Video games can be a fun recreational activity to enjoy with friends and family, however for some players they can become a problem. For players who are looking to stop gaming, follow these steps:
- Determine if gaming is creating problems in your life, especially to important areas of everyday functioning such as school, work and/or relationships. The World Health Organization characterizes ‘gaming disorder‘ as a pattern of persistent gaming behavior that is manifested by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
- Commit to change. When a habit or behavior is causing problems in your life it’s important that you take steps to address it, and although it can be challenging at times, it’s crucial that you are firm in your commitment to see the change through. It’s not always going to be easy, but it will be worth it. Change takes time and patience is key. Focus one day at a time and remember why it’s important for you to move forward in your life.
- Seek professional help. Gaming problems often develop with co-morbid conditions such as underlying anxiety, depression, ADHD and/or autism. Unresolved trauma can also lead to gaming problems so it is important that you work with a qualified mental health professional to address these challenges and support your recovery. Kindbridge can connect you with a qualified professional for gaming and gambling disorders. Just send us a message or ask for a call back.
- Identify motivations to play. You play games for specific reasons and the more clear you can be about what your motivations are the more proactive you can be to ‘fill the void’ left without games. Common motivations to play include escapism, boredom, social connection, achievement, mastery, creativity, and sense of purpose.
- Navigate cravings and urges. When you stop playing video games you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as cravings and urges to play. These are a normal part of the recovery journey and although uncomfortable for periods of time, they provide an opportunity to learn more about your emotional attachment to video games and your ability to develop new stress coping strategies. Cravings and urges to play are often strongest in the first three weeks without games and begin to dissipate from there. Remember, urges are like the waves of the ocean, they come and go and they will pass.
- Find replacement activities. Games often take up most, if not all, of your free time, thus when you stop gaming it is important that you find new hobbies to engage with. A good place to start is with activities that fulfill the same needs that gaming fulfilled for you – your motivations to play. Find a new skill to develop, something to be social, and something to do at home when you’re tired and bored from the day. Gaming is effective at being a single activity that fulfills multiple needs you have, so you will want multiple activities to replace it with. Find a list of 70+ hobby ideas to replace gaming with here.
- Block access. When you make it more difficult for you to play – by creating barriers – you are likely to experience less temptations to play. Although games are easily accessible these days on modern devices, there are many apps and tools you can use to increase your barrier to play. You can also delete accounts, games, and virtual characters to break attachments to your gaming history.
- Join a support community. Self-help communities such as Game Quitters, Stop Gaming, OLGANON, CGAA and others provide the opportunity to connect with peers on a similar journey. In peer groups you can share strategies, lend support, and acquire a sponsor. Remember that you are not alone and there are many others out there who are willing to support you on your journey. Never give up. Recovery is worth fighting for.