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.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Face it, there are reasons why someone chooses to play MMORPGs.

Everyone has different reasons, of course, and we often do not know exactly why and might never figure out all the whys, but to play for fun and relaxation seems reasonable.

Up to a point. When it becomes obsessive gaming, it doesn't take too long for the player or their loved ones to clue in that there a significant change has occured in the environment. Unfortunately, realization is not even half the battle required to re-surface back into reality.

Still, many might stop playing after several years, either because they realize the impact of their non-existence in reality or / and because they are frustrated by the games. Some will move over to a new game and resume the same fervor of playing. Some will simply stop.

Quitting is do-able but staying away from the obsessiveness is the really tough challenge. Have you ever wondered why?

"I have always been a bit antisocial - I don't feel comfortable interacting with people, and in the game, I had tons of friends and did a lot of chatting."

"I was always into D & D and reading fantasy / sci fi."

"Reality is boring and mundane."

"I can forget about my stresses and pressures when I play."

If you find yourself nodding with some of the above comments, chances are that you know your reasons for playing MMORPGs obsessively. Which will also likely be the reasons why you may be tempted to return to that state.

Here's the thing though: MMORPGs don't offer growth. I know it's easy to jump up and say "That's not true! I made friends from another country and learned about their culture". But really, if you think about it, what are you learning? How relevant to your own well-being is it, really?

I used to think that I was enriching my life and my intellect by engaging in interactions online and with people from all parts of the world. But guess what: You don't learn how to socially interact with people by being on an MMORPG. You don't learn how to have a good relationship. You don't learn about new cultures. You don't learn anything new about yourself. It's all pretend. The knowledge you acquire is neither as permanent as the knowledge gained from books and other sources nor is is applicable to anything outside of the narrow domain of MMORPGs.

Playing MMORPGs obsessively is not unlike the caged hamster running in its wheel - a futile attempt at mimicking the actual experiences. But unlike the hamster, you aren't being locked into a cage by external forces. You actually have a choice to open yourself up to new experiences in reality.

MMORPGS are basic simulations of reality. What is really keeping you from going after the real thing? I know the answer for me was fear.

Friday, March 25, 2005

"My husband started playing EQ in November 2004. At first I did not think it was a big deal because about once a year he'll buy a game and play it obsessively for a couple months. After about a month of EQ I noticed him playing it a little more obsessively than the previous games. I asked him to stop playing when our ... daughter was born.... He agreed to talk about it when the time came. Well, the time came and went and nothing has changed. At the time I did not realize that he had paid to play online and I agreed to let him play until that time ran out. Well, somehow he took it upon himself to go ahead and pay for three more months.

We keep having these "talks" about how he's playing too much and needs to cut back. When I say he plays too much, the fist thing he does when he wakes up is check "the game". When he comes home for lunch he goes straight to the computer to check "the game" and same thing when he comes home after work. Then after dinner he'll play the game until 1:30 in the morning on work nights and until 6:00 in the morning on weekends. After "the cutting back talks" he'll cut back for a few days and then gradually go back to playing compulsively. In fact, we just had a talk on Sunday and he said he wasn't going to play during the week any more, only on the weekends. That lasted one day. He then changed it to "I'm only going to set up to sell during the week". He still played until 1:30 this morning because he didn't have to go into work until this afternoon.

I don't think these EQ addicts get it. I think my husband is so involved in the game that he doesn't realize what's happening with his family around him. I just don't get these grown ass men and these computer games. What is going on?"

Saturday, March 19, 2005

This blog is now officially 1 year old. The number of stories has't abated. Have they increased? I'm not sure. But I am pretty certain that we aren't anywhere near the peak yet: Online gaming industry figures indicate that the North American market is nowhere near saturation.

Is the online game genre going to change significantly in this new year? From what I have reading so far, I doubt the games are going to become any "easier" or "shorter": World of Warcraft has been somewhat praised because its quests are fast to complete, gameplay involves far less grinding and players can accomplish some things in less than 30 minutes. But does that solve everything? Apparently a lot of people who have reached level 60 tire of the game and move over (or added) Everquest 2. Now how can you blame the games for the fact that these gamers are actually COMPLAINING for not having to spend countless hours and days for accomplishing very little? I certainly cannot. Well, I do think that Everquest, Lineage etc. have a lot to do with changing online gaming expectations. But in the end, I can't rid myself of a somewhat baffling visual: a donkey that complains about the carrot that dangles too closely to its mouth. Will it demand that the carrot be placed further, or will it simply eat more carrots and march on? I sincerely hope the donkey will stop and ponder for a second.

"Hi. I'm really shocked to see how many people are experiencing the same problem I am. Last November my boyfriend of almost 2 years told me that he wanted World of War Craft. Now okay...I have no idea what this is. All I know is it is a computer game. So I bought it for him for Christmas. That has to be the stupidest thing I have ever done....

He plays it the moment he wakes up until the time he goes to work. He goes to work (I bring him dinner there sometimes) and he's looking up stuff about World of Warcraft. He then comes home, grabs dinner, and then sits and plays from 11pm to about 3:30am. Then he gets up and repeats the process. He neglects things he should be taking care of, like getting his car inspected (I had to make the appt. for him) and just doing normal every day things.

