The story of my videogame addiction

Headphones on 24/7 (Source)

I’m 11 years old, attending elementary school, playing tennis and went to art school, both as my free time activities. Along these things, I also really like to play games. Maybe way too much.

As the title suggests, this article is going to be dedicated to my first life addiction — videogames. I don’t think it had many serious effects on me or my surroundings, but it certainly made my life harder.

Setup

So how it all began?

I’m 11 years old, attending elementary school, playing tennis and went to art school, both as my free time activities. Along these things, I also really like to play games. Maybe way too much.

So, with that in mind, I’m trying to paint a picture of how my life was looking like at that time. I couldn’t quite complain about anything, as everything was running smoothly, I didn’t have any difficulties or troubles, had enough friends and activities or hobbies. A that time, I started gaining new friends, as our old class was split and the leftovers of this group have been merged with a “partner class” of sort. That’s where I met 2 of new friends. Both of them were playing videogames and I remember quite vividly when they got me to play my first ever game after a long time — Minecraft. Just to clarify, I used to play games when I was a kid, stuff like Bus Driver, Taz : Wanted, Dino & Aliens and many more. I remember the feeling I got from the game when I played it for the first time — this is so amazing. I could do anything — build a house, hunt animals, move away and much more. That, of course was the feeling that would keep me coming back and play more and more. And more.

The eye of the hurricane

As the days were going, I found myself always returning to computer to play games. At school, we wouldn’t talk about almost anything else other than games. Or in my case, just Minecraft. Yes, for some time I didn’t want to play other games as I didn’t like them — Minecraft was pretty simple and creative at the same time, and while my friends recommended me playing other games too, I didn’t feel like it. That, and also the fact that my computer was a couple of years old, and made the overall gaming experience very lagging and not so pleasurable overall.

Over time, I started to realize and notice these little patterns, that most of the time when I could, I came back to computer and went on gaming for as long as I could. I remember once I was returning home from elementary, I even had calculated exact time necessary for me to open the door and how to do it faster so that I could play more. Pretty crazy, looking backwards. But there was a little but in this story. My mom doesn’t like videogames, or preferred way to say it — she’d probably kill me if she saw me playing them. With that in mind, I was only able to play games when she wasn’t home. And over time, that started to be a very difficult task to accomplish. Every time she left home, I was happy she did so, because I knew I could play games. But the problems started to occur when I didn’t want to study and play games instead. I started getting worse grades in school, and mom got very angry over it, as she used to be very “perfect” student. But that wasn’t really my case, as I never cared about school more than what was asked of me.

Didn’t take long, and I could see the first “scars” of the addiction showing up. Among them, it would be first and foremost the physical manifestations — damaged vision. What would you expect, when you’re staring into the screen for the whole day, barely blinking and it just keeps on shining on your face. Next symptom would be that the relationships with other people seemed kind of unreal, or more distant. I just didn’t feel anything, I was just wandering in the void. Or that’s how I felt, anyway. One of the things that occurred to me was that I accidentally spent 500€ on the mobile internet. Wanna know how? Easily, well of course spending someone else’s money is always easy anyway. The thing was, as my thinking was pretty blurred and foggy, I wasn’t really thinking of my decisions and their consequences. Thus, I was at home with my grandma and sister, as my dad was working abroad at the time and mom was on a trip, we weren’t quite sure what to do. So we had to borrow the money from my sister’s boyfriend. All of this happened in 2013 and it was an exciting time to be alive.

I still remember that my mom wasn’t even aware of my addiction. While dad on the other side, was. As our computer was old, I couldn’t play any great brand new games. Meaning I wanted to change that — by asking dad to buy a new computer as I was just 13 years old, I didn’t have a job, nor any money available. My best bet was, evidently, dad. But once when I asked him why he doesn’t want to buy a computer, I remember it was in a car while we were going somewhere, just him and me, he turned to me and said :

You’re addicted.

That was one of my first external mementos about my condition as I knew I was addicted, but I didn’t feel any urge to change it or do anything about it. After all, playing games was a lot of fun, I had friends playing with me, or if they weren’t able to play, I just played by myself.

Not everything was bad about my addiction, though. During that time we had to put our cat asleep as she was struggling with an infection on the back. I remember feeling too much sorrow at a time and I was trying to hide myself from people as I was crying a lot. At that time those games were helping me forget about how sad I was and just make me feel better about things. I think it was one of the good things about the whole condition.

End of the tunnel

Surprisingly, I found a good enough reason to think about quitting playing games for good. It was several of them, in fact. First and foremost, it was the fact I was about to get admitted to high school, which had a reputation of being extremely tough and the one you have to study hard in order to pass. It was highly regarded in the country rankings, and it was pretty difficult to get there. But I did, and I didn’t want to fail my chance. So I knew that was the moment for me to quit games, maybe not for good, but for the time of high school, at least.

Second reason to quit, were films. It may sound surprising, but films got me out of my videogame addiction. I used to watch a different movie everyday, around the evening time. One of them, that I’ve already seen before was one of my most favorites — Inception by Christopher Nolan. In this film, Mal, protagonist’s wife says a quote :

Your world is not real

This simple yet amazing quote was the last reminder for me to quit games. And so I started with it. I entirely quit playing games, deleted all of them from my machine. At first it was quite bad, I was feeling kind of empty — what should I do now, as I’d be playing games at this time otherwise. But I remained going forward and keeping the finish line in my sight, and finally reached it, after 2 months of not playing games, I knew I was just fine as I haven’t even felt any need to play any games anymore. It may sound terribly easy and straight forward, but it wasn’t that easy at first.

Being a prisoner at home (Source)

Relapse (almost)

I think I was wrong for so many times that if I got a nickel for every time it happened, I wouldn’t need to work a single day in my life. At the time, I thought my addiction is so far the worst thing that happened to me ever. Later on my anxiety condition made me reach the brand new lows of my worst thing to happen to me, yet. But if you try to combine these 2 things, you’ll get a relapse of sort. As I didn’t know what to do in order for my mind to leave the darkness of anxiety room, I got into playing games very intensively again. I knew this was just a temporarily solution, but I didn’t have any better one at a time. At that time, I was just thinking that it helps me get over my bad times and there’s not much more to think about. It kept me hooked, and thus my mind was busy not thinking about the anxious ideas. The problem was, I couldn’t play games all the time, meaning when I wasn’t able to, I think the anxiety overall got worse as I just got used to the runaway strategy of just avoiding it by playing videogames. And that’s when I knew, I had to stop again.

Just like the first time when I quit playing, at first it was tough, with the added weight of the anxiety on my shoulders. But I pulled it off, and knew that I had to find some other ways to tackle this condition that I got into.

Conclusion

Looking backwards, and trying to see the good side of things, there are still some great lessons about my videogame addiction.

First one would be a great memento — don’t fall into any other addiction as it may have a lot more damaging outcomes for me than temporarily weakened eyes. That addiction taught me not to even start with drugs, cigarettes or anything that someone else tends to use as coping mechanisms.

Second, when you come to and understanding of your condition and admit that it’s happening, you may find a great balance in the future — not being addicted while still being able to do what you’ve used to be addicted (drugs or other self harm habits excluded).

Third and last, I think this whole situation showed me that even tiny decisions that seem not so important at first, have huge impacts for your future. If I haven’t sat behind that computer and downloaded the first game, I wouldn’t get addicted, but at the same time I wouldn’t find my future dream career of being 3D artist.

There’s just always 2 sides to each coin.

Hope you found this article helpful, have a good day :)

Motto of the blog : “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.” I’m a 21 year old guy learning 3D art and trying to help people by sharing my experiences

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