How She Quit Her 23-Year Addiction to Playing Video Games

By Yi Xin, Malaysia

Once she got home after work, Yi Xin fell exhausted to the couch. She thought about how she had once again been unable to keep herself from playing games that day at work and had been scolded and given a warning by her boss. She felt so depressed. For 23 years, Yi Xin had been so addicted to online gaming that she could no longer tell fact from fiction. The characters she played in her games did not eat and did not sleep, nor did they need to study or work, and so when she played these games she did not eat or sleep either, and she came to hate both study and work. Living such an irregular life over a long period had caused her to have frequent health complications. The online games afflicted her with mental and physical exhaustion. She so wanted to quit them, but how could she rid herself of them? She rubbed her temples and frowned deeply.

Sad woman sitting armchair
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After a moment, Yi Xin took her cell phone from her bag and told her good friend Xiao Li about what was troubling her. Xiao Li was a Christian who often gave Yi Xin fellowship on the Lord’s teachings from the Bible. Yi Xin gained a lot from these fellowships, and so she always spoke to Xiao Li whenever she had a problem. After she’d sent her message, Yi Xin couldn’t stop her thoughts from drifting back to when it all started….

There had been an exam at elementary school in which Yi Xin had gotten the top grade, and her father had given her a computer as a reward. From that time on, Yi Xin learned how to play video games. In the classroom at school, Yi Xin would often take advantage of the teacher not paying attention to discuss newly released games with her classmates. So as not to be caught by the teacher and so that she could play video games as much as she liked without fear during lessons, Yi Xin chose to sit at the very back of the classroom. Whenever she was doing her homework, she would always feel as though the game was waiting for her, and if she didn’t play it then she would have no chance to upgrade her characters. She would therefore get upset looking at the homework she had to do, and she felt that studying and going over her lessons were just too hard and too boring! Yi Xin grew weary of her life of study, and she dreamed about how wonderful it would be to play online games with her friends every single day!

One time, on the day before an exam, Yi Xin was determined to go over her lessons, but a short while later the urgent prompting of one of her online friends came over the phone: “Yi Xin, our group is waiting for you. Hurry up and get online. We’re attacking the Big Boss!” After she heard this, Yi Xin felt like a cat on hot bricks, and she thought: “I have an exam tomorrow. If I play on the online game, it will definitely impact my exam grade.” Yi Xin quickly convinced herself otherwise, however, thinking: “This isn’t a very important exam, anyway, and it will have no impact on getting into my next school. It won’t matter if I don’t do very well!” And so, amidst the excited promptings of her online friends, Yi Xin was immediately ready for action. She quickly switched on her computer and threw herself into the video game battle.

That day, Yi Xin played online until 4am the next morning. At her exam the next day, Yi Xin’s head was in a daze and her mind was blank, and so her exam grade ended up being highlighted as a fail. As she looked at the grade sheet, she thought of her father who had such high expectations of her, and she felt terrible: “Why can’t I revise my lessons and instead am always drawn in by video games?”

Because her grades had slipped so much, her father confiscated her computer. To suddenly be without her online games, Yi Xin felt incredibly empty and bored. Sometimes, she would dream she was playing online games and, when she awoke to find that it had all been just a dream, her disappointment was doubled. During that time, Yi Xin felt as though she had lost her wits and she was all at sea. She would often stare at the clock in a daze, wishing that time would speed up so that, as soon as she graduated, she could then be totally free to play video games as much as she liked.

Summer vacation finally arrived, and she once again began to wallow in video games every day. Later, Yi Xin happened to see a news report about a student who had died suddenly from playing video games for too long, and she felt a little afraid. She very quickly comforted herself, however, thinking: “As long as I make sure I get enough sleep, then I’ll be fine for sure.” She continued to battle on in her online games and, what’s more, she discovered that if she threw her all into playing the games, she wouldn’t feel hungry or tired. She became inseparable from the games, and she would even fantasize that, if she could be the same as the characters in the games, then dying and coming back to life would be the absolute best thing ever!

One morning, when Yi Xin got up out of bed, she suddenly felt weak all over, her head hurt and she felt dizzy, and she couldn’t stop coughing. She thought that it was because she hadn’t slept enough and that she would be fine after a good rest. Unexpectedly, however, after two weeks of this, not only did Yi Xin’s health not get better, but instead it got even worse. She only had to eat something, and she would not be able to stop vomiting, and her stomach was very sore. Yi Xin finally went to hospital for a checkup. When the doctor learned that Yi Xin had had a very irregular sleeping pattern for a long time because of playing video games, and that this had caused her to develop a hormone imbalance, a nervous disorder and a weakened immune system, he gave her a warning, saying, “Your health is in a bad way. You must not play video games anymore, or else you’ll play yourself to death.” Afterward, Yi Xin’s mother kept an eye on her and forbad her from playing video games. But just like a drug addict, she was completely unable to control her own behavior and, when her condition would begin to show signs of making a slight recovery, she would wait until her family was asleep and then leap out of bed, turn off the lights and play video games in secret.

