The following post is not anonymous, at the poster's request. Thank you!
"I just found your amazing blog yesterday. I have been reading it like an addict. I wanted to share my story, which needless to say is still in progress.
I am a documentary film maker. In January my business partner proposed the idea of making a movie about MMORPGs. I thought it was a good idea. I had just read the New York Times article, Ogre to Slay: Outsource to China about game farming. I was fascinated by the economies and social networks that were being created in these games. While I had played a bit of Starcraft and Diablo's 1 and 2, I was not an avid gamer. I knew to make this movie I would have to discover what made gamers tick. I decided to join the multitudes in WoW and see what it was all about.
At first I had really lofty ambitions. I recorded myself playing the early stages of the game, much like Morgan Spurlock in Supersize Me. I thought I was going to use my journey through the game as the underlying story of my film. How wrong I was. For the first week, I made dutiful video journal entries several times a day. After a few days I learned one of my best friends from high school was playing on a different server, so I started over again to play with him. By the second week of playing I had stopped shaving, I had started smoking marijuana to ease the long hours of tedium, and I had stopped making video entries. I think I stopped making the video about myself, because I was too embarrassed by what I was becoming. By week three I was hopelessly addicted to both weed and wow. Judging from my high school friend's experience, the two go hand in hand for many people.
While I was playing WoW, I was also supposed to be finding people to interview for the documentary. I placed adds in local casting papers and web pages. I got many responses that ranged from people who had met and fallen in love to people who had become hopelessly addicted. They were all very exciting leads, but I was playing WoW so much I took forever replying to the people who had written. I let all of the great leads slip through my fingers as I sprinted to LvL 40 to get my mount. Soon enough I was doing nothing for my movie and everything for my character.
My business partner began to wonder why I had nothing to show for my efforts besides a Priestess in WoW. At first I lied to him, and would tell him I did things I had not done. It felt like the only thing I was doing well was playing WoW. It was the only time I was happy. I tried writing some of the experts that I wanted to interview, but I would get total writer’s block after a few sentences. I felt like I would fail at anything besides WoW. I didn’t send one email to a potential subject for several weeks.
My partner is also my best friend. I couldn’t continue to lie to him without feeling really guilty and afraid I might lose his trust forever. Finally I told him the truth: I was failing us. I tried to get out of my rut, but that is when I realized I was severely depressed. I couldn’t wake up in the morning. I couldn’t speak to outsiders about my life. I found myself getting high at 10 in the morning and getting lost in WoW for the next 10 hours every day. My partner was very patient with me, because he saw how down I was. I am not sure I would have climbed out of my whole without a kick in the pants.
As luck would have it I got a major kick in the pants. My company got an intern. But this wasn’t just any intern. He had been a camper of mine at summer camp several years before, and he had really looked up to me. I guess it was vanity that saved me. I couldn’t bear him seeing me in that state. I wanted him to think I was a success and that he wasn’t wasting his time with some stoner gamer who was severely depressed. About a week before he started I did the first sane thing I had done in a long time, I went to the doctor confessed my addictions and depression. He immediately prescribed me an anti-depressant. It was the first time in my life I ever took one of them. I must say they work quite well, even if I hate the side effects. My urges to play WoW dropped immediately. I stopped getting high 3 or 4 times a day. When my intern arrived I took another big step. I started commuting to my partner’s apartment to work every day. Being in actual face to face contact with my friends and peers was very good for me. While two months ago I had been unable to send one email in two weeks, one day last week I sent 24 originally composed emails. The interviews subjects have been pouring in.
I still play WoW several days a week, but I have much less patience for the game. I am totally burnt out after playing one instance. I do not play more than 2 or 3 hours in a day. I have also begun role playing much more. I find role playing to be much more fun, creative, and fulfilling. I think it helps me separate the game fantasy from my real life. At least for now I am in control of my WoW urges.
In my copious research on MMO’s I have found countless divergent stories. The flip side of my story is that I have totally reconnected with my old high school friend. I think MMO’s are an amazing for keeping in touch over long distance. I have spoken to someone who plays nightly with their mother and brother across the country. They are closer now then they ever were. I have found some one else who plays one night a week with his in-laws. It has given him a chance to forge a strong friendship with his father in-law that he did not have before. I have found another family that plays together with their 6 year old child to teach him financial management, cooperation, and goal setting. I know of another woman who uses WoW to take her mind the chronic pain she felt as a result of a spinal injury. These are all really good things that happen in MMO’s.
One of the most telling stories I have discovered is that of an addict, a heroine addict. He used Star Wars Galaxies to overcome his addiction while his friends failed to do the same with rehab and methadone clinics. He was able to find new friends in the game who were not forcing him into unhealthy situations. In the end he credits these games with saving his life, and he is not other only one who used these games in that way. If I had to choose between a video game addiction and a heroine addiction, I would choose the games any day. I know there are people who would say not to fight one addiction with another, but many times it is a choice between life and death. While he played games constantly while he was getting off heroine, now he has his gaming and his life under control.
Before tobacco became cigarettes it was considered a powerful medicine by native people across all of the Americas. I have no doubt that many people would have credited it with saving their lives. Tobacco is not good or evil and neither are MMO’s. They both have their dangers, but they both have their benefits as well. It is all about how you use them. The movie I am making will tell both these stories. In the end MMOs are not going away. They are growing. They might very well represent the future of our society. That is why I am making this movie. I want to present a balanced view of MMO’s so people can decide for themselves whether or not to get involved.
I want to interview people who let MMO’s control their lives. Any number of stories on this forum communicate how powerful and dangerous these games are. If you would like to share your story to help others steer clear of game addiction, please get in contact with me. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions about my company please visit my web page at www.pwdocs.com. This forum demonstrates the dangers of MMO’s like no other. It has really opened my eyes and changed the way I plan on making my film."
and more specifics about his request to interview people for his documentary:
"Looking at your blog has made me take gaming addiction way more seriously. I always knew it was real and problematic, but I never realized the scale of the problem until I read your blog. Also I realized that gaming addiction recovery was a phenomenon that a lot of people were experiencing. I knew I always wanted to talk about gaming addiction, but now I want to include much more about the subject.
I guess you can include my email in the post. I really want people to contact me if they are willing to be interviewed about their experience with addiction. I would especially like to find some one who is just beginning the process of quitting. I want to follow their story as they grapple with addiction."