The Spiritual Mother

Celebrating Motherhood as a Spiritual Guide and Path.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I'd Rather Pour Bleach in my Eyes than Watch Someone Play Call of Duty Ever Again.

Yes that is right....bleach!   After being married to a video game addict for 6 years and together for 7, I have decided that there is nothing more annoying, boring or more hurtful.  See, my soon to be ex-husband did not cheat with a person, he did not find himself in the arms of another woman, but he gave his mind, body and soul to a machine.  This machine was not even a hot Cylon in a red dress like in Battle Star Galactica.  See, that I might understand because Tricia Helfer played a gorgeous bionic robot with a very sensual attitude (pictured at right).   Instead, he spent every hour that he was not sleeping or at work living in front of a TV and emerging himself into a world that doesn't exist to "save the world" from pretend Nazi's or zombies or what ever lame ass bad guy was put in front of him.   While I do feel that some form of mindless activity now and then is normal and healthy for all humans, spending the majority of your free time doing this is not.  I also do not claim to be perfect in this aspect myself as I enjoy watching my hour of TV a day, as well as spending time online chatting with my friends.

I too am a recovering video game addict.  I say recovering because anyone who knows anything about addiction, knows that it never really goes away permanently, it is something we learn to control in our lives.  I currently do not play any video games, minus occasionally playing Words With Friends with my mother and a few other select friends.  I only spend about 10 minutes a day playing this game, which I only do to keep my vocabulary growth going.  When I was in full addict mode, I would spend up to 16 hours a day playing MMORPGs such as Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, DDO and more.  I also was quite into the SIMS for a while.  I also got addicted for a while to social media games such as MafiaWars and FarmTown.  At my peak, I would spend every waking hour playing games.  It was impossible to get me out of the house, I would call out of work and try to get out early when I did go.  I also neglected my college work which eventually caused me to have a GPA that was too low to get the financial aid I needed to continue.    A combo of not having aid, and not making enough money at work eventually caused me to have to give up my apartment and go live with a friend who charged me significantly less rent.  I also played so much at that time that my fiance at the time couldn't take it any longer and we started fighting about it.  I would not help him clean the apartment, nor spend time with him outside of the game.  Eventually he found himself cheating on me, which caused us to part ways.  While cheating on me was not the correct way to handle this, my addiction made me not care about our actual relationship and giving  to it what I needed for us both to be in a healthy place.  Needless to say, video games had a strong place in my life at one point and I totally understand the addiction.

When my soon to be ex-husband and I started dating, we were both in the middle of video game addiction.  We would spend hours playing together and this was how we met.  We played the same games and were online friends for years together before ever meeting face to face.  One day we did meet and that is what started our life together.  When we started living together we enabled the behaviors that go with gaming addiction.  Instead of a normal new couple that spends hours in the bedroom mating like bunnies, we spent hours in front of our computers side by side playing video games.  Eventually the neglected living conditions we lived in started to take over.   It was also around this time that we married.  We got a bigger place and new wedding gifts that caught my attention more than the video games.  The idea of starting a life together sunk in to me.  By the time I was pregnant I had started losing interest in games all together.  Once my son was born I had stopped playing them completely.  One day it just clicked in me that sitting there in front of the screen was a waste of time in my life and there were more important things to do than to live in this fantasy world.  However, my soon to be ex-husband did not loose interest.  His interest went from the games we played together to games he played by himself on his xbox.  He continued to play and play.

First it was nice to sit there and encourage him to play and wow could he do amazing jumps on that video game where he snow boards.  And wow that dragon is awesome, how cool of you to be able to kill it and make armor with its scales.  I would sit and watch him.  At first I was okay with it because I knew it made him happy.  But I was starting to get lonely.  As our son grew I spent more time with the little man than my partner.  Our time together became less and less.  When I was not taking care of my son I would be busy cleaning and taking care of the home or spending time doing other things.  All the while, he continued to play and play.  We then bought our first house together, which I was so happy about at the time.  Looking back on this though, I know now that this was the beginning of the end of our marriage.   We had gone from apartment living, where all major maintenance was taken care of, no grass to cut and just the dishes and our son to take care of, to caring for a house all on our own.   I never even considered at that time that he would neglect our son, me and our new home.  Then the begging came along.  I would clean the kitchen and ask him to mow the lawn, or help with something in the house.  Everything I asked him to do bothered him and if he spent 10 minutes away from his game to help me, he was doing everything in the house and I was lazy.  If I sat down and had time to myself on a weekend, in his mind I was doing the same thing he was with his video games.  Soon it became very clear through action, despite what he said, that video games were the most important aspect of his life.  No matter what I did, nor the love of his son, would bring him back to us or away from this machine.

