My Lowest Low: Dealing With Video Game Addiction, Depression, and Obesity
“What are you still doing up, Kyle?”
My father glared at me from the bedroom door. “It’s time to go to sleep, what you’re doing isn’t healthy.”
I glanced at the clock.
No big deal. I was busy building something, working towards a goal. An obsession that consumed my very soul and gave me a reason to live.
There wasn’t anything else in my world going on that was as exciting as this. The thrills and rewards were far more pleasurable than girls or school.
I didn’t have any friends in real life. But who needed them?
Time to go to to bed, finally. I climbed into bed exhausted, and immediately fell asleep. But for the time being, I was happy with what I had accomplished that evening. You know how people eat, sleep, and breathe their passions? I was doing the same thing. I was working my way towards a huge goal and wasn’t going to stop. Nobody could get in my way, not even my father knocking on my door in the middle of the night, begging me to stop abusing my poor teenage body with Mountain Dew and Doritos (wish I’d known about Steak & Eggs then) and to get some proper rest.
What was this goal I was working towards? Starting my first company? Learning how to program at a young age?
No, the goal I was working towards was to become High Warlord of the Horde on the World of Warcraft’s Lightning Blade server.
If that doesn’t make a girl’s vagina shrivel up and die, I don’t know what will.
It was estimated by the game’s developers, Blizzard, that .1% (that’s point-one percent, not 1%) of all players would achieve the High Warlord status. I’ve always had a good work ethic, and this was no exception. I go big or go home, and I was determined to conquer the World of Warcraft realm at all costs.
Do you want to see what I looked like during my High Warlord days? Well, here you go.
I was 14 years old, about 5’7″ and over 210 pounds. I was too scared to weigh myself until I started losing weight, and the first reading I ever got was 210. I would estimate that I was pushing 220 at my heaviest.
How did it get to this point? Well, let’s start from the beginning of my battle with video game addiction.
I’ve always been fascinated by technology.
Ask my parents about what I was like as a child, and they’ll tell you how I was punching away at some DOS when I was three years old. Then it became Railroad Tycoon, and when I was about five I found cars and racing games. Growing up, I was a relatively normal kid – but I fell “victim” to nice guy syndrome, even at at early age. I distinctly remember being invited to multiple girls birthday parties and being the only boy there – we’re talking 20+ girls.
Instead of pulling their pigtails, I was just nice to them and talked.
As a result, many of the boys were simply cruel to me.
By third grade I had developed an intense fear of the fire drills that occurred monthly at school, to the point that my mom had to volunteer in the classroom on those days just so I could make it through. Of course, I begged and begged for her to just let me stay home on those days – that rarely happened.
Fourth grade rolled around and I had developed an uncontrollable tick due to anxiety – a constant twitch of the head. Needless to say, kids pounced all over that and harassed me endlessly. I had a couple of good friends, but wasn’t popular. The thing that I never quite understood was why I struggled so much to make friends. At that point, I hadn’t developed into a full-on nerd. I was good at sports, but got better grades than the jocks. I was not as smart as the nerds, but significantly more athletically-inclined and not as “brainy” as they were.
I simply didn’t fit in anywhere.
I was in counseling on a weekly basis. My classmates would all ask where I went every Wednesday. I lied and told them I needed allergy shots.
Fifth grade was a miserable year in which my two best friends deserted me, even going as far as to team up and shove me down during a game of basketball.
In sixth grade I began one year at a private school and did okay. However, the weight gain had started. The video games would set that gain into overdrive.
It was a downward trend that would continue for the better part of five years, and ultimately ruin the majority of my high school experience. In brings tears to my eyes to have to relive all of this and put it on paper, thinking about how difficult it was for me to break out of it. I was driven to video games by what occurred to me during my elementary school days.
So, how did it start?
I built a computer with my dad between sixth and seventh grade. And with the start of seventh grade came another new private school; because I didn’t fit in at any public schools and hated them. While at that point I only possessed a Nintendo Gamecube, it seemed that everybody at my new school was obsessed with the newest shooter game, Halo. Fortunately my dad’s new computer had just enough juice to run Halo for PC, so I began playing that. While originally I stuck to the campaign storyline, I eventually realized that playing multiplayer was a hell of a lot of fun. But I was held back by my dad’s slow computer, as the graphics couldn’t keep up with the game.
