I know I haven’t blogged in years and seeing that I am going through a massive life shift I may start blogging again on a regular basis but I watched a video that made me want to reach out and share my story in the hopes that it may help someone out there who may be suffering from the same thing.
For those of you who don’t know game compulsion (or game addiction as the media likes to call it) is when people withdraw into games and regress from other forms of human interaction. Not everyone who spends hours on games suffers from game compulsion there are some people who just spend hours trying to grind through a certain game and once that’s done they are able to go back to their lives with little to no difference than before. I would liken this to people who grind through TV series on Netflix, they aren’t hiding from society they just trying to get all the way to the end of the series as quickly as possible.
For me, I slipped into Game compulsion shortly after a car accident. Before the car accident my life was going pretty good I was on track to have an amazing military career, I was scheduled to take the series of tests necessary to becoming a pilot which is something I had wanted to do my entire life. However after the accident due to the pain I was in I couldn’t see myself ever passing the physical. I didn’t realize it before but that was when I really dove into gaming hard. I would play season after season of madden and follow it up by spending every night grinding though each Final Fantasy. My friends at the time had no idea what was going on with me. Luckily at the time they were persistant and got me back to the real world fairly quickly. But this wouldn’t be the only time I struggled.
I slipped again when I moved to Germany, the first few months I was there I didn’t care about anything but living in the online world of Ultima Online. During this time I didn’t call anyone and only came out of my room to go to work. I can honestly say now that I had a lot of fear about the outside world, I didn’t think I deserved to be promoted, I hated my job at the time, and I was terrified of potentially being a father, so I hid in a world that I could control. A world where unlike the real world as long as I worked hard I was rewarded.
During this time I barely associated with anyone and the relationships I did have started to break down. But life does try to lift you up I snapped myself out of my rut for a while and managed to somewhat repair a crucial relationship, I was there for my daughters birth and managed to get married. Things seemed to be okay for the time.
Then things (financially) in my marriage started to get out of control and I ran back to the refuge of gaming again, ignoring my family for hours at a time. I look back now and realize that I used games as an escape from reality whenever things got too rough to bear. I finally can say that I don’t suffer from game compulsion anymore but it set me back a long way.
I realize now that the same rules for gaming apply to real life, when you fail (die) in a game you go back and try things again, and again, until you succeed and when you succeed in life you are rewarded but you have to keep trying you can’t give up just because things didn’t work out the way you hoped the first time. My issues hurt a lot of people and for the longest time I didn’t know how to explain it.
I am writing this because I think about all the people I know who have people in their lives that are suffering from game compulsion as well. These people (usually guys) tend to be out of work and facing the grim reality of a tough job market and a less than adequate skill set. Left without hope and fear of further failure I believe these guys turn to “madden” or other video games first pass the time without being a burden on anyone. You can lose many hours in a game without feeling the need for food… not to mention with the advent of online gaming there are always new challenges to overcome.
Now I am far from saying that everyone who plays games suffers from Game Compulsion. Playing games for leisure is a good thing and as I said above some games are so compelling that they pull you back in with their story lines and game play that they you feel compelled to see them through until the end. The issue is when that game is over does the person look for another digital fix? If you know someone who has slowly withdrawn from the real world is playing games to the point where their lives are starting to visibly fall apart please reach out to them and either try to help or get them help. I personally think Game Compulsion is just a way of dealing with depression and it may need to be treated as such.