Serious post/conversation following. You’ve been warned.

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“Um, Hi. My name is Daniel and I’m an Escapeoholic.”

Seriously, I am. Let me backtrack a bit.

During Gen Con, some stuff happened that made me face this fact face-against-the-wall-on. It’s not something I did not know, to whatever extent; it’s been a trait of mine for as long as I can remember. I am the kind of person that retreats into his own little, mental world and stays there for extended visits. I am an escapist, and my escape is my hobby (gaming).

Well, to call it a hobby right now would be a misnomer; I let it take over to the point where it began to dominate a huge chunk of my life, with all the repercussions that brings in regards to real-world dealings. I’ve tried to escape my escape at times in the past, but I end up slipping back into bad habits very easily.

To provide a little context: I had this dream of being a professional in the hobby gaming industry. Not a bad dream to have, per se. To this end I applied all that I’d learned in years of gaming towards creating a name for myself: I did some freelancing, formed my own company, networked, created a couple of blogs, wrote for free, created a couple of podcasts, spent time forging that persona that Daniel M. Perez would be in the industry. This in and of itself was a full-time job effort for little to no reward; I saw it as paying my dues, as laying the groundwork. But the truth is that after almost 10 years after deciding to purse that dream I am nowhere near it. Yeah, I have some amount of recognition, but I haven’t capitalized on it, either because I have not gotten the opportunity or because I didn’t pursue them hard enough.

I did what I did because I saw it as part of a master plan, and that’s fine. But last year my life changed drastically. The loss of my mother was a slap in the face by Reality, and I made a decision to change my life and pursue a new goal, thus why I am now pursuing a Nursing degree. That day my dream changed, my goal changed, but deep enough I did not grasp that this change needed to include a revision of the previous one, and all the work that it entailed.

Now, I haven’t done bad in my studies so far, but I have continued to retreat into my fantasy world where I am a relevant part of the hobby gaming industry/scene, which is total bullshit. Don’t get me wrong: I value what I have created, and the connections I have made along the way, but I had not faced a simple truth which I was now forced to stare in the face – all that was not important anymore, not in the same way.

I continued to delve into my escape, almost with the same amount of effort as before except for whatever I was using for my studies. But it really should be the other way around. I need to turn my hobby back into my hobby, not my (not-leading-anywhere-significant) life.

It’s a struggle, I won’t lie. I have an addictive personality and escaping into gaming became my addiction (and not even the actual act of playing a game, but just the actions related to gaming, which is probably the saddest part). Thus my introduction.

I am working on relegating gaming (and all it’s satellite activities) back to the proper place a hobby should have. As a friend told me over a beer at Gen Con, “This is all fluff. And fluff is nice, but it’s still fluff.”

Maybe I’m revealing a bit much here, but I cannot be the only one who has fallen down the rabbit hole. Maybe there are others who’ll derive some benefit from my experience as well.

I’d love to hear from others out there on how they maintain the balance between real life and the hobby, between reality and fantasy. My peer-models for too long have been guys whom I love a lot but have gotten into holes deeper than mine, and that has affected me. I’m looking for new points of view from those who have maintained this balance. I know you’re out there, so help a fellow gamer out remain a gamer but in the proper context in relation to Life.

In the meantime, I continue to work at my 12 steps back up from escapeoholism.