Welcome Letter to Newcomers

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Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:53 pm

Welcome Letter to Newcomers

Post by Scott »

(This has been in the works for a long while, run by several longer-term members, and undergoing several revisions. The main purposes are (1) to welcome the newcomer and (2) head off future misunderstandings and upset by giving relevant info up front to newcomers unfamiliar with recovery fellowships and newcomers already experienced in other fellowships. Click here to leave comments in Google Docs.)

Welcome to Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous, a fellowship and recovery program for compulsive video gamers. We too have had problems related to our gaming and have been unable to get it under control. You’re not alone.

You’re in the right place if you have or think you might have a problem with video gaming. We are glad you have found us and invite you to our meetings. You can attend CGAA meetings even if you are unsure you’re a gaming addict or unsure you want to stop gaming.

It’s fine to go to a CGAA meeting and just listen. Nothing is required of you. There are many friendly, supportive people who frequent the daily voice meetings and share their experience, strength, and hope. Together we are able to stay off games and turn our lives around for the better. We also stay in touch through a WhatsApp group and phone calls for support and encouragement in between meetings.

If you are experienced in other recovery fellowships, please click and read To Those Experienced in Other Recovery Fellowships.

If you are unfamiliar with other recovery fellowships, please click and read To Those New to Recovery Fellowships.
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:53 pm

Welcome Letter to Newcomers

Post by Scott »

To newcomers new to recovery fellowships in general:

The short of it:
Because we were unable to moderate gaming or stop on our own strength and understandings, we seek additional strength and guidance from outside ourselves. Each CGAA member makes use of one or more forms of strength and guidance, such as support groups, friends, counselors, principles, recovery programs, spiritual practices, religious sources, or the universe, collectively referred to as “power greater than ourselves” or sometimes “higher power.”

One source of strength and guidance for many recovering gaming addicts is their religious or spiritual beliefs. CGAA does not advocate any religious beliefs or specific spiritual concepts of higher power. When you hear people talk about God or other religious beliefs, they are talking about their own personal beliefs. There is no expectation that anyone adopt anyone else’s beliefs or deny their own. Please do not give up on CGAA if you hear someone say or imply anything to the contrary. If you want the support and camaraderie of CGAA, it's very important that you stay, get the support you need, and add your experience to that of the group.

The long of it:
One of the many tools available and suggestions made in CGAA is working the twelve steps, a set of actions and attitude changes first suggested by one of the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. The main purposes of the steps include (1) admitting that each of us has insufficient power to overcome our compulsive behavior and (2) tapping sources of additional power.

The twelve steps of CGAA do not specify what sources of power can or should be tapped. We suggest seeking strength and guidance that is beyond your normal self and capable of guiding you toward greater sanity. Members sometimes suggest some sources of power, such as:
  • The fellowship of CGAA and our collective strength, experience, guidance, and support.
  • The goodwill of supportive people, possibly including friends, family, counselors, the collective consciousnesses, or humanity in general.
  • The principles behind our program of recovery (such as acceptance, gratitude, service, honesty, and humility.)
  • Any empowering sources found in your personal philosophy, spirituality, or religion. One person might seek power from a deity and the principles and practices of his or her religion. Another might seek power from sources like nature, the universe, or universal principles of empowerment. Another might seek power from the guidance and principles of a therapist or self-help coach. Each of us can seek help from all of these, none of these, or any combination of these and other sources. It is completely up to you which sources of power you would like to access.
It is not always necessary to have a specific source in mind when trying to tap additional power. For example, we can try out a meditation routine with no concern about whether the positive results come from universal principles, spiritual sources, nature, the subconscious, or the collective consciousness. The positive results are what matter. Feeling that we know exactly how it works is not necessary to get good results.

We want to be very clear because as you attend meetings you are sure to sometimes hear conflicting messages. Sooner or later, you will hear someone talk:
  • As if we should tap only one source, rather than multiple sources, of power.
  • As if we all are supposed to share a common conception of one valid source of power.
  • As if our program of recovery promotes one particular source of power.
  • As if the only valid source of power is the male creator deity named God.
  • As if the general phrase “higher power” is equivalent to “God”.
None of these views are held by our whole fellowship nor advocated by the literature or recovery program of CGAA. We have a wide variety of members with a wide variety of worldviews. Mostly we respect each other and our differences and avoid pushing personal beliefs on others.

If you have no experience with an anonymous recovery fellowship, you are now probably wondering, “If the above five views are not a part of CGAA, why should I expect to hear them? Where do these ideas come from?”

These views are very common in other recovery fellowships and are promoted in much of their literature. An outspoken co-founder of AA, the first twelve step fellowship, enthusiastically credited God for his sobriety and wrote the first book on twelve step recovery. His early influence has continued through the decades and into the various programs inspired by AA.

