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.

Friday, July 02, 2004

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."

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