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 A slave to games - my story of computer game addiction 
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Joined: Fri May 13, 2016 12:50 pm
Posts: 1
State/Province/Country: Berkshire
Hello all,

I would like to share my story, as I feel like I have hit a rock-bottom with regards to gaming. Today I am willing to surrender, albeit somewhat resentfully!

Computer games for me was all about power. I craved power over people, places and things. Computer games gave me that tangible sense of power and accomplishment, which I felt was absent in my life.

My story, like so many others, begins with a lot of childhood trauma. Unlike many others though, I know that I suffer from the physical side of addiction too. Today I know that I am, biologically, like a worm in hot ashes. It's my natural state, it's written into my very genes - my parents have it, my grandparents had it. You can trace the line of "black sheep" up the family tree. I can't change the reality that I am genetically disposed to addiction. From day one, I was looking for something to take the edge off my white-hot brain. Something to pacify me.

Then add trauma to a worm in hot ashes, and what happens? I squirm even harder! The trauma only exacerbated an existing condition. Now one aspect of my story, is that I was not aware of the full extent of my childhood trauma until I was 21.

The fact that I have a down-rated endocannabinoid system (that's the part of the brain that makes you feel at ease in yourself - this means I naturally feel at dis-ease), this is super important information to me today, because I can easily slip into the belief that I can pray away, or therapy away this problem. I can't.

My early pacifiers were sucking on a blanket (hahah!), sugar (copious amouts of sweets), binge spending my pocket money on Warhammer 40k (blast you Games Workshop for taking all my money as a kid!!), and most of all spending time in the one neighbourhood that I should never go into by myself - my own mind! I would spend hours, days, lost within the fantasy that I fed, nourished and nurtured within my own mind. Star Wars was a major fix for me. My fantasies were always the same, take something that I did not have power over (such as a film script - Star Wars), and in my own fantasy change it, play with it, make it my own. I was God in those fantasies. The only problem was that my fantasies were not real. I would actually get pain in the head from too much fantasy! And it never satisfied. I wanted desparately those fantasies to come real. Computer games came closer to fulfilling that desparate craving. But never delivered.

As a child I would do play a lot of make-believe games. Escape from reality! Sometimes this would involve others, but most of the time not. We were brought up without TV, or a computer. But one day a friend showed me his Sega MegaDrive. I lost that friend because he realised that I was using him to play on his games console! That's how quickly games became unmanageable for me. I was 12 at the time.

Eventually we got our own TV and SNES, and of course it wasn't long before I was "rationed" by my mum. My brother got a N64, and of course it wasn't long before my brother got really narked, because he wouldn't get a look in!

Another of my funny stories, to show how cunning, baffling and powerful this disease is, was how, as a family, we didn't have a PC, but one of my friends did. I had a PC Gamer magazine and had got totally obsessed with a game called Total Annihilation. I purchased that game for my PC-owning-friend's birthday. The moment he opened it, I asked, can I install it for you? For the next 12 hours I played on the game that I had "got" for my friend!! So much for the birthday party! LOLS. Yep, gaming addiction had me. Cunning, baffling and powerful!

My father bought me a PC, but instead of being grateful, I fierd the machine up to look at it's specs and was very upset to discover that it was a 486 DX2 with 8mb of RAM, so much for Team Fortress Classic! It was 1999, there were Pentium III's by then! And I was given a second-hand 486 DX2... lols.

We finally got a PC at home, and within weeks I had amassed a massive internet bill (56kbs oh yeah) playing Team Fortress Classic. It was my escape of choice. But I couldn't play it all the time, as I wanted to. Like those people in Inception, I wanted to be plugged in 24/7. But school got in the way. I would rush home, to get on the PC. Always wary of being cautious of my mum, she could tell me off. The gaming sessions until the birds started singing started to happen. The grades at school went down. I can't blame gaming alone for that, there was a lot of terrible stuff going on for me, but computer gaming only made it worse.

I went to university to study what? How to make computer games of course! What did I spend my student loan on? The top end gaming rig of course! What did I do while at university? Play computer games of course (with a cocktail of mood-altering substances thrown in for good measure). In the end I gave up on my studies and gave into the slavery to games. I became completely nocturnal. XBOX brought me a sense of community in coop games, a dragon that I would chase ever since. That feeling of accomplishment together with others. But my lifestyle started to have very serious consequences.

I nearly died at university, and after surviving, I realised I needed recovery. I joined CA (cocaine anonymous - before you ask, no I did not do cocaine: "The only requirement for C.A. membership is a desire to stop using cocaine and all other mind-altering substances.") and AA (alcoholics anonymous - though I wouldn't say I was a fully-fledged alcoholic, I need AA because of it's strong message of recovery). Today I have over 13 years sobriety in both those fellowships.

For a long time Games were out of my life. But after two years in sobriety, I had a major (and I mean major) trauma bubble burst. Memories of very severe childhood abuse at the hands of a babysitter came back. My world started to crumble, the meetings and the twelve steps were not enough in the face of serious psychological trauma. In the end, after nearly loosing everything, I was given a helping hand by my mother, and prepared to go into a recovery community (like a kibbutz). During the time in preparation to go into the recovery community, I relapsed on computer games like crazy. Battlefield 2, Counter Strike. I actually convinced the local gaming cafe to give me free access to their computers! Cunning, baffling, powerful.

