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, September 22, 2004

I received this insightful email:
"After reading some of the posts on your site, I feel compelled to write an email regarding the over all nature of addiction as opposed to the sort of confined version that is presented by focusing on the particular substance. (In this case Everquest).

Surely you must be aware that people who engage in self destructive, obsessive behavior, are fundamentally ill at ease with themselves. They are unable to function as most people do. Usually the reason for this is some what of a hodgepodge between some psychological damage incured on them and an inability to deal with that harm and present day stressors. The solution, in part, is a cession of the obsessive behavior and CBT or some other form of clinical treatment. 12 step groups also work.

Now... I am a recovering addict. From drugs, not EQ. Drugs are a far worse experience then playing a game could ever be. I robbed people, I stole from people, I delt drugs, I assulted people all so I could get more drugs. EQ 'addicts' are usually limited to self destructive behavior, or their behavior of ignoring the ones who care about them the most. But their behavior is far from criminal and should, in my opionion, in NO way be assoicated with drug addiction.

I played EQ for a number of years, leveling up characters, selling them on ebay when you could, and then returing to play again after years off. It is a semi amusing way to pass the time when I have a desire for gaming. When I compare my experiences with EQ to my experiences with drugs, there is no real comparision. I never played EQ for 18 hours a day, nor did I seek to destroy myself with the same reckless abandon that I did with drugs. Perhaps that is because I had evoled to a more mature state. Who knows, point is, while displaying these stories is very prase worthy and I think you should continue to do so, I think you should also provide some links so people can become educated about what addiction is and how to work with it.

If I did not say so before, I found alot of the stories very touching. But also somewhat sad that these people were not better able to spot addiction early on in their behavior patterns with their spouse. Which is why education might help some visitors to your site."

My response:
"Hi ...

Well-written and well-made points. I don't think you can equate all types of addictions - I don't even think that each individual's addiction can be equated, everyone seems to have their own personal path of destruction. But I don't know if I can fully agree with separating drug from gaming addiction, especially since a lot of the gamers don't separate those themselves - I can't begin to tell you how many EQ players I met who had either depression or/and alcohol addiction. EQ was just another outlet, not as destructive as the others, but still potent enough to fuel their other addictive behaviour. One of my exes was a pro at gaming all day while drinking and taking Prozac and used the game very conveniently to prop up his self-confidence (people in the game adored him) and to keep himself from getting any sort of treatment or job.

Also, gaming addiction as it can provide a convenient "reason" for the person (with the issues etc.) to lash out if they are kept from it. Some will even get physically abusive.

Addiction is such a generic label - I believe that it's better to look at each individual as a separate case instead of applying generic solutions.

I'll be happy if you had a few good links you could recommend for people to read up about addiction. I find that I don't have enough breadth on this site to cover other types of addiction. Worse, I'm worried that if I provide generic links about other addictions, the aspect of neglect through gaming may be missed overall. I have no illusions whatsoever that the stories here will touch anyone with more than just gaming issues, but I am hoping that it may "nudge" a few people who are normally mature responsible people."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

"The more hobbies/distractions that I have, the less time I will spend depressing about the damage being done. So, getting more hobbies is, coincidentally, what my husband also encourages me to do. Another thing he encourages me to do is get plenty of sleep (a good thing, right?!) so that I will even be UNCONSCIOUS while he plays his games. By the way, scrapbooking is also a hobby of mine, however I find it very difficult to separate the joys right now from the heartache. He is supposed to be part of the joy and he is currently opting out of much of it. I often feel like I don't WANT to preserve many of the memories I have about these last few months.

I do have many hobbies and am constantly keeping busy both inside and outside of the home. I am fortunate to be spoiled by a very easy 1st child who doesn't require my constant attention 24/7. I have never had to go without taking a shower (lucky me, I guess!) and while it is a challenge to keep up with all the housework all the time, I give myself some slack. I am already involved in a play group with other moms and babies and will even start ... "baby music class" .... All of this is supposed to help me socialize with other adults while also spending quality time with my son. I manage to keep my calendar pretty well booked with visits to friends and errands that I hardly have time during the day to depress about EQ. It is at night, when the man I love and want to spend time with more than anyone or anything else, comes home and barricades himself in his office so he can spend the next 5-6 hours pretending he's a dwarf or a whatever, that really causes me to blow a fuse. I can hardly stand to see the room where he devotes himself to something that is causing us to become disconnected with each other. I feel like I'm a roommate, not a wife. Yet, when he first returned to work following the birth of the baby, he had the audacity to be hurt that I wasn't standing in the doorway waiting for him. He wasn't concerned about having meals together or spending the evening with each other. He just wants me to BE a picture hanging on the wall. I am his wife, another goal he has checked off of his "to-do" list in life. I guess his son is another goal he has now checked off. Only, we're not through. He wants several more children, so he can check them off, too, and then I can be so busy that I will never have time to bother him about how he spends his time. That will never happen. My marriage and family are priority #1 for me, and no matter how busy I am or how entertaining my hobbies might otherwise be, I will always be most concerned with making this marriage last. Is it possible to be too concerned with what is most important to me and what he says in words is also important to him?"

