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.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

This is a posting from a (verified) certified family therapist (CSW-R CSSW, LCSW) who has deliberately spent an excessive amount of time on Everquest to experience and understand the issues associated with the gameplay:

"I used to play EQ. I am also a family therapist. I will tell you a little bit about me and why I decided upon playing EQ. About 4 years ago, I had a few children coming into my office (I work extensively with children and their families) telling me of their fathers (one mother) playing an on-line game often. It did not phase me at first. However, as months went on - I found more and more children (as well as their families) affected by this "EverQuest" game. Soooo the experiment began....

After talking to my collegues and more importantly my wife, I decided to join this game. The ONLY ground rules that my wife and I set forth for "my gaming" is that I could NOT play while anyone was awake and that I could not -play more than 6 hours at any ONE time. I started out as a warrior - then I played a cleric. I TRULY could not figure out the addictive nature of the game. At first, it was slow and boring. However, as time went on, I found that I was making "cyber" friends. As time went on, I joined a mid-level guild. They were not "hardcore" and they NEVER required playing time. I still did not see the addictive nature of the game. I then decided to join an ELITE GUILD.... I then started to understand how one was able to "be sucked in to the addictive qualities of the game. Many nights were spent playing my character as well as "playing therapist" to MANY guildmates (as well as other EQ players). As a side note, I had a level 65 necro, 65 warrior and a SUPER ELITE cleric .... This cleric was one of the best equipped (at the time) clerics on the ENTIRE server and one of the top 150 in all of EQ - all on basically 6 hours a night.

Now to observations..... I observed MANY things that help me work with families with EQ addictions melded into their lifestyles. I found that I had "instant credibility" speaking to the parents (and MANY CHILDREN) who were addicted to the game. I also found out many strategies to help people get off of the game.

Let me tell you of the MORE successful strategies that I have encountered. First the caveat - although I am a licensed therapist - my license ONLY covers NY. Second, you ALWAYS should check with a therapist who knows your situation personally and therefore can offer you tailored advise. I am just offering things that have worked well for me IN MY PRACTICE!

Strategy #1 - The Journal
I found that when the spouse keeps a "secret journal" with facts/dates/times and HER (his) feelings of feeling alone and abandoned works well. The trick to this is to keep it without telling the significant other that it is being kept.

After 2 ish months of good journaling - I found that "leaving it": for the "addict" to read has a MAJOR impact on him/her. It is important NOT TO TELL HIM/HER of the journal. The addict almost ALWAYS reads it and truly will feel remorseful when it is read in private. PRIVATE is the KEY here - or else you will raise their defenses. After a couple days, ask him if he "saw" your journal and talk about it - DONT GET MAD - USUALLY he will want to get away more than you realize. I spent COUNTLESS hours with people in-game "telling" me this.

Make a plan to help get him off -

Strategy #2 - the therapist

MOST THERAPISTS HAVE NO CLUE!! They do not understand this nature of addiction. Many have NO concept that this is even possible to do off of a virtual world. I played it - I excelled in it - I know first-hand. It is important to DIRECT the therapist to this site and other on-line gamers anon. If your therapist does not understand/or cant - GO TO A DRUG ADDICTIONS COUNSELOR. I can NOT stress that enough - the right therapist will utilize the right tools. Most therapists are HORENDOUS at addictions - they will simply NOT understand this.

Strategy #3 - structure time

I found that during in-game, conversations occured where the addict was attempting to quit, they usually wished they could have a "calm and rationale dialogue" with their significant other. I often discovered that when someone was attempting to quit, they were too vulnerable to discuss this with their partner - sooooo they turned to their guildmates. THIS IS WHERE THE EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT becomes problematic. If an addict thinks that someone who plays understands/listens to him better than his real-life partner - he will stick to that - on-line conversations. Structure time where both of you can share passions and dreams WITHOUT personalizing it... Statements like YOU HAVE TO STOP PLAYING THAT GAME - does not work. NOR does "I will leave you if you dont stop!" All those types of conversations have a paradoxical effect on the addict - raises stress and they tend to USE EQ MORE! Use the "I" "we" statements. ex. "I feel sad that we dont talk anymore." "I wish that we could spend the type of time that we used to spend together." etc.

