(By the way, I’m not a fan of Bob Dylan.)
It’s been a while. And boy is this a doozy for me to write. I’m about to make some admissions to the world. Admissions that I’ve only hinted at to most of the people I know in my life.
I’m purging my life.
Over the last couple of months, my life has taken some very interesting turns. It’s led to a re-examination of my priorities, and much of the clutter in my life. So, I’m purging it. Starting with my video games.
This is no small matter for me, either. I started playing games when I was 8. Maybe 3. First game I remember playing is a little number called “Dog Doo”, on a Tandy CRT. I played the hell out of that game, too. But now, it’s 22 years later. Or is it 27? I’m 30, and I’ve wasted – yes wasted – a vast majority of my life on these games. My collection of games and game systems amounts to thousands of dollars sunk into this… “hobby”.
A couple years ago, I finally admitted to myself. This was an addiction. No, it’s not drugs. Or alcohol. Or sex. Or any of the other stereotypical addictions. But it is an addiction, none the less. Tired? Play games. Lonely? Play games. Bored? Play games. Depressed? Play games. And the worst part? For a large portion of my childhood, my parents were my pushers. How can I blame them, though? They had no idea what would happen to me. They only knew I enjoyed them. And the games were largely intellectually stimulating. I had good taste, at least. No, I can’t blame my parents. The only person I have to blame is myself.
At some point, video games took over my life; they were unarguably an addiction. They were interfering with my job, my social life, and my ability to support myself. – Even when I tried to budget, I *refused* to set a limit on my spending for games. I made rationalizations to myself. And as hard as this is for me to admit, I lied to people about it.
When I first realized this, I was in the process of moving to a new apartment complex. I took the opportunity not to get internet in my apartment. I also swore off games for a month. I cheated once or twice. And at the end of the month, the first thing I did was sign up with Comcast.
About a year ago, I made the resolution to be social every day I could manage. It lasted about 3 months – one hundred some-odd days of being social. That’s impressive, in it’s own right. But the reason I stopped? Video games.
In the last few months, I have come to the realization that this is not a fight I can win when the source of my addiction is so readily available. I’ve moved in to a new apartment, and have gone two months without internet access. I have also begun to find real passions in my life, again.
I have begun playing guitar… you could call it my “anti-drug”.
I have begun writing down my dreams, at the suggestion of a good friend. And I’ve realized that they are the stuff of real stories. I will begin posting them, here – though the first few attempts will be utter balls.
I’ve been considering a return to graduate school – either for math, psychology, or computer science. I’m thinking about becoming an educator. That vocation resonates with my deepest soul.
So, I’ve finally admitted to myself. The games cannot keep a hold over me, if I wish to do the things in my life that truly matter to me. They are no longer a priority, and I need a concrete way to show myself that. I’m getting rid of my video games.
Here is the plan. I’m going home as soon as I finish this post. And I’m sifting through all my games. There are two criteria. If a game does not meet either, it goes.
- It’s a party game. This includes Rock Band, and probably Mario Kart. And not much else.
- It is a game of real artistic merit. Either a true influence on games that followed (Zelda), or one on a par with musical masterpieces or classic novels (a couple of the Final Fantasies fall into this category).
I estimate 99% of my collection will go.
So why not 100%? And what am I doing with the rest?
Not 100%, because unlike drugs, video games are not inherently addictive. I believe there’s a chance I will have kids one day. And some of these games are of cultural significance. It’s something they may have value in learning about and experiencing. The party games – well, it’s something social. Those, I could probably do away with.
What am I doing with the ones I’m keeping? My first thought is this: Buy a lock box of some sort. Put all of my remaining games in it, and give a good friend the key. The only time I’m allowed access is when I’m loaning a game out… or I’m planning or attending a social event where a social game would be a good activity.
The hardest part will be my laptop. Flash games abound on the internet. I don’t know of any way to remove that temptation. So all I can do is make a promise to myself – if I succumb, I will admit it, fully, openly, and to the world. And then I will begin my recovery again.
This is the unadulterated truth. I didn’t allow myself any concessions. Any excuses. I am an addict. And I am determined to change.
My greatest fear? That this could lose me some respect with peers, that it could cost me business, and that it could cost me the chance at some future relationships. The truth, though, is that the people who lose respect for me are not seeing the strength & conviction that this is taking for me to really open up about. Most should gain respect – assuming I can hold strong. And the relationships it could cost? Well, if I had kept this in, then what kind of relationships would those have been? If I lose business because of it… well, I can’t blame them. Nobody wants an addict working for them.
Tonight, I begin the purge. Tomorrow, I will post a list of the games I’m getting rid of – and anybody that wants them, can have them. I’d like compensation – this is 20 someodd years of my life and thousands of dollars of investment I’m talking about. But my absolute, number one, primary concern is to get rid of them.