GAMING TOOK OVER JAMIE’S LIFE
Student says he would spend hours ‘staring at the screen’
ARECOVERING gaming addict says his problem was so bad he would play video games for 16 hours a day at the peak of his addiction. Jamie Callis, 21, was 14 when he first got an Xbox console for his birthday.
He quickly became a fan of the virtual worlds that opened up to him on screen and progressed to playing Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, or MMORPGs, on a PC.
In these types of games players assume a fantasy avatar and usually play against or with other players in detailed virtual worlds.
But soon Jamie was sacrificing his school holidays and weekends to play his favourite games, Call of Duty, League of Legends and Star Craft Two.
The habit took over and Jamie was soon using most of his waking hours to plug into the online world.
He said: “It got to the point I was playing it for 12 to 16 hours a day.
“I loved staring at the screen. All the 3D people and animations blew my mind.
“I would come home from school, sit down for dinner and play until at least 11pm. If I was left alone I would carry on until two or three in the morning.
“I would be in school sat in a les- son, trying to look at work, and all I could think about was the games I was playing. How could I improve? What went wrong the night before?
“The only time I spoke to people it was about video games. It was all I could talk about and all I knew.
“I would have liked someone to shake me and say ‘wake up’, but gaming literally became what I did.”
Jamie remembers a time when his brother turned his computer off after he had been gaming for eight hours straight.
The addiction was so strong he said that he felt he was in “shock” and reacted aggressively.
Jamie, who has now given up gaming and studies at the University of South Wales, said he was particularly drawn in by the social aspect of the games where players can link up with people from all over the world.
But despite having friends online, Jamie said he found it hard to connect with people in real life.
He said: “All of my friends were online. Playing with them is how I could get to know them.
“I would go to birthday parties as a teenager but I didn’t speak to many people.
“I remember going to a bar with my friends and I didn’t speak to anyone. I just wasn’t used to the whole face-to-face communication.”
Jamie realised he had an addiction to gaming when he was about 18 and received his A-level results, got poor grades and missed out on university.
He said: “I realised if I continue to play these games I won’t be able to do anything. I will have no life and I won’t achieve anything.
“I knew I had to change my life and focus on myself.
“I didn’t want to live in Barry for ever, I wanted to move away and the only way I could do that is through working.
“I had a lot of anxiety when quitting. I would sit in front of the PC. I had deleted all the games so I couldn’t play them but it was very, very difficult.
“Gaming was like a safety mechanism built in there.”
He went cold turkey and tried to cut out games altogether, but says he felt many people didn’t understand his problem because they “weren’t in the situation”.
He got counselling at college and now, studying computer science, he is keen to make others aware the problem can be a real addiction.
“People don’t realise it is an addiction because it’s so new,” he added.
A scene from Call of Duty, one of the games that Jamie Callis loved playing