Seventh grade was horrible, as well. I developed a huge crush on a girl that blew up on me. We were forced to take dance classes, and many girls complained that I held them by the waist “too high”; where their bras were. This was all blown up one day when I accidentally smacked the girl I liked on the ass. She had been fucking around with me and running into me, so when it came time for the move to swing our arms back, knowing she was right behind me, I smacked her right on the ass underneath her skirt.
The result? I had to spend several sessions with the school counselor, and all the girls in the class refused to talk to me, except the a few of really ugly ones; they were the “nice guys” of the female world.
I felt so alienated and alone at my new school. The girls all hated me at a time my hormones were just starting to kick in. All the cool guys wouldn’t talk to me because they didn’t want to lose the girls.
I was all alone. I cried myself to sleep a few nights. The only good parts of my day were getting to go home and blow some shit up in Halo. Looking back, that’s how alone I was. The Master Chief was literally my best friend.
At the time, I hated my parents – typical kid.
My video games only drove me farther away from them.
All I wanted for my 13th birthday (in between seventh and eighth grade) was to build a new computer for myself, complete with a high end graphics card so I could play Halo on maximum settings. I set aside savings for months in order to make it happen. On my 13th birthday, I placed the order for all the parts. Within a week, I had the thing built and up and running. Little did I know how much that computer would destroy my life in the upcoming years.
With a new system underneath me, I was amazed at how much more skilled I became at Halo. It wasn’t long before I joined a clan and started playing competitively in matches. I started to get pretty good, and joined multiple forum and message boards to chime in to the Halo discussion. My name, “Rex”, started to get around.
Throughout this, I pushed away farther from the two real-life friends I had managed to make. I was back in therapy on a somewhat consistent basis, and I made the argument that my online friends were good for me. My counselor, dumbass he was, agreed with me and convinced my mom that it was a good thing I was making these new virtual friends. New friends whose real names I didn’t know, whose faces I never saw, who my only value to was my ability to shoot a sniper rifle in a virtual game.
Jesus Christ, someone take that guy’s PhD away. Please.
I’ll spare the details, but 8th grade slogged along and I eventually “graduated” on to high school. But I graduated on to something else, too. An elite clan in Halo.
They were called the Cereal Killers; get it?
Team members such as Pwnage, Kuruption, Oxy, Aero, and others. One of the best teams of all time in Halo. I don’t even remember how I got in with them, but all of a sudden Halo was taken to a whole new level. By this time, I was using a headset and microphone and conversing with men decades older than me over TeamSpeak and Ventrilo. I’m still a pubescent sounding thirteen year old at this point, but they didn’t care. They accepted me, which was something I’d never had in my life up to that point.
Eventually, we all got bored of Halo and moved on to a new game. World of Warcraft. The game that destroyed my soul.
World of Warcraft is an MMORPG – massive multiplayer online role playing game.
For those of you who aren’t nerds, that basically means that it’s an open world concept. You have virtual characters, virtual currency, and virtual gear/pets/other items of interest. In a sense, you are literally a newborn character – practically bare naked, with no money or gear. It’s up to you to figure it all out. Along with that, there are thousands of other players on your particular ‘realm’ with whom you can interact with. As you fight more battles, complete more quests, and make more money, you “level” your character up via “XP”. So it might take 1,000 XP to reach the next level, and you get 5 XP every time you kill a monster. Therefore, you’d have to kill 2,000 monsters to reach a level.
And that’s why I loved World of Warcraft so much. That’s why I suffered such a severe case of video game addiction. It was a way to escape. I mentioned that you are a newborn character – practically naked. That’s exactly what World of Warcraft gave me at the time. A chance to start over.
I hated myself and wanted to take my life.
I think I believed in the afterlife at that point in my life, so suicide was a way to start over. I thought about it – never came close, fortunately. With college still being a few years away, I couldn’t have a fresh start on my social life. So I turned to video games.
Back to Warcraft – while the actual leveling up process can be enjoyable as you explore the different parts of the virtual world, it’s when you reach the max level the real pissing war begins. In reality, it’s not much different than the rat race in corporate America.
Once you reach max level (in the case of World of Warcraft, it was level 60 at the time), you unlock all sorts of “endgame” content, including the aforementioned High Warlord status I so desperately coveted. This endgame content results in nothing ever being good enough, which is exactly what the game developers want.