Well, there are many more "tricks" of the trade for working with EQ addicts and their respective families. I currently have a good size caseload with EQ - or other on-line gaming addicts who come to me for services.

I do wish you great luck - this is a serious problem and requires SERIOUS help from professionals who specialize in addictions - not the typical therapist!"

In in a subsequent note, answering questions:

"I will gladly answer your questions in the hope of helping others.

First of all, I played EQ for about three years. However, this time was "shared" with my two collegues (three of us joined this endeavor together). We were all curious and I knew that it was important to juggle all my responsibilities. My wife also helped out.

As far as being addicted to the game - I will say I was not. I did "understand the allure" to the game - you may equate it to - "I got a buzz - it felt good - but only did it once- versus doing it/needing it everyday." Maybe it was self-discipline - maybe it was going into it knowing that it was potentially addictive. I felt the "buzz" of EQ after I reached the highest levels of the game. I never needed it. In fact, there were many times I would not play for a week at a time - often a collegue would pick up the "slack." However, it was important for me to get my character to a high level - something I was not willing to do with any type of sacrifice.

You also asked if I viewed this as an experiment the entire time. The answer is two-fold. The gaming part of things NEVER really appealled to me - the "real human aspect" did. I DO ADMIT - I made some EQ friends - some I have emailed - ONE I had to "talk out of a suicide attempt." REAL LIFE - REAL PROBLEMS - just those "hiding" behind a pixel toon. The "draw" so to speak, is the similar to the Wizard of Oz - the man behind the curtain. It promises the you the world with something that the player has had all the time - just click the ruby shoes - or something like that. As I learned about many of the EQ players, I found out they were "regular" people with a serious MISUNDERSTOOD addiction. I felt sorry - but not responsible.

Also, I am not sure if I had mentioned this in earlier posts. I teach at a local college. During my "tenure" at EQ, I spoke of this often in my classical conditioning classes as modern day examples. Many of my students understood this concept when I "made it real" to them.

In conclusion, I hope this has shed some light on things. Oh yeah, I said that me and 2 collegues started this project. One of the guys dropped out stating "damn time sink!" That was a quote and he subsequently decided not to go on. It must be added that he was the only one who did not have his spouse's help and support doing this - he added that she did think he was nuts hacking on the computer."

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

"I actually have 2 friends that are ferociously addicted to everquest. One of them has been addicted to it since High school...this is about 5 years ago. When we all graduated high school and went to college and got jobs, he stayed home and played Everquest all day and night. Now 5 years later, nothing has changed. He never got his driver's license...he doesn't even have a learner's permit. He has NEVER held a job, ever. He rarely ever leaves his house, and on the rare event that we actually go to his house, he's always unkempt, rather smelly, dirty, and uncaring of his appearence. He lives at home with his parents, and I can only imagine what his parents must think of their ... son sitting in front of his computer from his every waking moment until he goes to bed...I'd estimate that the total amount of hours he puts into everquest yearly would constitute 320 out of 365 days in a year.

He can be called the 'Gateway' into Everquest for us...he was the one who got me playing back in High School. As for me, I hated everquest with a passion. I started playing in May of my senior year in High School, maybe 2-3 hours a day, and stopped the following December in my first semester of college...I didn't have the time, the desire, or addiction level to commit to the game. But unfortunately...and I blame myself for this everyday...EQ had done its damage on my part. I got my friend into it, and he was immediately addicted.

So this is where the story picks up. [his friend] got addicted to the game in 2000. He played for 2 straight years. In his second year of playing, he completely flunked out of college...we went to the same college together and his precious Everquest was so important to him that he just stopped going....he flunked out with straight F's to play his precious EQ. So after sitting on his ass playing EQ for another 8 months, he registered with a 2 year community college, and finally got out of it ... 2004...yes, it took a mere 3 years for him to get out of a 2 year college. During that time, he quit everquest. This was the second half of 2001. When one of the many expansions came out, he immediately went back. He failed 3 of 5 classes in the community college to play his Everquest and played straight through until the beginning of 2003. He actually managed to balance school and everquest, usually in favor of the latter, but he did it. However, I did forget to mention that, in the span of the almost 5 years since we graduated high school, he got fired from EIGHT different jobs for not showing up. Why? He was playing Everquest.

