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First-Person Account Of Video Game Addiction

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the reefer-madness dept.

Games 473

The Evil Couch writes "Jive Magazine, an entertainment magazine based in Atlanta, has just released a feature article that the editor has spent over a year investigating on gaming addiction. Starting from being on the outside of the gaming community, she has gone from being a somewhat normal person, to being one of the higher level characters in Anarchy Online. 'People have worse entertainment addictions than playing computer games. If I am going to be addicted to something, I would choose online gaming over drugs, bowling, gambling, television, or being a baseball fanatic easily. I don't have to wear ugly shoes, lose my hard earned money or do the wave next to someone I don't know and that just about makes it a no-brainer for me. It IS after all just a video game, like Neal describes in his great novel, Snow Crash. It is just another amusement park.' Sounds like a happy ending to me."

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HA HA (-1, Offtopic)

unterderbrucke (628741) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839206)

I GOT FIRST POST
YOU DIDNT

http://slashdot.org/~flikx/journal/18265

Re:HA HA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839278)

damn you're an idiot... dumb dick.

Add me as your friend! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839342)

But you're a retard.

CmdrTaco likes it in the ear... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839219)

I almost fucked his brains out!

WIPO would be proud (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839439)

May Goatse bless his soul

withdrawl symptoms (-1, Offtopic)

smokin_juan (469699) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839228)

boredom.

i'll take a fix over that anyday

Odd (0, Offtopic)

unterderbrucke (628741) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839234)

"Sounds like a happy ending to me."

Until all that radiation from your monitor goes to your head. Although, it seems that has already happened.

Sounds like rationalization to me... (4, Insightful)

casio282 (468834) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839235)

'People have worse entertainment addictions than playing computer games. If I am going to be addicted to something, I would choose online gaming over drugs, bowling, gambling, television, or being a baseball fanatic easily ... It IS after all just a video game, ... just another amusement park.'
Sounds like your classic addict's rationalization to me. For shame, for shame.

I once had the Everquest on my back, but I kicked. Believe me, these addictions do screw up real lives...

Re:Sounds like rationalization to me... (3, Funny)

roseblood (631824) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839299)

"I once had the Everquest on my back. . ."

Welcome to the new 12 step program of GA - Gamers Anonymous. Please feel free to stand and introduce yourself.

I am Casio282, and I'm a gameoholic. My wife told me I spent too much time on the computer playing games. She said I was dropping out of life for a game. She said I was giving up on being a social being.

I told her that the game was played over the modem and I was being Massively Social in my MMPORPG of choice.

Re:Sounds like rationalization to me... (2)

domninus.DDR (582538) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839432)

I was on eq for about 14 months and had 130 days played between two level 60 characters. I got off it too but without any 12 step program or anything. My parents decided I needed to stop playing so they cut off my broadband and broke my old 56k modem in half and said I wouldnt get it back until I got a job (I am 16). Between school and the job it wasnt worth playing any more, I would get home at like 11pm and only 2 hours of raiding with my guild until they all went to sleep.

Re:Sounds like rationalization to me... (3, Insightful)

scotch (102596) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839314)

Yep. Are you going to listen to the heroin addict about the virtues of his vice? Never trust an addict.

Re:Sounds like rationalization to me... (4, Funny)

The Notorious ASP (628859) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839395)

This coming from a guy whose username is "Scotch". Sounds like an addict to me!

Re:Sounds like rationalization to me... (5, Funny)

scotch (102596) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839470)

What does tape have to do with addiction?

Re:Sounds like rationalization to me... (4, Funny)

SimplexO (537908) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839333)

It IS after all just a video game...
It IS after all just pot. I mean come on... It never does anything long term...

pfft.

Re:Sounds like rationalization to me... (5, Insightful)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839523)

I once had the Everquest on my back, but I kicked. Believe me, these addictions do screw up real lives...

And addictions always have a way of being justified as many people are trying to do here.

Anyone who has ever smoked cigarettes and quit successfully can tell you that it plays games with your mind when you try and quit. It can even make you feel crazy. The addiction intermingles with your whole being. Without it, you are not the same person everybody loves. You aren't happy. You're stressed out. Unless your craving is satisfied.

And when the addiction is well on its way to leaving your body and mind, you start to think in new ways. You think "what the fuck was I thinking all those years?" You might even cry about the days of your life that were wasted.

So do yourself a favour: take one addiction, and stop it. Fill your time with something else. Dwell on helping others instead.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839237)

Gaming addiction becomes YOU!

