I posted here years ago when I was in Hawaii.
I even attempted to get a sponsor.
I was not ready. I had two conversations with the guy and then went right back to my denial. What a fool I was. I don't remember your name, but I am SO sorry you tried to give me your time and I foolishly did not listen. I am SO sorry... I was blind.
I was married, in the military, and uncertain about my addiction. I tried to convince myself that it was "just a few minutes or hours a day". I tried to say "I am not an addict".
Denial comes in many forms.
In retrospect, if I had quit gaming completely back then, I probably would have saved a few hundred, if not two thousand dollars.
Video games are an expensive industry. There's always something new and shiny, and it always takes from your wallet.
In an effort to maintain my marriage, I succumbed to buying games to play with my wife, a person who admits they have tendencies of an addict. What I didn't realize was that she was a bigger gaming addict than I was, even though she was a member of AA.
Now, I have been playing video games since I was 3. Most games do not challenge me. Anyone who has played video games for a long time (decades) knows that games used to be hard and challenge us. Today they are quick fix, impulse driven, adrenaline rush giving, and flashy money sinks. The pay to play and micro transaction model is incredibly profitable to the gaming industry. They create addicts, and we, the gamers, foolishly consume. The cycle is endless until we choose to break it.
Over the years, I slowly began to withdraw from mainstream consumption. I stopped watching TV when I was 17. I never turn on the TV except when someone else is watching, and I might sit in, but it does not interest me. TV used to have educational programming - now it just tells you what to eat, what to drink, what medicine to take, how to think, and how to live. It takes away your free will and is more like a brainwashing machine than ever. The term "programming" in television programming is more telling than it seems.
I have always played video games, and there were always games that got my attention. When a game had my attention, I would play it until it was basically dead, and then overkill it. What I mean by this is that I would be obsessive about the game, learn it like the back of my hand, and become a complete expert. In the days before Internet, this mostly applied to SNES games and later PS1 games.
Ah, but then came DIABLO II: LOD. In a nutshell, items are randomized and the only way to get "good" items was to repeat the same patterns of movement, casting the same spells, and killing the same bosses in the hopes that the random number generator (RNG) gods would drop what you want. Sounds sad when I talk about it like this, right? That was about 3-4 years of my high school life. Just a few months ago I installed LOD just to see what Diablo II was like today. Nostalgia? Or was it a sending off to say goodbye forever?
I never really paid attention, but other people who played with me would come and they would go. They would play and they would quit and move on with their lives and I would stay. In later conversations they would ask if I was still playing and I would say yeah. They would say they'd like to come back but they can't. I would say "If you want, come on back, I'll hook you up." Rarely, if ever, did anyone ever come back.
After Diablo II: LOD was Guild Wars, and then it was World of Warcraft.
World of Warcraft was a whole other animal. This game wrecked my social life because it BECAME my social life. I found myself connected to people online, immersed in a virtual world, and completing goals which I could never do on my own. It was exciting to have so many things to stare at and keep track of simultaneously. It was so enjoyable that I eventually even led my own guild. That was back in 2006.
Now, World of Warcraft actually has some very very intelligent people playing. Anyone who can make lots of gold on World of Warcraft is either very connected (knows people) or does their research ahead of time (reading patch notes, beta test information). The smartest people I ever knew on World of Warcraft were the China farmers that American players laughed at, looked down upon, and reported to the gamemasters to get banned. The saddest reality is that the China farmers were some of the most skilled and nice people I ever had the pleasure of interacting with in WoW. It just so happened they literally played the game to feed themselves. Well, the joke was on the American players. They could sit and whine and laugh all they wanted, but these Chinese players were basically selling virtual currency for real money, and guess who the customer base was? American players. Clearly people were buying, because these Chinese farmers still operated - and they still do. Virtual currency to real currency. Who actually gains more? =)
The guild leaders and officers of competitive raiding and PVP guilds were also usually very smart people. Because you have to be able to outdo everyone else in order to maintain respect in a guild of good players. These were the people that practically had a second job. While raiders were living their lives and frolicking in the game, the guild officers and leaders were basically planning operations, logistics, and scheduling. They were operations and project managers. The thing is they weren't being paid.
Of course, I talk about all of this in retrospect. I couldn't really figure out how someone who never worked out, wasn't in shape, and had liberal views could EVER have joined the military - but I did. They asked me to write an essay about my strongest management experience, and I talked about leading a guild in World of Warcraft. I talked about the hours I managed, the number of people I managed, and how they relied on me to bring them glory and entertainment 4 nights a week. Apparently I was describing operations and project management without even realizing it. As funny as it is, it worked.
During my time in the military, I did not need WoW. I couldn't play even if I wanted, because I had to dedicate my time to work. So I began to play what I called "time killing" games. League of Legends and phone games mainly. I was never good at these games and I didn't really care for them. I knew they were nothing like the real thing. I wanted my World of Warcraft experience. I wanted to lead or be among people who were good, because I knew I was good enough. I missed the high. I missed being important. I missed having a place.
When I left the service, I went back to WoW but it was never the same. The people had moved on. And all I had left was nostalgia.
And so, over time I go back and try to do competitive raiding again. But it's never quite the same. I don't feel it anymore. I feel it's too much time consumed and not enough enjoyment. I have been "relapsing" over and over. Every time I go back and try, but it's never the same.
Did I grow up?
I suddenly find myself in my 30s, and without long term friends or relationships. My marriage failed because my wife thinks I am an insensitive individual on the spectrum addicted to video games. While her claims are largely exaggerated, she may have a basis for believing these things, even if she is a hypocrite and spends 1000 dollars or so on video games a month herself (she is addicted to Facebook games). Then again, who am I to call myself better?
We are in the process of a divorce anyway.
What brought me here was because I was dating a woman whom I loved dearly. I thought things were going well, but then she told me I needed to take a break and fix the things that were wrong with me.
After I broke up with her, I found myself right back at World of Warcraft. In fact, I just played the new expension two days ago. I hit level 120. I was even going to commit to a raiding guild. But in the middle of that experience I realized that... I didn't want the game. I wanted the girl. She was rejecting me, though. She wasn't rejecting me because of my gaming - because I don't do much of it. She was rejecting me because I was broken. She said I needed time to figure out what was wrong with me.
Of course, I started a video blog yesterday. It's called Day 120, and it's about getting through heartbreak.
Oddly enough, within 1-2 days of "getting over" the relationship, I have suddenly taken the time to ask myself some deep questions and determined that the root cause of my unhappiness and sadness starts with....GAMING.
I miss it. I want it. But it doesn't do anything for me anymore. Going back is a waste of time. It's time to MOVE ON and do things that MATTER.
Perhaps it has to do with me breaking the age of 30. They say guys grow up around this age. I still think there's more to this than that.
So... let me start on that 101 things list.
Oh. Maybe I will start a blog.
Hopefully, I can help some people out, but I am really just no different than anyone else trying to break free from the spell of gaming.
Oh. I have to look for a sponsor too. Hmm.