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.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

"I started playing EQ in April of 2001 , from that time up to about a year ago I played more and more. I joined higher level guilds and worked my way up to the high end game. We ( my guild ) raided 5 nights a week sometimes for 10+ hours , and being the good raider I was I even went with or lead pick-up raids on our nights off. It came to the point where I worked for 8 hours a day , and played for at least the same amount of time when I got home. Looking back on it now I can say I was definitly addicted. It was always one more AA point, one more level, or we're almost done with the raid. I missed out on alot with my kids because I was tied up in EQ. The number of days I've spent playing ( days played on all of my characters combined = 300+ days ) was all for what? Was it worth missing time with my kids and wife? Looking back on it now I can say no way! It got to the point in my marrige ,when I was spending all hours playing, that my wife went elsewhere for affection. Because I was never available , and constantly went to bed long after she had. It made me seriously consider what I was doing to my family. It took many months of struggling to keep my marrige together. All you wives/ girlfriends out there give your man a copy of this and see what he says. A question for the significant other - How much time have you spent with your wife / kids / girlfriend as opposed to EQ this week? If you can't honestly say that you've spent more time with them then on EQ, then you need to seriously consider what the heck you're doing to your family. I still play eq , I still enjoy playing it , I don't raid , I still chat with my friends in game , and I spend alot more time with my kids and wife. Don't become a victim of a game. Eventually EQ will end , and you will be left with what?"

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

"My husband swears he is not addicted to computer gaming, yet, he is online practically every night. We have been together for a little over two years, married now for 10 months. He has stayed up till 6 in the morning sometimes gaming. He chats with people in the game. It makes me feel so alone. How can I stand his laughing at the online chatting he is doing? He told me last night, after we had another battle about his gaming, that "you knew I was a gamer when you married me and I will not give it up". I tried to be calm. I feel like my heart is breaking, how could he love me, but want to be online instead of spending time with me. I love my husband and want our marriage to work, but I am scared now. I feel like I am alone in the house and he is online gaming. He says the online games are only good if they are multiple online players for him to play with. He wants me to play online too, thinking that if I became interested in the game that would stop my Nagging. How can I do this when I feel so resentful of the game? It is like it is his mistress. We have been trying to have a baby. I tried to explain to him that he would have to spend quality time with a child if he wants to be a good dad. His response was "our kid is going to be a gamer too". I could have become more upset, but I told him that maybe our child might like doing other things instead. I want to become a mother. At this point, I am afraid that I will be a single parent. Not by choice, but by his neglect of family. He is in denial of his obsessive online playing. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I wish I could be thankful. I just feel so sad."

Saturday, November 20, 2004

"For the last year, I have struggled with doubts about my self. I questioned my worth and sanity. During our courtship my husband and I couldn't get enough of eachother. We talked, danced, went out to eat and reveled in each other. From the first day living together, I knew there was a problem. He has sat with his back to me through a terrifying bleeding episode during my pregnancy, while his step-daughter begged him to play or cook for her, while I ranted and raved about his inability to pitch in around the house, or when I cried at night wanting him to just come to bed and hold me. I have never felt so alone in a relationship. We have been married for only ... months and are already on the verge of getting a divorce. He still is the love of my life, but if I am going to raise my kids alone, take care of the house alone and go to bed alone, then I'd rather live alone.... I no longer believe him when he says I am just crazy or controlling. I see that this is his defect and I am not to blame. My husband spends 12+ hours a day on his computer, he is killing our family. But at least I now have some solace in the fact that I am not alone."

"I find this most difficult to understand the EQ addiction and now that EQ II has come out it is only making matters worse. I always knew that my boyfriend would stay at work late each night 'working', but later find out that he was actually playing the EQ game. I learned to have a life of my own, but missed our time together. His working turned into a seven day event. That was a year ago. It wasn't until after he has surgery and couldn't make it into work that I realized how bad his obsession was. He moved his computer home to be able to 'work from home'. After monitoring what was going on, I noticed that the hours playing the game ranged from 6-12 hours per day and some days even until 4 am until he passed out from exhaustion.

Of course I tried to understand what was going on and talk to him about the game, but it was not something I found an interest in nor did I want to waste my time sitting in front of a computer all the time. Here are some of the excuses I have gotten so far:

--it helps release tension
--I have friends to hang out with
--I have to help some of these people get to the next level
--we have a meeting set up to conquer something
--I will only play it for a couple of minutes (which turn into hours)
--you don't understand, and only want to tell me what to do with my free

This is a grown man, who goes days without showering or changing his clothes because he cant wait to get on the game. He is always looking at his watch or checking his computer for messages from other players if he is not playing. Pretty much most of what I see is, he gets on the computer from the time he wakes up to the time he sleeps.

Is there any help from me to him or am I going to have to give up and move on to leave him to himself and his game? I have discussed already with him a number of time of how I feel lonely and ignored and there is no quality time together, but at this stage, he takes it as me complaining and spend more time playing until he sees me disappear."

