Stu­dent says he would spend hours ‘star­ing at the screen’

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - AMY COLES re­porter amy.coles01@trin­i­tymir­

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

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