So he continuted to play Everquest on and off during 2003. He was much more agreeable this time...instead of forsaking me and our other friends, like he did during his other EQ stints, he actually hung out and did things with us. I thought maybe he was finally able to balance out. was wrong. He stopped playing in late 2003. In 2004 a game called City of Heroes came along...a game that I too played. It was alot of fun and a decent gameplay experience, but as usual with massive online games, I got dreadfully bored of it in less than a month, and I terminated my account. One of the most remarkable things about it, is that in the time it took me to get my character to level 20, ... had 7 characters across a few servers that were at their maximum levels within 3 weeks (I think level 40). But he too stopped playing, claiming he was bored. I was shocked that he had so many maxed characters but he stopped, so I was happy. He continued hanging out like he always did and things were fine.

Fast forward to September 2004....stops hanging out. He's always making excuses. He switched his ...instant messenger to never show when he goes idle, according to him he wanted to piss off one of our friends (the one who got us into Everquest in the first place). Turns out he was hiding the fact that he was back on EQ. He had been staying up til 5 in the morning every night, getting up at about 8 am every morning (less than 3 hours of sleep a night), and one day my friend went to his house, and saw an everquest instant message box up....rushed over, pushed him out of the chair onto the floor, and closed it. He said he used it to 'spy' on our other friend ... however, you can't use the EQ instant message without being an EQ Player.

So it was once again revealed that he has been playing Everquest for about a month. And the shocking thing is that he's playing so much that I was dumbfounded when I found out what he 'accomplished'. In one month's time, he has 17 characters across 6 servers, ALL of which are at maximum levels (65 I think?). 17 max level characters in one month...I can only assume he dropped out of college again. So now here he is, complaining he has no money and needs a job, and he's just sitting on his ass in front of the computer screen shooting twinkly spells at big bad dragons and running around with his EQ girlfriend.

...I've seent he way he talks to's amazing how different he becomes when he's talking to her. But he claims that one day they're going to meet and get married in live somewhere else.

So last night... I was directly connected to him through ... instant messenger. We usually ALWAYS spam each other with sound files, but when I did it last night, he didn't respond. So I did it again. Knowing now that he was ignoring me for Everquest, I got rather mad, so I strung together the loudest, most annoying sound I could find to loop continuously, and THAT set him off...he started yelling at me ... and blocked me. His sister called me up in a panic this morning to tell me what he did...when I sent him the sound he was apparently having an 'intimate conversation' with his eq girlfriend on voice chat, while their characters just sat on the ground in front of each other. His sister told me that ... got so angry when I sent the sound, that after he screamed at me, he got up, smashed his keyboard so hard with his fist that it almost broke in half, breaking the keyboard drawer loose from the computer desk. He kicked his garbage can, picked it up and threw it, screaming at the top of his lungs, then he slammed his door multiple times, and started punching it furiously until he broke right through it with his fist. Then he marched right into his sister's room while she was standing terrified out in the hallway, pulled her computer desk out, ripped her keyboard out the back of her computer,and brought it back to his computer to use it. Then he started talking all lovey dovey to his eq girlfriend.

It's happened again, for the 5th time. I've lost my best friend to Everquest, and from what his sister told me about last night, and judging from the fact he has 17 max level characters in just one month's time, I can tell he is long, long gone. Chalk up another one to EQ.

Just thought i'd share my story. I'm a two time eq player, the first time I was off in about 6 or 7 months, the second time I was off in a month and a half ... its addiction power never was able to grab me, but it sucked ... right in, and I blame myself for introducing him to it."

Monday, October 25, 2004

"I thought I had my playing time under control, but I didn't - I was just fooling myself. And the higher the level I got (I left with a level 65 character - highest at the time) the more time you spent.

Not to mention the other chars I was levelling up too.

Now, after 20 years of marriage, I'm alone. I don't blame EQ for it totally, it was just another thing in the mix. However, if I had spent the time I did on EQ with my wife and kids, then I wouldn't be where I am now.

