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How I overcame my gaming addiction and bootstrapped a business to help others (indiehackers.com)
29 points by ChanningAllen 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments



In increasing digital world, where do you draw the line between a healthy hobby versus an addiction? From the article, it seems like you would like to stop people from video games altogether versus curtailing their addiction to healthier levels. Organizations such as MADD have faced similar problems where they started as a way to rehabilitate people, but turned into organizations with an extremist agenda.


Years ago I stopped all online gaming. I had a huge problem with DAoC (and some WoW, but nothing close to the same level) in particular for quite a few years. I regret the time I wasted in that game, and other personal issues it led to. When I talk to smokers, they remember their last cigarette the way I remember signing off and giving my accounts to a friend.

It helps to turn that energy into something else. I took that drive and turned it towards exercising, reading and working. Best thing I ever did.


I played WoW for exactly one month, back when... I think Wrath of the Lich King or something? When that was new, and they'd just revamped all the starter areas. I got my character all the way up to level 60, bought the next expansion, then let my subscription lapse for a week. And... during that one week, it dawned on me just how much free time I had. Free time that, when WoW was available, would have by default been playing WoW.

I stopped immediately, and haven't looked back. I really enjoy single player games, but something about WoW's core loop just... pulled me in. I couldn't do it in moderation.


I still play a single player game here and there. I'm so far behind in games that the free ones that come out on PSPlus are typically new to me. I need to be able to play for 30 minutes and then move on if needed be. Multiplayer/MMOs just do not work that way. And, if people you know play then it becomes this loop of playing together to get better and never really stopping.


Glad you're doing well! :) Would be happy to share your story on the website if you feel inclined to share: http://gamequitters.com/submit


Unrelated to OP but I ditched computer games and do think that there is no healthy level. It's a lot like marijuana today. We're way past pong and some ditch weed. These are very potent products engineered to flood your senses and highly addictive.

I'm giving the creators here the benefit of the doubt that this is just a side effect of trying to create great experiences for their users. Not so with casual free2play games which are clearly designed to drain your wallet.

Either way, they don't really enrich your life, except for a handful of indie productions they're not art like movies, they're the equivalent of capeshit but designed to make you watch it over and over again. I would like the ten thousand hours spent playing Counter-Strike back now.


> Unrelated to OP but I ditched computer games and do think that there is no healthy level.

As a person who loves both video games and marijuana, I disagree with you. But, I think there is a lot of wisdom in what you say.

Modern video games put a lot of work into making the same parts of your brain light up that gambling does, and we have discovered that you don't need a real material reward to get people addicted.

Some people are vulnerable to this type of manipulation. I find video games, and gambling, extremely tedious for the same reasons.

I mostly stick to the tiny indie stuff.

> It's a lot like marijuana today. We're way past pong and some ditch weed. These are very potent products engineered to flood your senses and highly addictive.

I live in Oregon where weed is legal and things are regulated. They say how much THC and CBD are contained in the product and you can choose what product you want and how stimulated you want to be. Personally I like a high CBD strain that will mellow me out.

But, I resent the whole "smoking marijuana is a moral failing" narrative. I've got a great life and work hard. I choose to smoke weed. It's not a big deal.

Some people choose to drink alcohol which is possibly responsible for 5% of deaths worldwide, but nobody is calling for the outright banning of alcohol.

Also, not sure where this information is coming from, but I encourage you to do some additional research and re-evaluate your position on weed. It's the same THC and CBD it has always been, but in higher quantities. And people have discovered after a certain point the drug is too intense and aim for a lower THC %, sort of like the difference between spirits and beer.

> I would like the ten thousand hours spent playing Counter-Strike back now.

Yeah that is a LOT of time playing a video game. I consider myself an intense video-game player and I do not think I have ever played a game for that many hours.


I don't think you can be so black and white about it. Too much of anything is probably bad for you. If you replaced counter-strike with chess or golf or model trains would you feel the same? I think the answer is the same for all of these categories and I'm wondering if you feel differently why.

Obviously some games really are insidious; I don't think it's fair for that to dictate an entire genre of activities.


No, I don't feel the same way about chess, golf, or model trains for the same reason I don't feel the same way about "classic" weed and pong: they haven't been honed on an industrial scale to make them extremely appealing.

Obviously, all activities evolve and change over time but these are more like your grandma's pie recipe versus industrially optimized Lays with a hundred million dollar ad campaign to make sure you'll appreciate all the hard work put in by the chemists. One you can do in moderation, and it's self-moderating, the other you're better off just avoiding.


> It's a lot like marijuana today. We're way past pong and some ditch weed. These are very potent products engineered to flood your senses and highly addictive.

Lol what? Marijuana is not addictive. Also, a variety of low-potency products are now readily available to address your grievance in states where the market has been legalized. ;)


Not all video games have to be a drain of time/money.

I've been playing Subnautica and it's a great way to just escape and dive into a exploratory virtual journey. There are no microtransactions and there's an endgame to work toward.

It has cut into my reading time but I don't mind too much. Before this game, I was playing PubG and that game was just stressful and definitely Counterstrike-like in terms of competitiveness. I only played with a friend and it was fun to have the social interaction but after awhile it just got old. The new map freshened things up but it severely lowered my patience level to the point where it's hard to play a more laid back genre due to the quick turn around.

Anyways, my point is that not all games are the same. If you want to dabble in the hobby you can easily avoid the games that are built to keep you coming back. Or just cut them off completely and pick up another hobby.