Now don't get me wrong it isn't that I don't want him to play it. I mean I have hobbies too and friends I go out with, but it is just that it is taking up about 80% of his life. He thinks that if he goes out to dinner with me or a movie and then goes home and jumps on the computer all of a sudden it is okay. It's not okay and I've tried talking to him about it so many times and every time he says that he'll limit his game playing and every time it becomes a bunch of bull.

For instance we discussed it on Monday and decided that he would only play at 11pm after I go to sleep and he gets home from work (he works 3-11) and if he has the day off we spend it Warcraft until 11pm. He couldn't even keep it for a day. At 10 o'clock I decided I was going to get ready for bed (and I thought we could just lie together for like an hour while I fall asleep). Stupid me. The moment I said I was going to go brush my teeth he said "Can I go play now?" I just lost it. We got into a huge argument about it and I started questioning myself, "what does a game have that is so alluring that I don't". He came to bed at 3:30 after playing and I was attempt to even work this out.... I feel as though it is just going to get worse and I don't want to wait around for that. I'd rather know now that he's going to break my heart than get engaged and married and always wonder when he is going to finally choose me over the game."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

"My son had a full scholarship to college and did well his first semester of college.... Over Christmas break, he started playing EQ II. He went back to college in Jan for his 2nd semester. He was back at college a little over a month before he had to pack it in and come back home. He is still hooked but we are getting some rofessional help to get him off the game. We felt that if we took it away "cold turkey" that he would move in with another EQII addict and we would never see him again.

He reached level 50 this week. What is the incentive to stay involved in the game if you reach the maximum level? I know he has online EQII 'friends.'

The game appears drab and boring to me but I have never attempted to play. Only positive I can say for EQII is that the game caused him to cut way back on his cigarette smoking. It is sad way to cut back."

Friday, March 04, 2005

"Well you'll be glad to know that at least for WoW, server capacity issues is limiting the number of new subscriptions (i.e. CDs are sold out as the servers cannot support new accounts). Also, not to be insensitive, or give you false hope, but at this point, the WoW game isn't nearly developed enough to be a full-time hobby like EQ. If played full-time, would probably take 2 months to finish everything currently available in the game. Literally. Unless you were consistently farming items or gold to auction for real money, in which case I supposed you'd be playing until it no longer made you money. That's how it stands currently, but there will be expansions out in the future for sure that will change this. But I don't see how on the current engine it could consume someone's life full-time for a long period of time like EQ1 did/does. I hope it stays that way.

I played weekends-only for the past 2 months, and I'm at lvl 50 out of 60 with 3 times the "gold" to buy the best weapon available to my class, and I'm basically not sure that I would want to renew my subscription after 3 months since I'd be done with the current content short of joining a raiding guild which I have no intention of doing. Several people I met have already moved to EQ2 or play both simultaneously as this is too "easy" for them. I find this very troubling as it seems that EQ1 has set the "standard," to many people, of how time consuming a MMORPG should be, and there are those who feel that games that are "easier" or go by more quickly are not worth their while. However, I'm not really sure that this can be blamed on Sony; it seems to be more a mentality of certain players who exert peer pressure on others and guilt others into playing with them. It's all very, very sad."

My observation is that there is indeed the tendency for gamers these days to play 2 MMORPGs at the same time, or at least, pay for more than one game subscription. Mostly EQ2 and Wow, but I am sure there are other variations. What is your experience?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A new email:
"I want to write to you... about myself. I am gamer, plainly put. As a kid, I would play my weekends away, or after homework on weekdays. The days were carefree, others, and myself, viewed my gaming as a hobby for any child, like playing with toys. I am near graduating high school now, and I now realize what I have done to myself... I've played my middle school and high school years away.

The more my childhood passed, the more I devoted free time to play online games. The games became a growing addiction, an electronic plague. First it was Starcraft, then Warcraft 3, now WoW. I currently play 14 hours on weekends, 8 hours on Fridays, and 3 hours Mon-Thurs (school nights), and I have enough homework from AP classes to lose a lot of sleep, especially if I played. I study the minimum I need to get a good grade, then I hit the games and play until my body strains, pleading for me to sleep. If on any given day I have no homework, I play all day. Believe me, I am an exceptional student, averaging above a 4.0. The tradegy is... I could have contributed more; I probably could have advanced straight to graduate school now if I had pushed with a 100% effort, and only I know that I had the capabilities to push way harder. I even threw away opportunities to participate in extracurriculars and sports. If my parents know my potential like I do, they would be furious, because I cheated myself.

Academics aside, I sacrificed a lot of friendships that I could have had to play by myself on weekends. I have even ignored the intentions of many girls who I could have had a decent relationship with. I left them waiting in the dust, left them as just friends. I want to cry just writing this; I wasted my life. A friend (girl) once called me a good guy, but wasted. I was young and stupid, and I ignored her. I swear, I hate the notion of gaming now. I am not unlike the poor souls who are addicted to drugs. Gaming is my weed. My life passed so fast that I don't anyone to cling onto anymore, only the games are there for me. Thus, I feel inclined to play more. My behavior is so compulsive that I play even with the knowledge of my own deterioration. I should quit playing now and remake friends fast, or else my sadness and emptiness will consume me."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Here is an interview with Foxtrot's Bill Amend who just recently published a few comic strips referring to World of Warcraft and in the interview talks about his WOW playing habits... "A: It was about 11 pm on a Thursday, with my strips unwritten and due the next day, and instead of being in a healthy deadline panic, all I could think about was how my druid was about to hit level 20 and get the cat form ability. The strips pretty much wrote themselves at that point.