GUYS (I MEAN MEN) IF YOU ARE SPENDING AN HOUR A DAY OR MORE ON EQ YOU'RE SPENDING TOO LONG!!!! End of story. It might be fun, it IS addictive (don't kid yourself) and it WILL (except in rare cases) destroy your relationships. Don't make the mistake I did and think it's all harmless fun. And don't neglect the good friend you have in your wife. No stupid computer game is worth your marriage or your life...."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

"Here is my story for what its worth…

When my husband and I first got married many years ago, he didn’t know anything about computers. I taught him to use one and from there it went down hill. Three weeks after he discovered EQ he quit his job, he said he had no choice in the matter but of course I knew better. I was however, very much in love with him and continued to work full time and to support us both. At first it was not so bad, he would take care of the house, cook meals, and general be a house husband. But then things started to change. He stopped cleaning, he stopped cooking, he stopped do anything that was not related in some manner to EQ. (Side note: this took place over a 4 year period.) I like many others here took to playing EQ myself. I still do play but it’s a hobby not a lifestyle for me. I am sure you all have heard this before; I started playing to have something that we could do together. He started a new character so that he could play with me. They turned into my character power leveling his character. Of course since I didn’t play nearly as much as he did his character became higher level then mine rather quickly.

Finally he got a job after 4 years of us struggling to pay on the bills on my paycheck. I actually did make enough to pay the bills and live comfortable but his video game habit was expanding at an alarming rate. Now it was not just EQ but all sorts of games, be they on-line or single player. We had to have an X-Box, a Playstation 2, a Playstation 1, a >Game Cube and just about all the games that go with them. EQ remained his base addiction but now he had all these other games as well.

Communication, there was none between us anymore. The only thing he wanted to talk about was the games. He then quit the guild that I had created and went out on his own, our days of playing together on-line stopped. He started becoming very secretive about what he was doing on-line and even turned his monitor so that I could no longer see his screen.

OK, so I knew what was going on somewhere in my mind but I just refused to believe that I could lose my husband to a game. I worked very hard to involve him with the goings on of the family (I had two daughters and each daughter has a son), his parents would come to visit and he would sit in front of the computer and all but ignore them if my parents came he completely ignored them. By this point we had lost all of our friends, after all would wants to hang out with people that never leave
the house.

To make a long painful story short, he ran us into the ground, I had to file bankruptcy and a few days after I did he showed up at the house with divorce papers. I know I should have seen it coming but I guess I was just turning a blind eye to his activities. The all night sessions of playing EQ, moving out the bedroom to sleep on the sofa with the excuse that he didn’t want to wake me when he came to bed, lack of
communication, yes, I should have seen it coming, but I was to busy trying to fix the problem any though I didn’t know what it was really. The day he handed me the divorce papers the phone calls started. His EQ lover started calling the house the minute he would get home and they would talk all night. This lasted until he left; he left to move in with her. That of course didn’t happen, he went to met her and it lasted a few hours. I won’t get into the details of what went on but he was calling me to give me blow by blow details, even when I was hanging up on him. He came back when it didn’t work out with her, want to move back in with me, even though the actually court date for our divorce was just a few days away. I didn’t let him.

There is life after EQ. All this happened over a space of 9 years. My marriage was destroyed and our divorce and my bankruptcy was final a few months ago. I have a job and decent place to live and I am getting my life back together. I still play EQ but that is not all I do. EQ is a game and like all games there really is no other point to it then to enjoy yourself. As long as everyone understands that its ok. As long as you are still maintaining a full functional life outside of the game, everything is fine. As a side note, I don’t’ think I will even date a guy that plays EQ."

Friday, October 22, 2004

I have not updated this site for a little while. It's not because there aren't new stories of EQ obsessive playing cropping up but it has more to do with my personal life - there have been a lot of family illness / death occursing on the male side, so my sincerest apologies for not staying on top of everything right now.

When I look at their death / cause for illnesses, I see the following reasons: smoking and working (aka traveling & eating badly, working with asbestos, too much on their feet for too many hours). The men are perishing earlier than the women, not because of the gender but because of other issues. What I wonder about now is what the next generation of men is going to die from. Work perhaps, harmful substances surely, but I also anticipate more death causes due to any repetitive activity that's done for a large majority of time (aka 40+ hours). TV, spending time in front of the computer, heck, just standing in the corner might just do it. Either way, before you decide that you don't care, perhaps just for a second, consider living a more balanced life. For sake of the ones who love you.