An Uncommon Gaming Addiction.

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My name is Frank Anderson and I have a problem. You see, last year I quit my job at GameStop to join a Master's program to become a middle school teacher. At the time I joined, I knew that the year the program required of me would keep me out of work and that I would have to tighten up my spending. I also knew that the most likely, and most disposable of my spending, came from buying video games and movies.

Over the last year I have done an excellent job of cutting my spending on movies, but my spending on games has increased.

Taken individually, my gaming purchases seem rather savvy. Six “free” five-dollar games from All I had to pay was the $2.75 shipping fee for each game. Four games from Gamefly’s day-long sales at around $10 a pop. NBA Jam for the Xbox 360 for only $25. Sonic Colors and Donkey Kong Country for only $38 out-of-pocket. 007 Bloodstone and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit for only $38 total since I had $35 in-store credit and they were both on sale for $34.

The problem comes in when I start taking advantage of all of those deals, rather than just buying the games I have time to play right now. When you add onto that list the games I have bought through Amazon, which I justify by telling myself the $20 Gamer Credit I received for each really only makes them $40 games and the titles I already had preordered at GameStop…. Well, you might have an idea of just how many games I have been buying lately.

My gaming purchases ramped up a few years ago when I got a job reviewing games for my local paper. The funds that I received from that job paid for most of the games I bought, and I had to buy games to review games. The more games I bought then the more I could play and write about. It was a cycle that repeated for almost three years. I got used to being able to play almost every major release that came out and my preorder list continued to grow. I had worked out a grandiose scheme of buying games, reviewing them, and then trading in the titles I didn’t love to buy more games that had me spending very little out-of-pocket money on most of the games I was playing.

Once the paper I wrote for decided to move away from using local freelance writers to using centralized writers I lost my writing gig, but the games purchases continued. Luckily, I had been preordering and paying off games for so long with my writing money that I had many of the next year’s major titles fully paid.

Over time those games have all come out, but my purchasing habits have not slowed down. Now, with sites like giving me quick access to the best sales available, I sometimes get a feeling of compulsion to buy a game when it is significantly on sale… even if it is not a game that I am fully interested in playing.

If I was single and the only person my spending affected was myself then I would not be as concerned about my habits. Since I have a wife and child, however, I have to find a way to become more conscientious of my spending. Add on top of that the fact that my wife is now moving from her current job to a new job with a much better company, but that pays less, and you see what things have got to change.

I know a lot of you are probably reading this with scorn, and I do find this situation more than a bit embarrassing. This problem seems like one that should be quick and easy to fix, and maybe it will be. I am trying to come up with a plan to curb my games spending, and more than likely that will force me to completely quit buying games. At least for the a period of time that it takes for my compulsions to stop. The problem is getting the will to actually move into that phase. The biggest thing I do not want to happen is for my compulsion to get so bad that I start spending more of my savings than I already am having to since I am not working.

You know, change can be a scary thing. I think my biggest fear about buying less (or no) games is feeling left out of the gaming dialog. I have already had my time access to gaming culture significantly cut by my decision to better my life by becoming a teacher. I know a part of me deeply fears having to live life not being able to competently comment on the big stories happening in the gaming world. My knowledge and experience has always been a major part of my pride as a gamer. I might not be the best at online multiplayer, but there is a good chance that I have a deeper knowledge base about gaming than 99% of the populace… simply because I play almost every major title that comes out.

Not having that feeling of pride will take some getting used to, and maybe I will find that I can get just as much pride from being able to spend more time with the games I already have and playing them to their fullest potential. Still, I know that these fears are just excuses to not being to process of change. If everyone let their fears rule their actions then nobody would ever get anything done. So, in that spirit a new era begins…. Now!

Does anyone else have a situation like this or know someone who has? Does anyone have any advice, comments, or criticisms to share? Please, be brutal. I think I may need a bit of tough-love to help solidify my will to change.

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