A World of Warcraft addiction subscription costs $15 a month. So anytime people got too far along in the game, they could just come out with harder bosses. Hell, I think they’re on to a fifth expansion pack at this point.
Video game addiction results in you continuing to play at all costs – all in the hopes of achieving some virtual bullshit achievement so you can brag about it to your virtual friends. If you’re lucky, you might be able to sell your account on eBay at the end of it all and make a little bit of money back.
What you’ll never get back is the time.
I ruined my life with my video game addiction, and undoubtedly countless others have as well. My weight, as you can see in the picture posted, ballooned out of control. My relationship with my parents took years to repair. I hated how they disrupted my game every night to eat a family meal. Didn’t they realize I had guild mates that relied on me to keep them alive while we were raiding the uber-elite bosses of Molten Core?
My entire life evolved around this video game addiction. I was a slave to my video game addiction, I just couldn’t get enough World of Warcraft. I would go to school and think about Warcraft. I’d go to my internship and think about Warcraft. As soon as I got home for the day, I’d go fire up Warcraft, playing as late as my parents would let me; in those days, bedtime was 11pm. Weekends, I’d routinely be up until 6am playing my Undead Shadow Priest, Rexy, grinding away for the next virtual item to impress my “friends” with.
The most pathetic part of it all?
Instead of sticking my dick in fresh, tight, 14 year old high school pussy, I made female characters in Warcraft. I never jacked off to them or anything weird like that, but I definitely thought my “characters” were pretty and I admired them. I’d buy them gear that made them look good. They were like pixel sex dolls I didn’t actually have sex with.
The sad part is that I’ll never get those years back. From 7th grade to halfway through 10th grade, when I finally broke out of my video game addiction, on average I probably wasted six hours a day playing video games.
Let’s do some math.
6 * 365 * 3.5 = 7,665 hours
That’s 319 days.
That’s nearly an entire year of actual time wasted playing video games. To prove that I’m not bullshitting that number, I’ll tell you a quick story. When I finally got so disgusted at myself, I deleted all of my Warcraft characters. That game had a function where it would tell you exactly how many hours you had logged on that character since the beginning of time.
So, before I typed that faithful delete command to erase Rexy from the virtual world that fed my video game addiction, I ran the /played command. The result?
147 days played.
Factor in my other characters, plus all of the other games I played, and the 319 days is completely feasible. An entire years worth of hours I wasted in front of a computer screen for nothing. To top it all off, over those three years in which I wrecked all of my personal relationships, alienated nearly every friend I had, and became so disgustingly fat that no girl would even want to kiss me.
All of it for a few virtual items which had no monetary value. I did get my Warcraft characters restored and sold my account.
I made $100 for it.
I don’t even want to do the math behind 319 days/7,665 hours divided by $100 to find my hourly rate.
It wasn’t an overnight turnaround. By the time I lost all of the weight, I was a junior in high school. The few girls at my small school already knew me as the fat nerd; it wasn’t easy to shake that image.
I had to rebuild all my confidence. It wasn’t until I got to college that I had a chance to really start anew with my new body and a little bit of healthy self-esteem instilled within me. If you look at it from that perspective….I really destroyed more like six years of my life.
All of it wasted because of video game addiction.
Writing this pains me, but I take solace in the fact that I grew out of it and it helped me become who I am today.
How To Break Free Of Video Game Addiction?
I know that some people may throw this question at me now. And truthfully, I’m not sure I have a good answer for it. I grew out of it, in a sense. I got tired of being so fat, tired of people making fun of me, and tired of spending so much time in front of a screen.
The best advice I can give is to find a different interest and apply the passion currently entrenched in your video game addiction to your new hobby or interest. This is not “how-to” post on how to beat video game addiction. Rather, it’s a way to get a very dark part of my life out there. Hopefully somebody else finds some motivation through it, and maybe I can save someone’s life through it.
As a final note, when I posted about this on Twitter the other week, I had a lot of people very intrigued as to what I look like now.
I have a 3,000 word draft on video game addiction, depression, & obesity – aka my teenage years. This was me then… pic.twitter.com/cee1HhG35t
— This Is Trouble (@TruthfulTrouble) April 2, 2015
All men have demons, some much worse than I. I poured some dark shit onto this blog post – but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
How do I know this?
Because I’m living proof.