Each of us has his or her own worldview regarding philosophy, spirituality, or religion, and CGAA has a firm tradition of respecting the variety of values, beliefs, cultures, backgrounds, and religions or lack of religion among our members. It is never a problem to mention personal spiritual or religious beliefs while sharing. The problem, as shown in the five statements listed above, happens when someone says what others should believe or implies that CGAA requires belief in a specific religious concept.
CGAA does not promote particular religious beliefs. The only requirement for CGAA membership is a desire to stop gaming. All of the tools and approaches within our program of recovery are suggestions. Every member is free to try out or disregard any suggestion, to take what he or she needs and leave the rest.

Please do not give up on CGAA if you hear someone say or imply anything to the contrary. If you want the support and camaraderie of CGAA, it's very important that you stay, get the support you need, and add your experience and voice to that of the group.
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:53 pm

Welcome Letter to Newcomers

Post by Scott »

To members of other recovery fellowships:

The short of it:
CGAA is an international fellowship of people of many different worldviews, spiritual beliefs, and religions. We carefully word for inclusiveness our steps, traditions, and literature and are careful not to imply an affiliation with or opinion on any religion or spiritual worldview. When referring to the power outside ourselves sought in the twelve steps, our literature simply calls it “power greater than ourselves” or “higher power” to include all possible concepts (including God) and not to exclude any concept.

In CGAA meetings, Muslims, Christians, atheists, Buddhists, Jews, Humanists, Hindus, New Agers, Taoists, and people of other philosophies and spiritual beliefs should all feel free to mention their beliefs and religious affiliation or lack of it. When we do so, we are careful not to imply that as a group we all share the same belief or that working our program requires that belief.

The long of it:
The CGAA fellowship is very similar to other recovery fellowships. We have members who work the twelve steps and seek power greater than themselves, members exploring other approaches, and members who are not working the steps. Like other fellowships, we have people of many different worldviews, religions, philosophies, and spiritual beliefs.

To help newcomers who are experienced with other fellowships and may have questions about the differences they observe, we want to give you some background and motivations of how our fellowship’s program was created to meet the needs of our members based upon our experience.

One difference you may notice in CGAA lies not in the range of beliefs of our members or how we generally work or help others work a program of recovery, but in how we choose to carefully word for inclusiveness our steps, traditions, pamphlets, meeting formats, and other pieces of literature. When referring to the additional power outside ourselves that we seek in the twelve steps, we simply call it “power greater than ourselves,” or sometimes “higher power.” These phrases are meant to encompass all possible sources of additional power, to include God as well as sources of power from other religions, spiritual beliefs, and philosophies, and not to exclude God or any other concept.

People who are used to hearing “power greater than ourselves” refer to a specific type of higher power (i.e. God, a male creator deity who has a plan for all people and wants obedience to his will) may assume that we are similarly promoting a single specific concept, that of some vague, nebulous, unnamed power. We are not. We define “power greater than ourselves” as “additional strength and guidance from beyond our normal self that can guide us toward sanity” and use it to include the entire range and variety of possible specific concepts. Possibilities include people, groups, principles, practices, natural laws, spirits, deities, nature, religion, love, and the universe. Principles and practices come from many different sources—spiritual, secular, and religious.

We want all who desire to stop gaming to immediately feel welcome. We firmly uphold our Twelve Traditions and do not want to imply affiliation with outside organizations or opinions on outside issues. The typical newcomer is looking for “the angle” in CGAA and suspicious about how we might be trying to take advantage of him or her. Because CGAA is open to people of all nationalities, backgrounds, and religions or lack of religion, we do not want to imply that CGAA membership requires having or adopting the beliefs of any particular religion or outside organization or cause. If Step Three said “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Allah as we understood Him”, newcomers would immediately assume that we are a Muslim organization and many non-Muslims would be alienated and driven away. If it said “...to the care of the Buddha's Eight-fold Path as we understood It”, newcomers would immediately assume that we are a Buddhist organization and many non-Buddhists would be alienated and driven away. If it said “...to the care of Science as we understood it”, newcomers might immediately assume that we are an atheist organization and many non-atheists would be alienated and driven away. Newcomers still in the grips of the denial and obsession are to some extent looking for any excuse to reject the help that is available. It is important that we do not create additional barriers for them.

The twelve steps of CGAA do not specify what sources of power can or should be tapped. Where we find it necessary in our literature to give examples of power greater than ourselves, we inclusively list a wide range of concepts.

If you are a member of another recovery fellowship, you might hear the differences in CGAA wording as a criticism of the use of the word “God” in the literature of your fellowship. We do not wish to criticize any fellowship and we respect the right of each to form their own literature and wording according to their own group conscience.
Our motivations are to (1) include all higher power concepts used by both current and potential members and not exclude any concept, (2) accurately reflect the experience of our membership, and (3) avoid problems by adhering to the twelve traditions as best as we can.

Our small fellowship cannot afford to break or bend the traditions and suffer the resulting division and controversy that drive away members and hurt us all. Our group conscience decided to embrace all twelve traditions as fully as possible. Three of them have portions relevant to our all-inclusive wording.