Re:IN SOVIET RUSSIA.... (0, Offtopic)

Kragg (300602) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839285)

I think you mean...

In SOVIET RUSSIA
YOU addict Games!

Article text (1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839239)

In an industry scrutinized by the government as a drug infested haven that pollutes our communities and destroys the ability to lead a productive life, there is another industry that has the potential to become even more dangerous than any drug addiction. I'm not supposed to be writing this. What was supposed to happen was I prove my thesis that I couldn't be sucked into a virtual reality like many people I have met before. I never really understood what I was getting myself into when I started my research experiment, playing a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.

Three years ago at a nightclub I bumped into an old friend of mine who went by the nickname "Iggy". I was really amazed to see him because no one had seen nor heard from Iggy in over a year. Many of his friends had all wondered what happened to him.

"Jesus Iggy, where in the hell have you been?!"

"Everquest," was all he said. He looked down at his feet when he said it.

"Huh?" I had no clue what he meant.

"I've been playing Everquest."

As we spoke, Iggy opened up to me and confessed that he had lost his job, his friends and didn't want to go out much anymore.

"It's an addiction. I'm only out tonight because the server is down for patching and I'm miserable."

For some reason, he couldn't look me in the eye while he was talking. He was obviously embarrassed.

"Um. Okay." I mean, what was I going to say to something as incredulous as that? I've heard of game obsessions, like those college kids in the seventies that murdered their whole family while playing a Dungeons and Dragons game, but I just thought that sort of obsession lies only in the minds of sociopaths or people with a lot bigger problems than playing a game. Iggy was a really nice, normal guy who had lost a lot to some online role-playing game called "Everquest". I had no idea what to make of it.

I never saw Iggy again. Neither has anyone else who knew him that I have asked. Since that night I really pondered the absurdity of his situation. It nagged at me.

On the web you can put the words "gaming addiction" into Google and discover a thousand and one sites for support groups, self help courses, testimonials and various studies. There's the "Everquest Widows" [yahoo.com] forum, a site called "Ariadne - Understanding MMORPG Addiction" [nickyee.com] , and a myriad of articles on topics like game addiction and the innocent bystanders that suffer from it.

As one Everquest Widow puts it, "I plan on starting "Widows Weekly." It will be a group that meets in a local coffee shop. Here, spouses can talk and help one another through this difficult process, and begin to realize that there is a life out there despite the loss of our loved ones. I plan to send the bill for coffee and snacks to Verant. It would be but a small compensation on their part to repay me and others for the loss of our loved ones--so pay up, Verant!" -- Christine Gilbert CD Mag.com [cdmag.com]

What I find interesting is that many of the people who author these articles or sites have usually neither played the games or have just been the "victims" such as spouses or family. Others who dissect the topic of game addiction tend to be outsiders looking in, shaking their heads or turning the study into one giant mouse in the maze science experiment. It's rare that you find someone, who actually plays games passionately, speak up or write anything about negative side affects.

The more people I met who played computer games, the more I wanted to understand the obsession. I also had another stake in this because my partner, Low, is a gamer and a "geek" in every sense of the word. Not to mention my fiancé. It was beginning to cause some strain on us from time to time in terms of "quality time". I was getting really angry with him on a regular basis actually. According to Low, it was I who had the problem, not him. This is how most gamers think. Deal with their gaming or don't deal with it at all. They will play either way.

So I eventually decided to do some investigation and find out what makes these gamers and role players tick. What sort of recreation has the ability to absorb people to the extent that marriages break up, jobs are lost, and they lose friends? How does playing a game on a computer make someone lose functionality in the REAL world, because they want to spend too much time in some imaginary reality? For crying out loud, I thought, it's just a game.

I had a lot of questions but no one I talked to had answers. Gamers would tell me, "You won't understand unless you are a gamer yourself." Ok, no problem. I figured I could just play a game I find entertaining and get bored and write about what nut cases gamers really are.

It just wasn't that easy. This little experiment of mine turned out to be more dangerous than I ever imagined.

I wasn't able to begin playing a game right away. The opportunity just never really presented itself directly to me. There just wasn't a game I really liked enough to "get into it" for long enough. Low would play his Quake, Unreal Tournament, Black & White, Carmageddon, Fallout, Diablo II and a multitude of other first person shooters, but nothing seemed all that captivating to me and there was no way I could play these games with him due to his extreme level of skill and years of practice in a 3D environment.

