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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

"I spent the afternoon/early evening with my folks; while my EQ friend gamed, read, napped and did whatever else grumpy, anti-social bachelors do on Christmas......think Ebeneezer Scrooge!.......

We had a date for later in the evening. I rushed home, grabbed the phone to say that I was on my way to him, and stood there, coat on, keys in hand, while I was told that he had just "accepted" a quest or mission or whatever and to give him a call back in an hour or two.

Yeaah right. Ho ho ho.

Of course, he was not getting that call from me. This fact eventually broke through the EQ haze and about 11 pm I got a phone message [I was snug in bed and sound asleep] "Game's over - I'm waiting on you." {Actual quote}.

That's when the truly creepy, unreal feeling hit. The game was over, all right!

We've spoken on the phone a few times, but I haven't wanted to see him since. That "oogy factor" is just out of control. I've lost respect for him, and won't give up being respected myself.

It's all just too WEIRD."

"One Christmas we were on dial up..And my bf wanted to stay on EQ Christmas Day also but I kept unplugging the phone line.He wasn't happy about it but neither was I about him staying on that game.Eventually he got off of it.But he was stubborn and kept logging on and I was stubborn right back.But then we got cable modem and I couldnt do that anymore...But I was not going to spend Christmas with HIS son by myself.After that I would just shut off his commputer.By then he figured out that I was very mad when it came to that point.And he would not get back on.You know EQ would not be bad excpet the people that play it think they have to be on it every waking moment.I admit I have played the game myself to see what the big deal was.And it is a fun game but I will not let it ruin my life or control it.My life comes first not a stupid game.And I didnt take it beyond the game.I just wished they knew what we were going through when they do things like that.But they cant see things through our eyes.And they cant feel what we are feeling.They say we are taking it to far out text but we just want our familys back the way they were before the game."

Friday, December 17, 2004

The holidays are drawing near. This is always the time when emotions are heightened and when both the good and the bad become exaggerated. And it's a time when people might stop for a minute and reflect on the year that's passed.

I remember the years when I played EQ obsessively. Yes, I use the term "obsessively" because people hate to be called addicts. The term "addicted" evokes a too painful reminder of how weak our self-control can be. None of us like to think of ourselves that way. So unsurprisingly, people don't call or perceive themselves to be addicted to anything unless they are joking ("I am sooo addicted to hot showers") or if they are unapologetically honest about their own weaknesses ("I have an immense problem that I cannot control and need help from someone other than me even though it's highly shameful").

So let's forget about that A term for a minute. And back to remembering the time "I was being an obsessive EQ player". Unhealthily obsessed ("Obsession doesn't do a body good!").

I think that period of my life was the only time when I was neither getting the fuzzy feeling of the holidays nor the feeling of renewal with the beginning of the new year. In Everquest, the air and the surroundings don't change that much, and we all know that whatever it is that changes is fully controlled by some programmers sitting in some SOE building. Other EQ players may yell "Happy Holidays" and hug and attempt to throw confetti, but that typically only lasts for a minute or so before everyone returns to what they were set out to do. It's as if dreams do not exist in online games - you may speak about them and be heard but really, nothing changes. And that was such a different feeling from other computer activity: Even during my IRC days when I decided to document 12 non-stop hours on an IRC channel over the holidays, I remember the joy I felt chatting online with people from different parts of the world about everything and nothing.

Everquest does not have real seasons. There are too many structures, too many tasks and far too little leisure. The eggnog that you can brew is cute the first time around but it doesn't give us the same sensations a real eggnog does (or does not, in my case), and it quickly turns into just another item that's either useful (or sellable) or not. People hug online but quite frankly, when you turn around and see yourself in a dark room with a flickering computer screen as the only holiday lighting, you can feel the emptiness ooze all around you despite the cheerful existence in the virtual world.

Give yourself a holiday present this year and take a break from the everyday mundanity. Especially computer mundanity. Screw the online friends and acquaintances - they have their own families and partners, and they don't need you to celebrate the holidays. Give the raiding and mob killing a break. Is there a book you always wanted to read, or a movie you always wanted to see? Go to a coffee place, grab a nice mug of tea / coffee / hot chocolate and settle down in a sofa for a nice long read. Take a long walk. Grab a board or card game, a few munchies and sit down with friends or loved ones. Watch some end-of-the-year specials on TV. Hug anything that's huggable, even if it's only the pillow that's in reach right now. Smell the air, can you smell a difference? If not, it's time to put something in the oven ;)

Put those overused braincells on the shelf, let them recharge and go dig up some long forgotten skills... the ones that remember how to sing along with Christmas/Hanukkah songs. The ones that revel in the smells and tastes of those special foods that are only made this season in your family. The ones that you used to find presents that would make others squeal in delight. Do yourself a favour and do something different this year. Even if it's something as silly-pathetic as buying your family dog a big edible christmas gift.

I know, I know, it's not quite Christmas yet. But I figured that if I talk about it now, maybe you'll have enough time to prepare yourself for a vacation from EQ, WOW, SWG, DAOC or whatever alternate universe you have been calling your home for the past few years.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2004

"For years now, my husband has been playing mmorpgs constantly. First, dark ages of camelot, then starwars galaxies, now EQ2. Its like he has to complete so many goals, and has to be online at least hours a day to get 'anything done' as he calls it. Its hard to watch the person you love lose themself in a fantasy world. Some gaming is fine, everything in moderation. . .but its these type of people that take things to the extreme.

My favorite conversation between him and I occured a few weeks ago. We were doing great, no gaming, lots of family time, etc. Then EQ2 came out. He went crazy and started playing hardcore. He was upset that I was bothered by his constant gaming. His philosophy is that he is going to do what he wants to do in life, and that I should do the same. I agree to a point, but whats the point of being married then? Shouldn't we have a few of the same goals in life? I think he was just trying to get me to back off, so he can revel in his alternative reality. Meanwhile there are dishes to be washed, laundry to do, and a baby to feed! After that conversation, I realized that yes I am going to do whatever the hell I want. I put the baby in his lap, and leave to go shopping. I make him get off the computer, because I WANT to check my email. I have turned this whole thing around so he can see how ridiculous he is being. So far its working. . .his game time is two hours a day, something I can deal with.

So here's my advice to you chicas who are going through this too....engross yourself in your life and making your own life better. If your bf/gf/hb don't want to join you, that's their loss. Eventually you will realize you love yourself more than them and if they haven't come around, you may leave. It might be the wake up call they need."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Recently a discussion came up about the proliferation of MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). Rather than presenting my points, I wonder what others think on this subject. So bear with me and play clairvoyant for a minute...

With more and more of these new never-ending parallel universe games coming out, what do you think will happen? Will the majority tire of this genre? Or accept it as one hobby and become less attached to one? Or become extremely attached to one? Or attempt to play multiple to the extent they have played one? Or get so worn out that they develop stress symptoms? Will it become more stigmatized or more accepted? What do you think?