By Lau Jue Hua, Singapore
About a dozen of us are sitting on high backed wooden chairs. The seat and backrest are uncomfortable and the air is stale. The only sound I hear is the shuffling of my shoes on the concrete floor as I stare at my clammy hands. They can’t seem to stop perspiring no matter how many times I wipe them on the front of my shirt.
A wizened lady in a blue polo shirt and grey khakis stands up.
“Is there anyone who is here for their first meeting? Please introduce yourself by your first name only. We want to welcome you now,” she rasps.
Everyone’s eyes swivel toward me and I can feel the heat from their stares as shame and embarrassment well up in me. I comply.
“Hi everyone, I’m Jue Hua and I’m a gaming addict.”
“Hi Jue Hua,”
They reply with smirks and grins. I can’t stand this crummy feeling any longer. I bolt.
Okay, the story above is an imagination and never actually happened. I’ve never attended any support programs for gaming addiction but that is exactly how I thought it would play out when my parents “suggested” that I go to one.
I didn’t. The final straw for them came when I skipped school to play World of Warcraft for 38 hours straight. In response they cut off my internet connection and phone line as punishment, leaving me to go cold turkey. I was just 14 then, but that addiction would still continue to plague me for years to come thereafter.
If you’re reading this, chances are that either you’re my editor or someone who has suffered or is suffering from gaming addiction. Let me share some of my experiences with you.
At the age of 17 I lived for World of Warcraft. I would play till the early hours of the morning, sleep for 2 hours, take a taxi to school and sleep through all my lessons, and return home to repeat the cycle. I stole from others to fund my digital escapades. I stopped attending church because I felt that my time was better spent with my “friends” in the game.
Those few years were really dark. Ill-tempered both in and out of the game, I physically threatened loved ones when they tried to talk me out of it and even came close to blows one time. It is sad to say that I lost almost all of my friends. I ordered fast food for every single meal and I remember putting on 20 kilos in 2 months and hardly changed my clothes. For days in a row I would not even leave my room.
Occasionally, I asked myself: “What could possibly stop this madness?”
The answer is actually really simple: Prayer.
The gospel of John tells us “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Whenever you feel like succumbing to addiction, stop yourself for a second and pray. However you yourself must have the determination to break the vicious cycle on your own.
Also remember this, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”(1 Corinthians 6:12). You are the one in control of your actions; do not let yourself be overcome by temptation.
I’m not saying computer gaming is bad for you. It’s fun and it’s a good way to pass time. I still play computer games in my free time. The difference is that now I put other activities such as attending church, school and socializing above it. I am totally in control of my gaming habits.
With the knowledge that Christ has set me free. I can safely say:
“Hi everyone, I’m Jue Hua and because of Christ I’m no longer a gaming addict.”
If you would like more information about the subject of addiction, check out this Discovery Series booklet on Help For My Life!