Gaming IRL
Gaming IRL

Leaving the League

Ballad of a Gaming Addict

Leaving the League

I am a self-confessed recovering gaming addict. By this I mean that playing various video games has reached what I consider to be unhealthy levels at different points in my life.

My most recent nemesis has been League of Legends, by Riot Games. A friend of mine insisted I try this game back in 2011, and it crept up on me like an unsuspecting chemical to the point where I fantasized about going pro, becoming a professional streamer, and completely dedicating my life to the high-paced blur of this multiplayer online battle arena. (MOBA).

Coming from a background of helping people through addictions to drugs and alcohol, I realized that this was in essence no different. In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) now directly references "Internet Gaming Disorder" as a legitimate condition from which people suffer, right alongside mood disorders and substance abuse problems.

Like everything else, we can cross an invisible line that divides having fun with an online game from compulsive, unhealthy behaviors. For myself, this line consists of a few different factors that I can look at in terms of League of Legends or any other game.

For example, how often do I think about said game? In my idle moments, do I find my thoughts drifting towards my next gaming binge? Do I have romanticized ideas about myself in relation to the game? Since it is now possible to make a living in various ways through video gaming it can be easy to fantasize about doing so and idolizing those that already seem successful in this capacity.

The bottom line for myself and clients I have worked with in this area is simply to ask if playing a game is having any negative impact on life whatsoever, and if we have difficulty stopping in spite of this negative impact. It can be very subtle, and like any addictive behavior, it can also be accompanied by a lot of justifications, rationalizations, and reasons to downplay the negative effects. Basically, the only solution is to simply stop the addictive behavior and see what happens.

The prevalence of online gaming, streaming, and the culture around video games has ballooned into a multi billion dollar industry. Just like mainstream sports that many tune into on TV, the internet is full of virtual sports that ever increasing numbers take just as seriously as football, soccer, or basketball.

As always, there are no inherent problems with any of this; it is only the human response to these things that can cause trouble and imbalances in our lives. There is a fine line where entertainment goes from something fun and lighthearted into the realm of desperate distraction; we start running from the pain of our own lives into the temporary pleasures offered by games and the culture around them.

The culture of denial of our own pain has spawned a universe of ever-evolving and expanding means of immersing ourselves in stimulation. Our innate human intelligence is always available, albeit dormant a lot of the time. Our divinity and creative nature as sovereign beings is always calling to us, from beyond the distracted world.

We are prompted to take our attention away from screens and people's opinions and accomplishments—including our own. There is a deeper aspect of reality that we are searching for in the world, and yet it can only be found in our heart and mind. That is why content that points back to the core of our true being is becoming more prevalent online. More of us are recognizing the dire need to come back to our basic sense of love and sanity in this world. More and better entertainment is not going to help us find the fulfillment we truly desire.

A good barometer of our level of distraction is to periodically ask, "Am I able to take a conscious, deep breath while I am doing this?" When we are caught up in entertaining drama of some kind, we often suspend our breath, our very life force. It is as though we are putting our lives on hold for the sake of a moment of distraction, an unconscious break from pain.

Coming into balance is all that is needed; entertainment and fun are important parts of our society. We just have to prioritize reconnecting to our true conscious nature and deepen our awareness of who we really are. I am pleased to offer free initial consultations to anyone interested in exploring this. Thank you as always for indulging me, I wish you a wonderful day. Visit my site here.

Michael Thielmann
Michael Thielmann
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Michael Thielmann

I am a counselor, spiritual mentor, and writer living on Vancouver Island. My passion is to help people get in touch with their own love, creativity, and empower them to live in alignment with their highest wisdom.

See all posts by Michael Thielmann