Video games had been a significant part of my life and something that dominated much of my time in youth.
I had been playing games in different platforms ever since I was a little boy. All the animations, colours, and effects (which would look quaint by today’s standards) enticed me, but what really captivated my mind was all the adventure and excitement associated with it—something that seemingly wasn’t available in the real world. Besides toys and television, video games were my main source of fun, leisure, and satisfaction in life. As I grew older, the other activities started to wither away and disappear from my life while video games (now exclusively played on PC) took up more and more space like a tumour.
By the time I was in my pre-teens, games have completely taken over. I didn’t even realize that this was the case; I had no awareness and simply saw myself as having fun with entertainment devices. I didn’t see anything wrong with it. What I didn’t realize—or didn’t want to realize—was that I was desperately trying to escape. Escape from obligations, escape from responsibility, and escape from reality. All I wanted to do was to deny even engaging with the world that I despised. When anyone tries to distract their mind and escape from their problems, there is only one possible result: addiction. I have effectively became addicted to video games.
There is no point trying to blame the problems I faced in my life all on video games; they would have happened regardless. What I will say is that while I was consumed with the virtual world of games, it was impossible for things to get better. As long as I was able to get my fix and escape into the fake world where things were more exciting and where I seemingly exercised more control, there was no way that I was going to be motivated to do anything to fix my life and change for the better.
I first recognized how serious the problem was during my first year in university when my grades were plummeting and I felt incredibly dissatisfied with life. I tried limiting my time in every way possible, but it never worked. It wasn’t until several years later that I finally started to feel both mentally and physically sick from playing games. I was disgusted with myself. All the time I wasted and continuing to waste, and the fact that I was missing out in life while everyone else was living theirs made me feel angry. There was just so much more I could have been doing with my life. I had to quit. It wasn’t a want, it was much more—it was something imperative that I had to do to salvage my life.
It took much more effort than I expected, but after several failures, I finally cut them out of my life completely. There was no way for me to moderate it; I had to go cold turkey. It was the only way out for me.
After quitting, life felt dull. I had been so conditioned to appreciate the visual and audio beauty of virtual reality that I lost my appreciation for the real world. It’s a telling sign when you are more impressed by the majesty of sunset and the tranquilty of water in a virtual world than in the real one. The adventure and excitement also stopped. Where in the real world was I supposed to feel the same thrill that I felt when I was racing cars or fighting wars? They are, of course, possible to do in the real world, but not necessarily accessible nor desirable. It was especially difficult to find something else to do as I am not an outgoing person to begin with. But however difficult it was for me to adjust to the new lifestyle, I knew things would only get better. There was no going back.
You just don’t realize all the things you could be doing out in the real world until you are freed from playing games. Ever since I quit, I have drastically improved my health through fitness and diet, rediscovered my passion for books, and became much more aware of myself and the world around me. All the things that I truly desired in life also became clear to me as my mind was no longer being numbed by playing video games.
My experience with video games also shed light on all other contraptions in our modern world that vie for our time and attention, and, in effect, steal life away from us. These include other virtual or vicarious entertainments such as films, television shows, spectator sports, new, pornography, etc. These are all things that reduce us into being passive observers without adding anything of value to our lives. All they provide in exchange are shallow and empty stimulations that are disconnected from the reality. It is one of the more degrading aspects of living in the modern world that we spend several hours everyday staring into screens to numb and distract ourselves.
First step towards living a primalist life should be to be aware of the clutches of false reality that hold you down from experiencing the real world both fully and deeply. Once you are able to distinguish the difference between the layer of shallow desires that you satisfy through your false reality and your deep, core desires that thirst for life, you have the power to choose whether you want to continue stay plugged in or break out and be reborn in the real world.
As always, the choice is yours.