Cold Turkey for Christmas

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Getsuya
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Cold Turkey for Christmas

Hi I'm Ben, though I go by Getsuya online.

I live and work in Japan, but I came home to visit the folks for the Christmas break for about 2 weeks. While here I sat down with my brother who has overcome quite a few addictions himself, and we talked about my video game addiction.

My job in Japan is very stressful (plus there's the stress from living and working in a foreign country and a foreign language) so more and more I convinced myself that I needed games to 'de-stress'. But when I'm honest with myself and look back, all I can see is whole weekends and holidays wasted in front of a screen with nothing to show but guilt at spending so much money on my collection of games and for blowing off social stuff to stay at home gaming alone.

Every day the first thing I would do is check a gaming news site to look at new games that were being announced or in development. In my mind I had already bought them all, I was just waiting for them to hit the shelves. It didn't matter that I had piles upon piles of games already gathering dust. Games are cheap in Japan, if I didn't have the money for a big new release I could always pick up something from the retro years since we had several retro game shops in town. It seemed like every week I was finding an excuse to go out and add to my collection.

Since childhood I've been an avid reader, and I just love stories. The whole reason I started studying Japanese was so I could read their novels and play their games in their original language. Japanese stories are just so different from the ones I grew up with. So another excuse I used when gaming was 'I'm playing these for the story'. I (thought I) loved Japanese RPGs, but (again when I'm being honest with myself) the reality was I was only enjoying maybe 1 or 2 hours out of a 40-50 hour game. To me the gameplay just got in the way of continuing the plot. It was like reading a book only every 10 minutes I would have to set the book down and go punch a tree for half an hour before I could read more.

So, sitting down with my brother, I admitted something that was even more important to me than admitting I had an addiciton. I said "I do not enjoy video games".

I don't.

I enjoy reading, writing, playing the piano, listening to good music, hanging out with friends, watching anime or movies with friends, and roleplaying. I enjoy board games and card games and tabletop RPGs but I

do

not

enjoy

video games.

And that's why, I realized, I have to quit. Right now. For good. Not just buying and playing them, I have to quit looking at the news sites. I have to quit hanging out in the game stores looking at their ads. I have to quit hanging out with friends online who drag me into whatever new online game comes out. I have to quit telling myself there are games I should look forward to. I have to quit telling myself I need games to de-stress. I have to quit telling myself it's okay because they're super cheap and won't impact me too bad financially.

So far I've been clean ever since coming home to America from Japan, so just over a week. I brought three different portable systems with me in my bags, and they're within easy reach, but I've been resisting their call easily. There are just so many books to read and family things to do that I haven't been tempted. I know my journey is really going to start when I go back to Japan where I'm alone most of the time with my stress from work piling up. That's when I'm really going to need the help, so I thought I'd sign up here so when it really starts to hit home I'll be able to talk to people who can help support me.

My brother is a big help and inspiration for me, since he's gotten over several addictions himself. I know from his experiences that it's not gong to be easy, or short. Nor can I ever at any point say the change is 'permanent', because no matter how much time passes you still have to overcome the addiction every day you live.

I said the games I brought with me weren't a temptation but you know what is? Visiting game news sites. I can't even describe how much the urge to check out a news site and look at what new games are being announced itches at my brain. I try to limit my time in front of a computer becuase each time I open the internet a part of me wants to go check. Part of me says 'If you just glance at a game news site all this tension will go away and you'll feel better. It will make quitting so much easier if you can let off steam like this' but I know that's a big lie.

Anyway sorry for this long rambling introduction. I hope I can borrow some strength from others here, and maybe lend my strength to others as well. I'm only a few days in to what's going to be a long, hard journey, but I'm glad I don't have to make it alone.

Reddog
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Hello and Welcome Ben! This

Hello and Welcome Ben! This made me laugh it is so true.

Quote:

It was like reading a book only every 10 minutes I would have to set the book down and go punch a tree for half an hour before I could read more.

Thank you for sharing your story. I related to a lot of what you said. I often used the excuse I deserved to game to de-stress. For me gaming ironically ended up being the sorce of more stress. I too wasted a lot of money but even worst a ton of time and in the end I had nothing positive to show for it. I am a big reader too I really enjoy fantasy and sci-fi books so I get the story part of the games being an enjoyment. Before I played MMO I played a lot of console RPG games and the story was always my biggest draw. But your analogy above is completley true.

You are not alone and the strenght of others is what keeps us from gaming. Please try to make it to a meeting they are a huge help.

"Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, Thats why it's called the Present"

Falcon
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Hi Ben, welcome to OLGA. I

Hi Ben, welcome to OLGA.

I shared a similar sentiment with the MMO I played.
I remember loving it for the story, the art, the music. But unfortunately, with it being an MMO, all the content that I loved so much eventually got watered down and replaced with various events and updates to appeal to long-term players. Lots of repetitive grinding, lots of competition between other players...I got into the loop and eventually found my stomach churning whenever I heard the music I loved so much. I realized that this was how the game was "supposed" to be played according to the devs, but I didn't enjoy it one bit, I was just lured by the amazing graphics and heartfelt story and eventually "settled" for this new life. (Of course it also served as an escape since I was struggling with lots of stress from school at the time.)
I realized that whatever you can find in games, you can find in real life. All the components are there. So in my spare time lately, I've been working on making some of my own artwork that I enjoy.

I also had a habit of compulsively checking strategy forums and such...and I'm not sure if this might help you, but luckily alongside the MMO I also had a tiny interest in learning about Linux systems so I started making myself visit forums about Linux instead. I think it really helped me to transition from reading about "strategies" in some game to reading about "strategies" in something different and non-addictive.

