So here is my story. I'm a male with Asperger's, but I'm not anti-social (I have the other traits, just not that specific one). I have been gaming since I was roughly 8 years old. I grew up on a run down horse farm where I was allergic to everything but yet my family forced me to work on the farm anyway. It was absolute misery, every day. My bedroom had little to no ventilation and would freeze in the winter. My only solace was my RPGs. Due to what I now know was Aspeger's, although I was social I had no friends growing up; I was only ever invited over to someone's house once because I made him invite me. I was very active in school though with sports and clubs (kept me off the farm). However; when I was not at those or out working in the barn, I was playing video games almost without exception.
When I left for college, I was much more socially accepted by people and looking back my Freshman year was fairly game-free. My sophomore and junior year I spent in Japan where I had close friends but had a ton of money which lead to several thousand dollars in PS2 purchases, including my first MMO... FFXI. When I returned to the states, I found that I was beyond anything my school could offer in terms of Japanese language instruction and so I actually got the school to open up the ports in the IT system to allow FFXI. So I played it a lot. It did not seem to affect my schoolwork though as I always got the same grades (which were good). I would usually play late at night though so not many people noticed the amount of hours I was on it and my social life did not appear to suffer.
When I graduated college, I moved across the country. I got a horrendous job that lasted almost a year where I made roughly $114 a week. I lived in the heart of San Diego on that income. Huge economies had to be taken and my entertainment was wholly consumed by FFXI as it was just $12/month. As I got older and got a better job I moved into almost all the other MMOs, rotating on a roughly 3 month cycle between them because quite simply I craved a new adventure and the content had gotten repetitive. I noticed I didn't really care for the end-game stuff, just the adventure of leveling making me very much an "alt-oholic". I found that I struck a balance between my games, my work and my new hobby of MMA (4 hours per day 5 days a week).
I left to get my MBA and I lived on a boat while getting it that had internet. Although I was liked by my classmates, I was lived rather far away from them and very rarely was remembered to be invited to social things. In the ignorance of not know what they were doing, my time not studying was spent playing games..... this time WoW almost exclusively. I graduated and was going into the Navy SEALs but an admin error on the part of the recruiter pemanently disqualed me after I trained almost to the point of death. In the interim I played games to really bury my anger. I got a job that was meant to be temporary in Hawaii. I moved there and within a year I knew the company I was working for was very corrupt. I could not seem to find a new job though (through no lack of trying). The job got extremely hellish and I bore witness to extreme employee abuses. Since I had nowhere to go and if I quit I couldn't get unemployment, I had to stay and try to stop as much of the illegal and unethical activity I could. It was also this time I started to notice a general disgust for the majority of people and a growing frustration with what I called "highly socialized" people. To escape everything that was going on, I got into LoL and WoW and the mental numbing effect was just a fantastic escape. However, I noticed that I played FAR FAR too much and periodically I would get mad enough at myself to quit but....an expansion of a game would draw me right back. What made it worse was every time I relapsed back into the games there was an extra sense of shame because the people in my guild would think of me as flakey and flighty because I would get the strenth to leave mid-stream of working on in-game goals and often I was in a leadership position. This made my committment to stay even stronger because I was so embarrassed to be seen like that. But this cold turkey disappearance would continue to happen. I started to notice that even for an addiction, my need to game was unusually strong. This is when I was finally diagnosed with Asperger's. I started seeing a therapist and she was very helpful but she did not seem like the time of therapist that knew much of video games and their addictive qualities. Through reseach I learned Aspie's are especially vulnerable to game addiction and a lot of my habits made a lot more sense.
One day I decided to just hit the reset button on life. On October 31st of last year I sold all my games, quit my horrendous job, and moved to a new city with only my very old laptop that was too weak to support any MMO. I promised myself I was going screen free and only use the computer for job hunting. One month later, my computer died. The anxiety along with the feeling that I was a bit better lead me to get the bright idea that I should just get a new laptop that could handle a game I felt I had good time management skills with, LoL but not good enough to handle any new age games effectively creating a ceiling on my gaming if and when I chose to do it. Due to the abuses at my old job, I needed some time to really unwind and heal. Luckily, I had a good savings from the job to live off of. In that idle time though I found out my new laptop could handle things like WoW and FFXIV. So I logged back in and go the whole "oh... he's back again" treatment that again spurred on my commitment to play with my old guildmates and not want to leave them hanging as usual. The time went by and I really did unwind from my last job experience but I noticed with the full days of free time at my disposal, I had time to maintain a social life a couple nights a week (turns out I'm a pretty ****ed good and responsible poker player) but still had the time to play 10-16 hours a day, 7 days a week. The addiction now is in full blown overdrive. I know I have to work on job apps and what used to be a regular fitness routine has all but disappeared. What makes it even worse is that I'm having tons of fun in the games right now! Its not like I'm tired or sick of it when I'm playing. I have never felt so dominated by this addiction as I do right now and the lack of anger at myself has really stymied what would normally be one of my "quit cold turkey" episodes. With the exception of when I'm out and about with friends, I can barely think or focus on anything but WoW and FFXIV. In the past 6 months, if I were to say I didn't play 10 of those days, it would be a generous estimate. Whereas before in my life I felt like I was in 3 ft. of water away from the beach and could make the effort to walk back out of the water if needed, I now feel like I've been swept out to sea.... and there's a raging party out there! But.... the beach is no longer in sight.... and I really need to get out of the water. Even writing this now, half my brain is thinking about the fact that the daily timer changed an hour ago in FFXIV and I'm not in there working on my stuff.
P.S. Keep in mind I have Asperger's so don't bring up anything faith based or you will lose me very very quickly.