I played video games since the days of Pong in the 70s, but I was not a video game addict. Good friends and relationships, valedictorian in high school, successful in athletics, AaEU(tm)s in college and graduate school, high score on MCAT, almost perfect score on GRE, 3 college degrees aEU" games did not have an adverse impact on my life. UntilaEU|
All that changed in December1994 when I purchased Civilization as a Christmas gift. I decided I wanted to try the game out for myself aEU" but I had no idea what was about to ensue.
I adopted the goal of aEUoebeating the gameaEU -- in this case, demonstrating I could never lose to the computer under any possible condition. Unfortunately, a Civilization game, unlike those earlier games, required MANY HOURS to complete.
I eventually beat Civilization, although it required months of play. I played recreationally at first, but my recreation turned into binges, which grew longer and more intense. Toward the end of that aEUoeCivilization semesteraEU I did not show up to a class I was teaching and played Civ instead, so things were already going awry, 11 years ago.
Unrelated to Civ, I broke up with my long-time girlfriend. I learned about gambling and began taking professional gambling trips. I learned about nanotechnology and cryonics aEU" did anything really matter except having enough money to get frozen, to be re-awakened into a wonderful limitless and immortal future? Maybe being part of this real world wasn't even necessary or desirable.
I decided to purchase Master of Magic as a gift for a friend... and I decided to try it out for myself. My home computer could not handle it, so I played at the university. All-night binges, living off the candy machine and soda machine and fast food. All-day binges. After endless months, perhaps a year, I was convinced I had a strategy which could never lose, or so I thought. So I was done.
After those travails, I finally knew to stay away from computer games... until a friend sent me Civilization 2 as a gift! Well I at least had to take a look at it, since it was a gift. And off to binging again, this time worse than ever. I vanished from my PhD program without a trace, permanently. All I had to do was write a dissertation, but no. Also somewhere in there was a possible long-term relationship that I disintegrated, this time due to neglect caused by computer games.
After concluding I could always beat Civilization 2, I moved on to Civilization Call To Power. I eventually found a scenario in which losing could not be avoided, so after more thousands of hours, I was done with computer games. Again.
Incidentally, I destroyed the disks and CDs, then re-purchased them, for all these games hundreds of times -- often the same day. Quit, destroy, re-buy. Repeat. A fishbowl could be filled just from my own busted CDs.
After 5+ years of binging it was time to start life over. I had already quit computer games for a while, and I quit gambling for a living October 6 2000. The very next morning, just goofing around on the internet, I went to read about that old game, Master of Magic aEU" and someone had made a mod of it! Would I still always win in that mod? Well only a game or two would be sufficient to find out... Instantly hooked again! I could now play at home, so massive drinking accompanied my playing. Gambling resumed. And years of Master of Magic binges followed. Sometimes months at a time.
Until now. I know I could lose a game of Master of Magic, under some remote once-in-a-zillion confluences of events, and nothing can change that. I finished my final game the morning of April 26, 2006 (except for a 3 hour relapse May 2. And an 11-hour relapse May 3. And whatever I end up doing tomorrow).
This is the first time I have announced such a thing publicly, so I am hopeful it will stick. (Although the above parentheses, and my 11 year history, make that seem rather unlikely).
As for life after addiction aEU" well that is what I am thinking about a lot now. Life after gambling, life after computer games. Terrifying. Hopeless. Like always. Just like the old days. Except even more so now that I am 41 years old.
Edited by: lizwool at: 12/6/06 8:03