In time, Yi Xin graduated from school and entered the world of work. Her mind became even more occupied by video games, and she would play online almost every day till three or four in the morning. Because she was going without enough sleep over a long period of time, Yi Xin was always nodding off at work, sometimes even closing her eyes from fatigue while she was on the phone with a customer; all this had a serious impact on her career progression and achievements. When her boss noticed what was going on, he put her on a three-month observation warning, saying that if she didn’t change her ways then she would be fired. That is when Yi Xin finally realized the severity of her problem: If she lost her job, then she would be unable to live, and if she carried on the way she was going, then all would be finished. Yi Xin then began to try her hardest to restrain herself and she did her best to cut down the amount of time she spent playing video games. This didn’t last long, however, and she once again lost herself in the world of online gaming, and even took advantage of times when her boss was out to play online games on her cell phone.

How she quit playing video games
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She realized that she had become so addicted to online games that she was already unable to get herself out of this mess, to the point where even eating, sleeping and going to work felt burdensome. Playing online games, on the other hand, allowed her to forget all her problems. Whenever she felt sick, she would wonder whether she would end up just like the person in that news report, dying suddenly from having played games too much. Whenever she thought this, she would become very afraid: “I’m still young and I don’t want to ruin my own life so soon. But how on earth can I rid myself of these games…?” Afterward, through the encouragement of a friend, Yi Xin began to believe in the Lord Jesus.

In the first three years after she began to believe in the Lord, the busy church life left Yi Xin no time to play video games and her life returned to normal. She felt so thankful to the Lord Jesus for having saved her. Later, however, her mother’s sudden death caused Yi Xin to fall into a state of pain and, in order to anesthetize herself, she once again threw herself into online gaming. But no matter how many nights she stayed up playing games, not only did she not feel happy, but on the contrary, she felt increasingly empty and helpless, so much so that she even began to entertain thoughts of ending her own life….

With these thoughts in her mind, she began to sob uncontrollably. She had been harmed so much by these games for so many years, so why couldn’t she rid herself of them on her own?

“Ding ding….” The sound of her cellphone intruded upon her thoughts, and she saw that her friend Xiao Li had sent her a passage of God’s words: “For most, when they play these games for a long time, they can’t do any real work anymore—they no longer want to go to school, or keep learning, or think of their futures, much less do they think of their life. … If you talk to them about a matter of normal humanity or talk about a topic concerning normal humanity with them, they can’t bear to hear about it, they’re not interested, they’re not willing to hear it, and as soon as they hear it they roll their eyes and take unkindly to it. They don’t share a common language or share common topics with normal mankind, but on the contrary they can talk with other people like themselves. … Those who always discuss these topics have their hearts filled with these things, and so what future prospects do they have? Do they have any future prospects? … Can they engage in the activities that normal humanity should engage in? These people cannot do well with their studies, and if they are made to exert themselves working at a job, are they then willing to do this? When you make them work at a job, what then do they think? They think: ‘What’s the point in working? This work is so tiring. How long do I have to do this work for? Playing games is so much more fun, relaxing and enjoyable. What will I get from working? Even though you work, you still get to eat three meals a day. I haven’t seen you get anywhere good. It’s great playing games. As soon as I sit down in front of a computer, I have everything I need. I have a virtual world and living in that virtual world is enough for me!’ And if you make them work 9 till 5, getting to work on time and working fixed hours—how do they feel about that? Are they willing to stick to those times? When someone always plays games and always plays on the computer, then their will disappears and they become decadent, and they have no normal humanity. They become filled with the violence and killing of these games and with the things of the virtual world. The things of normal humanity are stripped away by these games, filled and forcibly occupied by them, and they forcibly occupy any room they have for thought; they are then decadent” (“Believers First Need to See Through the Evil Trends of the World”).

As she contemplated God’s words, she thought about how interested in studying she had been before and how she had always gotten good grades. After she had come into contact with online games, however, they had completely taken over her mind, and she had fantasized about being like a character in a game who could live solely in that world of fantasy. She had felt that her real life of studying and doing homework was too troublesome, that taking exams was too exhausting, and that nothing could thrill her as much as playing video games. Therefore, whenever there was a school vacation, games became her entire life. When her classmates finished their homework, they would all agree to meet and go shopping, whereas Yi Xin always refused their invitations and instead would stay at home, playing games and not eating or sleeping. She lost all normal relationships with other people, and she no longer communicated openly with her parents; having an irregular sleeping pattern over the long term caused her to develop one health problem after another, and yet still she had not woken up to the situation. Once she started work, she remained just as addicted to video games as she had been before and was completely uninterested in working. Even when her boss threatened to fire her if she didn’t change her ways, she still continued to play video games in secret. Thinking of all this, Yi Xin finally realized that she had been in the grip of these games for such a long time that she had lost the life that a normal person was supposed to have. She realized that, if she carried on this way, though she may not lose her life, she would still become a cripple, without ambition, without any goal to pursue and without any ability to live. If it had not been for the revelations of God’s words, Yi Xin would never have been able to comprehend how seriously detrimental to people video games are, and so she said a prayer to God, and she made a resolution to quit her video game addiction no matter what.

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