The recovery community gave me the safety and space to come to terms with my memories, away from the world and all the things that I could use to fix myself. After 2 and a half years, I came out, back into the world and foundd myself an outstanding EMDR therapist to help me with my trauma. Things started to get back on track. I got a good job, but slowly I started to bash heads with my boss. My working environment got worse and worse. I got more and more stressed. I started to watch gamers playing on YouTube (that was and still is a super huge trigger for me - I can't afford to watch games on YouTube/Twitch etc. It's such a slippery slope). And, sure enough, one day a little voice said "why don't you play a game?" So I got a subscription to OnLive and started playing games at work. Mainly Supreme Commander and Borderlands.

Things started to go downhill quickly. I was never caught, but I wouldn't get any work done on the days that I played games. I got into a relationship, and got more stressed. I started doing all night binges again, and my first (and only) real dabble into MMO games - Battlestar Galactica Online.

I got married and from time to time I would disappear into a binge. I would go to the internet cafe to do "work", when really all I was doing was playing CSGO, or Sins of a Solar Empire, or something. Eventually I got a better job, which gave me a laptop. In no time at all I was playing games on that and that's where I have been, with things crumbling down around my ears. Spending less and less time with my family, my wife, children and friends, and less time in recovery too. Playing ArmA 3, Wargame: Red Dragon, Hearts of Iron 3 and others. I saw the compulsion, I experienced it. I was back under the lash. I was a slave to the endorphins, the adrendaline, that these games gave me. But I knew how short the fix would last, and I would inevitably be back for more.

My disease is progressive, meaning that the fix today, will not be enough tomorrow. I will always need more. Today I know that I have a physical craving for these brain chemicals - which does not mean that I need to find a "natural" way to find this fix. It means, that my brain is deficient in these chemicals, genetically. I can't change that. Ever. What I need is a program of living, where I can live with my reality, without having to resort to a fix. When I get a fix, I will trigger the cycle of cravings, and back into slavery I go. Progression meaning that Games will never be enough. I will eventually need other things to add to it, that could mean relapsing into alcohol, drugs or using lustful images. I don't want that. Not today, not ever.

Computer Game Addicts Anonymous gives me the opportunity to surrender this untold story, admit my powerlessness, and my need for desparate need for help. I need fellowship with other compulsive gamers. Today (12 May 2016) I deleted all my games, saves, and steam instance. Today I hope will be the beginning of lasting sobriety from computer games. But I know that I can't do this without help, and I mean Divine Help. I'm so compulsed, so powerless, that only The Supreme Being can be my true liberation and lasting help. But how can I find Him, if I have so much junk on the inside? So many resentments, fears, wrongs? That's why I need the 12 steps to help me clear out the junk, so that I can experience the sunlight of His Grace. One day at a time! I need a fellowship to remind me, to feel part of and to be of service to. You all help me to remember, I have a forgetting disease! I forget how bad it is, I forget how I have this brain deficiency. How I have the insanity of mind that says "ah you deserve to play games now", "it will be different this time", "you didn't complete that game", "there is a new game out, why don't you watch a review, don't worry you'll be fine - it's just looking, not touching!" and all the other ludecrous things my insane brain tells me to get back to fixing myself and making myself feel better.

God please keep me sober from computer games, from trying to fix myself, just for today.

Thank you for letting me share my story.


Fri May 13, 2016 1:08 pm

Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2016 2:28 pm
Posts: 11
State/Province/Country: East Coast
Hi George, and welcome to CGAA.

I relate to quite a bit of your story. I too suffer from mental illness, although it's a different type for me. I also used to find neighborhood kids my age who owned video game consoles so I could play at their houses since my family set limits on my use at home. I switched from person to person so they wouldn't get too upset with me for always playing video games and not wanting to do anything else. Oh yes, and I've also been done in by YouTube, which is a very slippery slope for some of us.

Computer gaming addiction can be terrible, but you've come to the right place and seem to have good insight into the difficulties it's caused for you. I know I've found both the meetings, the forums, and talking to a sponsor immensely helpful, and I hope they can be beneficial for you as well. Hope to meet you at a meeting soon.

Fri May 13, 2016 1:32 pm
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 4:59 pm
Posts: 680
Location: Colorado (Front Range Urban Corridor)
State/Province/Country: Colorado, USA

Welcome to the fellowship!

Thank you for sharing your amazing story. I marvel at the self-awareness that you have gained on this journey. I hope that I will see you at some meetings--that's where people in this fellowship really connect, make friends, get support and find sponsors. I've got 3.5 years away from games, and yet I still go to multiple meetings a week, because it's so helpful for me, so connecting, and it reminds me of where I've come from and that I still have far to go.

Thanks again. See you at the meeting....

You have to go the way the way your blood beats:
If you don't live the only life you have,
You won't live some other life,
You just won't live any life at all.

I was dan1 in a former life.

skype: dan939f
reddit: DansNewLife

Sat May 14, 2016 1:32 pm
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Joined: Mon May 02, 2016 7:55 am
Posts: 8
Location: Spain
State/Province/Country: Girona
Hi George, thanks for sharing your story.

I hope CGAA and 12 step can help you to find a way to live with your disease. We are here to help each other, alone we are powerless, but togheter we gain strong and we can start walking and create our destiny :thumbsup: .

Sat May 21, 2016 7:39 pm
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