The Reality of a Gaming Addiction

Welcome my readers. No, I haven’t vanished off the face of the Earth for a month, but I also haven’t found the motivation to contribute to this blog either. Try as I might, I just have nothing to talk about, and that’s probably partly because I have nothing to tell. I mean, I did go out this one time with my old work colleague, but still…

Returning from my solo trip abroad, I was feeling fantastic, on top of the world, unstoppable. I almost cancelled my flight home and stayed in Croatia, but work sadly killed that dream. Since then, I’ve been realising more than ever how much of a slump I’m in, but I just can’t seem to get out of it. So, unmotivated from the passing days of sheer boredom and hatred at work that I still haven’t managed to shake, I’ve fallen back into an old habit – indulging in fictional worlds. Even while Wimbledon, my favourite annual sporting event, was on, I was playing games while I was watching.

This last week, at least, I’ve spent just about every waking hour outside of work and sleep playing Fire Emblem games. I’ve been going to bed later and later so I could play just “one more” chapter. This morning, I fell back to sleep after switching off my alarm and almost missed work because of my sheer exhaustion from the weekend’s heavy session.

I’m not entirely sure what it is, but there’s something about a good RPG with me that resonates and has me hooked. It’s like reading a good book, watching a good film. These types of games allow you to become engrossed in characters and story to the extent that you almost become a part of their world. When I’m at home, I’m playing Fire Emblem. When I’m at work, I’m thinking about random scenarios with the characters in Fire Emblem while listening to loops of the games’ soundtracks on YouTube in the background – in other words, not getting very much else done.

Before Fire Emblem, it was point-and-click adventures, before that, it was Story of Seasons and before that Pokemon. I have this terrible habit of engaging with something, becoming completely hooked for a week or so, and then I’ve got it out of my system. This time feels different. I’ve been hooked on this for more than just a couple of weeks. In fact, I just simply can’t seem to stop, and it’s got me thinking, is it that these few games themselves are really THAT phenomenal, or is there an underlying reason for my avoidance of reality in favour of a fantasy, especially as it started happening more after going away and seeing what else is out there in the world?

It’s true that I’ve suffered with scattered depression since I was fifteen years old, and in fact my lack of recent progression was the defining point where I started this blog and tried to right the wrongs. And while I know sitting in solitude on my 3DS isn’t the answer, it’s all I want to be doing – It’s almost all I know how to do. I don’t need to do anything else in my life because none of it is nearly as enjoyable as playing my game. I think that says a lot. That the absolute best thing in my life right now is a video game, and not even one that I play online with other humans.

It’s so easy for people to tell you to just play less, to do something else for a change, but like any kind of addiction, it’s not that easy to stop. Sure, someone can take away my game, but then I just spend my entire time obsessing over keeping that story alive in my mind and when I might finally get it back. I tried going to the cinema, but instead of fully appreciating the film, I was counting down the minutes until it was over and I could go home to my games again. The way things stand, it’s going to be a hell of a long road to get over this compulsive need and desperation to play, so this week I’ve decided to get back to trying to correct the other aspects of my life, which, unfortunately, appears just as difficult.

A part of me wants to just quit my job and use some of my savings to get away for a while, but another part of me knows that life isn’t a fantasy, and that I need to work to sustain a healthy life balance and a reasonable income to live off. And who’s to say, even with all the will in the world, that I won’t just sit and spend even more hours gaming and whittling the days away? The most frustrating thing is my awareness of the issue, as I know it’s unhealthy but I’m still at a loss of what to do to come up with a solution. I know that things won’t change if I don’t actively work to change them, but I just wish it wasn’t so damn hard.

This is the kind of thing no one tells you about being an adult, how it’s not just about getting a job and a house and joining society. It’s the emotional roller coaster of having to make real decisions, having to actually learn who you are and who you want to be, while staying on your feet. Life is full of risk and failure, but it’s also full of safety nets and comforts that are hard to walk away from.

And to think we always thought growing up would be fun…

Hopefully I can force myself to at least spend slightly fewer hours a night on my games, and in turn try to focus on my old hobbies, on talking to people, actually making a start on my own story writing. I started out the year so well, full of determination. I regularly went to the gym, bought a car, gained a new qualification, travelled alone for the first time in my life. I’ve proved to myself that it can be done, if I can only bring up the courage and willpower to do it. I’m at least going to keep trying, and hope that I can soon come to realise that Alm and Chrom are just simply boring old kings made from little pixels and nothing more, and that life has so much more to offer.

If only their stories weren’t so well written…

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