relationship with computers that allows you to use the for communication and learning. So if you succumb to the desire to use your computer, try writing friends or family, reading about gaming addiction or gaming laws, or just doing some homework. Retrain yourself to think of it as a tool for your mind, not the supplier of your joy. You must someday sit down with the beast. Maybe that day is today. Maybe it isn't.

My recommendation is you go a bit longer, but I'm not the boss of you. Good luck! Let's hear how it goes.

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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby McDaniels on Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:01 pm

@Tawnee. Right now I'm nowhere near the point that I was at when I was 13. When I was 13 I was playing Star Wars Galaxies, an mmorpg, and I was young. I've always been ambitious as I believe I mentioned earlier. I had goals then just like I do now, but I just told myself that it could wait at that age. I told myself that I could just do it later, start doing my homework in high school, etc. Of course in high school I told myself I could do it later again. "I'll just work hard junior year." Junior year came and went and I just told myself "Ah college doesnt matter, its all about you". Well now I'm at the point of no return. Now it is really now or never. There is no more "I'll do it next year I'm young". I'm 17 its time for me to become somebody, to achieve my dreams, and that realization is what allowed me to stop playing.

There are major differences between mmorpgs and first person shooters. I know that a lot of you are the wives/ex-wives/ relatives of struggling gamers, so I don't know how much first hand knowledge you guys have. MMORPGs like world of warcraft are persistent worlds. They are virtual realities in which there is never nothing to do. There isn't repetition because there are a million things to do. These are the kind of games that are incredibly addictive. These are the kinds of games that it is truly hard to say no to. I used to play these games all the time. I played them since I was 11 all the way up until this September. In September I finally had the will to tell myself no more. I finally stopped playing and told myself "never again will you play an mmorpg". I swear I will never play another one in my life. I don't get if my friends play, if the most beautiful girl I ever meet plays. It doesn't matter. I know that those games can ruin my life so I refuse to ever play them again.

To take their place I started playing xbox exclusively. It is hard to just go cold turkey just like that. Xbox is less addictive. I can play my xbox for an hour and then get offline. For instance over the past few weeks I've scheduled my play time. I only played from 3:30 to 4:30 on week days, and I had no trouble getting off at 4:30. If I was playing an MMORPG I wouldn't be able to stop. At 4:30 it would be time to do a dungeon or I would have to craft some more armor, and after I broke that barrier I would just keep playing all day. I can stop with my xbox games that is the difference. They aren't as addictive. One day they will be, but right now they arent, and I ask myself why not play? They aren't very addictive so why not? I only spend an hour each day that is normal isn't it? The problem is that I don't feel like working when I could be playing games. After I get off at 4:30 I watch a movie or browse the web like now. What I want to be doing is developing my skills, becoming a better person so that I can achieve my dreams.

It is a battle inside of me. Do I stop playing games and lose that connection to my friends and that enjoyment? Or do I continue to play an hour each day and feel like everything is more boring? I don't know if gaming makes everything feel more boring or if I'm just blaming it for the way I am. Maybe I just find mundane things boring. I don't know. I'm lost right now.

It isn't that I can't last a week. It's just that I'm questioning whether or not it has negative consequences on me if I play an hour each day. It's like someone who used to smoke a ton of pot and they cut back to one blunt each day. Then one week they say "I'm not smoking this week". But then they think to themselves "Well is 1 blunt really going to hurt me?" That is the discussion I'm having with myself. Is one hour going to hurt me? I don't know... I don't know how my brain works. The human race hasn't even figured out how brains really work yet...

I don't have problems with being on the computer. I'm sitting here right now on my fully capable gaming laptop and the thought doesn't even cross my mind to install a game and play. I have enough control to know not to install any game on my computer again. I can still use computers functionally without playing or thinking about games.

Maybe I'm just wishing that I was different. I want work to be fun. That is what I want more than anything. I want to be able to sit here and learn web design which is my immediate goal and I want to enjoy it, but whenever I go to learn web design on websites and through tutorials I just drift off and get bored. Is it my personality or is it because I'm used to the extreme levels of fun that games offer? I don't know... Will not playing games make this standard of fun go away? Again I don't know. If it doesnt then I might as well keep playing that one hour each day.
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby Lekainen on Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:10 pm

Not playing games will cause your attention to the "standard of fun" they created to fade. But that won't be enough. You have to experience the alternatives to games before you can find something else as fun. Unfortunately, most of these things will take a while to be as fun, because you have to develop skill, personal connections, and resources (analagous to levels, guilds, and gear) to get to the same level of fun, and in the real world it can be harder to do.

"Not gaming" is a place to start, but you must switch from "I'm not gaming" to "I am doing activity x" (homework/sports/friends/chasing girls/whatever) or you'll simply end up sitting around thinking about how you're not gaming, which doesn't get you anywhere.

My wife was fortunate in that when she quit, I was around to play "cruise director" and find or make up things for her to do. Doesn't sound like you have that someone, so this job falls to you. Good luck!

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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby Djorn on Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:34 am

McDaniels wrote: I need to sacrifice short term gratification in order to gain what will be better for me in the long run, but as I'm sure everyone here knows it is easier said than done.



You just summed up the entire struggle in one sentence. Just do it. When you start trying to justify reasons to game again, remember you have lost sight of this simple truth and resist. Good luck.
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Re: I could use some advice.

Postby RazorJack on Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:39 am

Hey McDaniels,

It seems you like to play military First person shooters. May I suggest you get into Paintball or Airsoft. It's fun like the Modern warfare game, AND you get a work out AND make friends. I tend to lean towards airsoft cause I think it's more fun... I'll link you to some pictures I took of some of the airsoft games I've attended.

Here's some indoor arena's i've played at.. http://www.laphotonet.com/p578373260

and here's pictures i took of me and my friends, I'm the one with the gas mask and all black.. do I look like "SOAP" McTavish or what?... http://www.laphotonet.com/p796613299

So many choices for fun out there man, don't stay glued to that screen. Life is more fun than you think. You can do it bro, I believe you can.
You've leveled up, but your family is still on pause.
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