August 15, 2012

Addiction

I've decided recently to make this blog as honest as I could make it without putting too much information, of course. I will post the good and the bad - but mostly the good. And today is sort of both. This is going to be an embarrassing moment for me but if it would help someone, then why not share? This post is as honest as it could get.

I am a "gamer chick" as most gamers say. I've grown up playing video games with my brothers on our FAMICOM (Family Computer). We played outdoors, too, of course. And always only after we've finished doing our homework (well at least for me. I don't know how it was with my siblings). I loved playing with them both indoors through our video games, and outdoors with our neighbors' children. Outdoor play was my favorite part of my childhood.

When FAMICOM died, so did we (my siblings and I) as gamers. We were busy growing up, having crushes, having our hearts broken, and what-not. I wasn't interested in games because I couldn't figure out the consoles. They were too complicated (Playstation) for my taste. And I haven't held a game console from high school 'til I married Jesse in college.

One exemption though was when I was still going to school in Hawai'i. It's not necessarily a game console. I played it from my laptop. My co-worker shared a link to me about a game online (me and my siblings' favorite when we were little - Super Mario Bros. 3) and that I could save it and continue where I left off. Normally you can't do that online. So I was curious. That's when I started playing a game again... only after my work and my homework, though. I was happy I finished it for the first time, and then I moved on to more important things to do (like focusing on my studies and meeting boys).

 This was me at the end of the game.

So I technically haven't touched a legit game console since high school 'til I married Jesse. :P It was an Xbox remote control, playing NBA Live (09?) at our friends' apartment in Hawai'i. I was pregnant with C. The boys (Gellor, Taylor, and Sparks) always played this game at the Gellor's house, and the wives didn't mind much even though we stayed there 'til 12:00 midnight. I felt bad for the neighbors once in a while. I was a stay-home wife with no job so I also played another RPG game on my laptop while Jesse studied for his GMAT test right next to me. I quit it soon enough. When C was born, I've played Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook when he was taking a nap (if I didn't feel like making a card or cooking). But I haven't again held another game console since we left Hawai'i.

 Nine months after we moved here in Vegas, I was reading through some articles on Yahoo.com. And I came across an article where they featured some of the best free games online. Only one game attracted me, and it was Spiral Knights.


It was right around May 2011 when I found the game, so it's only been around for a month. It still had lots of "noobs" (new players). I played it once a day, and only when C was taking a nap and I had nothing else to do. I had self-control and discipline. I stopped the game in June or July when pregnancy was taking a toll on me and I'd rather take a nap than play a game.

I haven't played it until end of January this year. When I came back, I made some "friends" in-game. Really nice kids. Some of them are close to my age, but most of them are still young. I even met two LDS brothers, who are not playing anymore (probably got scolded by their parents). The older brother is probably serving his mission now. All these four new friends have stopped playing a month or two after I met them, but I still kept playing and meeting other players.

When we left Hawai'i, I was lonely for friends and I craved to have friends. Even to this point. My friends are in Utah. Or the Philippines. And I constantly dreamed (literally, when I sleep at night) about being with them - hanging out with them, and having playdates with them with our kids. I've tried making friends in my ward at Church when we were new but their friendships have been so established within each other. It was a struggle for a shy person like me to "squeeze in." I know it shouldn't be an excuse but making friends is just not my gift. For me, it's one thing if a friend hangs out with you and switches babysitting with you and stuff, and it's another if they just say "Hi" and "Hello" and have a little chit-chat. You really do more with a friend than an acquaintance-friend (so to speak).

Anyway, so ever since I made "friends" in my "guild" in-game (sort of a tribe or a clan or a group), I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I finally had some people to talk to during the day! And then my character was "leveling up" to a five star (highest). She was no longer a "noob." And when you become a "pro" (well, sort of for myself anyway), you're getting yourself into more addiction to the game because you can do more than when you were a noob. Being a pro is defined in so many ways in that game. Noobs call someone a pro when s/he is a five-star level (meaning every equipment has five stars, and not just one). Pros call you a pro if you can fight really well (having all 5* weapons was not pro enough).  It was such a good game and I was addicted. I soon found myself playing it more often than I really should.

An example of a guild. Ours was called Rigorous, as you can see underneath our names.
I'm the red one without a name (because I was the main character on my screen) seated at the front, third from the right (next to Polygonz).
Players with five star weapons. I'm the one at the back.

It was easier to stop last year because the game, as a noob, gets old. And I didn't know or talk to other players unless I was doing "runs" (levels, fending off monsters, etc) with them. When I came back to playing it this year, I have been good at playing only during nap times at first. But recently, I'd always play it when J is napping, and C wasn't. He was always on Netflix while I played the game. I also played when they were both napping. And then again at night when they go to bed. Sometimes I am even logged on when they're awake, chatting with people. And it also became my "morning coffee" - first thing I do in the mornings when  J is still asleep (C is watching Netflix).