I played a little Diablo and actually had a bit of fun with that, but I found I only really enjoyed it when I played with Low or our friends in multi-player mode. We would go "adventuring" together as they call it, fighting demons and wizards and monsters and coming out winning or dying, but having some fun just playing together. It was my first taste of actually playing with another player in a game as a team. But when Low moved onto the next game, bored with Diablo, I didn't have the same drive to play anymore. So I put my project aside and put up with his gaming as best as I could.

Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPG) have been around for many years. You can find thousands of websites, magazines, web-zines and the like that are devoted to the enormous market out there for online gaming. Sites like GameSpy [gamespy.com] , that literally receive millions of visits per day from gamers and industry types from all over the world, provide an almost infinite amount if information about these types of games. Hundreds of thousands of people play games like Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Asheron's Call, and Ultima Online each day from all over the world. With the upcoming launch of The Sims Online, analysts and game reviewers are expecting the largest online game community ever seen to develop.

"The Sims promises to be one of the most interesting human experiments in the history of the Net." -- David Kushner, Entertainment Weekly [ew.com]

Low had tried many of these MMORPG's. He never stuck with one very long because, as he puts it, "I got tired of being a crappy tree-elf that always fell out of the damn tree village." In Ultima Online, he "got tired of having all my stuff stolen from me and getting killed by stupid 'PKers' (Player Killers)." Apparently for him, the rewards were far and few between to keep him interested in these games. He also has a very short attention span with most games. Play it, beat it, and move on to the next game is his motto. The more games you play in a single year the more well rounded you are apparently. With the new enhanced graphics engines, hardware and development that goes into games these days, it's amazing how stimulating the market can be right now.

Early in 2001, however, Low's opinion of online gaming changed drastically. He read an article about a new online role-playing game that was set about 30,000 years into the future, on a colonized planet. The story line was science fiction themed, with monsters, mutants, futuristic weapons, wars, and sinister political plots. The player would have the ability to create a character avatar from a wide variety of attributes and be surrounded by very realistic 3D graphics, with incredible scenery and sound. You would have to defend yourself, form guilds, make friends and alliances and your goal would be to "learn" or level your character as the game progressed in order to increase your skills and possessions. There would be PVP (player versus player) combat, PVM combat (player verses mobile or "mob" for short, a term used to explain computer generated enemy or monster) and a variety of other things one could do while in the game online. You could fly a plane, morph into animals and go on dangerous missions and epic quests. The game was called Anarchy Online [anarchyonline.com] .

Something about this Anarchy Online game really had his attention and right after it came out in July of 2001, he bought his copy and began playing, and once again I lost him to a game. He could not stop going on and on about how "cool this or that was" or the graphics or all the people he was meeting. His excitement was just ridiculous in my eyes but I had been through this before. Nevertheless, the game also captured my interest because of its science fiction theme. I am a sci-fi buff and the storyline had such a great plot that they actually sell the novels online for it. I read the chapters as they were released and was hooked on the storyline.

Low bought another copy about two weeks later. "I want you to play with me." By this time we were under some strain because he was really absorbed by this game every night. It looked really intimidating to me and I opted not to play it right away, stalling for time. The 3D environment bothered me because any game I had ever played, like Diablo, for example, had always been in third person view, which is a bird's eye view of the environment. The 3D graphics were dizzying as I looked over his shoulder from time to time.

In the end I caved in under the pressure and began playing it in September of 2001. I was a horrible player in the beginning, running into walls and getting lost or killed all the time. It didn't matter to me. I was playing a game with my boyfriend and found with each day that went by, I wanted to log on and play more and more.

So what was the appeal? Before I realized what was happening, I became addicted to playing this game. While logged into this game I met wonderful people, via their avatars, laughed to funny antics via chat window discussions, and experienced a futuristic sci-fi world via incredibly realistic 3D graphics and sounds. We ran through swamps with mutant wolves chasing us, the sound of our feet making wet suction sounds just like you would have in reality. We could hear birds chirping in forests we scouted and vultures crying overhead as they spotted us and attacked.

Our adrenaline would pump as we fought for our lives against twenty-foot tall robots with buzz saws for hands, or as we went on safaris to hunt giant brontosaur-like animals. We had the ability to heal and save each other as well as other members of our team at the time. We also had the ability to gain the respect, over more than a year later, of many online players, for being a great couple of characters in this game. We have, in fact, become high-ranking officers in our guild, which is almost like a family or alliance with other people to help you in the game.

In South Korea, some in-game alliances are valued more than real life friendships. A game called Lineage: The Blood Pledge has captivated approximately a third of the population. In Lineage, characters can take on the role of Princes, Wizards, and Knights and vow their loyalty to their clan or guild. This loyalty had lead to an incident in 2001 where a player was nearly beaten to death in real life for virtually killing the character of another player.

