December 2010, Christmas.

I remember, as a teenager,
how hard it was to convince my parents to get me a computer, a Commodore C64.
My grades in school…let me phrase it this way;
I had my good times in Math, Physics, Biology and other science topics;
German, English and History not so much.
My strategy or better sales pitch was to lure my parents into the darkness
of what a computer can do for me to improve my grades.
I would program stuff that will help me. I can write reports and print them.
I told them everything what I, as a teenager, thought was good enough to get them.

It worked out. My C64 was on its way. Bought by my parents and grandma.

Yes indeed, I learned how to program some Basic and it was fun.
My buddies and I spent more time in programming the intro to the main program
as we should have spent time on programming the real McCoy.
Sometimes a simple math program had a longer intro than Steven Spielberg’s Star Wars Saga.

The most fun I’ve had with my C64 were all the fun games.
I spent hours in front of the screen trying to figure out how to get into the next level.

And this is how everything started.

The C64 was sent to a retirement home somewhere in Florida and I got an upgrade, a real PC.
Amazing how much the computer game world improved.

I liked to play so called Ego-Shooter. I used to be a member of a clan.
Kind of a gang who is virtually going out and kick some butts. Cool.
Sitting behind my screen and keyboard chasing down other characters
in games like Call of Duty or Battlefield.
Later on, the PC became a surf station and I bought me a PS3 (sound of fanfares)
and guess what, the graphic and the speed improved again.
It was a leapfrog from my ol’ C64 (R.I.P.) to my PS3.

Sure enough I bought me all the cool games I liked to play.
Racing, Shooting, Sneaking and Chasing.
And even there I got hooked up to the Ego-Shooter Call of Duty.
Online against others somewhere in the world.
The only difference, they are 20 years younger and much quicker than I used to be.
To be honest, I sucked, they were faster, better in aiming and I was only mediocre.
I was not the worst but never the best. From here it went down the drain.
I played almost every day for a couple of hours.
I cursed, I yelled, I screamed because the whole setting was not fair.
My internet connection was to slow, others were able to see me,
before I even had a chance to see them and so they shot me.
The programming of the game has flaws that’s why I’m losing.
(and with my Basic knowledge I now what I’m talking about 🙂 )

A vicious cycle.
I tried to play better, quicker and I needed an upgrade on my equipment so desperately,
because the others had the better equipment.
“Just one more round honey,
I will get my promotion soon and then I gonna get that new awesome gun”;
something my wife heard a lot.
Another infamous phrase:”Hold on,
I need to find a safe/save point so my progress is not getting lost”.

My mood changed, I became slightly aggressive, simple things pissed me off
and my night sleep was everything but relaxing.
I had a hard time to slow down and relax.
Every free minute you could hear the beeping sound of my PS3 firing up for another round.

Last Christmas I decided to quit. Cold Turkey. No more PS3 or any other computer game. Done.

Dude, that was tough. Now over 3 months later it looks like I did it.

If you’ve ever tried quit smoking, y’all know what I’m talking about.
The first days I had no clue what to do with my extra time.
This itchy feeling — come on, one round…it won’t hurt at all.
It takes a while to get use to not to play.

I’m spending more time with my wife, my books and other stuff I put aside for quite a while.
I enjoy being more relaxed, mellow and balanced.
I can easily fall asleep and I have a deep and relaxing night sleep.
No dreams about being chased by the army of darkness or driving around in a car like crazy.

In getting rid of these time wasters, I’m able to discover new things in my life.
Not being stuck behind a controller in front of a screen is such a freeing moment,
that makes it easy to never go back.

What a relief.