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Backstory

I live in a family of 7. We are a very tight-knit family, all living under the same roof, and we love each other dearly; but we have very strict rules about a lot of things, the one in this case being video games. Now, my father and older sister love playing video games. My father plays games on his off-days, and my older sister (who I will call Laura), who graduated college, also plays games. My older brother (Ras) and I used to play a lot of online games together, slowly building up a kind of "gamer duo", if you will, for the past 3 or 4 years. He's a freshman in college, and I'm a high school senior.

The Problem

We were told before that we can start playing games after college. A lot of you might be thinking, "Well, gee, just wait until after college and then play all you want." Unfortunately, it isn't that simple. Laura used to play games in community college (which she got in trouble for), then went on a bit of a gaming spree when she transferred to the university. Then, she always used to talk to us about the games she played, how much she loved it. I believe that that has subtly affected me and Ras, on top of the fact that she got to play earlier than when she should have, and the fact that she still plays games. Ras and I very alike, and are both addicted to a certain game at the moment (we both play the same online game, and often form up into teams), and Ras has told me that part of the reason for the addiction is a lot of stress at home, and he says Laura being around tempts him to play games. We have often got in trouble for playing games when we shouldn't have, and ended up getting suspended from privileges. What would be the steps to curbing this addiction, if it is possible? Are there any coping methods to help?

EDIT: We do not watch television or movies, and don't have any friends outside of the immediate family (we don't know our extended family). Entertainment comes mostly in the forms of writing, drawing, reading, and playing board games.

EDIT 2: Playing games has often taken up more of Ras' time than my own, and he would often stay up until 0200-0400 in the morning playing games. Throughout the day, we don't do much else besides playing games: exercise is pretty much non-existent, and chores are non-existent; we do take at least a shower a day, but sometimes forgo brushing our teeth. During meals, if we do actually sit down to eat, we would play some quick 2-player game or watch a video while we eat, then return back to whatever games we were playing before the meal. Ras even takes his laptop to the bathroom when he goes.

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    How much are you playing these games? Are you neglecting things like food, sleep, hygiene, study, or work for them? Are you spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on in-app purchases? It's not addiction unless it's causing a significant negative impact of your life. – nick012000 Jun 29 at 2:01
  • you may need to add what kind of games you are usually into to get more specific help. Also what is your final goal regarding this issue. – napstablook Jul 6 at 7:25
  • If you can't control the addiction then you move remove the thing you can't control. This is a well known and researched topic. As long as you try in include your addiction in your life you will be unable to control it and it will control you. At least it is video games and you can easily remove them. – Adam Heeg Jul 9 at 21:59
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Bracing for the downvotes, so here goes:

Successful games of any sort (video or otherwise) are either explicitly or effectively engineered to produce addictive behavior, and you are being manipulated by game designers into this behavior for their financial benefit.

When I was younger, I resented this manipulation outright. Now that I'm older, I realize this is the way of the world, and I mourn the opportunities and time lost much more than a sense of grievance.

My point is that I used these regrets to motivate my action; I removed temptation from my life as much as possible: I gave away my game consoles and threw out my TV. I uninstalled the games from my computers, threw away the discs, uninstalled BitTorrent or whatever else would let me "cheat" games back into my life. It will feel strange at first, and you will certainly feel pangs of addiction, but eventually you will not miss it. Gaming takes so much and gives back so little.

I haven't played a video game of any sort in probably 10 years. From this vantage, games were definitely the abject waste of time I suspected they were all along. I exercise far more, I went back to school, I learned how to do stained glass, I taught myself to play taiko and piano, I've built musical instruments, and I have a healthier social life... I don't think I was a particularly bad game addict, as my life wasn't falling apart, but it did eat up a huge amount of my time. I doubt I would've done these things if I had kept, say, Civilization, in my life.

Also, you can't solve another addict's problem for them (e.g, your family). You can only set an example. Good luck.

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  • +1 Kudos for having the strength and will to perform such a difficult task (I couldn't, even if I tried)! So are you suggesting a complete and utter removal and avoidance of video games? I think a little is okay, we just need to draw the line somewhere and know where to draw the line. – Vildred Jun 29 at 17:15
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    "Successful games of any sort (video or otherwise) are either explicitly or effectively engineered to produce addictive behavior, and you are being manipulated by game designers into this behavior for their financial benefit" is quite a sweeping generalisation. Chess, dominoes, backgammon, etc - all quite successful - persisting for centuries - would you say the designers of those games are manipulating people into addictive behaviour for financial benefit? Many video games are works of art - not hugely successful, financially; but perfectly valid in their own right, and aren't Skinner boxes. – Aaron F Jul 1 at 8:13
  • I like this answer, but it fails to address how to leave the addiction and focuses on why they should leave the addiction. I think OP is pretty sure this is a bad thing. – napstablook Jul 10 at 14:26
  • @Vildred you have to leave it entirely at first though, I can't tell you when you should resume with moderation, that is something you have to decide for yourself. But starting with abstaining is effective, and your parents would be there to support you – napstablook Jul 10 at 14:28
  • @Bort Thanks for the answer! This is going to be hard, but we're getting through slowly! – Vildred Jul 11 at 1:05
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This is going to opinion and experience based, but I thought I should add my 2 cents anyways

If you think this is a coping mechanism, then this is what my experience was (gaming was a coping mechanism for me for a few years):-

  • If you want to completely remove gaming as an essential activity from your mind you have to start with abstaining rather than moderation (especially if you are a bit time-constrained)

  • According to you television (maybe netflix-esque types) is not something you use a lot. To remove dependency on gaming you need a replacement activity, television also tries to keep you watching so it is possible that you can remove the hook of gaming, it has a less chance of keeping you hooked since it doesn't try to keep you in it for the long haul game designers and not more than the length of series/movie.

  • Laptop/PC games can be locked out by various apps. For mac I think the app is self-control, for windows getcoldturkey works for me. for iphone/android google family link is a good way to lock you out.

It still very much depends on what course of action you want to take, but this was my course of action. Hopefully it will help you.

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When I was your age --in the 90s --my mother hated how much time I spent on the computer. But, instead of forbidding me to do it, she just insisted that I develop a range of other interests. I ended up getting into performing arts, and got so busy with that, I ended up choosing to not be on the computer as often. Having learned the value of balance, I never became a video-game addict like so many of my peers.

I'm trying the same approach with my own children. Of course they love video games, but we make sure they also play outdoors, write, read, play instruments, take care of the pets and do chores. If they get all the other things done, then they can play games after that.

I think your biggest problem is not that you are a video-game addict, but that there is nothing else in your life to compete with it. Maybe make a commitment to try some other things as well --learn a sport, take up martial arts, or take a social dancing class. Invite some friends over for board games or go hiking. Join an afterschool club. Try out for the school play. Join the Yearbook staff. Learn to cook. Meditate or pray. If you have a well-rounded life, it is harder to be an addict. Conversely, if you have an empty life, it's hard to NOT be one.

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