Alex is a member of one of my cyber recovery groups. He is a 23-year old with a very high IQ, but whose life has gone nowhere. He has been booted out of numerous living situations, lost jobs and alienated friends and family, mostly due to his obsession with multiple aspects of video games. Peeling back Alex’s “screen persona,” however, illuminates a young man with big dreams that he still longs to fulfill. The group is helping him take steps to do just that. The interview below takes you into an addict’s mind and, hopefully, helps humanize his situation.
Kevin: Alex, your obsessive video game behavior is impossible for most to comprehend. Can you describe what it is about your games that so engages you?
Alex: I am drawn into RPG’s (Role Playing Games) because, for some reason, my mind seems to merge with them. I become part of the action, just like some people with a good book. When I was ten years old, I started reading Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s writing transported to me to another dimension. Video games took me into it even further.
Kevin: When was the first time you remember feeling a heightened intensity with video games?
Alex: I remember the day well. I was six years old and played Super Mario Bros. 3 for the first time. It appealed to me in so many different ways: the feel of the game controller, the music, the fantasy land scenery. It made me feel alive in a way I had not theretofore experienced.
Kevin: You have a lot of passion for helping younger gamers avoid your fate. What could the adults in your life have done differently to help you?
Alex: Rather than always dismiss my gaming as a problem, I could have been guided to computer and gaming camps that might have helped me develop a unique skill set. I am not blaming my parents, just to be clear. I was a handful, and they did an incredible job trying to help me manage my many issues.
Kevin: I maintain that addicts, like you and me, find in the cyber world a less-than-completely-satisfying fulfillment of dreams and desires they long for in the real world. What dreams do you still long to attain?
Alex: I was just talking to a friend today about how I wanted to learn Japanese and live for a time in Japan. Something about that country and culture has always fascinated me and I want to experience directly instead of observing from afar. Obviously, I am not going to make this happen if I am sitting in my chair playing games all day long. My dream job would be to work for the Nintendo Corporation.
Kevin: What piece of advice would you give to the addicted gamer out there who, unlike you, is still not admitting he or she has a problem?
Alex: There’s more to life than a computer screen. Get out and find some adventure and excitement in the real world. Find some real friends, because cyber buddies stay in the cyber world.
Kevin: Thank you, Alex, for your candor. I hope you come back again and wish you much luck in your recovery process. I believe in you wholeheartedly.
- Do you know anybody like Alex?
- Is your cyber behavior preventing you from reaching your dreams?
- Please let your voice be heard! LEAVE A RESPONSE.