I began to hate it.  I secretly fantasized about beating up his xbox like in Office Space with the copy machine.   I would think about hiding the cords, so it would not run and he would spend hours trying to figure out why.  I thought about taking all the batteries in the house and squirreling them away in a hiding spot he didn't know about.  I was sick of this stupid machine.  I was angry with it!  One of the only ways I could spend time with him was to wait till after my sons bed time and head down to his man cave in the basement and sit next to him while playing.  If you have ever sat and watched someone play games, you know how boring this is.  They kill the same junk over and over and it is never ending and repeating.  There is no story line or suspense.. just mindless hordes of killing and shooting guns.  Not to mention they are in first person which makes me have motion sickness.  It soon became so silly to me that he would play these stupid games over and over.  I could only sit there and chat with him if I was inebriated.   I was literally bored out of my mind.

Then I stopped watching, even if he begged me.  I would do my own things, such as watch documentaries, and eventually I started going out with my friends all the time.  It got to a point where we never spent any alone time together, including sex.  Our relationship became nothing but roommates and occasional help with parenting.  We were no longer a team or a partnership.  He had choose to live his life in this fantasy world of death and carnage, and I had choose to move on.  I secretly hoped he would just get bored and come back to us.  But I knew deep down it would never happen.  Towards the end I began to equate him to a child and lost all respect for him.  I could no longer live this way.  The saddest part in my mind is that our son would only call him by his first name for the longest time, and would go to the door to the basement and yell it.  This he learned from me unfortunately.  I had to go to the door whenever food was ready, or whenever I needed him for a second, or just to see him come out of the cave and yell his name as loud as I could just to get him to come up.  It took nearly 2 years for our son to call him Daddy again.

Needless to say, now that I am done with this marriage, I am done with this part of my life that involves seeing people play video games.  I never want to watch people play and I would rather avoid hearing people discuss them.  It is now on my bucket list to never see them played again and I plan on sticking to that.  In my life I no longer have room for people who think its okay to bury themselves in a world of escapism and ignore real life.  Video games are not real and the addiction to them is just as serious as alcohol or drugs.  Instead of killing your liver you kill your soul, and get fat from lack of exercise and consuming inordinate amounts of Dew and not getting enough sunshine or vitamin D.  I feel as that the neglect from his lifestyle choices was abuse towards me and my son, and I will never go back to that.  In the end bleach in my eyes would be far less painful and far more enjoyable.

So for those of you who do play video games, please consider what you are doing to those around you.  Think about the things you could be doing instead; like yoga, reading a book, learning to play the Cello, loving your family, or changing the world one person or tree at a time.  There are so many things you could do instead of wasting your life in front of a screen and if you stop and pay attention to the world around you, you will realize that you are ultimately wasting your life away.  Every moment counts and there is a real world out there just waiting to be explored.   Don't waste it.


Lisa@Panthea said...

I was married to a video game head for almost 12 years and it took me almost that long to realize how much I resented the whole thing. Great post. Thanks for sharing your story. :D

Hearth Witch said...

I understand exactly what you've gone threw dealing with video game addiction. There is a website dedicated to it online ( that helped me distance myself from my my online poison of choice. The result is that I'm going to college this fall to pursue my passion for anthropology :)

Nate said...

As a video game designer. I would like to point out a few things:

a)You can't blame the video games. Just like "guns don't kill people, people kill people". Video games don't break up relationships, people break up relationship.

b)Video game addiction is the new buzz word in the world. And I call total shenanigans on it. The basis for this as an addiction is that playing a game to the point of "addiction" means that you're using the game to induce the release of endorphins and dopamine. Same reason why people smoke, do heroine, become a sex addict, and get called video game addicts. People are addicts. I'm an addict, you're an addict, we're all addicts. Smoke? You're an addict. Have to have coffee every morning? You're an addict. Get grumpy if you don't have your afternoon mountain dew or nap? You're an addict.

c) If you do the research, you'll find that video game "addiction" is typically used as a means of escapism, and isn't the cause of a bad relationship.

One sentence in particular from this article reads: "Video game addiction has not been accepted by any recognized authority for defining mental health disorders"

This article isn't FOR or AGAINST video game addiction or if it exists. But it's a good read, as are many other such articles.

I play video games, I manage my video game time. Despite the fact that I'd rather sit at home and play video games all day, I go to work. Yes I work in the video game industry, but it's not all that you think it is. I also have a second job running my own business. And I'm married with 5 dogs.

I find plenty of time to fit everything into my life. And as I write this, I turned to my wife and asked if my video game playing has ever caused problems in our relationship. She said no, she sees it as a hobby.

While she's wrong in that it is a hobby, she's right in how to deal with my carefully managed video game time. Video games are a way of life for me. I've played them since childhood, I've dreamed of being a video game designer all my life, and it eventually became a reality.

If we're going to tear down video games. Let's also tear down gambling, and drugs, and strip clubs, and any other activity that "takes us away from someone".

I'll repeat, it isn't the games that are the problem.

Given everything I've just written; I do understand where you are coming from, and I believe it has been an awful experience. But I did feel the need to defend the video game entertainment industry. It isn't the industry's fault it gets abused.

I've said my piece.

Sapphire said...

I have to agree with Nate. The games aren't the issue, there was something else there that was causing his need to escape. Perhaps he had some very painful memories that only went away when he immersed himself in a fantasy world? He needed help, that's for sure, but I'm not convinced it was all the games' fault.

