Have you ignored friends and family, missed work, chose games over sex, all for the pull of the game? Do you LOVE video games more than anything, and yet HATE them at the same time? Have you quit games cold turkey, only to come back and dive even deeper? Then you need to read this…
“How I dumped my video game
addiction and gained freedom to
enjoy what I really want in life”
… and how you can exploit these exclusive secrets to do it too!
This is not for the casual gamer. Not for the guy that plays NBA Live with his buddies after basketball practice. Not for the girl that logs on after school and plays Farmville. Not for the ‘A’ student who claims they are addicted to Minesweeper…
This is for the hardcore gamer who games so intensely that you skip sleep, go without food, hold your piss at bay for hours, ignore discomforts and pain, and completely cut yourself off from the world to get some serious gaming in.
You know what else can do that to you? Hard drugs. Video games are a hell of a drug.
Do you get incredible thrills and excitement while playing, but at the same time feel terribly guilty?
When not playing, do you find yourself meticulously planning your next gaming session?
Have you tried to quit before, only to come crawling back no matter how many times you promised that you wouldn’t go back?
Then this is the most important letter you may ever read in your life…
Fellow Gamer Geek, Dave Bulger comes out of the basement to share his experiences on hardcore gaming and breaking the spell of addiction!
18 July, 2012
From: Dave Bulger
Dear fellow game addict,
How would you feel, if you had all the things you wanted in life? Money, freedom, health, empowering relationships, significance…
How would you feel if every thing you did aligned with your passions, your greatest DESIRES?
Now how would you feel if your future was pre-programmed and you were told that the only future for you was to play video games until the end of your days? That there were NO POSSIBILITIES of any other endeavor. That playing video games was not a choice, but what you had to do in order to survive…
Let me tell you my story. I loved video games. I’ve been in love with video games since I first got my hands on “Super Mario Bros” for Nintendo. I don’t know what it was, but I wanted to just sit and play for days on end.
I played Nintendo, Sega, Super Nintendo, Playstation, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Wii, Xbox, Playstation 3… But my real addiction was computer games. Console games were like candy, and computer games were like having the whole cake.
Doom, Quake, Might and Magic, King’s Quest, Ultima, Star Wars, Wing Commander, WarCraft, Diablo, StarCraft, System Shock, Descent, Thief, Command & Conquer, Baldur’s Gate, Fallout, Half Life, Counterstrike, GTA, World of Warcraft, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Civilization, Elder Scrolls, Guild Wars, League Of Legends… I’m sure you can add dozens more!
I played games over and over. I treasured every secret, easter egg, exploit, and bug. It wasn’t enough to just beat the game, I had to uncover every secret room, try out every weapon, beat it with every class, beat it as fast as possible, beat it on the hardest difficulty, beat it armed with just a crowbar…
I lived for that next frag, that next level, that next item, that next game.
I played video games all through grade school, all through high school and all through college.
I finished college, and was relieved that school was finally over. I was finally free to do everything that I wanted. Of course, the only thing on my mind was to play video games. So that’s what I did…
Then all week. Then all month. Then all year! For two whole years, I did nothing but plug away at video games! I was living the dream! No commitments, no school, no job, no girlfriend. Just games, games, games.
I would roll out of bed and go straight to the computer. I would game for 16+ hrs straight. I ate at my desk, and sprinted to the bathroom at the last possible second to save precious gaming time. When servers were down, or patches downloading, or my mouse hand feeling stiffer than rigor mortis, I would take a little break from gaming. This meant, watching movies at my computer, or watching other players stream, or reading the latest gaming news and forum posts.
I started this expedition in my parents’ basement, but they were a huge nuisance to deal with. Lecturing me every night, removing computer peripherals, switching the entire house power off, removing the modem, cutting the internet line…. I was crafty and headstrong enough to beat their efforts, but eventually I concluded
I moved into a dusty basement ‘apartment’ that was actually just a dressed up furnace room. During the winter the furnace would roar and drum away. But I’d just pop my noise cancelling headphones on and blissfully ignore it. The windows were broken and trickling in cold air, so I stuffed newspapers and garbage bags for insulation. It also served to block out anyone looking in or that dreaded natural light. The winters were bitter cold, so I slapped on as many layers as possible and wore my coat indoors.
Come spring, the weather brought some torrential rainstorms. One day while grinding away, I felt water creep all around my feet. I thought it was the fridge, buzzing right next to me, but soon discovered most of the tiled floor was covered in a great puddle of grimy water. I spent the rest of the evening mopping and pouring buckets down the bathtub drain. I was so angry! What a buzz kill. I had to endure several other floods in the same fashion. I just left towels on the floor in preparation.
The bottom element on the oven was out of juice when I moved in, so I just undercooked and burnt everything on broil. The bathroom had zero ventilation and seeped out ooze from the pipes. The kitchen just became a mess of dirty dishes, and dirtier dishes.
I would only get out of my stank ass chair to relieve myself or eat some food (usually I just ordered and lived on left over pizza for days). I would try to clean myself up if I had to go out. But I ended up going days at a time without even seeing another person!
