Hello Online Gamers Anonymous,
My name is Jack and I am without a doubt addicted to gaming. Once I start I don't know when I'm going to stop, and I can't seem to stay stopped for any period of time without picking back up again. Whether it's a new game, thinking of some new strategy for an old game, or having a friend tell me about a game they've been playing, the obsession always seems to come back and I start playing again, thinking it will be different this time.
I started with console gaming when I was a kid. My dad bought me a Nintendo and he didn't see me for three days. He ended up having to come in, unplug it, and take it away.
Next, when I was a teenager, I saved up enough money to buy a 486 DX 66 (an ancient PC by today's standards). However it was good enough to run Quake, Doom, and Warcraft, all of which I played whenver I could. I still was able to get good grades because my mom made sure I focused on my homework and didn't get carried away with gaming.
Once I moved out and went away to college it was on. I discovered pot through my best friend and we started playing Everquest obsessively. We'd stay up all night leveling characters and listening to Howard Stern. Between the two of us we had three computers and 6 Everquest characters that we multi-boxed. It was fun, while it lasted.
Pretty soon we started mixing other drugs with the pot (alcohol, then various pills). After several years of this, my friend died of an overdose in the middle of the night after he had forgotten how much xanax he took (he was also taking vicodin). I continued using drugs and playing video games for the next 4 years until I got in trouble with the law and spent some time in jail. That was over 5 years ago and I haven't taken a drug or a drink since, which is a miracle. However, video games are still kicking my ass.
When I stopped and thought about it, my main addiction has always been video games. Whenever I would get high, the main thing I wanted to do was to play video games. I didn't go out to bars or go out socializing. My friends and I would always sit around and play video games while we were getting loaded. I used to drink and use drugs so I could play games for longer periods of time.
Now that I'm over 5 years clean and sober, I find myself from time to time going back to playing video games. My latest struggle has been with Android games, specifically with tapping-based games like Tap Titans and Evolution: Heroes of Utopia. I'm a software developer by trade, so I make decent money and I justified buying a top-of-the-line tablet because I "wanted to have fun and I thought I deserved it." The truth was that I just wanted it so I could play games on it.
The funny thing is, I didn't just go out and buy one. For about the last month and a half I've been reading reviews, waiting for them to go on sale, obsessing over them, etc. Finally a few weeks ago the model I was looking at went on sale and I ordered one that morning (at 6am because the first thing I did on Sunday morning when I woke up was to check Costco.com to see if they were on sale, lol). I called the next day and canceled it because I knew it wasn't a good idea for me to be getting one. Then a week or so later I ordered another one, and also canceled it. I told my girlfriend and my sponsor in another 12 step program about it, and how I knew it wasn't good for me. In this other program we talk about fitting ourselves to be of maximum service to the Universe and our fellows, and how anything that takes away from that goal isn't good and we shouldn't be doing it. Well, the next day I went to Best Buy and bought one (this was yesterday). I spent last night playing a bunch of games, most of which I found boring so I moved on to other ones. I finally found some (the tapper games I mentioned above) that were addicting enough (i.e. produced the right chemical reaction in my brain) for me to want to play, which I did for several hours. When I finally went to go to bed I had a hard time because I was thinking about the games, fantasizing about how much gold I was getting while afk (in those games your heroes fight for you while you're away). I kept wanting to log back in and kill a few bosses so I could maximize how much gold I was getting. That's another theme of my video gaming - I always want to be perfect and be as efficient as possible. I will look up strategies obsessively to figure out what's the absolute best way to go about farming, leveling, etc.
Anyway, I finally got up and uninstalled the game. I did get some sleep but it wasn't very restful. I know I can't be playing video games, but I see so many people doing it without obsessing over it and I keep going back, trying to find that sweet spot where I can control it and enjoy it. So far I've been unable to find it.
I'm going to return the tablet tomorrow since all I really wanted it for (like I mentioned above) was to play video games. Since I got sober 5 years ago I've probably only been playing games for 10-20% of the time, but when I do it always causes me to lose sleep, miss work, not be present in my relationships, not enjoy what's right in front of me, etc. because I'm obsessing over the games. I just can't do it anymore. Part of me feels weak, like I should be able to do it on my own, but I know I can't. I need help and that's why I'm here.
Thank you for reading and for your support.