I play video games (specifically the Sims 3, the Resident Evil trilogy, and several older NES and SNES games). My husband plays on occasion (his big hobby is Magic the Gathering), and my eldest son plays (he's autistic, and it has really helped him in many ways, with communication, and sheer enjoyment).

I have a younger son who tags along with me everywhere I go. I'm a stay at home mom who rarely gets time to do anything for myself, so I relish my game time. BUT it doesn't rule my life. I make time for it when I can, but after my daily work (with the exception being Farmville, I get that stuff done in the morning before the kids get up if I can - just so I don't have to tend the place constantly). I will play when the kids are sleeping, or I have nothing I want to do more.

Personally, I go from wanting to play games to wanting to read more often, or crochet, or cooking, etc. Just because someone plays games doesn't mean that they are ignoring other parts of their life. My mother used to buy games to just watch me play them. It was a bonding thing for us, and it gave me lots of wonderful memories (she liked watching me play Secret of Mana and Super Metroid on the SNES. If we still had that system, or I took my Wii over to her house, I think she'd be apt to ask me to play again!).

All that being said, I'm sorry that your ex-husband set games as a higher priority. That's where I draw the line with my husband: if he ever puts his MTG cards/going to play with friends above the kids or myself, then they are gone or we are. He doesn't play second fiddle to my gaming and neither do the boys. If that was to ever happen, I'd be the first to say get the games out of the house. I do think that there is a reason why your ex became so enamored of a virtual world - something was missing or something was being covered up. Something painful, I'd imagine. Hopefully, he'll get counseling and can reach the root of the problem and deal with it.

I hope I didn't make you TOO angry with this, but not everyone who games is apt to cut themselves off from everyone, and not everyone who games does ONLY gaming and nothing else. And I agree with you on COD - games like that never caught my attention. Never felt the urge to bleach my eyes, though.

Winter Phoebe Dawson said...

I had of course commented before on your last post on this subject being I went through the same issue in my first marriage. (I have switched blogs and operate from this one now... sorry about any confusion). I myself was never a gamer. I have the attention span of a fly and could never sit still long enough to even pretend interest. That being said when I was dating the ex husband I did used to sit around and sort of pretend to watch while he played but what I was really doing was waiting for him to pay attention to me. But despite this most of the time his gaming wasn't much of a problem in the first few years. He did seem to pay attention to me most of the time and he actually treated me pretty well. We had a wonderful intellectual connection and a pretty drama free relationship. The BIG problems started when our daughter was born in 2005. Right about then World of Warcraft was also "born". I think he must have had a lot of resentment about the pressures of being a father and to escape he just slipped into his little WOW world but it soon spiraled way past just having a bit of down time on the game. He stopped working, stopped interacting with me and the kid in any real way, and wouldn't even take care of basic needs such as showering. Did you ever see that Southpark episode about World of Warcraft where Cartman demands that his mother bring him a bedpan to go to the bathroom in because he couldn't get off the game? Yeah... he was about one step away from that. So, like you, I can't help but to look at "the gaming" in total disgust too. We'd had an amazing relationship but addiction is what it is... and the way I lost him was very much the same as if he physically had died. There was not a trace of the person I once knew once the addiction fully took hold. Five years later he is still exactly the same person with the same addictions. I can understand this with a narcotic addiction, such as meth or something. But to give up on life and loved ones for a GAME? It is like the ultimate insult. Oh... and by the way, my daughter I had with him calls him only by his first name too.

Candice said...

I went through something very similar with my husband and ran away from the marriage and started divorce and child custody papers with a lawyer once almost 2 years ago. In the end I came back and what you wrote about never wanting to see another person play that game is exactly how I felt. He made some big changes and got a full time job and started spending some time with our daughter and did nt play as often as before but even the one time per week gaming sessions left me going to bed with a knotted stomach feeling simply ill with all sorts of emotions.
He has now not been able to play at all even if he wanted to because of his new business but he started talking about changing the open hours for the store to be able to play when a new expansion comes out or something when I have been asking him to do that same thing for the children who he hardly sees... It was a punch in the gut. Even if he doesn't play anymore the stupid game is still screwing up our marriage. And yes, it's not the game, it's the gamer... But that doesn't change how much I hate that game and placing anger towards it is much better for the children than laying it all in the husband.

Elizabeth said...

I was a WOW widow for a while. My husband wan't a big gamer until he found WOW (he'd game a little here and there, but nothing serious). Anyway, with WOW he got to the point where every waking moment not spent a work was spent on that effing game! I asked, begged, yelled, tried a timer, etc. Nothing worked, he was ALWAYS on the computer! SO, I started saving money and when I had enough for my daughter and I to buy a plane ticket home, I packed our bags. I told my husband if he didn't cancel his account immediately, while I watched, and never played the game again, then I'd take our daughter and he'd get divorce papers in the mail. Thats what it took, apparently, because he canceled his account and never played again. And our lives have been MUCH better for it!