As gaming continues to grow in popularity, boys who grew up playing video games are becoming men. Some of them are becoming husbands with a gaming addiction. Here is one such story.
No one told me marriage would be so lonely. We were strangers sharing a home, a bed, but not a life. I spent my days taking care of our little girl, making meals and general ‘stay at home mom’ stuff.
Every evening, I excitedly looked forward to the time David would come home. I imagined he would be happy to see me, or our daughter at the very least. I imagined he would ask me how my day was and give me a hug. I imagined he would gather our daughter in his arms and cover her in scratchy kisses from his 5 o’clock shadow. Some days that happened and I felt hope spring up inside me. I felt like maybe we were enough. But more often than not, our interaction was very different.
David had loved computers and gaming since he was 14. He built his own computer, wrote programs, and loved to play online games. I honestly didn’t think much of it. All his friends were doing it, and after all, he still made time for me. But marriage changed that.
I married David, my high school sweetheart, in 2001. Our dating life was tumultuous, full of highs and lows, but I firmly believed we were meant for each other.
David worked long hours, and when he wasn’t working, he liked to play World of Warcraft with his online friends. He would come home, fill a plate with food, and sit down at the computer. He would get lost in this world with his online friends, a world that I wasn’t a part of, often till 3 am.
I downplayed the addiction at first, I hid it from family and friends. I was embarrassed, ashamed, after all, how boring must I be that my husband would rather spend time playing a computer game than hang out with me.
Some days I ignored the problem, pretended like I didn’t mind, I tried to tell myself it was nice having the bed all to myself as I tried to fall asleep to the sound of gaming and loud talking on his headset. Other days I tried to entice him, catch his attention any way I could, all to no avail. And then, I stopped caring, stopped crying alone in bed, stopped hoping anything would ever change, and accepted that our daughter would grow up in a home with an absent father. Neither she, nor I were enough to change David.
But God had other plans.
I was one of the top players in the world in the game World of Warcraft. The status and success was intoxicating, addictive, and it is where I found my identity and a sense of acceptance and belonging.
My transformation did not happen in an instant. I did not hit rock bottom or think “something has to change.” Rather, it happened in steps as I began to make real and genuine relationships in the church we attend.
I began to volunteer once a month at church. I started going to the prayer room every other week with a friend. Heidi and I joined a small group.
All these things connected us with friends who cared enough to push us, to call out our bad habits, and who were then willing to walk with us as we cleaned up our mess.
One of the pivotal decisions I made was to fast from video games for an entire month. Once that month was over, we got rid of my gaming computer and gaming console, as I didn’t want to go back to gaming, but I knew having them would be too tempting.
It wasn’t until my son was born that I realized what video games had cost me. As we went through all the “firsts” with him, I realized I had none of those experiences with my daughter because I had been gaming. And I grieved what I had lost.
I think the routine of everyday life has zero chance of competing with the excitement of the world of online gaming. Paying bills, cleaning, cooking, and spending time talking to your wife becomes mundane and old very quickly. It is a very difficult addiction to break.
From my perspective, there was no step-by-step plan David followed to find freedom from his gaming addiction. His change came from a real relationship with Jesus Christ and many little steps of obedience. Jesus took David from a man who was in chains to his addiction, to a caring, loving husband and father.
Our home became a place filled with laughter, smiles, silliness, and joy. Late night gaming sessions were replaced with late night talks and snuggles. Supper happened around our table and contained a lot more bacon as David was discovering a love of cooking. Evenings were for family time, coffee with friends, and wonderful togetherness. It was everything I always wanted.
Now, I will not claim that life is now perfect, or that David no longer struggles with addiction. Video game addiction is no different from other addictions, once an addict, always an addict. So, as a family we take precautions: we stay away from the types of games that draw David into the cycle of addiction; we waited for years to have a gaming console or computer; and most importantly, we keep open lines of communication. These things keep our family healthier, happier, and more balanced.
I am incredibly thankful for God’s hand on our lives, and for the people he surrounded us with to support us. He gave us friends that showed us how much Jesus loved us right where we were at. They showed us that Jesus doesn’t stand at the opening to the hole you’ve dug and wait for you to save yourself before he has a relationship with you. Jesus jumps into the hole with you, comforts you, holds you close, and helps you out of your mess. That’s exactly what he did for us.
Even when I had lost all hope and given up, Jesus hadn’t. He loves our spouses, kids, family members and friends more then we ever could, and will hang on to them, long after we’ve let go, and that is where I put my hope.
About the Authors:
David is probably a genius and Heidi is the original Marie Kondo, before Marie Kondo was even a thing. One of the greatest things about them is their ability to be straightforward and truthful in a way that challenges, but does not offend. True friends.
If you would like to send David and/or Heidi a message, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put their name/s in the subject line.