I have been playing video games for a long time. It started sometime during the 2nd grade when I got a PlayStation 2 as a Christmas present. I was immediately hooked. Over the next seven years, I collected over 60 games and spent 6-7 hours a day playing them. At first, I didn’t try to hide my actions. Eventually, I was scolded for spending more time on video games than on my schoolwork, at which point I began to lie about how I was really managing my time.
This period of gaming was interrupted when I moved to a different apartment with my mother, in a whole other city. We had to put many things in storage, including my gaming system. About two or three years after moving, there was a month in-between jobs that caused us to miss a payment on the storage unit; rather than wait for us to catch up, they sold off everything we had placed in storage.
Soon after this, my mother bought me a PlayStation 4 as a present. Of course, I fell right back into my 6-7 hour gaming sessions. And, of course, I started lying more to cover up how much I was gaming and how little I was studying.
When it was time for me to go to college, one can imagine what I did to blow my first year. I tried the same thing I had tried for years, but college requires hours of studying rather than gaming. I lied about my grades, but by the end of the second semester I had failed a number of classes. The college didn’t formally “kick me out;” they simply stated that my studying skills were poor.
It was at this time that I finally confessed that I couldn’t stay away from the video games. My mother had me pack up the gaming system; several doctors suggested easing off of them gradually, but I decided to go cold turkey. I didn’t trust myself to not play the games; I knew that I would go so far as to trade sleep for a chance to play them.
I am planning to take more college classes in the fall, and I am confident that I can really focus on school for once. However, every addiction has a withdrawal, right? I found that out the hard way when almost everything in the world somehow reminded me of my video games. Watching a movie with werewolves would drag me right into Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where I spent many hours running and hunting in the form of a werebeast. Reading fantastical literature would send me walking down the halls of a chateau deep in the forests of the Emerald Graves, from the world of Dragon Age. Wondering about the upcoming season of a favorite show would immediately have me wondering when the next Season of Diablo 3 was going to begin.
During those times, I get really jittery, and there is a kind of deep-seated irritation in my hands; all I can think about is the need to unpack the PS4 and start gaming again. I resist the urge, even though it makes me a nervous wreck for a short period of time. I just know that I would have a hard time controlling myself if I were to jump right back in the deep end.
Lately, I have found that 30-60 minutes of intense exercise helps to calm my nerves. I favor cycling to the beat of music. Though it calms me, the compulsion is still there, always lingering in the back of my mind. Yet I continue to resist.