This is the story of how I got un-addicted to video games and had a blast while I was at it. I was addicted to computer games, Diablo and Warcraft. I became so obsessed it was all I could think about. If I wasn’t playing I was devising strategies in my head. Eventually I could not tear myself away from the screen even to greet family at the door. My wife started referring to herself as a Video Game Widow. My finances were going down the toilet.
The sense of accomplishment I seemed to be getting from winning levels etc. was starting to feel really empty, but still I played. This is when I realized there was another way to create excitement in my life. I realized that I could approach my real life with the same principles as I did with computer games and thus create lasting results and satisfaction. In order to solidify this in my awareness I posted a post-it note on my computer monitor that said this… “I’ve got another game. It’s called Life.” Underneath I wrote “Imagine what I could accomplish If I played Life with the same intensity I play these other games!” It lived there for years. I did have a few slips where I’d get caught up playing a game for “just a few minutes”… But I’d purposely look at that post-it note, remember my “New Game” and turn it off without trouble.
Now, the thing about addictive patterns is that if you get rid of one without restructuring your thinking, you’ll end up with another addiction to replace it. Things were better for a while, but my troubles didn’t stop with the “Quit” command.
Although I was not playing games any longer, my illustration business continually failed to thrive, and my relationship, although slightly improved, was still fraught with confusion, resentment, poor communication, and a general lack of emotional intelligence. The problem was not the game playing. It was me. I was afraid to change, afraid of any discomfort. I was afraid of people’s opinions of me, afraid of confrontations (otherwise known as true communication). I was stubborn and refused to release my attachment to the way I thought I should do things. These are not attitudes conducive to success in life. I sank. And it was a long slow insidious sinking at that. I hardly noticed it until it became unbearable.
Sitting up late one night, by myself, flipping through old movies and infomercials, trying to distract myself from ever looming fears of divorce and financial ruin, I came across the famous life trainer, Tony Robbins. Tony was talking about the power of personal development to create real lasting change and the ability to create what you want in life. Tony was offering me a user manual for this new game called Life I was trying to win at. Within 15 minutes of watching Tony’s infomercial I knew that his program was exactly what I needed. Since I was so broke and terrified of what my wife would say If I spent the mere $300 purchase price (It’s down to $200 today on Tony’s website) I asked myself “Who do I know who might have this?” and a friend popped into mind. I called him up and he did indeed have it, and was happy to lend it to me! The program was called Personal Power II. Although this was a 30 day home study course I was experiencing major changes in my confidence level and my internal strength within two days. That was May 2002. Since then I’ve studied the teachings of Deepak Chopra, Robert Kiyosaki, Brian Tracey, T. Harv Eker, and Mark Joyner. All of these teachers taught me incredible lessons through their seminars, books and audio programs. I’ve discovered that as long as I’m learning and taking action and growing forward, I’m happy.
Here’s the irony. One very powerful principle I learned from playing video games so obsessively is that no matter what the challenge is, persistence and creative thinking will eventually solve it. I used the skills and passions I learned from playing computer games to take real action in my own analog (as opposed to “digital”) life, enjoy it even more, and transcend right out of my attachment to them… quitting the computer games themselves! I haven’t touched a computer game in any serious way in over three years. I have no desire to. In fact, now I have an aversion to them because my analog life is so much more compelling and exciting and rewarding and I associate computer games with that terrible empty sinking feeling I started to get. My fears and phobias around connecting with people are a tiny fraction of what they used to be. My marriage is the strongest and happiest and most fun it’s ever been. My income has more than tripled, and I’m on my way to creating financial freedom. I’ve created a powerful purpose for my life that carries me into amazing fulfilling work projects. I’m 37 years old and my physical health is better than it’s ever been. And guess what. Aside from the fact that there’s no point in beating myself up over it, I don’t regret my gaming addiction at all because it has led me to a better place in my life than I was even able to imagine only five years ago. It has allowed me to transcend to a new level. I’ve leveled up.
If you’re interested in learning from some of these teachers you can get a lot of amazing training for free or nearly free. Many of their books and audios can be found at the library. A lot of their seminars are actually free or nearly free because they can use them as a forum to try and sell stuff to people. One of the most incredible seminars I’ve ever been to was on a free ticket I got as a bonus for buying another product I wanted anyway. That was T. Harv Eker’s 3 day seminar and the personal transformation that occurred in those three days were totally stunning.
