So today I decided that today is the day: no more gaming.
It’s one thing to unwind, it’s another to become so absorbed, so caught up in the game that you don’t eat because you’re concentrated on getting to the next level. Then your stomach begins to hurt and you remember, “Oh yeah, it has been six, seven hours huh? Let me go munch on something.” When you don’t want to go to work (or class, because the problem has been on-going for me) because you’re in the middle of beating your score. You don’t engage in conversation or detach yourself from everything and everyone, including your passion (mine is writing, poetry), because playing a game is more important.
It’s not as severe as it was when I had a console up, because I guarantee you I would probably be all in my FFX, FFX-2, Kingdom Hearts and Simpsons Hit & Run right now. I used to go 10, 11 hours–and in all that time, I either hadn’t eaten or ate one time when I went to take a restroom break. I went two, three days (the longest I believe was 4 or 5) without showering or brushing my teeth, combing my hair. People tried to speak to me, but I was a zombie–I was so focused on a strategy to get past the next level.
Mind you, this was right when I was around 15, 16 that it really took off and it was during the summer. According to the research I’ve done, I’ve been an addict longer than I thought because one of the characteristics of a gaming addict is that the only thing they talk about is the game. That’s all I did, “Yeah, so then Mom we got to this place and it turns out the dude was like super evil and he tried to threaten so-and-so but then so-and-so is actually like this ghost dude or something and OH MY GOSH!”
It weakened some when my brother put the playstation up because our old TV set went out. I still have no clue where he put that playstation and I can’t find any of the cables that went with it–THANK GOD–because it had a stranglehold on me.
I just didn’t see it.
So going into sophomore year of college, I did all right. Then came junior year and I joined a sorority…
I also neglected my studies and lost my 4-year scholarship.
I became depressed over that, feeling like a big let down–a failure.
Enter in Facebook and online gaming.
I didn’t think about all the responsibilities I had to deal with in my studies and with my chapter, or the disappointment of losing my scholarship, the pressures of now representing an entire organization (because I was in a sorority now, and everything I did was being taken into account), having to think about what was I going to do after school…every single worry temporarily went away for however long I played.
I was halfway making it on time to my classes, but I knew when my crops were ready to be harvested like clockwork on FarmVille. I was struggling to make passing in courses I already had to repeat before, but I was moving up the ranks in Sorority Life. And I had NO CLUE what I would do for work when I graduated but hey–I was making millions on Mafia Wars.
Now–don’t get me wrong. I KNEW that NONE of that stuff was real. But I could escape in pretend land. Everything was okay in pretend land.
Work was worse. I was a pretty decent copy editor for my university’s newspaper, but again, around junior year when everything took a turn, so did my performance. Everyone kept telling me I was moving too slow. I got upset, “Well what do you EXPECT?! I’m the ONLY FREAKIN’ PERSON ON COPYDESK!!”
But the truth was I wasn’t keeping up with the pages and stories coming out as good as I used to because I was too busy spending a lot of my time trying to beat my score and perfect my strategy than perfect my technique in my work.
I eventually quit the paper.
I spent so many hours playing games that at one point, on a Saturday in the library, the librarians who worked in the computer lab had turned the lights off on me and everything. Eventually the guy had to come tap me on the shoulder to let me know the computer lab was closed. (I had been there from 8am to 12 midnight when they closed…that’s, what? 16 hours?)
I was failing classes, going down in flames and feeling like I would never graduate…and the more things piled up around me, the deeper I got into the games.
But the funny thing is, I still hadn’t acknowledged that I had a game addiction. I just told myself that I really, really liked playing them.
The same I told myself when I started purchasing games on my phone, and when the bill went up, I pretended like I didn’t know WHY it did…
And when my mom and bro came home I would hurry up and turn my phone off and cover like I hadn’t just spent hours playing a game from the time they left that morning to when they got back that afternoon…
When I began to let myself go again, not showering, and suffered from headaches, even nearly passing out because I put off eating to play a game…
Game addiction, whether video games or online gaming, is not a joke. It’s very serious, and it’s only now that I stopped lying to myself and stopped telling myself that same old lie, “It’s just a game. Any REAL gamer plays games almost all day–and you’re not really a gamer, more like a GAME ADMIRER. It’s not like you’re spending 15-20 hours a day playing away, right?”
But I was playing games like it was a 9-5, and that’s bad enough.
So I deleted a lot of the games I had on FB and in my phone. I stopped playing them and started refocusing back on school and graduating. I got back working with the newspaper on campus. And I stopped pointing the finger at everyone else and began working on bettering me and my walk with Christ.
The problem is…I hadn’t owned up to my addiction…
And so, here we are…