It's 10 pm. Do you know where you and your loved ones are? Here is a collection of experiences from those who live / have lived with an obsessive MMOG gamer and from those who have lived the experience of obsessive MMOG gaming.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

" boyfriend has played eq for ... months now....the anger i feel towards this immaginary world is ridiculous. It is unreal how my relationship has  changed (for the worse) in this short time. Every day he returns from work ... and tells me he willlog on his "trader" then spend the night with me. I end up going to bed alone .... He constantly has raids and his days off are spent on the game despite the fact i arranged my days off the same to spendwith him. As you can imagine I spend them alone....
As ashamed as i am for admitting it I have tried to play (it was the only way i could spend a saturday night with him). and its ok for half an hour then like all computer games its boring."

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Doing Some Casual Research on the Internet...

Here's an old artice dated 2000 from someone married to an EQ player:

Guest Editorial: I Was an EverQuest Widow

Wow. The game came out in 1999, and 2000 was already the starting point for the term "EQ Widows"? I have to admit, I would not have been as insightful that early on. Here is someone who posted concern over his daughter's EQ obsessiveness in 2000.

Here is a project I found done by a few Stanford University students in 2002 called Computer Addiction and the Effect of the Internet on Personal Lives, with lots of quotes from people who feel they may are addicted to computer games (check the link "Gaming WOrld")

Here is a loooong but well-written and interspersed-with-tons-of-quotes article by someone named Jewel: But in the end, they're still nothing more than video games. It's an odd conclusion that she has: "People have worse entertainment addictions than playing computer games. If I am going to be addicted to something, I would choose online gaming over drugs, bowling, gambling, television, or being a baseball fanatic easily. I don’t have to wear ugly shoes, lose my hard earned money or do the wave next to someone I don’t know and that just about makes it a no-brainer for me. It IS after all just a video game, like Neal describes in his great novel, Snow Crash. It is just another amusement park." If I truly had a choice over my addictions, I wouldn't choose gaming addiction either but addiction to reading, meditation, painting, playing the guitar, discussing how to realize sustainable living. Her options are so obviously bad that gaming addiction emerges as the best one, but in truth, she's excluding a lot of other good choices.

Friday, July 02, 2004

"My girlfriend showed me your site and I figured I'd post my story...

I started EverQuest because I had finally gotten a computer that could *run* 3D games. I wanted to try out the latest crazes, and seeing that I was already addicted to a few MUDs, I didn't notice anything. Mind you, everyone mentions 'EverCrack', but no one thinks about how addicting *all* games can be. In fact, as I said to my girlfriend today, it's not the fault of the game. Anything can be an addiction.

Anywho, I was only playing a few hours a day at first. Mostly because I'd get so frustraited with the game that I'd quit and log into a MUD instead. Like I said, I was already addicted to MUDs. Then I ran into someone who was different then most people in EverQuest - she didn't use that annoying 'netspeak' or 'doodspeak' crap I hate, and she roleplayed. We hit it off, and I left my characters to move onto another server - her server. Mind you, I wasn't single during all this. I had played EverQuest for a little, then I quit. When my girlfriend and I were having issues, I went back to EQ. Eventually we parted ways, not because of EQ though. About a month after that, I was laid off from my job - again, not because of EQ. By this time though I was already only getting four hours of sleep due to it. After I lost my job, I'd play 18 hours straight at times. There was once I even played for over 30 hours without sleep. I'd play EQ, sleep, wake up, play EQ. I wouldn't eat or drink much. My room was a disaster. Everything was a disaster.

I think my saving grace was becoming a guide. I became a guide on a server that consumed a lot of time. Back then, we took all petitions. Basically, the overload of work every time I logged in as a guide, and the players I delt with, tarnished the game for me. I saw people who threatened suicide over item loss, and people who would threaten even legal action against another player for simply training. I saw so much that was unbelievable to me. Eventually I cut back playing EQ. I got a new job, and started playing only in the evenings. Eventually I just stopped logging in. By this time I was trying other games, just to see how they were. Finally I was kicked out of where I was staying, not because of EQ, but because of other things.

After I got kicked out, I moved in with my mother. I tried to keep in touch with the girl who I had met on that first server, but we had a bit of a falling out. She and I considered a real life relationship, but she was only willing to spend time with me in the game. This wasn't a problem when I as hooked, but as I gradually decided not playing, it was a problem. It would've been a very long distance relationship, and I really hated thinking about logging into EQ just to have any together time. I remember yelling at her over that, and telling her she knows how to contact me. I logged out. I came back a few times to see how things were, but never more than 5 minutes at a time.