I knew I had a serious addiction. I was too embarrassed to admit it to anyone. I searched for stories similar to mine on the internet, but just found a few websites made by doctors and psych students. Outsiders looking in. No one with a story like mine. The only stories I could relate to were the people dying from marathon gaming. At least I wasn’t that bad, but I was on my way.
As an ectomorph I didn’t gain weight from this sedentary lifestyle. I lost it. I looked like a sickly white stick with long grimy hair and facial hair that looked like sweaty pubes. I had a throbbing pain in my molar that had been growing for months (and lead to a root canal). I chose to ignore it the best I could. In its later stages I could hardly sleep, so I just gamed even more until I passed out from exhaustion.
I blew through all my savings until I was paying off debts with more debts, just to keep me wired in. Things were spiraling out of control. But I simply told myself, “I can stop at any time. This is what I choose to do.”
It took a combination of throbbing agony in my tooth, thousands of dollars of debt, my lease running out, and an internet outage to finally get out of there. I was lucky; my parents welcomed me back in their nest. Of course I saw this only as another opportunity to game it up and live scot-free. The catch was I had to do some I.T. work for my dad, but I could squeeze that in between loading screens and waiting for people to join games. My parents nagged me every day about gaming, but I wore them down.
Eventually, I had to pick up a part-time job to pay the bills. I was paying for internet in the house, as well my previous debts were still there and the banks began to call… However, my mindset was still to game as much as possible. I would blitz home after work and log some hours. Once my debts were paid, I’d be able to go back on full-time gaming.
So how did I finally quit?
Well I didn’t go off and become ‘an hero.’ But, I did decide to go for a ski trip with my dad and bro. The plan was to bank some goodwill so I could game it up harder when I returned home. But, something happened on this trip. I hadn’t been skiing in years, though I used to be quite good. The feeling of the outdoors, and adventure high above the clouds tickled some primal instincts inside me. This is where I wanted to be. Navigating through untouched snow and exploring unknown territory. I wouldn’t need video games if I could live my own incredible adventure every day. Of course, I considered my severe lack of income and the possibility of returning soon to be grim. But, I made the realization that video games would not get me back here.
When the ski boots came off for the night, I picked up a book: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. I knew the dude had died, but I wasn’t particularly a fan of Apple. Macs and games just didn’t get along as well. I skimmed through the first few pages and got settled in. What struck me immediately, was Steve did not live an ordinary life…
In fact, he was the oddest character I’d ever read about.
He was a total hippie who walked around bare foot and smoked dope. He dropped out of his college program because it bored him. He started auditing the classes that he was really interested in, like typography and design. He went on a spiritual pilgrimage to India instead of getting a job. He impregnated a woman and just ignored it!@# He parked in the handicap spot at Apple. In fact, he parked sideways and took up 2 handicap spots. He cooled off his feet in toilets while Apple employees were just trying to take a leak!
In 2005, he was interviewed by a New York Times reporter, and emphasized, “Doing LSD was one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life.” It wasn’t meeting Steve Wozniak, or having kids, or founding Apple. Time and time again he cited LSD being critical to his development. Steve didn’t strive to live a ‘normal life’. He didn’t hold back. He did and said exactly as he wanted. There were many underlining motivations, the greatest of which must’ve been his realization that we all die, so why should we live like sheep? Why should we not do, what we really want to do? “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” Playing video games is living in someone else’s creation, living within their rules and limitations. It’s like a prison for the mind.
I understood, at that moment, I was living inside someone else’s construct. I was one of the best Guild Wars players in the world. I was in the top 5% of League of Legends players in North America. And you know what? No one cared! It wasn’t a badge of honor. It was a burden of shame. Most people I meet still don’t even know what World of Warcraft is.
I needed to build my own construct. My own vision of my life. It was plain to see, that video games were not a part of my future, and all I had to do was act on it immediately and without hesitation.
The 5 simple steps to
STOP GAME ADDICTION:
Admit you have an addiction to video games
Realize that video games are a problem in your life
Understand why the addiction is so powerful
Accept that there is only 1 solution
Step 1: Admit you have an addiction to video games
Well, you’re here, so you’ve gotten that far. Know that you’re not alone. There’s many signs of addiction.
You may be addicted if you…
- Choose games over basic necessities like food, sleep, excreting waste.
- Find yourself often thinking of games when not playing.
- Spend more time gaming than any other activity.
- Lie about how much time you spend gaming.
- Feel guilty about playing.
- Get angry at others who interrupt your gaming.
- Get angry at the computer.
I can easily recount doing all of the above. I have played video games 10000s of hours. 100s of Days.
Video games STOLE years of my life.
If you are addicted, there’s a good chance you already know it. Place the idea right in the front of your concious. Say it aloud, “I have a game addiction.” Even better, WRITE IT DOWN. Now you are self aware. “And knowing is half the battle”.
Step 2: Realize that video games are a problem in your life
So you realize you’re an addict. But why should you stop playing video games? They are cheap entertainment, you get countless hours out of $50 or less. The sights and sounds are often artistic masterpieces. They allow you to interact with people from all over the world, … and you enjoy them, right?