Monday, September 13, 2004

"My husband has played EQ for nearly 4 years. I begged, pleaded, screamed, threatened, demanded, cried, cajoled, bribed...well did everything to try to get his attention. Over the years we tried many things including setting a schedule for his play times. Nothing ever worked. I finally resorted to playing with him on occasion just so I could spend some time with him and feel we had something to talk about again. I rarely played though and he kept having to make twinks to be able to group with me.


... he was transferred to another state. We made the decision I would not go back to work, would be a stay at home wife/mom. I was alone in a new town with no friends or family. I suddenly had no job and loads of time on my hands. So after a couple months I started to play online during the day. I got brave and began to group with other people. Met some friends from his guild and joined too. Some friends were female, others were male. I began to play more and more. At first he rejoiced. No more bitchy wife nagging about how much he played. I was always in-game and having a great time. Everquest was my life and his outside of his job. I talked to my guild leader (a female) on the phone every day for hours at a time. I also made some friends with some single males in the guild. I was in heaven. I was popular and guys were paying so much attention to me. After years of being ignored I was ecstatic! One male guild member in particular I began to really like. We started flirting, which led to ... eventually me leaving my husband ... and traveling 1/2 across the country to move in with this guys. SOMEONE I HAD NEVER MET!!

I was so lost in a fantasy world I didn't know up from down, right from wrong, or me from my online toon. Fortunately for me I woke up quickly. I came home 3 days later. My husband and I went to counselling and have spent the last few months reconciling our relationship.

I still feel like this was a dream, like it happened to someone else. I'm embarrassed and ashamed of what I did and there is nothing I can do to take it back.

Anyway, long story short the moral careful. Everquest imo is most addictive to those who are struggling in RL w/ self esteem issues. Something living with an EQA contributes to. Learn from my mistake, please don't put yourself our your significant other through what I did. Oh, and if you think to yourself "I'd never do that" just remember so did I. I'm not your average EQ player... female, non-geek, wealthy, educated professional w/ no experience in gaming online or other and I got sucked into their world faster than the spin of a dime."

Friday, September 10, 2004

"My spouse did not have a EQA problem. I did. I stopped playing EQ 4 months ago. Not just stopped. All the in game items were given away and the account was cancelled. I'm not terribly good at psycho-analyzing myself but I'll try. EQ had become a chore. The pressure that drives people to attend raids, to go do this, and to go do that forced me into a permanent state of ... inadequacy, for lack of a better word. I was constantly trying to catch up to the rest of them that I was no longer enjoying myself. There were nights that I dread logging on just to grind another 3 hours. I wasn't angry or anything that the real world (spouse, child, job, etc.) was holding me back. It was more like: If I want to feel inadequate, I can stay in the real world. I don't need to pay money for that.

I'm not sure what the pivotal point was but I suspect our daughter has a lot to do with it. She ... still require[s] night feeding at 9pm .... It was my responsibility to feed her. I usually stop the game, picked something on Food TV or Discovery. I get her out of bed and give her her bottle. She usually felt back asleep on my shoulder after eating. Many many many times I caught myself just looking at her beautiful face, mesmerized. I told my friends she's really an enchanter (for all you other currect or ex- EQA :)) capable of charming the toughest monster ... me.) On those nights, I would just hold her for as long as she'll let me, or until my arm went numb. After I put her to bed, I went back to my desk.... and all of a sudden, EQ doesn't seem to matter any more. I was rid of EQ.

Not long after I stopped EQ. A new entity appeared. Its called City of Heroes. Its another online game where you play a superhero and fight bad people. I tried and enjoyed it tremedously. Acutely aware of what a game-addiction (whether you agree with the term or not) is, I was cautious but I was deeply engaged in it. I was spending 3-4 hours a night on it. I'm not sure but I think my other half was worried about switching from being a EQ widow to CoH widow. Not unjustified, mind you.

2 weeks ago. They flew ... to see my father-in-law (his 90th birthday). I couldn't go because of work. I distinctly remember thinking, "Yes! 2 weeks to myself, I can play till I turned blue in the face." But you know what. I didn't. In 2 weeks, I logged on once at the beginning. I was bored. But more so, I miss my little girl. I miss feeding her at 9. I miss holding her and playing with her pony tails. Nothing seems to matter while they were away. (Except cooking, I did get to do a lot of experiments...some unedible...)

From this past 2 weeks, I want to say, I'm recovering ... but I hesitate to say so ... I'm not sure. Will I go back to play more when they return? If so, what does that mean? Am I just hiding myself in the online world? If I don't go back, does it really mean I'm getting better?

I'm not sure how well informed y'all are ... but Everquest 2 is coming out in 2 months. Better graphics, better this, better that, more engaging gameplay, etc. etc. I'm ... afraid. I'm afraid I'll loose control again."

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Anonymous confessions regarding Everquest

Well, what can I say to that? Straight from the horse's mouth, with no restraint. Not much more I can say, really. You'll have to read it yourself to understand.