Many nights Jesse had gone to bed without me because I was "busy" playing the game. Before I got really addicted to this, I didn't play at nights at all. I played only once a day, like I said earlier. Or when I started to play at nights, I stopped when Jesse was done studying for his CPA exams. But lately I didn't. I always felt bad when he'd gone to bed without me, but I just couldn't get off (trust me, when you're addicted, it's hard).

I never wanted to purchase anything online if it's for a game. One day Jesse had to go to a business trip, and was leaving me behind with the boys again. I didn't complain but made a deal with him that I would be fine with it if he let me buy a 30-day elevator pass in my game. It was worth $6, and it was the worst spending I've ever made. When you play, you use up some "energy" - to go down the elevator to fight off enemies, to craft a weapon, to revive yourself, etc. An elevator pass was a 30-day free pass to elevators - you won't have to use your energy when you go down to fight off monsters in each level. And if you are a pro and hardly die at all (like me) and you don't use a single energy to revive yourself when you die, a 30-day elevator pass gives you a lot of profit in-game to earn crowns (money you collect from enemies and treasure boxes in the game) for crafting weapons, armors, and such which also used energy. So basically the pass saves you from using energy at the elevator which you can then use to craft weapons and other things. But that $6 30-day elevator pass was the worst purchase I've ever made in my life - EVER! And I never did it again.

I've told myself over and over again that I have to stop. And I've tried to stop. My family comes first. I am a wife and a mother, and I need to act like one and be like one (thus explains the "Grow Up, Mrs" post). Everyday I tried to change. I'd always say, "Today I'm going to finger paint outside with C when J is napping" or something like that. But as soon as J takes a nap, our computers are turned on. C knows the drill - he'll watch something on Netflix, and mommy plays a game. I would blame this extreme heat if I could, and it's partly the reason why I didn't want to go outdoors (it's really hot). But in reality, it's the game.

I tried to end the gaming part of my life over and over again but couldn't. I've actually gave away my stuff before, but kept my armory and suits because I couldn't find a way to delete my account and I didn't have the guts to delete my player instead. I don't know how to explain it more but it is hard. It was hard - until today. I had my final resolve last night. This morning, I logged on and gave ALL of my character's "stuff" to my in-game friends, down to the very last trade-able thing until she was a noob again and no longer a five star player. Then I said my farewells to my game friends, and deleted my players (SEGA didn't include a way to delete the account itself. I couldn't find tips anywhere in their game site). Deleting my player was the best way to stop (and I'm still trying to figure out how to delete my account), since I really don't ever want to start all over again with a new one. It actually felt like leaving a piece of me behind, like my social life has been taken away from me all over again. My game friends were sad to see me leave. They didn't want me to leave. They asked for reasons, but I was protective of my identity as a wife and mom. So I just told them I was just sick of the game, even though I wasn't, and I have a life to live (which is true).

Addiction comes in many forms - not just pornography, alcohol, and tobacco. For me it was video games. I didn't realize how I could easily get addicted to video games until I became responsible for someone else's welfare (my family). I want to be a wife and a mother. I've always wanted to be one. That's all I could think of growing up. And Jesse granted me the fact that I could stay home with our kids. The least I could do is be with them and have my attention TO THEM. I laid down last night, half asleep, and realized J is turning a year old soon. And C had turned three. Where did time go? I want to actually SEE them. I feel like I haven't - in a very long time. I don't want them to grow up seeing my bad examples as a gamer. I love my family so much that I am willing to change for the better. I jumped out of bed just as when Jesse was ready to go to bed. I logged on in my game, and announced to my "guild" that "TOMORROW IS A BIG DAY! WATCH OUT FOR SOME FREEBIES!" My boys - my husband and our kids - are the reason why it was so easy today to quit my game.

4 comments:

  1. Great job on being able to stop playing this computer game!

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  2. Congrats on recognizing the issue and taking action.

    We used to play Everquest II when we first got married and I loved it. We met some great people we're still friends with- we actually met several of them and hang out occassionally. When Makua was born though it wasn't super practical to take care of a baby and put in the time it takes to develop your characters so I quit playing. Sometimes I want to log back in and run around for nostalgia's sake, but I haven't.

    The longer you haven't played, the easier it gets. Balance is good in life though so I don't feel too guilty in taking a little bit of time for yourself everyday.

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  3. Kudos to you Lois for being proactive and putting an end to playing the games! How liberating to break free from the problem! Big hugs to you! XO!

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