"He boasted that he had offed the gangman's virtual character just for the fun of it. Bad idea. The roughnecks dragged the 21-year-old into the urinal and pummeled him until he was covered with real-world bruises." -- By Michelle Levander, Time Magazine [time.com]

It is easy to lose yourself to your imagination while you become someone you could possibly never be in the real world. You can become a hero, a bad ass, a wealthy person, someone with special powers or gain an enormous amount of respect from people who look up to you. This isn't to say you can't be that kind of person in reality, but what if everyone had this ability to find respect, admiration and status, simply by being in the environment long enough. What if all you had to do was play each day and level higher and higher, each goal leading to a new goal of achievement and possibilities. And what if you never had to leave the comfort of your chair to do this?

What if you could really become a diva, a soldier, a magician, or a samurai, and people respected or admired you unconditionally as long as you had a long red bar looming over your virtual head. Or, as in especially my case, what if while you were in this virtual reality, you didn't have to worry about deadlines, due dates, over 1000 emails per day to read and answer, or day-to-day stress that comes with what I do. The virtual reality could absorb you so much, that for the time you are logged in, you forget everything else. It doesn't seem to matter whether you are a strict role-player (someone who stays in character) or 'hardcore' (someone who spends more time in-game than an average user). You still can be addicted and absorbed with the attention you get.

The official Anarchy Online Community Forum, which gets thousands of posts per day, has also been one of my sources for observing how obsessed people have become with the game. Recently, a devoted and well known player had to throw in the towel due to her addiction problem.

"The level to which I got into things here is what has lead me to this point where I must say goodbye. My internet addiction and denial of it has taken me to a point where I must get a hold of it. I realize that many people have what it takes to play a game like this "casually" in a healthy manner. I am unfortunately not one of those people. I am currently battling bi-polar disorder (manic depression) and the escapism that a game like AO offers is too much like a drug for me."

The ability to be respected, to be admired, and to succeed, even in an imaginary world, is a very powerful lure. It can cause a person to produce endorphins, a chemical released into the brain that causes a feeling of energy and well being. Gaming also causes adrenaline production and extreme excitability. Scientists have proven that endorphins and adrenal rushes are incredibly addictive.

"There are indications that pleasurable games and activities cause the body to produce endogenous opiates such as endorphins. These substances are actually addictive. Some addictive drugs, such as heroin, are chemically similar to these natural substances, while other addictive drugs are thought to stimulate their production."
-- Leonard Holmes, Ph.D. from the article, Is Pokémon Addictive? [about.com] 1999

It should be easy to see why gaming can be addictive as a direct result of the physical effects on the body. I also believe that people can become addicted to respect, admiration and power as well. Even though the production of endorphins can be a positive side affect in one way, it can be easy to overindulge and put aside productive living. But there are many ways to do this and online gaming is not the only vice out there. People find many different ways to escape the problems in their life or to combat stress.

People log on each and every day to find a level of respect that doesn't come easily in day-to-day life. They log on to escape reality or to escape other real problems such as illness and stress. I have met people in this game who have mental disorders or physical impairments. I have also played with people who are in IT jobs all day long, listening to customer complaints, getting bitched at regularly. Some have even admitted that they never hear the words "good job" in the real world.

One player who works in the IT technical services industry, told me "I get my faith in people restored when I get online. People treat me with respect and are actually nice to me. They don't expect anything in return. Also, they believe me when I tell them something because of my level in the game."

I know of other overly stressed out people who log in each day to escape their day-to-day experience of working or living in hard reality. We met a person in game, for example, who is an EMT. Everyday he witnesses death and horrible accidents. He told us that he plays the game to get it all out of his mind. I also met a nurse online with a similar story, and a school teacher who teaches eleventh grade in the Bronx, NYC, who is very stressed out by his job.

"Most human beings pass through periods in their lives, when they feel compelled to engage in some apparently mindless activity that, for the time being, seems to provide some relief from the prevailing chaos in their lives. This could be something as simple as spending hours in front of the television set. Or going on uncontrollable buying sprees just to feel and smell the newness of the product. Or getting into a series of dead-end relationships. Or going on eating binges. Or playing computer games, uncaring of unattended work piling up. Or playing snooker every evening at the club regardless of the family's legitimate demand for more attention. In other words, binging on anything potentially destructive to the body or the soul. Fortunately for many of us, after a period of this compulsive indulgence, we pull ourselves back to the mainstream and get on with our lives, until the next compulsion hits us."
-- Dr. Vijay Nagaswami, from the article, Who? Me? An addict [hinduonnet.com] , The Hindu Folio 2001

This is not to say that there are not positive aspects to interacting with people online. Online gaming opens the doors to people who might not have the ability to do so due to time, geography, or many more reasons. Gaming online is an inexpensive and quick way to make new friends, chat with people all over the world and share an experience with people you would never meet because they may be continents away.