Then I deleted EQ from my system.

Now I play again with my current girlfriend, but there's no way either of us will get that addicted. We already have a sort of buddy system - when one starts a habit that seems detrimental, the other says something. I will never get addicted to EQ like that again. Sure, I might have my days where I play for hours on end, but that's the kind of game EQ is. The point of addiction is when that's *all* you do. If you want to spend a weekend on EQ, that's fine and well. What about Monday? Or Tuesday? Are you still on EQ? How about all week, through Friday? Still there? That's addiction. Get out. Get a life. Get something other than a game. It's not the game's fault, it's your own. YOU have the power to change your life. All you need to do is hit the power switch and go for a walk.

As I said. Anything can be an addiction. To add to that, Anything can be an addiction to one who is weak. We're all weak at one time or another. It's not something to be ashamed of. The shame is in not realizing our weakness and working on it. We do that by using something like a game, a drug, a 'thing', as a crutch. Talking to a loved one isn't a crutch. It's a sign of strength. Remember that there's probably someone close to you who's watching what you're becoming. That person is probably very willing to help you in whatever way they can. EverQuest can't help you like that. Your crutch is all a computer generated world with no heart and no feeling. Don't tell me the people give it feeling, because those people have their own lives. Those people aren't the ones closest to you.

Look around before you look at the screen. Look inside before you login. Remember that life doesn't require bandwidth.

Good luck, all."

An email with the subject "Same old same Old" arrived in my mailbox a little while ago:

"I have a sinking feeling that in writing to you I'm simply repeating what you've heard time and time again ad nauseum.

My roommate and best friend is an acknowledged EverQuest addict (although sometimes his acknowledgments are grudging) and has been for a long time, much longer than I've known him. He's [...] divorced, and yes, EQ was a major factor in his divorce; he was married just over a year. He's had one serious relationship since, a relationship that also lasted just over a year and, I suspect, was undermined from within by his devotion to the game. Now he's terribly shy around women, won't go out, blushes and flees when he encounters a girl he's attracted to. He plays every night, raids M-W-F, spends much of the weekend holed up in his room, rarely sees the sun or opens his windows, won't take walks. Of late he's talked about quitting the game, which he says is beginning to bore him--and taking up another.

He's a truly splendid, smart, funny fellow but his devotion to the game is interfering with every part of his life, including our friendship and his relationship with his siblings and his parents. (I'm his only close friend, although he is very fond of a few people he's met online through the EQ chat room.) A year or two ago he made a stab at starting college but quit, and although he's never quite adduced EQ as the reason I suspect that his constant playing had a lot to do with his dropping out. He's underemployed and broke, bored at work, cannot wait to get home at the end of every workday and see what's happening in his guild, on his auction site, with his chat-room buddies.

I've tried to be patient and unjudgmental, but I'm beginning to resent, strongly, the time he spends with the game. Our interactions have become strained and forced, but he sidesteps my suggestions that we talk about the difficulties in communicating we've experienced of late.

He acknowledges being depressed and lonely but so far as I can see leaps right into the game to ameliorate these feelings.

Like many of your correspondents I try to be patient and understanding. I don't think it's fair of me to characterize him as simply an EQ addict, and I have neither the skills nor the right to attempt to "cure" him or try to get him to stop playing. (I've been down similar roads with alcoholic friends: no gain, much pain.)

Lately he's begun trying to convince himself, I think, that the woman he so badly wants in his life will be someone he finds via EverQuest. He's corresponding with a young woman in the Midwest who wants to be a lawyer who apparently loves EverQuest as much as he does. (How she plans to get through [...] school while playing very much EQ is beyond me.) He hasn't sent her his picture nor received hers, and yet he's already fantasizing about visiting her. I think it's folly, but again---who am I to say?

I've tried tricking myself into letting my own baggage about the game go, for instance by pretending to myself that he's a Ph.D. candidate, say, or a medical student who needs to study all the time and thus cannot fairly be expected to do his share of cooking, shopping, or cleaning. I find myself hoping against hope that I'm not simply being used (allowing myself to be used), and that our friendship is in fact one-sided and wonderfully convenient for him.

My deepest worry is that one of these days I'll lose it, release all this pent-up energy in an angry explosion, and thus drive him deeper into the game and perhaps out of my life. As his friend I do feel an obligation to be supportive, but as his friend I also feel it important to be upfront about my feelings. This I try to do, but it's getting harder and harder."