I think <1 hr per day is healthy. That is no different than the majority of americans who watch a tv show or two every night. Video games can definitely enrich your life by providing a way to unwind (physically or mentally) that is still mildly engaging.

Outside of engaging, I learned invaluable life skills through mmorpgs as a child. I never got addicted, but it instilled the ability to research, plan, and withhold short term gains in favor of long terms gains. Plus I learned how markets function, how to avoid scams, the benefit of teamwork / friend groups, etc.

It also led me to create my first website and forum, which was undoubtedly the first stepping stone for my entire career.


The difference between a passion and an addiction begins with the negative impact (the thing) is having in your life. The World Health Organization has an official criteria for a "Gaming Disorder" which you can find here: http://who.int/features/qa/gaming-disorder/en

If someone is gaming and their life is fine, then it's no problem, but if they are failing school, dropping out of college, struggling to keep a job, or getting divorced, amongst other negative factors, then it's something they should be able to seek professional help for, and removing gaming for a 90 day period (what I personally recommend) has been shown to help immensely as a 'reset'.


Interesting article. I feel like I had a problem with gaming, but I didn't necessarily have an addiction. When I got an Xbox 360 (and by extension Xbox live), I was able to hangout with my friends without going to their house. Even when they weren't playing, it was because I made friends and connections to people all over. Towards the end of my Xbox Live days, I mostly played without my "IRL" friends.

Now, I rarely game alone, but I play games with my friends in person (Fortnite, Mario Party, Mario Kart, Smash etc.). I think for me, gaming was a substitute for social interaction. Most of my interaction is in person now, so gaming has fallen by the wayside.


Thanks for reading. Gaming is a very common substitute for social interaction - for me as someone with social anxiety it was easier to just stay home and 'socialize' online then to go out and meet other people, but that only left me more isolated and depressed. Getting out and interacting with other people has helped me more since I've quit.


I know that computer and video games are designed to have some level of attraction in order to obtain and maintain engagement, but I still have to ask the devil's advocate question: what is missing in contemporary life such that makes computer and video games so appealing?

My parents would probably describe be as an addict now and then, so I'm not asking this question in a holier-than-thou manner: I'm genuinely curious about what characteristics games have that real life doesn't.

Is it escapism? Is it compelling gameplay? Is it granularity of control?


To start off with:

1. Really quick feedback loop. 2. Progressively improving our skills. 3. Keeping score. 4. Having a community/tribe

There was a hn top post article about a guy who gamified his interview preparation to get into Google.

I think gamification of our daily life is a good idea.


Does anyone have a link to that post?


Coherence and meaning.

Real life is messy, arbitrary, and nonsensical. Stupid shit like who you know matters. You might, after twenty years of ceaseless toil and sacrifice, be on the verge of proving P=NP, and then die of an aneurysm, your work lost to the world, with none to mourn you. #whysoserious

Games are more approachable, more tackleable. They can be hard---even very hard, like Dark Souls or high-level Starcraft 2---but they are not unfair, and life very much is.

The thing that RL has over gaming, aside from a nutty RNG and an absurdly complex/capricious ruleset, is that you live in it.


Escapism is a big part of it, and also the heightened level of stimulation (immersion) you get from games. Overall games fulfill our emotional needs (to escape, to socialize, to see measurable progress, and to feel a sense of purpose) much better (seamlessly) and easier than 'real life', which is why you can find yourself gaming more and more and more. The level of safety and control is also a big part of it.

Anyways if you're looking for help we have a ton of support for you on the site. Happy to answer any questions you have.


I think with 7 billion people on the planet, the world has gotten too complex and games are much less crazy making. You can figure out what you actually need to do and not spend all your time wondering "Did I actually do something wrong? Or was I doomed before I began because of my gender, skin color, some decision my parents made before I was born or a million other ridiculous and unknowable details?"

You aren't going to do everything right in a game according to what everyone keeps telling you, fail anyway and wonder what the hell happened. You won't wonder does the AI just hate short people, people who dress like me, or people of my religion while claiming to be fair and objective.


Here is a nice write-up of what needs video games fill: http://nautil.us/blog/how-video-games-satisfy-basic-human-ne...

tldr from the article: the chance to “self-organize experiences and behavior and act in accordance with one’s own sense of self”; the ability to “challenge and to experience one’s own effectiveness”; and the opportunity to “experience community and be connected to other individuals and collectives.”

> what is missing in contemporary life such that makes computer and video games so appealing?

What is missing in life that makes TV, movies, novels, comic books, religion, folklore, or stories by the fire-side so appealing? Story telling is one of the things that make us human, it's not a new phenomenon. Just presented in a different way.

For me, video games provide a number of things. I've played thousands of hours of video games during my 29 years on this earth.

Gaming is my TV. I don't watch television, I get home, I cook dinner with my girlfriend, smoke some weed, and boot up a video game. It's very easy for me to get into "flow" state when I play a video game because it's what I do and have always done. It's relaxing and enjoyable and challenging.

I love the complexity of modern video games. I love making assumptions about those systems and then testing them. I love picking or building a character that represents my values and preferences. I love building and honing little engines to break the rules of the games.

I also love to "challenge and experience my own effectiveness." I am a big fighting game fan, and I enjoy practicing at home and then jobbing at the local tournaments.


Thanks Channing for sharing my interview here.

Hi everyone, my name is Cam and I'm the founder of Game Quitters - the website profiled here.

If you have any questions let me know.




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