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.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I was just thinking a little while ago about how running seems to be one of my latest obsessions... or addiction, if you will. Of course, to me it doesn't quite seem that way, but the strange looks that I am getting from people on the street or in their cars for running on the street in snowy, icy conditions at nosehair-freezing temperatures attests to the fact that OTHERS are certainly thinking that I may be a little... well, you get the point.

Now here is the kicker though... yes, I am running about 4 times a week, so it can certainly be compared to another obsessive hobby that I used to have (namely, EQ) - but that's where the similarities end. Running: between 1-2 hours each session, so at most 8 hours a week of actual running; then count in about 30 minutes each for stretching; on average about 1-2 hours a week maintaining my running blog, reading running news or browsing running items online; 30 minutes a week a emailing my running buddies. So now we have a high end range of ... 12.5 hours a week! Woa, mama!

Actually, not really? It's rather pitifully minimal compared to the 30-50 hours a week I would put into MMOGs during my heydays.

If I actually spent 40-50 hours doing running stuff, I doubt I'd still be alive and kicking. I can't imagine being out and about running for 16 hours a day... I can't even imagine doing that every weekend day, like I used to do with EQ on a regular basis.

So now what do I do with the rest of the time I have? Watching TV (sometimes it's nice to be passively entertained), cooking, reading, browsing junk on the Internet, playing guitar, debating with friends, writing ... the point that I am trying to make here is that I am doing such a variety of activities that won't make me an expert in much, admittedly, but that certainly keeps me more sane and responsive to the external world than sitting in front of the computer every bloody single minute that I have to myself. I still like D&D, I still like the Internet, I still like to try out new games. Just not MMOGs, because of all the computer games I have tried, none have left me as grouchy, mentally checked out and low in feelings of self worth as MMOGs have. The latter is just a god-awful feeling... have you ever felt it?

Let's face it: You are spending 10-20 hours a week on your MMOG of choice? Move along, you likely have little to worry about MMOGs impacting your well-being negatively. 30-50 hours a week? It's time to stop being such a fierce defender of your game existence and insist that it's yo choice to live your life, buddy. After all, you're not ACTUALLY fighting for the last tree on earth. Or trying to find the cure to save the world from Armageddon.

At best, you are only harming yourself. At worst, you are causing some heavy-duty damage on others who rely on you being in this world.

P.S.: And before you start thinking that it is "only" time that is the difference here, think again... time is limited and at the same time pervasive in all aspects of our lives - the length (and sure, the type) of your commitment to a particular aspect of your life and the combination of those commitments shapes who you are as a person.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Well, happy belated new year! Not to give the impression that I am a) bored with blogging, b) there are just no new stories about MMOG issues, c) MMOG has overtaken the world like a big brother ... I guess it's just that I am bored with the fact that we as a mass have not gotten any closer to understanding just what is happening to people around us. Although, I have to admit, I found my new favourite term -

pop culture escapism

(or to paraphrase it "nicely",
internal emigration to mass appeal platforms)

Really sums it up nicely for me. Do you have mostly positive or negative feelings associated with pop culture and / or escapism?

A while ago I was interviewed about this blog for a documentary, and although, admittedly, some of my gut reactions definitely results from hurt feelings of vanity ("what? I wasn't interesting enough to be further investigated?"), I cannot help but also feel that some of my ambivalence towards the documentary stems from the fact that the motivations behind the documentary were somewhat obfuscated during the making, leaving me to question whose good it was for in the first place. I guess I wasn't the intended audience as this was clearly for the uninitiated newbie for whom the online gaming world was a shiny ball of vapour. I was hoping for something more. Then again, I seem to be thinking that a lot recently.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

MMOGs and Crime

I guess the recent news about "Baby Grace" (see and countless other articles) really was just another instigator in stirring the ever-popular topic of MMOG and really bad behaviour.

Hey, looking at this blog, you can easily blame me to be biased when it comes to crimes committed by people who play MMOGs. The truth is that I'm rather sick of all the forth and back between gamers, media and non-gamers.

Well, guess what? You're all wrong. I don't think that whether someone is on or offline committing a crime should have any bearing... it's actually more distracting talking about something that happens when you have sheep bleeping in one corner "MMO made XYZ kill ABC!" with the other sheep bleeping in the other corner "MMO doesn't kill people, people kill people!"

Why isn't ANYONE coming out and saying the only solution to this is prevention, and that in order to prevent, researchers and social scientists and law makers HAVE TO look at the behaviour and thinking of those perps. And if their life tends to be spent mostly online, well, that means that anyone should have access to all those files so this can be properly investigated, analysed AND communicated to the greater public. Virtual online worlds are perfect places to collect information, since (unlike real life), all activity, types statements and even audio can and is recorded.

