My Battle With Addiction

Avatar image for apexpenguin
#1 Edited by apexpenguin (8 posts) -

I used to love gaming. Like, it was my thing. Got the NES when I was in 2nd grade. Had my Gameboy Classic loaded with Kirby with me all of the time. SNES. PSone. Worked all summer and bought my own PS2 at launch. Bought me an Xbox for my 21st birthday while I was in Iraq. Got the 360 when I played Oblivion at a friend’s.

So what went wrong for me? It was a slow process, but the villain was achievements. I didn’t care about abandoning a bad game before. But something about achievements had me hooked. I stopped playing games for fun. I played to get 100% in them. I didn’t play games that I couldn’t get to 100%. I played games that I wasn’t enjoying for much longer than I should have, and gave up on games I was loving just because I got all of the achievements.

I remember the first game I cheated at. Lost Oddessy. I did my research, followed a guide so I didn’t miss anything. When the achievement for collecting all items was supposed to pop, nothing. I retraced my steps. Spent hours trying to find what I missed. Then, I stumbled upon a site where you could download save files. I found a 100% complete save file for Lost Oddessy. Loaded it up and *pop* I got it. I spent hundred of hours on that game, I put in my time, I deserved that sense of accomplishment of getting 100%. I cheated for one achievement. But that was all it took. I kept cheating whenever I was playing a game that I wanted to be done with. Then, I figured out how to just unlock achievements without even playing the game. I was smart about it. One or two a day, in the correct order, cheating became the part of the game that I was enjoying.

I didn’t get caught, at least not by Microsoft. It was an achievement tracking website that I was using. And it was on Lost Oddessy. See, there were some DLC achievements that popped that I wasn’t paying attention to because I didn’t own the DLC. But I bought it after the fact. The same day, but still. I was kicked off of the website because it was suspicious that I unlocked an entire DLC’s worth of achievements in one day.

I panicked. I unfriended everyone. Locked down my account so nobody could see anything that I did. Wrapped up all projects I had going on and packed it in. Unlocking achievements was my drug. I wasn’t happy in life. I wasn’t getting anything done in life, and I needed those achievements to get that high you get when you check something off of your “To-Do” list. Without my trophies, I finally had to address my own shortcomings in life.

I’m going to fast forward a bit. The next generation of consoles came out. I ended up going PS4 because it was a fresh start. But Sony has trophies. They have a percentage bar. The platinum trophy. It was a lot to resist. I did alright at first. But that compulsive desire to get that bar to 100% came back.

I couldn’t play anymore. I was still pre ordering games, but I wasn’t playing them because I knew that I wouldn’t complete them. I didn’t want to try something new out of fear of being unable to finish it.

Here we are. I’m 33 years old and my one release in life has been stripped away from me because of this game mechanic I would love to be able to disable. If I could just play a game with no way to track arbitrary goals, I would love it. I thought that I was broken. Obsessive. Compulsive. But it’s called The Zeigarnik Effect. The inability of the subconscious to forget unfinished or interrupted tasks. That itching in my brain that I would get when I wasn’t at 100% had a name.

Now, I would love if Sony and Microsoft and Steam would give people like me a way to just disable these trophies and achievements and just play the game, but if they do that, they will anger those gamers who need to know how many people have a trophy, it throws off their statistics.

I sold my PS4 and my Xbox One and I bought a Switch. It’s the only way to game without falling victim to The Zeigarnik Effect. I’m hoping that it works out for me.

Avatar image for speeny
#2 Posted by Speeny (584 posts) -

Good luck with everything. I like to try to be a bit of a completionist myself sometimes. But, I realise that it's good to have a balance between real life and gaming. (Which is supposed to be for leisure only. It should never feel like a chore.)

P.S. I'm enjoying my Switch so far. It's a very casual experience for me which is nice.

Avatar image for goodzorr
#3 Posted by goodzorr (411 posts) -

This weirdly came up on my timehop today.

Four years ago I had 76,468 Gamerscore

One year ago I had 100,883 Gamerscore.

Today I have 105,339.

You know what I did? Turned off the notifications for achievements/trophies. I've been on level 12/13 on my PlayStation trophies for ages. I did 100% God of War and HZD but other than that, I don't get up guides and I don't research achievements. I try my best to enjoy the game without these. I wish you all the best in doing the same.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas
#4 Posted by JustPlainLucas (78793 posts) -

I've struggled off and on with MMORPG addiction, so I know how that compulsive struggle is like. You just gotta get on and do those quests and get those levels, and then level up jobs that you don't even care about just because they're there. Of course, having to pay for those subs drives the compulsion even more so because you feel like you need to get your money's worth. But, there reaches a point where you stop having fun with the game, but you're still playing it and just can't stop. Luckily for me, I was able to let my weariness of the game finally overcome my addiction and was able to stop. I occasionally play it but now I'm able to manage my time far better because I've been supplementing my free time with other things. That's the goal to victory.

