Profile of an addict

I”m beginning to wonder if I’m too addicted to mmorpgs. Whether I’m addicted or not, is not really up for questioning, it’s just a matter of how badly I’m addicted. I stumbled upon my old Everquest 2 profile. I noticed that I logged an average of about 40 hours per week on my main character even though I know I was working full-time during that time period.

I then checked my Lord of the Rings Online characters and saw thousands of hours have been twiddled away since I started playing a year ago. In the latest game, World of Warcraft, between my level 55 priest and my level 29 paladin alt, my playing habits have not changed.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the amount of time I spend playing, it’s the way I feel when playing as well. There have been occasions when I went to work dead-tired because I was either camping mobs the night before, or trying accomplish just one more thing right up until my alarm was about to go off. I’ve formed groups for instances the same day that I had to write 15 page papers. And while I still manage to shamble weary eyed out into the real world to do real world things, my mind is never fully committed to real life.

Always my mind is occupied by what game I’m currently playing and what game I’m planning to play. When I think of the past ten years, some of my fondest memories are of events that never happened in real life. My best friend actually describes the way I use MMOs as being similar to the way an alcoholic uses beer. The scary thing is, I don’t really disagree with her. I just disagree with her assessment that being addicted to MMOs is a bad thing. But sometimes I wonder… is my addiction a bad thing?

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Suzina is a 27 year old who usally plays the same MMOs as her husband. Games played: UO, EQ2, FFXI, SWG, LOTRO.

12 thoughts on “Profile of an addict”

  1. “Is my addiction a bad thing”:

    Q1. Is it hurting anyone else? (husband, kids, your employer etc)?
    Q2 Is it hurting you?

    If yes to either of those questions then you should look into it. If no to both then you are a grown up and you are free to choose how you spend your time.

    Of course there are lots of other things you could be doing. World Hunger and World Peace are still waiting to be solved last I heard but most of us have long since given up on anything so heroic. If we can lead good lives according to our own standards and try to make a positive contribution to the people around us that is a more realistic target for most of us.

    Regardless of whether you are addicted or not – it is probably a good idea to take a break every once in a while. MMORPGS are so compelling that it can be hard to see what else is going on when we are immersed in one. You might be surprised how quickly you can get over your need to play every day. I have always found that even after a week I feel less compelled to log in and after 2 weeks I have pretty much moved on.

    1. Let me back this up. Two researchers at a conference put it this way: is your desire to play MMOs is harming other aspects of your life? If so, you need to stop. Can’t do it on your own? Seek counseling.

      Games are supposed to be fun. I make games because I want people to have fun, not because they feel like they are “too addicted” to stop. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and try to get some perspective. Do what you need to do.

      Just drop by once in a while to write some insightful stuff, though. :) But, remember that even if MMOs aren’t for you, they might be exactly what other people do want or need.

  2. MMOs aren’t – can’t be – addictive in the proper clinical sense; they’re not doing anything to you that your body and brain can’t do in other ways – endorphins of one sort or another, for the most part. So with that out of the way:

    Do MMOs make you happy? If so, great. If not, do something that does. I reckon it’s that simple.

  3. Sounds a bit unhealthy to me.

    For me, I’ve spent large amounts of time in MMO’s too.
    My solution was to examine if I was ACTUALLY having fun or not when I was grinding mobs or watching progress bars.
    Once I realized that the majority of the time I wasn’t having much fun, I decided that I would get much more enjoyment out of playing single player console RPG’s or actually coding something instead.

    If your having fun the majority of your time in these MMO’s, I’m afraid it’ll be much harder for you to quit them :(

  4. Like most things in life this has many sides. First of all, if you say drinking beer is similar, you are wrong. There are countless social aspects for haveing a beer with friends, watching football grabbing a cold lager AND of course you can drink beer alone, every day, just to get drunk, forget about your problems and because you cant find anything else to do.

    MMOs offer you an open world without borders, but still what you do there mostly depends only on you. If your gaming style is to grind virtual gold, spend hours waiting for a mob to spawn or use the other solo people and exploits to gear up your third pointless alt, then yes, your example was correct.

    If you play together with people you could never meet otherwise anyway in an active kinship, then it’s closer to having fun and closer to Real Life itself in my opinion. You shouldn’t forget that behind your hobbit and elf friends’ pixels there are real people talking to you. And if the conversation isnt all about loot tables, then you are actually socializing, congratulations.

