Alright, so I have been a video game addict for about a year now.
I did the nintendo thing as a kid, but until a friend loaned me a game two years ago computer games were not really a part of my life. The signs of addiction were present then- taking 2 and 3 hr "breaks" from studying to play these SP games- but it wasn't until the discovery of online games that things really got out of control.
I've known for months that I have a problem, but I wasn't able to do anything about it. That's what an addiction is, after all, right? Knowing there's a problem, wanting to stop, and not being able to. It wasn't just time spent playing games, since my drug of choice for most of my habit was not in fact a MMO, but also time spent reading forums, writing posts, and just daydreaming about the game. At some point what was happening to my fictional characters became more important than what was happening to me. My schoolwork was abysmal, my RL friendships were in shambles. And then another friend mailed me WoW.
She'd been bugging me for awhile to get it so we could play together (we've been best friends since junior high and now live too far away to see each other often, going to different colleges), but I was afraid to. Somehow, I sensed that it was going to be so much worse than what I was already playing, in terms of the addiction. But I couldn't admit the addiction to anybody, even to myself, except in the dark hours of the night when I lay in bed, trying to sleep but unable to because I was so nervous about all the stuff I hadn't gotten done that day due to the game.
But it was a present, and she looked all over the place to find it, so I gave it a try. And dropped off the face of the earth for two weeks. I skipped class to play it, I didn't do ANY work, I began snapping and yelling at people who dared interrupt my gametime. For months people had been asking me what was wrong- my department is small, everyone knows everyone else, and it was obvious that there was something amiss in my life- but I kept telling them school was just really hard and I didn't have enough time for anything. This was part of the reason things got so bad this school year- school did get harder, much, much harder, and gaming was an escape. Problem was, the more I escaped, the harder school became, and the more I wanted to drift into the game world and forget about real life.
Anyway, back to WoW. I was playing literally every waking hour, and sleeping about 4 hours a night. I couldn't stop. But then a little over two weeks after I started the game, I was walking to class without my homework yet again, a small class where I was going to have to admit once again in front of a prof I really liked and respected as well as most of the undergrads in my major that once again I had blown off the class. I didn't want to ever have to do that again. After the class was over, I almost ran home, uninstalled everything. I couldn't bring myself to smash the disks. I have spring break next week, I will take them home with me and leave them there, so I can't reinstall.
So that was four days ago.
After I got done uninstalling and writing a post explaining to my online friends about my decision (I was amazed how supportive they were, and how many of them related similar stories) I decided to start trying to repair the damage the games had done. The first thing was I needed to talk to the supervisor of my undergrad research program and explain why I didn't have an abstract. I went there expecting to be kicked out of the program and feeling like I deserved to be.
I know not everyone out there is religious, so please don't be offended, but God had been telling me for months this is what I needed to do. I didn't go to her looking for help, just trying to be honest for the first time in months and admit I hadn't done a lot of research. But somehow God sent me to exactly the person I needed to see. She noticed I was pretty upset and we got to talking. After hearing me say my private code-word for game addiction, "There's just not enough time", she asked me if something else was taking up my time, like maybe a game. I was floored. The thing is, this woman does not in personality resemble a "gamer" in any way, shape, or form. But she had the same problem about five years ago. We talked for a long time and it really helped strengthen my resolve.
The next day I talked to two people I've been needing to discuss this with, my research advisor who had become increasingly worried about me over the course of the year, and a psychologist. I still haven't been able to tell my parents. They know I "like" (bitter laugh) computer games, but I don't know how I could face them and tell them the real reason why my grades have been so bad when they're so proud of me.
I haven't touched a game since last Thursday, but I can't stop thinking about them. I've been dreaming about my characters, and starting to have waking dreams too (not like daydreams- full-fledged mental "visions" in which I don't notice anything that's going on in the real world while they're happening.) I'm starting to bargain with myself again, too, and I know I can't limit myself, no matter what kind of "revelation" I had on Thursday. But with each passing day my resolve weakens a little more. I'm so afraid I'm going to convince myself that I can limit my game time now and reinstall. I am on my last chance with my advisor, with my grades, with my friends, and with everything that should be important in my life. I don't want to screw it up.
So...I guess the point of this obscenely long post is that I need some encouragement and support, if you guys have some to spare. I have to get through this week.