One of our online friends, for example, who goes by the character name "Docker", lives in Leiden, Netherlands. Another friend, "Chanell" lives in Einselthum, Germany. These are really interesting people we would never have met if it was not for the game we play online. I asked Chanell why he started playing online games.

"It all began with Diablo II being released. Then my friend, Yppo, made me try it online. I found it was an incredibly boring and annoying game. Then Yppo made me try it online and I loved it. I joined his clan and had months of online fun, then it got boring, close to the moment DAoC [Dark Ages of Camelot] was released in Europe. While I went to DAoC, Yppo chose to go to A.O." Eventually Chanell started playing A.O. as well.

When asked how playing A.O. affects his social life, he reflected, "As for my friends... yes we hang together a lot less. This could be related to A.O. or the fact that we don't work in the same city anymore. I am not totally sure. I still have a lot of phone calls and meetings so I am not "lonesome" it just isn't an as high frequency as before."

And with that I can only think that one's social life is in the eye of the beholder. I interact with Chanell almost every day. In fact I interact with more people than I ever have before because of playing a computer game. They just are not all physically in my proximity.

Interaction with people... It got me thinking and I began to develop my own theories on what causes the addiction. Psychologists can use fancy terminology like "Motivation Factors" and "Attraction Factors" such as self-esteem and self-image problems. They can harp on the role of achievement problems and relationship deficiencies in a person's personality. But I think I can sum it up to one word that would work for any individual needing his or her game "fix" each time they log in, regardless of how well rounded they are in their lives or how much of a basket case they could be perceived as.

RESPECT.

I think it is just that simple. I like the feeling I get when people look up to me in the game or ask my opinion. It seems to be a common drive for players in general. That is, to be respected for being the best and reaching the next level in the game.

Not everyone who plays games neatly fit into these Psychologists stereotypes. "Solories", another Anarchy Online player, is an example of someone who just logs on for the sake of play.

"I would say that I am responsibly addicted, meaning I have never been late to work due to AO.
My wife would prefer that I not play AO as much as I do, but I always make time for her every night, and try and do one thing planned together every weekend. I have never been late to work, but the first night I played AO I stayed up until 4:00 am and had to get up at 6:00 am and the next day I played until midnight. I don't feel that AO affects my work habits, work is work and when it is time to play, it is time to play. I enjoy watching my character grow in his skills and MMORPG's in general let you get away from the normal day to day monotone life and do something out of the ordinary. In AO I am Solories Enforcer of Rubi-Ka a defender of the cause. I fight battles that help my guild get better and help the clans win a war against the Omni."

In the process of my gaming experiment, I became a casualty of the concept of being respected. If someone had asked me in September of 2001 if I expected to be obsessed with an online role-playing game a year down the road, I would have said with confidence that I am one of the most level headed non-addictive persons I know. No way could this happen to me. In fact, I would have been reminded of poor old Iggy and his demise.

I technically have ended my experiment. In the process, I haven't lost my job, and due to our simultaneous obsession, I have not lost my fiancé either. I haven't lost my real life friends, but they do sometimes look at me funny when I talk about the game I play. Low and I get our work done, run our business and have a great balanced life together I think. Anyone who actually knows me in real life can tell you that I have no self image or esteem problems and in fact, I have been accused of having quite an ego. I won't even go into Low's ego. I will admit though, that I have missed quite a few parties, nights out with the girls, shopping, and some chores needed around the office and home because of Anarchy Online. I will also admit that I want to log in as much as I possibly can every single day.

People have worse entertainment addictions than playing computer games. If I am going to be addicted to something, I would choose online gaming over drugs, bowling, gambling, television, or being a baseball fanatic easily. I don't have to wear ugly shoes, lose my hard earned money or do the wave next to someone I don't know and that just about makes it a no-brainer for me. It IS after all just a video game, like Neal describes in his great novel, Snow Crash. It is just another amusement park.

"Amusement parks in the Metaverse can be fantastic, offering a wide selection of interactive three-dimensional movies. But in the end, they're still nothing more than video games."
--Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

And I will leave you with that. Signing on now... Tenjikiito, level 157 Female Solitus Adventurer, Advisor to the Clan Guild Synergy Factor, the best damn guild on the world of Rubi-Ka, with the best damn virtual people one could ever virtually meet.