As important, if there are specific behaviour patterns online can be tied to subsequent violence / misdemeanour, the same level of alerts, communications, access to authorities and support should be available online than in real life.

Just because someone lives most of their life online doesn't mean that they should be protected by the game before something bad happens in real life. Just saying.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Going a bit generalist here for a moment, so bear with me (or just ignore this) ...

I recently spoke to a good friend of mine who was (aside from being a physics post-doc) decided to devote much of her time to a more social cause... after our usual frantic catching-up-on-things, we realized that we were both in the search of a way to make sense of a large amount of unstructured text (or in my case, stories). Traditional social science research tools such as surveys (many of them self-selecting), interviews and observation logs are only one perspective - with the Internet, we suddenly have access to much more qualitative data out there, and most of them are not even solicited but submitted voluntarily.

Standard (free) qualitative software - well, I have done some word frequency analysis, and there are probably ways to do more correlational stuff with the data - still, I'm sure much more could be done if we had software do manipulate these types of data visually. I have found some promising research in this area but here is where the other problem comes up: funding and time. Quite frankly, social studies outside the academic environment (and even within the academic environment) are just not desirable targets for funding, unless its results can be used to further political, economic or other profitable agendas. Who cares if a large number of people find reality miserable and hindering enough to want to constantly escape into a virtual world? Who cares if the majority of women in the world are still actively discouraged and stopped from getting education? Who cares if "laziness" and "criminal tendencies" are still blamed for poor living conditions and poverty? Who care as long as corporations can still make a living selling subpar products to consumers and continue to raise profits by downsizing people and cutting environmental corners?

I realize this has somewhat turned into a full-fledged rant, so I'll stop here. Instead I'll start doing a little prayer every night that some day, at least a few semi-intelligent people will become influential enough to support and create a platform where research studies will be funded based on how much they will improve the well-being of the world at large, both on the scientific and the social side.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Something funny happened on the way away from EQ... I discovered how much there is to do in rl. Not trying to act sarcastic or all-knowing here - I thought I already found out how much there is to living life outside of the online worlds when I started this blog but here we are 3 years later, and it's only become more apparent. I just moved to a new place recently and sometimes I try to imagine how life would be if I was still trying to play MMOGs while doing all the things I'm doing now - I cannot imagine it because - to be frank - it would be impossible.

I find myself further removed from MMOGs than ever before - which isn't ideal for this blog. Sure, it's done a heckload for me but I feel slightly guilty for not being able to keep this going as strongly as I would have liked. There are still so many things that could be done to look into and study the impact of MMOGs on society but wanting to do it and finding the time are worlds apart.

I am posting this in the hopes that someone out here might read this and feel that they still have much to contribute to this area and would like to give it a try. I started this blog 3 years ago with the intention of surfacing these stories and giving readers a chance to reflect and make choices. I have been lucky to exchange emails with quite a few bright, insightful and humble people who were smarter than to fall into the trap of thinking in black&white terms only. And it's made me happy to see that others have gone through the same kind of aha experience I had and decided to take charge of their own lives.

I think I have done as much as I could for now and hopefully will be able to do more in the future, but for now, I'd like to hand over part of the reigns to someone who has more energy and time than me :)

P.S.: Gamerwidow's done a great job compiling and indexing stories they've had on the forums so I'll provide the link here -

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Interesting little article ... even more interesting are the comments it's kind of nice to know discussions like these aren't solely dominated by people with one-sided tunnel vision anymore.... My take? Learn how to communicate with each other (and I mean talking beyond the topics like tv, games, celebrities or kids) and focus on being happy in real life and all these issues probably will less likely manifest themselves anyways. Otherwise, don't even try being in a relationship.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Here is a link to WoW Detox (, an anonymous confessional forum.

From what I have seen, this is one of the rare well-nuanced articles about MMOGs and their impact on rl - in this specific case, it's Second Life and the implications of online affairs - a second life blog entry titled "YOUR CHEATING HEART"

And the beat goes on...

The mainstream MMOG flavor of the moment is WoW, and many of the stories of those MMOG obsession have centered around that game over the past year.

Now it looks like Sony has a contender on the market: Vanguard, just released on January 30, 2007. That's 3 days only ago. Interestingly enough, I did not find out about it from reading MMOG press releases and lurking on MMOG community boards. No. I found out from partners of former EQ gamers who have already noticed the impact of this new MMOG within 2 days.

2 days? This is going to be interesting - too quick a reaction or a sign of more to come? Who knows... but meanwhile, I will try to obtain the rights to post the stories here.