Tooned Out

Suburban mommy talks about kicking her online gaming habit.

Location: Redmond, Washington, United States

Just another face in line at the grocery store...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Happy Holidays

As 2005 runs through it's last few days, I realize that my gaming phase has wound itself out and is at an end. I no longer feel like I must game. I can pick up my game and put it down at will. I can play for a bit of fun and relaxation, or not play if I have better things to do, which is most of the time. My self-esteem is no longer involved in anything that happens in my game or online, but rather it is firmly rooted in real life where it belongs.

I'm quite sure that what made the difference for me was getting out of the house and starting a new job. My job is menial and low skilled but luckily I work for a company whose values include treating their employees with respect and actively promoting self-esteem. My cynical side wants to discount outright a "corporate value" of promoting employee self-esteem, but I have to admit seeing it in action and in all fairness I have to admit that it works, even on me. I'm also sure that I would have reaped the same benefit from seeking out volunteer activities for an equal amount of hours each week, or returning to university to further my education.

I no longer compulsively check the OLGA website. I don't post much there anymore. I no longer feel like it's up to me to save the world from gaming addiction. My obsession with the problem of gaming addiction is fading, just as my addiction itself has faded. It's wonderful to know that even if I don't respond to all of those who cry out for help at OLGA, others will. There will always be someone there to help; that's just the kind of place it is. I've taken my turn; others will follow.

I started this blog to let people know that any MMORPG can be addicting. My addition was for Toontown, and I wanted to let people know that even though it's a game ostensibly made for kids, adults play it and adults get addicted to it. If you are an adult who is addicted, feel free to email me at I will always write back, though it may take me a day or two.

To get over my addiction, I had to quit outright. I didn't even think about picking up my game again for several months, and then only after I had made significant changes in my life and done a considerable amount of work on my inner self. I don't play any other online games. The only 'offline' game I play is Dance Dance Revolution. I play with my kids and it's great exercise, as well as a fun way to spend time together. I wouldn't advise anyone to return to gaming until they've done all the work necessary to understand what led them down the path to gaming addiction.

My slide into gaming addiction was caused by depression, anxiety, and resulting low self esteem. I wasn't aware of the extent that I was suffering from these problems until I quit gaming. Only after I left the game was I able to deal effectively with these issues. Online games are compelling and can be all-consuming. They squeeze out so much of real life that there's often not enough time or mental energy left to deal with real life problems. This leads to a downward spiral, and the only way back up is to leave the game, take a good look around, and fix what's broken in your real life.

The New Year is often a time for people to take stock and think about changes they'd like to make in their lives. If you are a gamer whose gaming is out of control, perhaps it's time to take your life back. Best wishes to all of you who've taken the time to read my ramblings.