Australian Snooker Champion Says Video Game Addiction Hurt His Career

Australian snooker player Neil Robertson, a former world champion, has admitted that his form has dipped recently after he became addicted to playing games like League of Legends and FIFA.

Image: Neil Robertson

Speaking with Eurosport, Robertson — who also won the UK championship in 2013 and 2015 — says that despite recently becoming a father he's been spending too much time playing video games and not enough practising.

"I've been playing some video games, and end up playing it through the night. One of them was League of Legends which is the most consuming game of all time," he says in a video interview.

"Those kind of games are designed to take over your life really. You find yourself sitting in front of the computer screen for six, seven or eight hours straight. Which is obviously not healthy."

In addition to playing too much League, which he thinks contributed to some poor results earlier this year, Robertson has also had some problems with World of Warcraft in the past.

"I was part of a raid team, and we played a few nights a week. When we got out to China for a tournament, I was trying to make the raid slot," he says. "When I got out there, the connection was so bad that I couldn't get access. I was furious for four or five days."

"All I was thinking about was getting back home for a connection from China. I lost my spot on the team, and all of a sudden that became more important than the snooker which is absolutely crazy."

Image: Neil Robertson

Some of the biggest regrets, though, come from his passion for FIFA, which he thinks cost him a higher tally of "centuries", a snooker feat which requires clearing the table without missing a shot (Robertson currently holds the record for most centuries in a snooker season, with 100).

"The years I had the 100 centuries, I should probably had around 120 because I got addicted like hell to FIFA 14," he says. "I was obsessed with winning the title against other players. I'd get up in the morning to take Alexander to school then turn on the Xbox, thinking 'I'll just have one game with a cup of coffee to wake myself up. Before you know it, it is 2PM in the afternoon. It is then too late to go to the club to practice because I've got to pick Alexander up from school."

Having realised the effect that playing too many games was having on his career, the 35 year-old has pulled back on video games in favour of more sedate pursuits. "I'm two months sober if you like from playing them," he says. "My friend said to me, 'You don't get to choose the crack you are addicted to.' And the multi-play online ones I can't touch because I just get too hooked on them."

Instead of video games, Robertson is these days spending his spare time painting Warhammer 40k models.


    It's concerning, and props to the guy for turning things around.

    There's a tendency to instantly leap to the defences and try and attack the person saying this sort of stuff, but we have to accept the nature of some of these games lend themselves to addictive behaviour.

    The in-between moments, where you get unduly anxious because you are NOT either playing a game, or you're some how unable to get 'your fix', are the most at-risk moments for people in Robertson's situation. At worst, we should try and seek some understanding. At best, the software developers should understand the responsibility they have towards their customers.

    Games are great, games culture isn't - there's a tendency to equate the time spent by someone on games or something games-related as some sort of measuring stick. Or at least there was once. That's not particularly healthy.

    I can definitely understand this. I know there are those that at the mere mention of videogame addiction get defensive, but it can be a real problem.
    Heck, a few months ago I had to take a hard look at myself after my friends & I agreed to go back to WoW for Legion. I got way too invested in all the activities that were in the game and put aside everything else bar work. I ended up gaining over 15kgs that I'm still working off. I love videogames, but it should never be to that extent.

    Last edited 21/04/17 1:52 pm

      There is a fine line between keeping fit and playing games.

    I completely get where this guy is coming from...

    I was horribly addicted to WoW at one point. I even put off going to uni for a whole year and played full time instead of 'getting a job' like I thought I was going to do. Instead of a fat pile of savings, all I got was some bad RSI in my left wrist from reaching across the keyboard repeatedly for up to 14 hours a day to hit whatever skills I had bound there at the time.

    It wasn't until I was well into my studies at Uni (studying game development) did I realise what was happening... right about the time a lecturer pointed out a lot of MMO developers, particularly Blizzard, consulted with psychologists to make their games as addictive as possible and to keep people playing. After saying to myself "no, I won't be controlled anymore" it suddenly became very easy to quit.

    These days I still manage to get sucked into various games and play them obsessively for a few weeks or a couple of months but I can usually now recognise what's happening and put a stop to it. When that happens I often refuse pick up the game in question ever again.

    I also sometimes wonder how different my life might be today if I never got addicted to WoWcrack...

    I certainly binge on video games a couple of times a week. If I don't get that time I get quite irritable.
    vices and addictions are everywhere.

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