3. (Long form) … Any two or three addicts gathered together for abstinence from video gaming may call themselves an C.G.A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.
6. (Long form) … While a C.G.A.A. group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never to go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied.
10. Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the C.G.A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

Thus our mission statement says, “C.G.A.A. is not affiliated with any political agenda, religion, or outside interests.” Our fellowship, including Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and atheist members, worked for many months to craft our wording of the twelve steps in a way that conveys their actions and attitude changes, while prioritizing inclusiveness and not implying any outside affiliations. We have done the same for our literature, web pages, and meeting formats.

As individuals, we each have our own beliefs, philosophies, and affiliations. It is never a problem for a member to identify his or her specific worldview or religion. It is never a problem to refer to our personal beliefs or religious affiliations or concepts of higher power when sharing in a meeting. Sometimes it can be relevant to what we are trying to convey and naturally we want to connect with people who share similar beliefs. If mentioning a personal religious affiliation or spiritual belief, we are careful not to imply that as a group we all share the same belief or that working our program requires that belief.

For those who value the thoughts of Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, here are some quotes relevant to inclusiveness and the wording of steps and traditions.

July 1965 Grapevine:

Newcomers are approaching A.A. at the rate of tens of thousands yearly. They represent almost every belief and attitude imaginable. We have atheists and agnostics. We have people of nearly every race, culture and religion. In A.A. we are supposed to be bound together in the kinship of a common suffering. Consequently, the full individual liberty to practice any creed or principle or therapy whatever should be a first consideration for us all. Let us not, therefore, pressure anyone with our individual or even our collective views. Let us instead accord each other the respect and love that is due to every human being as he tries to make his way toward the light. Let us always try to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

Page 34, As Bill Sees It

We question very much whether our Buddhist members in Japan would ever have joined this Society had AA officially stamped itself a strictly Christian movement. You can easily convince yourself of this by imagining that AA started among the Buddhists and that they told you you couldn’t join them unless you became a Buddhist, too. If you were a Christian alcoholic under those circumstances, you might well turn your face to the wall and die.

Bill Wilson, General Service Conference, 1953:

Do you think we should tell those people: ‘You can’t belong to Alcoholics Anonymous unless you print those Twelve Steps the way we have them?’ No. We even have a Tradition that guarantees the right of any group to vary all of them, if they want to. Let’s remember, we are talking about suggested steps and traditions.

From Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, p 81:

To some of us, the idea of substituting “good” for “God” in the Twelve Steps will seem like a watering down of A.A.’s message. But here we must remember that A.A.’s Steps are suggestions only. A belief in them, as they stand, is not at all a requirement for membership among us. This liberty has made A.A. available to thousands who never would have tried at all, had we insisted on the Twelve Steps just as written.

From February 6, 1961 letter:

As time passes, our book literature has a tendency to get more and more frozen, a tendency for conversion into something like Dogma, a human trait I am afraid we can do little about.

From GSC 1953, Variations in Form of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions:

Bill said he proposed to consider “whether this program of ours is frozen as solid as an ice cube, or whether there is any elasticity in it, whether we are going to get into this business of insisting on conformity, whether we are going to get into the business of creating an authority that says: ‘These steps and traditions have to be this way.’

“Where variations of the traditions are concerned, we’ve gone up and down like a window shade. We even have a tradition that guarantees the right of any group to vary all of them, if they want to. Let’s remember, we are talking about suggested steps and traditions. And when we say each group is autonomous, that means that it also has a right to be wrong.

“My feeling is that the more we insist on conformity, the more resistance we create. But if the traditions and steps reflect accurately what our experience has been, the alcoholic, no matter where in the world he may be, will eventually adopt the principles that will work the best for him. If our principles are correctly stated, he will adopt them. If any improvements are to come, who can say where they may come from?”
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Welcome Letter to Newcomers

Post by zoetman »

Should we say “video and computer gaming”. This used to trip me up in the beginning cuz it’s CGAA (computer gamers...). Are video games the same as computer games? Similar but not identical. I think both words should be included. Just a thought.
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Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:53 pm

Welcome Letter to Newcomers

Post by Scott »

Yeah, they're the same. We want to use whatever wording is most inclusive of all continuously interactive electronic entertainment, but don't want to call ourselves Continuously Interactive Electronic Entertainment Addicts Anonymous. "Video gaming" sounds like it's consoles and arcades, maybe excluding other things. "Computer gaming" sounds like games on PCs and laptops, maybe excluding other things.

My thought is that since our name is "Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous," the "computer" part is perfectly clear. So I've been writing "video gaming" in our texts to make it perfectly clear that "video games" part is included. To me, "video and computer gaming" is confusing because it implies the two are different. "Video / computer gaming" is a bit more clear.

I think we should be Video Gaming Addicts Anonymous. I often regret not strongly advocating for that name in the first place. History of our Fellowship's Name.
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Re: Welcome Letter to Newcomers

Post by Mary »

Happy to be a part of this community
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