Avatar image for mumunaro
#5 Edited by mumunaro (99 posts) -

I never got obsessive over 100% completion in games because i always set myself personal arbitrary goals in games. Like "before i move on i want to do this..this..hmm maybe that..nah not that one thats boring" etc etc so yeah o basically pick and choose. It can still be a bit problematic because if i dont hit those set targets then i can be a bit compulsive but its a lot minor since i choose what i actually enjoy doing.

Also i have these eventually insurmountable need to experience new games, environments, story and the lot so i just wont stay at a game for long.

In the end, its alot about " Do you focus on the destination or the journey?" Im the latter because ive abandoned many games even upon close reaching the end because im satisfied with the experience and im going to move on.

This preference also made me realise that life goals are also worthwhile and entertaining journeys so that cut down my gaming addiction a bit because i thirsted for real life experiences. Believe it or not but expansive RPG open world games made me want to go out and see the world and meet new people and friends. Just like my ingame heroes did. Before that i was an extremely introverted person with very low esteem. Now im definitely not the same person lol

Avatar image for zzzamiibozzz
#8 Posted by ZzzAmiibozzZ (28 posts) -

@sweini1:

Whoa r u mad?!

Avatar image for lisajohny543
#9 Posted by lisajohny543 (6 posts) -

@mumunaro said:

I never got obsessive over 100% completion in games because i always set myself personal arbitrary goals in games. Like "before i move on i want to do this..this..hmm maybe that..nah not that one thats boring" etc etc so yeah o basically pick and choose. It can still be a bit problematic because if i dont hit those set targets then i can be a bit compulsive but its a lot minor since i choose what i actually enjoy doing.

Also i have these eventually insurmountable need to experience new games, environments, story and the lot so i just wont stay at a game for long.

In the end, its alot about " Do you focus on the destination or the journey?" Im the latter because ive abandoned many games even upon close reaching the end because im satisfied with the experience and im going to move on.

This preference also made me realise that life goals are also worthwhile and entertaining journeys so that cut down my gaming addiction a bit because i thirsted for real life experiences. Believe it or not but expansive RPG open world games made me want to go out and see the world and meet new people and friends. Just like my ingame heroes did. Before that i was an extremely introverted person with very low esteem. Now im definitely not the same person lol

Well said

Avatar image for Ovirew
#10 Posted by Ovirew (8392 posts) -

I enjoy achievements to a point, but I think it's a problem when you are playing games you don't enjoy for achievements that are very tedious to get. Games that have online modes have some very difficult achievements to obtain. I seem to remember Phantasy Star Universe having achievements you needed to spend hours playing to get, and that was one game you paid for a subscription to play.

It's just not realistic at a certain point. I never had this issue with achievements, but I can relate because I have a similar issue - buying more games than I have time for and building up an unrealistic back-log. I did this for the umpteenth time this year, and I think I'm at the point now where I'm turned off of playing anything besides a handful of games now because of it. I wasted so many thousands of dollars in the past decade+ buying tons of games, only to turn around and sell everything for cash, or because something new came along. I repurchased the same games and systems over again several times, even. Now I'm just playing Battle.net games and I'll leave it at that, because I know otherwise I'll just keep wasting money and time on games I will never be able to play or decide on playing between.

Avatar image for johndmgs
#11 Posted by Johndmgs (310 posts) -

@mumunaro said:

I never got obsessive over 100% completion in games because i always set myself personal arbitrary goals in games. Like "before i move on i want to do this..this..hmm maybe that..nah not that one thats boring" etc etc so yeah o basically pick and choose. It can still be a bit problematic because if i dont hit those set targets then i can be a bit compulsive but its a lot minor since i choose what i actually enjoy doing.

Also i have these eventually insurmountable need to experience new games, environments, story and the lot so i just wont stay at a game for long.

In the end, its alot about " Do you focus on the destination or the journey?" Im the latter because ive abandoned many games even upon close reaching the end because im satisfied with the experience and im going to move on.

This preference also made me realise that life goals are also worthwhile and entertaining journeys so that cut down my gaming addiction a bit because i thirsted for real life experiences. Believe it or not but expansive RPG open world games made me want to go out and see the world and meet new people and friends. Just like my ingame heroes did. Before that i was an extremely introverted person with very low esteem. Now im definitely not the same person lol

I can relate to that last paragraph. I've often put on games like Oblivion just to wander around so to get to go on a hike through the mountains was a great experience. Felt like I was right there in one of those fantasy worlds.

Avatar image for blackhairedhero
#12 Edited by Blackhairedhero (2291 posts) -

I only Platnium games if I really like them and if it's to hard i say screw it.