    Pen and paper role playing games were real social events, too.

    Btw, beware if you see yourself referring to Middle-Earth as your “happy place” and/or “safe haven”, you might cancel the raid for one night, sit back and think.

    You can as well open a beer if you wish ;)

  5. “*too* addicted”

    See that? That right there. There’s no such thing as degrees of addiction. Get professional counceling, the internet is interested, but not actually qualified.

  6. I would ask a different question: what is it that makes everything else so unattractive to me that I play mmo’s so much? As far as I am concerned mmo’s often are an escape from problems that are better faced.

    If the motivation you have to put so many hours in mmo’s is positive and not negative, then I guess your addiction is the same as an ‘addiction’ to air and food, that is completely benign.

  7. I always wonder if I’m addicted. But then, even though I play in all my spare time, I still get enough sleep, and I still (mostly) concentrate on work when I’m at work.

    You sound like it’s eating you alive.

  8. I decided today that I was sick of that feeling. I only played Wow and racked up about 75 days /played in a bit over a year (almost a quarter of that year was spent playing Wow…). Today I logged into the account management, opened notepad, scribbled a 12 letter random collection of letters and numbers and changed my password to that. Closed notepad.

    I have nfi what the password is and I’m sure I won’t be up till 4am the night before work playing an MMO again.

  9. The fact that you’re wondering out loud (very loud, since you’re posting publicly) means that you have at least a feeling that something’s wrong, out of balance. That’s a good thing, I think.

    You may want to get a broader view of what other folks do with their leisure time activities, though, specifically how much time people spend doing “nothing.” You say you spent roughly 40 hrs/week playing EQII- that’s about six hours per day. How much time do non-MMO players spend watching television every day? Reading books? Being a beach bum?

    Folks in Western cultures (I assume this is the case with you, and I apologize for my stereotyping) have LOTS of free time. That’s great- it means we don’t have to hunt or gather our food, seek out shelter, avoid predators. But it DOES mean that all that free time, time not spent “surviving,” has to be put to some use. You spend a lot of your leisure time gaming. Is it “too much time”? Well, that’s really gotta be your call. As others have pointed out here, does your gaming keep you from being productive when you need to be? Does it keep you from focusing on other important activities?

    I’ll argue just real quickly that if you hadn’t spent all that time gaming- and being social in the game with other people- you might just as easily have “wasted” it with other “useless” activities.

  10. I’d like to agree with both Drew Shiel and Chris, above. The term “addiction” is thrown around all too glibly in many contexts, not least in gaming.

    Most of my significant memories from the last ten years come from virtuality, too. A lot of them I shared with Mrs Bhagpuss and those that I didn’t she recognises and appreciates from similar experiences of her own. We reminisce, joke and generally revisit those experiences just as we do things that happened to us outside of our MMO worlds.

    Not only that, but when we meet other people, in and out of game worlds, those virtual experiences offer just the same opportunities for social discourse as do memories of tv programs we’ve watched, films we’ve seen, books we’ve read, laces we’ve visited, job we’ve worked at and so on.

    When we play MMOs we don’t leave our real lives. Playing MMOs IS real life. We have experiences and lay down memories that we can then use for other purposes for the rest of our lives. Your memory of your first Vox raid is as likely to be of social value to you in the future as your memory of your biggest break in snooker or the first time your covers band got a paid booking.

    None of those stories will play well to every audience and all will depend on how well you tell them, but to people who are interested in you or have affection for you, your Vox story will have just as much value as your snooker or your band story.

    I don’t believe it’s a good plan to split off parts of your life and assign higher or lower values to each part according to some perceived scale of social worth. The assigned values are cultural and change constantly. Reading, even reading obsessively (/holds up hand) is currently “good”: for much of the last century it wasn’t. Watching T.V. is currently “good” but only if you watch the “right” programs: when I was growing up in the 70s, watching T.V. was, largely, “Bad”.

    The key factors seem to me to be:

    Are you comfortable with your behavior?

    If not, can you change it?

    If the answer to either of those is “No”. you might need to get advice. If the answer to either is “Yes” then you don’t have any kind of problem beyond the problem we all have, namely being alive.

  11. I’ve been pondering the whole addiction thing myself recently and I think Brian hit the nail on the head when he defined it as being when your activites interfer with your real live.

    When I was a student and after that when I was looking for a job I used to play about 40 hours a week too… it’s pretty crazy really when you think about it.

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