While I was deeply engrossed in video games, I was able to admit I was addicted. However, I rationalized that I should not be concerned. I enjoyed playing video games. I chose to play video games. I wanted to play video games and what was so wrong with that? I was doing what I wanted to do in life. Some people go shopping and travel the world. I was travelling the world… of warcraft.
But I was only fooling myself. When I was a child, I didn’t dream of playing games when I grew up. I dreamed of being someone important and desirable. I thought I would just grow out of them, and just grow out of eating junk food, and I thought I would just grow a lot taller and more muscular too!
As I grew older, I found video games to be even MORE addicting. I could better appreciate their intricacies and design. Not to mentions games are just getting better and better both in graphics and gameplay elements.
However, when I took a deep breath and analyzed what I really wanted in life, video games were not part of the picture.
Look in the mirror and honestly ask yourself, “is this the person I want to be?”
If we were having this discussion three years from today, and you were looking back over those three years, what has to have happened in your life, both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy with your progress?
Three years down the road, if you are still in the same place, with the same body, the same income (or lack thereof), the same stories to tell, would you be happy with yourself? Or would you rather destroy the games, get in the best shape of your life, have the sex you really want, and engage your REAL passions?
If you picture yourself in three years behind the same desk, playing League of Legends 2, or Call of Duty 5, or Diablo 4, or StarCraft 3 then keep on playing. But, I have a feeling that’s not what you see…
Step 3: Understand why the addiction is so powerful
We all know humans have basic needs. What would you say is required for survival? Food, water, air, shelter, sex, sleep, security… If you’re playing video games, you already have a way to satisfy those needs. So why would you need to play video games? Why does your mind crave them? Video games don’t inject any substance into your body, so how can they be addictive?
What is the leading cause of post-traumatic stress from soldiers returning from combat duty? It’s not the terrible things they saw. It’s not the sounds, or the smells or the injuries…
It’s that they were fulfilling the most important role imaginable. They were saving lives!
They protected not only their team mates. To many women and children they were like angels, come to put their nightmares to an end.
When the tour of duty ends and they return home to assimilate into civilian life, often soldiers find themselves behind a desk or doing manual labor. They feel like a tiny cog in a giant machine. They feel insignificant. Unimportant. This is an ENORMOUS source of stress. Picture “Saving Private Ryan” when Capt. Miller whispers his last words to Pvt. Ryan, “James, earn this… earn it”. Ryan goes back home knowing that others GAVE THEIR LIVES, so that he could live. Picture yourself as Ryan, returning home and finding no meaningful work. Would you be losing your wits?!
Finding importance in life is a paramount concern.
Video games satiate that incredible desire to feel important. To overcome great odds in battle. To lead your team to victory. To acquire a high valued item. To solve a wickedly devious puzzle. To explore a new area. To earn a difficult achievement.
When you are rewarded in video games, your brain releases dopamine, which pumps your body full of pleasure. In your prehistoric self, dopamine was critical to reinforce necessary behaviors for survival. Catching prey while on the hunt released dopamine. Eating delicious foods released dopamine. Having sex released dopamine. This ensured you didn’t just roll in the dirt all day. Thus your brain is tricked into reinforcing you to keep playing games and trigger more releases of dopamine!
Step 4: Accept that there is only 1 solution
You’ve probably quit games before, only to relapse.
Maybe it was for a week, for a month, for a year.
Maybe it was just temporary so you could get something done, or prove to someone you could stop ‘when you wanted to.’
Maybe you quit playing one particular game and felt you’d be fine just playing other less serious games. You quit the heroine for the coke. But you’re still jacked up.
Let’s get real here.
Alcoholics come to the realization that it’s cold turkey or relapse. One drop and they are back under the bottle. Smokers know the same thing. For addicts, there is no such thing as moderation. Put a kid in a candy store with $50 and he will spend every penny.
There is only one way to take back your life.
Quit with absolutely no possibility of coming back.
Uninstall all of your games. Get rid of all the files. All the saved games, all the screenshots, all the momentos. All the install disks. All the guides, boxes, and collectibles. If you wanted to quit drinking or smoking, would you leave booze or smokes around the house? Would you go out to bars every night? Don’t fool yourself. Change your environment. Get rid of any vessel that brings you back to games. If you got the stones, take your gaming rig outside and destroy it in the most violent and exciting way possible.
Step 1337: Act Now!
Why quit now? Why not a little later?
Why not after you finish the game you’re currently hooked on? Or after that next-gen game that’s going to revolutionize the industry? Or after the summer break is over? Or after school is over? Or when you graduate? Or after you have a kids and a family? Or after you are old and withered and can’t even see the screen anymore?
Life is short. You are going to die. YOU ARE GOING TO CROAK AND CEASE TO EXIST. Do you want to be lying there in your deathbed and say, “man, I played some great video games!” or do you want to say, “I squeezed every last drop out of life.”
You NEED to stop playing video games, RIGHT NOW.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. You’ve gone this far. The next step is easy.
No one is able to take action for you, only you can do it.
You’re worth it
If you seek additional help and a caring community of gamers coping with addiction, please do me a favor and visit http://www.olganon.org/