Sunday, 26 March 2017

Gaming Addiction

After a little break from the social media side of gaming; something that has become a massive part of being a gamer in the last 5 or so years (depending on who you are talking too), I have decided to come back to my blog with a topic that I have experienced throughout my many years of gaming and have noticed is now becoming a very real issue with other people too. Gaming addiction.

Let's start with a little history.

My own gaming time line, goes all the way back to the 80's.Which year I cannot remember, but I do remember being hooked on a little table top, Space Invaders, not long before I was handed my first Atari 7800.

I was hooked from the get go and completely, for better or for worse, handed over my life, like a soul sold to the devil, to gaming. Every opportunity that I had, I wanted to game. I played as much as possible in my home (usually when the only TV in the home was free), I played in the homes of friends and if possible, I played in stores when out shopping with my mother. Gaming was blowing up in the late 80's where I lived; especially when home computers became popular (the C64) and it is for this reason that I grew up saying 'computer games' rather than video games. When I was young, I would of never considered that such a thing as being addicted to video games could be possible. It was as much a part of people's lives as football is and something that was shared by children and adults alike; just as it still is today. It is in hindsight though that I can see, that my very first period of gaming addiction, came with the release of the Nintendo Game Boy.

Christmas, of 1990, it was the main present that I received from my mother, along with the similar in style games, Tetris and Dr Mario. Although I did have consoles as the years went by after 1990, it was the Game Boy that I played the most (possibly all the way up until 1998). I couldn't put this handheld down once I had picked it up and became fiendish every time that the batteries ran out. I fantasied about which games I wanted my mother to buy next and held pray in my mind that they would arrive sooner rather than later. This handheld, literally went everywhere with me:

  • Family outing's (any outing's)
  • To school
  • In the bath
  • In the bed
  • When I played out
This of course is just a few examples of how Game Boy, became a part of my body. I scratch my head today and wonder how it is that at the age of 34, I still have my eyesight intact and no arthritis in my hands. (Yoga! that's how).
Still though, when thinking in terms of what addiction is to some, I can look back on those years and say that although I without a doubt, in fashion to what was the norm and still is the norm, played many hours of video games, when I could of been doing other things, the only real issue that I had and can still have today, is that gaming can be something that I do to escape the reality of a life situation that may be bothering me (my childhood was mental). Is this such a bad thing though? I would suggest that if this was the only outlet a person should have for dealing with life problems, then yes, it may well be a problem that could take over a person in the manner that drugs can too; the escape becomes more important than reality. Have I experienced this with video games? No. But I have recognised time and time again, when gaming is becoming a little on the obsessive side and interfering with my concentration on other things that are of more importance.
Back in the 2010, I had one such moment, where I decided that I was done with gaming. I needed to make a dramatic change in my life in order to get out of a shitty situation that I was in and decided that part of this change had to be that for a period of time not specified, I needed to be as free of technology as I realistically could be. It was also around this time, that my son (now 12), became more of a gamer himself, so whilst I shunned consoles myself, they were still around me, so on occasion I would still venture into gaming for an hour or two, here and there. This hiatus lasted a long time, only being broken when my son asked for a PlayStation 4, for Christmas, back in 2014. I decided to try out the console before handing it over and was so blown away by the new technology that I was sucked back into the world of gaming big time. 
Which brings us to the present day.

All of a sudden, I became a collector, not just a gamer and have amassed a library of games totalling roughly 500 games, on 10 different systems, with 1000's of emulated games on some of the consoles that I now own. It happened fast. So fast, that I completely forgot for a moment that I run my own business and began to venture into becoming a social media gamer, momentarily making gaming more important than the work that I love and the money that said work generates for me to be able to buy and play so many games in the first place. It didn't last long (social media). It began with the healthy outlet of writing this blog, which combines two things that I have loved, like forever; gaming and writing and quickly manifested into boasting on sites such as Instagram and attempting to be a YouTuber, like I know something about something. Needless to say, I began to feel pretty burnt out, pretty quickly as my non working hours were becoming an obsessive checking of social media and hours attempting to make gaming related videos as well as play games. I just could not do it and as a consequence I began to feel like not showing up for my life. Thankfully, just as had been the case back in 2010, I listened to my inner voice shouting at me 'Daniel!'
'Either be great at one thing or mediocre at two.'
No matter how much I love gaming, the reality for me is that gaming is an outlet for me to relax when the days work is done and if it is not relaxing me, as it wasn't recently, then something has got to give. My life today is beautiful and it is partly this way because I have the sense time and time again to do things that best serve me and those who I interact with daily. It is for this reason, that I have decided to curb my spending on games, shut down social media that I had running for gaming and to focus on playing video games in my spare time and writing for my blog as and when I feel like it, not because I feel like I need to keep up some sort of appearance in the massive gaming world.
Happy gaming.
This is exactly how it should be.
Feel free to share any similar experiences that you have had down in the comments.