Here’s a list of resources I got for free or nearly free. You’ll see that a lot of these titles seem to be focused on the money, but at a very deep level they are about transforming yourself into a person who is deeply connected to your purpose in life (whatever that may be for you) and becoming the kind of person with the skills and integrity to make your dreams happen. The money happens almost by default, as a result of who you become. Believe it or not, this stuff can be learned and it can manifest in your life.
Al Anon was pre-game-addiction for me, but I feel compelled to tell you about it. It gave me the tools to unravel my convoluted thinking conditioned by years of dysfunctional living, and find a true emotional stability. Eventually I drifted away from it and slipped back into my old convoluted ways. Fortunately it laid a solid foundation for me to help me grasp the later stuff so much easier. Al Anon is a free organization of group therapy run by the participants. It’s for people who have been affected by addicted people in the course of their lives. There are related organizations including Alateen, Alcoholics Anonymous, Over-Eaters Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, and more. It’s one of the most effective systems for personal healing I’ve ever experienced. I’ll be forever grateful and respectful of it. You can find it in the phone book. If you call Al Anon they will direct you to the affiliated meetings you seek. On the web it’s…
Tony Robbins’ Personal Power II is soooo worth the purchase price of $200! However, I managed to borrow it from a friend for free. This course was the beginning of sustainable happiness for me. Killed my 4 year funk in the first few days. Tony, I’m forever greatful.
Deepak Chopra , what an amazing teacher. Browse his books and see what you’re drawn to. Health, wealth, spirituality… he’s a master of it all. A Healer, King, Wizard, and Warrior in one.
T. Harv Eker has a free evening seminar you can attend. He and his trainers travel North America and the world to bring these to the public. This is a great eye opener, a great place to start. You can find one in your area on the website…
For Harv Eker’s full 3 day seminar , Harv’s excellent book may still be offering 2 free tickets (see link below). This is the 3 day seminar that transformed my life, and looking back it would have been well worth the $1200 to get in on the regular ticket price. This is the course that redesigned my financial blueprint, and I owe a special thanks to Harv Eker and David Wood (they taught that seminar together) for that. I’ve attended it twice now, and also happily paid to take another one called Enlightened Warrior Training Camp, which was a wonderful, character building, spiritual strengthener (not to be mistaken for “religious”). If you sign up to any courses during the free seminar he gives you incredible discounts. You can check out the book here…
Robert Kiyosaki’s www.fasttracktocashflow.com is part of his educational company and they offer excellent free workshops in Canada where they teach you great stuff for free, and then offer you other more advanced seminars, books, games, etc. which, of course, you don’t have to buy if you choose not to. In the U.S. they’re known as www.richdad.com . He’s also got an excellent series of books… and <gasp!> a computer game that teaches you the vocabulary and principles of investing! (There’s also a board game that you play with real people where you can actually network during the game for your real business).
Paul and Layne Cutright are amazing relationship educators and trainers. I learned some very powerful concepts while working on a project with them, such as using upsets as an opportunity to grow (I’m an illustrator, and as of this writing I’ve just completed the last of the images for the new coaching manual for their home study course, Secrets and Strategies for Successful Relationships ). They’ve created a number of books and courses and even videos and audios. You can learn more about it at…
Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I’ve been studying her work for months now. Very moving and empowering. Reading her poem The Invitation was my morning ritual for months. It makes me feel stronger, more connected, more present and vital. You can read it on her website at…
Mark Joyner is actually a marketing guru and an ex military officer. He offers a free course he describes as “The secret science of getting what you want.” This course is so straight forward and simple and right to the point. He’s got a warm friendly approach with a gentle sense of humor. Being the right brained arty type I am, my attention and energy is easily scattered. I’m in the middle of taking his second course on creating money right now and it’s totally different from any other approach I’ve ever studied in it’s simplicity and directness. After all the incredible mindset work I did with the other teachers, Mark Joyner’s course has given me the systematic procedure to putting that mindset to work and taking action immediately, never getting stuck wondering what the next step is. This free course gives you an incredibly simple and effective planning system, work sheets you can print out that guide you step by step, all kinds of really practical stuff. That one is free because he knows enough people that take the first one will want to pay the $98 bucks it costs to take the second one. And he has a third one on personal energy in the works as of this writing. You can check out the free course here…
What do these have to do with the game addiction? These are the guides that help me get the most out of this Life game. I’m still gaming. That’s the thing. I never really got over that fascination with strategy and problem solving and creative thinking that so hooked me on computer games. I’ve simply redirected it towards the challenges and passions in my real life. This game never ends. I never have to quit it, because literally everything in it is part of the game! And I love it!
Scott Mooney, Illustrator, 2006