Confessions of a former video game addict

There are absolutely no questions – I was addicted to video games.

I am not sure if everyone deals with some sort of addiction at least once in their life; honestly, I tend to think so. Of course, what other people do and do not do is not really a concern in my own life. I can and will admit that for many years, I was totally, completely and hopelessly addicted to video games.

Why bother writing about this?

A few reasons, really.

First, I want to be honest with myself. Truthfully, the more I denied the fact in the past the worse things became. Conversely, the more honest and open about it I am with myself now, the easier the problem is to overcome.

Second, for a number of years people took a lower priority to me than video games. To this end, I think it’s fair to everyone I know from that period that I explain where I was coming from.

Video games, what kind?

The answer to this question changes slightly over time; suffice to say, computer games.

When I first started playing video games, I stuck with a flavor-of-the-month computer game. In this time, I played every strategy, shooter and driving game I could get my mitts on. Later on I entered the wonderful world of MMORPGs and did not have time for anything else.

When was this?

After I graduated high school (2002) to the beginning of this year (2009); overall about seven years.

Alright, confessions – what confessions?

Let’s get something straight – a lot of people play video games and most people are not what I would consider addicted. Yes, a lot of people invest time in video games to the exclusion of other, perhaps more important and fulfilling activities but that does not necessarily mean they are addicted.

On the other hand, I would say I was totally addicted – playing video games was the first, last and often only thing on my mind. Whereas games could have been a compliment to my day, they turned into the only thing into which I wanted to invest my time. Above just about anything else, I wanted to get back to my game – it was what I thought about and I usually showed the most interest and affection for the game I was playing, especially when I turned onto MMOs.

Basically, in short, video games – strings of semi-random ones and zeros, were far and above more important to anyone and everyone in my life, including my wife at the time.

I have tried to think about whether video games are all too different from other addictions – like drug addictions. On some levels, yes; however, the more I think about it, it seems like video game addictions are just protracted drug addictions. The physiological, psychological and emotional changes – they just take a longer time to set in; they all set in eventually.

My job, school, friends, family – they never made me feel as good as when I was playing a video game. When I was gaming, I was in control and I could do as I pleased. Games were a combination of amusement and achievement. I was having fun and I had things to show for it, or so I thought.

In reality, I was just isolating myself into the throws of a totally unhealthy addiction. I cast out people around me just so I could eat, sleep and play. I thought it was so cute and amusing – being addicted to video games. Nothing cute about being out-of-shape, friendless and terribly depressed.

Now

After being very honest with myself early this year, I realized my compulsive gaming led me to a place of extreme unhappiness, anxiety, loneliness and often led me to do things which were completely contrary of where I wanted to be.

Looking at all of it now, it’s so very easy to stay away. In fact, if I want to play a game, I have to force myself to do so. I am happy with that. I am also happy with the lesson I have taken away:

Look at what I am doing, how it impacts myself and those around me and decide if it’s enabling me where I want to go.

To that end, I make no suggestion that games should be banned, overseen or some crazy idea to “prevent” this from happening to other people. Naw. Really, I think it is and will become a bigger problem in the future. Of course, if someone had told me to stop, I would have told them to bugger off.

I just know, for myself, video games are a drug – one which I neither need nor want.