Monday, November 15, 2004

"I spent Friday timing him. I asked for all the stuff I usually do. Help me carry the groceries, take out the trash, come eat. Saturday, my son went to a play date and we talked. I gave him the list of how many times I had to ask for things to be done, and how many things just didn't get done at all. (FYI...I'm also ... pregnant and can't do a lot of things I want to do.) So...he looked at the list and just about started to cry. We came to a mutual agreement that we would keep the computer and just cut off the internet connection. We spent the rest of the weekend catching up and playing with my son. It was so nice to be a family again. Except for the time I got hit with a light saber. Boys will be boys! ;) We haven't decided if he's gonna go back online or if it's best to stay away from the computer all together. We have decided that EQ and DOAC will be out of the question....

He told me he was glad I stood up and wished I wouldn't have waited so long. He had no clue as to what was going on around him. I'm betting that's the problem with a lot of the other EQA's out there. My advice is to write a big list of everything that passes them by. The thing that hit my EQA the hardest is that everyone I know has felt the baby kick except for him. He didn't even know my baby shower was next week. He couldn't believe all the things that he hadn't seen. He even missed the ultrasound! Every EQA might not miss such milestones but, every second they miss with their family will mean something once they realize they are missing it. And, if they still don't care...yank the plug and move on. Not just for the EQW's but, for the children as well. No one wants a family with a ghost in a computer chair. Keep in mind children need LOVE from both parents not just their presence.

I think it's better to have one loving and caring parent. Than two that are either wrapped up in a game or unfulfilled and miserable. Children pick up on things really easily. They know when Mommy is upset or Daddy isn't "all there". They may not know whats causing the tension but trust me, they know it's there.
I know...I know...all of this is easier said than done. I never dealt with addiction before but, I have dealt with abuse. This is mental abuse. No one deserves to be pushed aside for a game. It hurts. Maybe not physically, but it hurts none the less. Sometimes it's hard to walk away. But, afterwards you're always glad you did."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Maybe this explains the motivations behind designing games that are supposed to tie you up for hours at no end...

Here is an article written by a spouse of an Electronic Arts (EA) employee who speaks in no uncertain terms about 85 hours average mandatory weekly work hours for those working in the gaming industry. Considering that most of these people are bright, educated individuals, it's remarkable how much they are willing to put up with without considering unions or other regulating means.

Is it no surprise then that a rather lengthy average gameplay might be shrugged off as "normal" or "part of the deal" when those behind the creation of the computer games are easily squeezing in double the standard work week into one? I have heard of game employees spending time non-stop in front of the computer, much of it for work but the rest pretty much for recreational fun.

I was in a computer store a little while ago and noticed that one of the boxes selling the latest item (don't remember what it was, might have been an optical mouse or videocard) was displaying an airbrushed cartoon image of a young guy playing in front of the computer, surrounded by cans and bottles of what vaguely looked like Mountain Dew and Coke. What was missing was the trays of cigarette ashes and the plates with pizza crust, burger wrappings, and half-eaten sandwiches. I never realized that this imagery might be considered conducive to marketing & sales? But apparently it is. Is it any wonder then that it is considered normal or even cool to spend all hours in front of the computer?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Here is an article from a couple of User Experience researchers / designers who have studied the emotions behind our needs for playing computer games and a written a White Paper called Why We Play Games. User Experience research is a derivative from the Human-Computer Interaction discipline which focuses on studying the design and use of interfaces. If you have a feeling that all this has to do with psychology somehow, you are right: the research methodologies and principles underlying this area of study borrows heavily from psychology (whether it's a cross-discpline or actually a subdiscipline of psychology is my own personal debate). Anyways, have a read. Note how Everquest is mentioned in ALL Four Keys to More Emotion without Story (Hard Fun, Easy Fun, Altered States, The People Factor).

This is what makes me ponder a bit, taking from the company's page on this paper:
"Forget Usability! What Makes It Fun?

As Player Experience Researchers, we see a huge gap between most usability and market research reports on gaming and what players actually experience. As Designers, we also see a huge opportunity for game developers to spawn player emotions beyond frustration, excitement, and fear. While players may check "good graphics" on a survey; our cross-genre, contextual research on why adults play games reveals a much more interesting story.
XEODesign,® Inc. helps companies create compelling interactive entertainment. We have spent over a decade researching software usability and more recently how interactive products trigger specific emotions. Our cutting-edge research and design services have improved the Player Experience for over 40 million customers of industry leaders such as UbiSoft, LeapFrog, Sony Online, Roxio, and Maxis. Our unique XEOAnalysis™ methodology measures emotional reactions during gameplay."

Wow, I wish they would spend that amount of time studying and designing a chair that woould evoke all these positive emotions in me...

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

So, Everquest II is out. Will you play it? Have you already bought a copy? Are you still on Everquest? So many questions to ask yourself, and only 24 hours each day to spare. I have been reading off and on about people who have beta-tested the game (for example, see Overall, I do not get a sense that the amount of time played is going to be reduced significantly because of the way the game is designed. The basic idea of real-time / parallel existence is still present. It will be interesting to see how players will decide in the future, whether to stay with EQ, go on to EQII or play both. Or move to a completely new game such as WoW.

Regardless of all these thoughts though, please don't forget to ask yourself these questions:

Am I happy with my real life?
Is someone I love unhappy directly as a result of me simply not being "there"?
Can I look at myself in the mirror without flinching or turning away?

Attempting to answer those questions were what ulimately improved my life. Noone online will ever be able to do that for you in the long run, I can pretty much assure you of that. Good luck and I hope that you will learn how to balance your entire life.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Everquest player parody by two gamers: Ding