Special thanks to the following people for help with my research and leveling:
Sohjiro (Low Tek), Theevilcouch, Demnspawnt, Akarah, Chanell, Sheffy, Mr. Cheeze/Conqueso, Solories, Kirishami, Docker, Ramzie, Boco (who is to blame for all of this), Sultanx, Asmoran, Caddock, Meurgen, Tergwannabe, Trus, Ayanamie, Cplkane, Spherana, Ankokujin, Thedwarf (aka Notmyfault), Stromm, Molg, Butwalrus, Ciyt/Toonot, and Yokoduna.

Related links:

Anarchy Online [anarchyonline.com]
Dark Age of Camelot [darkageofcamelot.com]
Ultima Online [ultimaonline.com]
Diablo II [blizzard.com]
The Sims [ea.com]
Everquest [everquest.com]
Try Anarchy Online free for 7 days! [funcom.com] (We dare you to). =]

FUCK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839240)

FUCK [goatse.cx]

Sounds worse than... (3, Funny)

BSOD from above (625268) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839241)

chronic /. addiction.


Ouch! [hazardfactory.org]

Re:Sounds worse than... (1)

roseblood (631824) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839357)

"chronic /. addiction"

Wow, if there was ever someone that was in need of an invervention, it would be the chronic /. addict!

Hey, look who's here, all my friends and family. Oh, what problem? Too much time on /.? I think you've got it all wrong!

Similaraties (2, Insightful)

Malicious (567158) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839244)

When Bowling, one may have to wear ugly shoes, but occasionally, you may get a trophy, or even prize money.
Drug addicts, can eventually become wrapped up enough in the life style, that they can become dealers, or sometimes get freebees.
Play Everquest long enough, eventually you can sell your character for megabucks on Ebay.

More proof, that evil begets evil.

Re:Similaraties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839473)

drug addicts who become dealers usually end up in coffins

I didn't know... (1)

Stapler (559692) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839245)

I didn't know anyone played Anarchy Online anymore. ;P

She's totally right though. There are worse things than being a high-level gimpotron on the Root Beerius shard. Lots worse. More annoying, more destructive, etc. But the expense of playing a Pay-to-Play seems kinda like a drug habit to me...Oh well.

First hand account ? (2, Funny)

Brandeissansoo (553129) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839247)

Considering the audience, I don't think we need to read an article to understand gaming addiction...

This is nothing to laugh at (4, Informative)

ekrout (139379) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839248)

Game addiction is a serious problem, one that's almost as wretched, terrible, and harmful for loved ones than drug, sex, or gambling addictions.

Take, for example, the EverQuest Widows page [yahoo.com] . Their opening paragraph states simply that "EverQuest-Widows is a forum for partners, family, and friends of people who play EverQuest compulsively [who] turn to each other [for emotional support]".

So please catch yourselves before you joke about addiction. All addictions, not just ones related to drugs, are serious problems that must be solved before disaster strikes.

In conclusion, I urge you all to read this heart-wrenching essay [selfpsychology.org] in which Jeffrey Stark talks about how a video game ruined his young life.

Truly a sad story. Remember people: games are for fun/entertainment, and are not real life. Same goes with Slashdot!

Horse shit. (4, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839318)

These "people" are pathetic. They are simply people with zero self-esteem, zero drive, and who are intrinsically lazy. They have the willpower of a doorknob. I know this is gonna be modded "flamebait", but it's very simple. It's not a physical "addition" and it's insulting to people with real additions. These are just lazy fucking slobs who use "addiction" as a crutch so as they don't have to get their fat asses off of the sofa. Any serious problems that strike these people and their families are brought on by themselves. It's that simple.

Re:Horse shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839353)

This coming from some one whos sig links to porn. Can we say hiprocrit?

Re:Horse shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839447)

Can we say hiprocrit?

We obviously can't spell it!

Re:Horse shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839448)

There is more to life than the physical. Emotional, mental, etc. are crucial to normal lives as well.

Re:Horse shit. (4, Insightful)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839463)

Any serious problems that strike these people and their families are brought on by themselves. It's that simple.

Without compassion, these people may never come out of their addiction. It's easy to have zero tolerance for others' mistakes, but remember that someday you may need help. Maybe you already do and you just don't know it. Maybe we all need a little help sometimes... let's be there for each other.

