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.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Much thanks goes to the person who emailed me this yesterday:

"Subject: yet another story

My husband is an addict. I had no idea when he started with EQ II last year that our lives would change forever, but they most certainly did.

He started playing every other day, and I would sit at our second computer and watch him play, amused at the antics the online characters could perform. My particular favorite was the dancing, and he would frequently ask the other players to "dance" for me. Soon, however, he started playing every day, which turned into at least 4 hours a night. I had no desire to sit for that long in front of a computer, so I started trying to find my own things to do in the house while he played. Hey, I knew he needed to "relax" after work, so I was trying to give him space. Besides, any time I brought up the fact I was feeling neglected or that I wanted help around the house, he would get so upset and claim that he couldn't let his guild members down - they had been planning this raid all week, geez!

I was an EQ II widow. No longer did I have a partner in my marriage. Instead, I was a single parent (to my child and husband!) and the maid. He would stay at his computer until long after I was asleep and rush home after work to get online before I got home. If we attempted to plan an outing outside of the house, he would get hysterical and be so unpleasant until we got home so he could see what he missed. He bought headphones so he could talk to his guildmates in "real time." Yes, he was, without question, speding more time with them than with his family.

I was constantly covering for him and excusing his behavior with our child, my family, our friends, and his family about his constant gaming. It was like, I imagine, living with an alcoholic. And like an alcoholic, he became truly skilled at hiding and lying about his addiction. I found out later that he was spending upwards of 8+ hours a night on the game and starting to skip work to stay home and play.

Our marraige was suffering. We were not communicating at all. I would have "blow-ups" and scream and yell about how I was feeling, and he would react by playing his game more because "our marriage wasn't working." It was a never-ending circle, a Catch-22. He delved deeper into the game where he was powerful, popular, needed, and in-control. At this point he was guild leader and very important in that world. In the real world, his work was slipping, his kid didn't know him, his wife hated him, and he was incredibly unhealthy from late-night eating and inactivity. Online, however, he was king. Which would you choose, seriously?

Not unexpectedly, he started a relationship with someone in his guild which progressed from in-game chats to phone calls late at night. Finally, he had someone who understood and loved the game as much as he did and with whom he could complain about his terrible marriage. They both were very high-level characters and online together for hours at a time. This affair did indeed move to the next level, and he began speaking with her on a daily basis, many times a day. Now he had no excuse to deal with his real life outside of the game. He had everything he needed: a powerful online persona and, essentially, a girlfriend.

His ability to lie about his addiction and affair was taking its toll, and I found out about the phone calls. Regardless, it was too late for me to make a difference. He was so caught up in the game and that life - not only convinced he really was that character, but that she was his soulmate. Again, he lied to the people in his real life, and changed his travel plans with his family so he was alone. She flew in and they consummated their affair.

At some point, reality came crashing down, and he had some sort of epiphany. I had already confronted him and knew about her, and he realized what this game had done to his life. He was overweight, had high blood pressure and cholesterol, was cheating on his wife, didn't know his kid, had lost a year of progressing with his job, and so completely stopped living in the real world that he hadn't paid the power bill in 3 months. Before I came back into town, he had deleted the game, sold everything involved with his character, destroyed the disks and anything involved with the game, including his meticulous notebooks. He looked at his workspace around the computer and was horrified that he had been living like an animal for so long.

So, I guess he has a happy ending for an addict: he was able to break free and got his life back. Mine, however, is destroyed forever. He learned a magnificent lesson at my expense.

It has been months, and he has not picked up EQ II again. It is like he is an entirely different person - one who is involved, calm, thinks about other people instead of just himself, and a good father. Do I know the future for our relationship? No, but at least he is trying to head himself in the right direction.

*I know you do not normally publish stories that involve affairs, but I think it is important side-effect of the addiction, and it certainly did affect my daily life - as well as his. When this was all coming to a head, I was searching your site for stories like mine to try and help me put my life together, and I would have helped to read other peoples' stories. I don't think this is salacious, but rather an blow-by-blow accounting of how my family was affected by Everquest II.

Thanks for maintaining this site. In addition to helping me, it also helped my husband realize what an addict he was/is, and encouraged him to get therapy."

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