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, June 01, 2005

"Look at it this way... I was once a hardcore EQ addict. Fortunately I discovered the game after I earned my Master's degree and got a good full-time job. But unfortunately, it ate up 2 years of my life, and I had nothing to show for it. I almost lost that job, scrambled several times to make excuses for my strange behavior. I discovered that my online "friends" meant nothing in reality, and my "euphoric" gaming experiences meant even less.

After I quit EQ, I started dating, I got in shape, and I changed my whole way of life. I found my wife, and we have been married almost 4 years. We are happy, and we are expecting our first baby soon. None of this would have happened if I had not quit EQ. When I was playing that game hardcore, I was effectively neutered and isolated from the world.

WoW is no different. Why am I writing this now? The story is a little more complex than me just quitting EQ... Since I have been married, I've tried other games like DAOC and WoW. I've had this fantasy that somehow I could discover a "happy medium" of casual online gaming, and my wife has played with me on and off. But I can tell you from years of experience, it is a waste of time. It has not destroyed our marriage, but it has not improved our lives. We decided after a couple weeks of WoW that we have definitively outgrown this "hobby."

I am 33 now, and I would pay any amount of money to have all that time back, from EQ and some of the other games. If I had spent that time learning to be a great cook, or developing some hobby like music, or participating in the volunteer activities, my life would feel much more balanced.

Think about it. I guarantee you, you play these games to escape the real world. But at the end of it all, what will you have to show for it? Real happiness comes from challenging yourself, setting real goals and meeting or exceeding them. Imagine your greatest euphoria from WoW... Now picture how I felt when I was a key member of a championship-winning [sports] team, a year after quitting EQ.

It is CRAZY to talk about being afraid to "miss out on WoW." What about missing out on COLLEGE? These could be the best years of your life, and you will not get to re-do them. You don't enjoy your classes? Find something else that challenges you. Are you shy and afraid of people? Challenge yourself. Work out. Make yourself socialize. You will never get any better if you do not try. WoW and other games will always be there, trust me. But your youth will not be.

Ask yourself, are you embarrassed to discuss your favorite activity with your friends and family? That's how it was in my worst EQ days. My family and friends stopped calling me -- when they could reach me I spoke to them like a zombie with keyboard sounds in the background. If I had died at that point, my epitaph would have been "Here lies an overeducated academic overachiever who got addicted to gaming and ignored everybody who loved him." Would that be you too?

Trust me, give up the gaming addiction, and don't look back."

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