Re:Horse shit. (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839508)

I help people all the time. I make donations, etc. My business contributes a good bit to charity. But I only help people who are in trouble A. due to no fault of their own or B. are making an effort. I find little sympathy for people "addicted" to video games. They're already better off than I am: they can afford high speed Net connections, and I can't. They completely did it to themselves, and now they whine about their horrible "addiction". Please. The world is a fucked up place. There are many people in very, very bad situations. "Addicted" to video games isn't exactly the same as say, starving to death, dying of AIDS, having a heroin addiction, being homeless, struggling to pay your bills, etc.
And it's very simple to "cure" a video game "addiction". Pull the damned plug and get a real life.

So you're right. No sympathy whatsoever. Not from me, at least.

Re:Horse shit. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839477)

I've heard the exact same things said about alcoholics and potheads. Lazy, no drive, use their addiction as a crutch so they don't have to get their fat asses off of the sofa...

If your only criteria for determining an addiction is the end result of the addiction, that's pretty poor analysis.

Re:Horse shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839495)

This coming from a person who's homepage is a list of porn?? Sounds like you need to get your head out of your ass.

Endorphin and Adrenaline are REAL. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839517)

It's not a physical "addition" and it's insulting to people with real additions.

Just like a gambling addiction, there are neurochemical "rewards" for winning.

Re:Horse shit. (5, Insightful)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839528)

These "people" are pathetic. They are simply people with zero self-esteem, zero drive, and who are intrinsically lazy.

I can remember when I played MUD 15 hours a day, fanatically, to protect my position on the toplist and my position in the guild. I thought I was very important, and with that devotion, drive and laziness were not the problem at all. I wouldn't wake up at 7.30 to be at the uni computer rooms at 8.00 then (note: all of this is years ago). Self-esteem, perhaps. The other two are horse-shit.

In my opinion there are three big factors that make online roleplaying addictive:

  • Competition. When your friends make 200k xp/hour, and so do the guys around your #14 place on the toplist, you want to get at least that as well.
  • Responsibility. Once you're one of the higher players in a guild, you're important for the rest. My MUD had unique weapons in it, and there would be a reboot every few days, at unpredictable times. The good players had to be online when the reboot happened, or this reboot would suck for us.
  • Escapism. After a while, your real life will slowly become a mess. You panic. In the meantime, you also think your online problems matter. And you get that endorphin rush the author also mentioned. So you decide to play another hour, and the trouble gets worse.

And for some people, social contacts I suppose. But I was thinking of xp/hour, and finding exploits (always a fun race between players and coders).

In short, the human brain wasn't built to make a difference between real life and virtual life. And the importance people want to have in RL is sometimes easier to get online.

Unfortunately, not Horse shit. (2)

Syncdata (596941) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839529)

They are simply people with zero self-esteem, zero drive, and who are intrinsically lazy. They have the willpower of a doorknob.
Your statement about them having the willpower of a doorknob is correct. But to say they are intrinsically lazy is false. How many hours do they put into these games? Generally, these people play for hundreds of hours.
I've never found a game which captivated me so thoroughly, but many people have.
It was about a week ago that an article was posted to slashdot, citing Will Wrights concern about the ethical issues surrounding the Sims Online, and as well he should be. He is supplying a product which stimulates the pleasure center of the brain, as any drug dealer does.
Working in maxis tech support, there were a number of callers who we dealt with all the time, and many others I had simply heard stories about. People who had lost their jobs, people who played the sims 8 hours a day, people who called Tech support, just to have someone to actually talk to. They were so absorbed in the game, the only people they shared any frame of reference with were the people who worked to fix the game.
We've heard about everquest, and the like, but I gaurantee, when the sims online comes out, it will offer 100s of case studies for psychiatrists world wide.
Next time an article like this gets posted, it will be in newsweek, or time, not gamespy.

You are horse shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839532)

You run a porn site and post to Slashdot probably 30 times a day, constantly refresing the main page in search of the elusive First Post.

So who's the lazy loser again?

Levels of Addiction (5, Insightful)

Vagary (21383) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839557)

You have an excellent point that there are three different forms of addiction which should be regarded as very different:

  • Psychological (eg: gaming)
  • Physical (eg: coffee)
  • Combined (eg: smoking)

Combined and Physical addictions tend to be narcotics-related and tend to be understood in a simplistic way by non-addicts. But the war on drugs hasn't had a new twist since the rise of ecstacy in North America; fighting drug addiction cannot hope to attract the funding or media attention it once did. So now purely psychological addictions are en vogue.

