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Gaming and alcohol

Updated: Jan 13

As Good As It Gets Guild Raid World of Warcraft 2013

It is no secret to friends and family that I love gaming. I have done since I was 12, when my brother and I would build games using machine code on our Dragon 32 computer. He would read, I would type, and then we would hold our breath as we launched the game. Any errors, it would not launch, and we might have to start all over again. Or the sheep could just walk right out of the pen and the dog would watch frustratedly as it keeps escaping. (True story, that one!)

Cue the beginnings of the World Wide Web, and with that, online gaming and chat through various game sites, including Command & Conquer, ICQ and various Microsoft games. I made so many great friends, many of whom I still speak to to this day.

Later it became Everquest, Eve Online, and later still, World of Warcraft. I would join a corporation, or a guild, and we would raid together and take on hugely complex battles as a team, crushing our enemies as we go, constantly chattering to each other and joking and laughing. Great times were had, lifelong friendships made, and lots of love and loss. We would meet up annually, as a guild - sometimes at a theme park, and other times at a historical castle, or camping in a farmers field for a few nights.

The running theme of these late night natters and raids and gaming sessions and long world-solving discussions, was booze. Initially it would be a glass of wine, or a beer, and later maybe spirits. If we were on a serious raid it was easy to moderate, sure, but on less formal get togethers, or historical achievement raids, it would be much more, and there were plenty of nights where I would fall asleep at the keyboard, and I would not be the only one. How we laughed the following morning in guild chat, when some of us regaled tales of waking up with an imprint of the keyboard on one side of their faces, or waking to see our characters going round and round the track in Ulduar, or back and forth on the tram between Stormwind and Ironforge. I for one got through at least two expensive Logitech gaming keyboards when drinks were tipped into them. It was an expensive night sometimes!

It was fabulously social, and great fun, and we used to laugh until tears poured from our eyes and our sides hurt.

But then, the following day, came the regret and the hangovers. The large greasy breakfasts to mop up the alcohol. The inability to drive to the shop, instead having to vegetate on the sofa all day, feeling rubbish, wasting the weekend. I remember at one point knowing that drinking like that was not healthy and wishing it could be different. Google searching for quick hangover cures, and coming across various warning sites about the dangers of alcohol instead. My brain would ignore them, not wanting to see what was being said. But slowly the messages seeped in anyway.

My raiding skills started to suffer, and my heals would miss on key moments. It wasn't just me, it was my raiding buddies as well. Silly wipes, which means the raid all die, happened when someone inadvertently stepped in the wrong place, or went right instead of left, because they were inebriated. Occasionally, a few of my gaming friends would say that real life work was suffering too, or they had been late dropping the kids off to school, or they had failed their university course due to non attendance, and needed to now find a job somewhere, instead of becoming the engineer they should have trained to become.

"Wow - gaming must be really bad for you!" You might say if you are a non-gamer.

No. Gaming is fine. Alcohol was what was bad for us, and it is addictive, too.

Without the alcohol we could have all raided into the evening just fine, and headed off to bed in readiness for the day ahead. Without alcohol we would not have wasted our weekends watching crap TV or spending all day fishing in Ironforge for rare fish. (Yes, really... ) Without alcohol we would not have been damaging our health, or eating unhealthy food, and not exercising.

Every morning I would wake up and think: "I have to stop, this is really unhealthy and is not doing me any good." But in the evenings I would completely forget the morning musings, and I would plonk the bottle of wine next to my gaming PC ready for the entertainment ahead that evening, playing my favourite game with my favourite people.

It is probably difficult to understand this if you are not a gamer yourself. But now strip away the game, replace it with TV with the family perhaps, or the pub around the corner where you meet your tribe. If you have a tendency to drink more than you planned to, almost every evening, then in all likelihood you have some idea what I am talking about. If you wake up wishing you had not drunk quite so much, most mornings, or all of them, then you might understand the Jekyll and Hyde you become from morning to evening. "I'll cut back today!" you announce to yourself gleefully. And somehow you forget as you pour another glass of wine, beer, or your favourite drink later that evening.

If this is you, I have some good news for you. It is not your fault. So stop blaming yourself.

You can stop, or if you prefer you can moderate. There is an easy way. No willpower required, no feeling as though you are missing out on socialising with your tribe. No guilt, no blame. You can be free.

I found it, and so can you. It is a book called This Naked Mind - you can get it on Amazon, and it could change your life the way it changed mine. Whether you wish to moderate your intake, or give up completely, it could be the answer for you too as it has been for so many others. In fact, it changed my life so much I am now excited to be paying it back, and I am going to train as an Alcohol Freedom Coach and become an officially recognised This Naked Mind Institute certified coach, and in my spare time I am going to help fellow gamers, and others who are struggling to moderate the booze or give up drinking altogether. I literally could not be more excited to get started, but it will be months of training before I am ready. For now, I highly recommend the book. I hope you will follow my journey!

Now, you'll have to excuse me, I have to get back to my game. AFK for now. ;-)

Amanda x

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