Keeping off the computer for extended periods of time should definitely do some good, especially when you've first quit. Make sure you go easy on yourself at first though, so you're not too stressed out and start craving the games more... The first few weeks or so when I quit I did nothing but watch tv and sleep all day. It was all I could do to keep from playing, but things noticeably got better after that.

Good luck Ben. We're all here for you. I hope to see you at the meetings.

Live your story.

Lisa3333
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Welcome Ben!!  What has

Welcome Ben!! What has helped me the most were the meetings here with other addicts. We have just started one for Australia/Asia time zone. The list of meetings and locations is here http://olganon.org/?q=node/46551.

Hugs, Lisa Video game free since 4/17/2014

Getsuya
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Thank you! That helps me a

Thank you! That helps me a ton. I was worried about how I would be able to participate once I go back to Japan, but if we have an Asia time zone chat that will really help me out. I'm also thinking about looking for a sponsor that maybe lives around my timezone in Japan so I would have someone who is actually awake at the same hours I am.

Getsuya
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Well I managed to survive my

Well I managed to survive my 13+ hour trip back to Japan without pulling out a game device once. Then I woke up this morning, cleared off all my Steam games from my computer and gave my account to a friend with strict instructions to never give it back to me even if I ask. (Steam accounts can't reliably be deleted so this is the only way I can think of to get it out of my hands).

The next step is the big one. Today I'm going to gather up every game and system in my apartment and take them to a recycle store called Hard Off (same chain as Book Off if you know Japanese stores) and sell them. Hopefully I get enough back to pick up an electric keyboard so I can start getting back into piano.

Alfagador
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Good luck Ben, please keep

Good luck Ben, please keep us posted!

Getsuya
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Approaching my first full

Approaching my first full month of being clean and man things just keep getting better and better. I've stuck with my daily reading and kanji studies, both of which always tended to die out after a few days before. I've also been going to sleep and waking up at pretty much the same time every day, feeling super refreshed. I've been able to take better care of my higeine and I think my co-workers have also noticed that I seem more refreshed and alert at work. I'm not constantly yawning anymore!

I haven't had time to get back to my writing quite yet, with getting back into work after my long winter break and all, but I'm planning to start writing this week and I've picked out a few fiction sites where I can post my works and get them looked at and reviewed. Between that, my reading, my piano practice and work (not to mention my social life which I've been able to be a lot more attentive to lately) I just don't think I'm ever going to even have time for games to sneak back in again.

I keep worrying that I might slip into being addicted to something else to replace games, like reading all the time or something. But I'm always amazed at how little time any given activity takes compared to games. I can sit down and read for an hour, maybe two, and take a huge chunk out of a book but still have so much of the day left. Compare that to a 50-60 hour RPG where an hour is barely enough time to open my save, go out of town and do some random battles. I guess games just make your time seem so cheap and easily spent, while other activities are much more fair, giving you much better return for your investment.

Anyway I'll be sure to post once I hit 30 days. Thanks for everyone's support. I haven't been posting much, but I do read lots of other people's stories and gain strength from them.

Reddog
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Thats great news! I relate

Thats great news! I relate completely to worrying about becoming addicted to something else. Before gaming I had an internet addiction so I often felt like I traded that addiction for my gaming addiction. I started reading like crazy after quitting but it is similar to what you said rarely do I read more than a couple hours at a time. Even then I am not completely engrossed in reading enough to ignore everything and everyone around me like I was with gaming. It is a lot less destructive and I feel like it is more rewarding that the time I wasted gaming.

"Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, Thats why it's called the Present"

Getsuya
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Well I'm past one month! The

Well I'm past one month! The headaches I was feeling for a while have gotten less frequent but the temptation keeps getting stronger and stronger. A part of me is still there in the back of my mind harping on me to 'just get an old system, you don't have to go back to new games again' or that 'you've gotten it out of your system now, now you can go back to just playing games for fun now and then'. But I know as soon as I purchase even a single game it's going to open the floodgates and in less than a month I'll be back where I was if not worse. I'm trying to limit my computer time more and more each day and spend more time either reading or writing (on paper, since I don't want to use my writing as an excuse to sit in front of my computer more). My piano hasn't really gotten much use, which I'm kind of sad about, but I really need to find some songs to practice that'll pull me back into that.

I think the thing I like best is how much control I have over my schedule now. I never thought I'd be able to get into a steady sleep schedule ever again, but now I'm consistently turning out my light by 10:00 after spending a while in bed reading each night to wind down. I've also found that it's much easier for me to keep good hygiene habits (I haven't flossed this many days in a row in... well ever) and I'm much more alert at work and able to focus.

Whenever the temptations come in I just remind myself of all the good things that have started improving my life since I stopped playing and it becomes easier to resist. However, for the time being I'm just going to stay very far away from anywhere where it would be easy for me to cave in and buy a game.

YouAreNOTalone
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Hello Ben. First of all,

Hello Ben. First of all, congratulations on your progress ! It must be really difficult to keep yourself clean when you are surrounded by video games. I noticed too that simply standing in front of the computer while doing unnecessary things on it, like watching a ton of movies, anime, TV series etc can be a trigger to cravings. In my opinion, the internet can be pretty addictive if we are not careful enough to manage our time spent on the " web". One of the key to recovery , at least for me, was communication with understanding people. The Otaku concept applies to video games too, which means that one side-effect of gaming is isolation from everything and everyone and trying to live a imaginary life in our minds while evading responsibilities. Keep up the good work and continue to come here to share your progress with us !

"The future is determined by our choices in the present." - Anonymous Author

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