Most of us have had the experience by now of playing some sort of game rather on our phones or on the PC or it could even be on a gaming console like Xbox or Play Station. We start these harmless cute looking games and quickly realize, this is really fun.
After a while, the game almost seems to suck you further in without you even realizing it. Before you know it, you are slightly addicted to the game and you do not even know why.
This post is going to have a similar theme and tell the story of how I became addicted to video games.
Spring Break 2013
Picture this, I was on the gymnastics team at the Air Force Academy and it was Spring Break.
All of the other students had left the college except for mostly the athletes. Our team had decided to rent some houses on base in order to “get away” from the dorms. In reality, we were only 2 minutes away, but it was still nice.
My brother happened to be at the same college and on the same team as me, so we decided to share a house together. There were many reasons for this, but to keep it simple, the rest of the team was quite rowdy. To their defense, Spring break is a time to have fun and cut loose, and it was very hard to do on a military base with so many restrictions. Regardless, they found ways to entertain themselves that we did no want to be apart of.
Starting League of Legends
My brother at this time had started playing a game that was still fairly new. It was called League of Legends.
The game honestly looked pretty dumb at first glance. Although, after he begged me several times to play “one game” with him, I conceded.
Sounds like drugs right? Just do it once man, you’ll be alright. Goodness if I knew what that one game would do to me.
Trying League of Legends
Little did I know, this game was an up and coming phenomenon. Although when we played, it was still in its infancy. The game had just concluded its second season and was ramping up to make some changes like it did after every season.
I remember soon after I joined the game the champion Lissandra was released. Prior to that champion it was this green blob champion named Zac.
It was fair to say, we got into the game decently early compared to most people, but I was clueless starting off. My first game I chose a champion and just ran down a lane killing myself over and over, because I had no idea what I was doing.
After a few more games and learning a lot about item customization, I quickly got my footing and started winning. A little secret about me is that I am very competitive, and I love games with quick reaction time skills. Therefore, League and I hit it off quickly.
Ignoring Homework For Gaming
Fast forward a year or two, I had left the academy to go train gymnastics back home. I was enrolled in a community school during the day to finish some core classes as well.
During the day I would go to school, work at the gym, and then train 2 to 3 hours after work. Afterward, I would head home and get on League to destroy some noobs. Quickly I realized that gaming was more enjoyable than anything else in my life.
Soon, homework become secondary to “one more game” and training seemed to be less and less important. Not only did I fall in love with the game, but I developed a strong community of players and people to challenge myself with. The gaming lifestyle had slowly crept its way into my life.
Little did I realize, this was League of Legends’ goal all along.
Addicted to League of Legends
You see, the purpose of games like this is to get you addicted.
As I got better at the game and I climbed in ranking the more time was needed to invest into the game to improve. Constantly, I had to spend additional time on the game to rank up. This is because the game was consistently being updated and patched to balance out new champions, items and strategies. Right when you think the game is balanced, some Korean comes up with a boosting strategy that breaks the game because of some weird mechanic.
It took me some time, but eventually there was a moment were the addiction became apparent. There were two options in my brain.
- Option one: Take the game seriously and try to make money off of it streaming and becoming a higher rank.
- Option two: quit the game and break my keyboard and mouse so I could not play even if I wanted to.
These may seem extreme, but that is pretty much how my brain works. Sadly, I chose the first option.
Competing in League of Legends
I first decided to try and take the game seriously. In season 5 my account was diamond 2 as a jungle and top main, but I wanted to do more than just stream every evening. Therefore, I started my own team.
During this period, I had switched to Georgia State in order to continue on with school. There I met a guy named Gene who ran the gaming club for the school.
After a short conversation, he agreed to shout out on all of the channels for any upper ranked players at the school to try out for the new League of Legends team.
This was perfect. Quickly I had amassed a decent team of players for all positions. We had several tournaments lined up to play in as well in the coming months.
Coaching League of Legends Team
The main problem with the team was, most of the other players were freshman and sophomores. They were a little awkward and really had no experience on being on any kind of team. From that, there were tons of problems like getting to practice on time, communication, and effort levels.
Soon after getting the team together, I had to do some reorganization efforts and show them I was serious. Two players quickly got kicked off of the team and replaced with lower ranked players, because I would rather have effort over laziness.
I was confident in my ability to train players on the game, but I needed them to listen and work.
Being a coach and being a player was hard as well, because it disrupts the balance between players, so we realized we needed a stand alone coach or someone to replace myself on the field.
Quitting League of Legends
While tit may sound like things were going the right way, there was a problem with my internet at home. Constantly, the internet would drop out on important games or disrupt practice. On top of that, the uploading limits for my internet were being tapped out in a week or two that were set for the entire month due to crappy Comcast. Streaming was getting expensive due to this.
The team was preforming well, but after a silly lose during the NCAA’s, I felt it was not going the way I desired. Therefore, these problems led me to wanting to pull back from this dream and pursue a real career. Funny enough, when you take game too seriously, they no long become enjoyable. I had lost my love for the game.
While this may seem silly, I still felt accomplished. I achieved becoming one of the top ranked players in my region at one point, started a college team which is now sponsored by Riot, pays a real coach to run the team, and gives actual scholarships to some players, and I had fun while doing all of this.
Not many people can say they started an Esports team that gave someone a job and many students scholarships to go to school. Not many people can say they got to play with famous world renown League players and streamers on the daily while ranking up. It was a fun experience, but after all of the work I had little to really show for it.
The game had wasted tons of my time and practically several years of my life. Now, I was not stupid during this time. I also graduated college and kept a healthy relationship with a girl during this time which helped as well.
At the same time, I had been working at a local steak house to make some money while looking for a real job after graduation.
I even managed to pass two actuarial exams after all of this, which most people thought was only do able by the smartest of people. Clearly, they do not understand how dedicated and determined I get when difficult things get in my way.
Fighting my Addiction
Although this sounds like a victory so to speak, it was hard to quit. It took months of me trying to completely remove the game from my life.
If there was a weak moment where I would play even one game, the game would quickly draw me back in for a few weeks. It was bad.
These games are designed to consume you, to take all of your time. They are designed to get you addicted to the victory, to the challenges, to the community.
Remember this before you start any online, never ending game. They are designed like a drug, to get you high. Maybe not in the sense that you are used to. The “high” comes from the competition. It comes from ranking up, and it comes from finding friends like you who want to become better.
The little rewards you get from achieving a new rank, or winning a long drawn out game make it all seem worth it. Even the defeats you suffer from stupid mistakes make you realize you have room to improve. It is funny how even losing can make you want to play more.
Looking Back on Gaming
From where I am now, I see others making the same mistakes from gaming too much.
Gaming can be addictive. Playing games all day can ruin relationships, and the problem is that no one is talking about it.
If you are a gamer or if you enjoy gaming, please realize this, it is only a game. The chances of you ever making a career or becoming pro is literally a million to one. Keep things in perspective and never neglect your life over a game. It is not worth it.
I was lucky. Throughout the entire process, there was no doubt in my mind that I needed a back up plan. A real career that would pay well and get me anywhere in life. That carried through when gaming failed.
Still, there are millions of people out there gaming their lives away in hopes of making it big someday. More often than not, those people will end up wasting 5 to 15 years of their life on this silly dream. In the same amount of time, those people could have built entire companies, progressed to a successful point in a career, or simply made a huge difference in the world.
Gaming is a drug. if used in proper doses, it can help people relax. When abused, it can ruin lives, relationships and futures. Game responsibly.