I'm not suggesting that some addictions should be left untreated, but it is important to keep their power in mind when making judgements about the sufferers. Right now the hot addiction in Canada is gambling. Should I feel as sorry for someone who goes through mood swings when they stop gambling as someone whose heart stops when they go off heroin? Should I wish the government to devote equally proportional tax dollars to each? Should I spend as much of my time worrying and learning about each?

Re:This is nothing to laugh at (2, Funny)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839341)

Hi,
I'm GigsVT, and I'm addicted to water.

It started out innocently enough, a drink here or there at the water fountain in school. Then all my friends started doing it too. It was hard to resist the urge to drink.

Luckily I found this site [dhmo.org] before it was too late. I have since quit drinking water, and am proud to say I only drink rum or vodka these days.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839467)

...Vodka is Cheaper than water!

Re:This is nothing to laugh at (2, Informative)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839361)

>Game addiction is a serious problem, one that's almost as wretched, terrible, and harmful for loved ones than drug, sex, or gambling addictions.

I call Nonsense!

Have you ever lived with someone with an addiction like drugs or alcohol? To say that game addiction is as harmful as alcohol is absolutely ludicrous!

I've been to that EQ Widows site and it's a joke. A bunch of self-absorbed women who have nothing better to do than sit around and bitch about their husbands video games, and talk about the best ways to delete thier spouses characters. It's utterly pathetic.

And again, talk to the spouse of someone with a real addiction.

Anarchy Online? (1, Funny)

SSJVegeto2001 (630176) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839251)

Geez, an AO addiction? I smell intervention, it really is the right thing to do...

poor girl...

Addiction Social Interaction (5, Interesting)

markwelch (553433) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839254)

I disagree with the notion that addiction to computer games is more beneficial than "addiction" to bowling, or other non-harmful physical activities. Generally, those who bowl don't do it alone; the issue is, is it better to spend time interacting with people through a very limited artificial interface that includes non-human interaction (e.g. online games) or none (non-online computer games), or to spend that time engaged in interactions that are "real" (e.g. you are face-to-face with another human being, interacting).

I'm not advocating drug use or even sexual addiction, but just disagreeing on the issue of computer game addiction. I've gone through phases when I've spent a lot of time playing computer games, mostly offline but sometimes online, and the main benefit is the sense of escape, not skill development or interaction with others.

It can be a lot worse (5, Interesting)

HaiLHaiL (250648) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839256)

An old friend of mine was a MUD addict. He claimed it to be more addictive than crack. As a result of his MUD playing, he flunked a semester of school, since he wouldn't go to class, study, do his homework, etc.

Sounds pretty far fetched, but MUDs can be so damn enticing.

Re:It can be a lot worse (2, Informative)

Stapler (559692) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839323)

Well, MMORPGs are just MUDs with 3D graphics brah... :P

Re:It can be a lot worse (4, Funny)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839449)

This girl I was interested in spent easily 12 - 18 hours/day playing muds. She pretty much only got out to go to class and to see LOTR :). We went on some dates but I couldn't handle it... She was always telling me about what was happening in the *5* muds she played simultaneously. I wanted to scream at her, "you dumb bitch none of it is real!" She was used to the admiration of sex-crazed mud boys who adored her because she played muds AND had a vagina (and she was quite attractive). Whereas I thought her MUDing was a serious character flaw.

I play alot of videogames, so its not that foreign to me ... But MUD addiction seems to center around some serious pathologies (and I supppose alot of other non-chemical addictions). It's always the same kind of person who is attracted to MUDs, dark, depressed theatre geeks who need to escape reality. Anybody who you can walk up to and say, "Hey how you doin today?" and they reply "Great! I found the key of zathros today." has serious problems not related to videogames :) In the end I just gave up on her

Re:It can be a lot worse (2)

LinuxHam (52232) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839461)

Was he featured in this [mit.edu] book?

Anonymous Coward (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839257)

Anonymous Coward [goatse.cx]

Goatsex Link Above! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839298)

You jackass. Besides, tubgirl.com is much worse

I should use that excuse! (2, Funny)

EverStoned (620906) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839260)

"the editor has spent over a year investigating on gaming addiction." I wish I could call my playing to much video games something scientific like that. *sighs, goes back to playing PS2*

What Industry is THIS? (5, Interesting)

core plexus (599119) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839261)

"In an industry scrutinized by the government as a drug infested haven that pollutes our communities and destroys the ability to lead a productive life, there is another industry that has the potential to become even more dangerous than any drug addiction."

After reading through the article, I fail to find what the first industry alluded to in that paragraph is. It doesn't seem to be gaming, or more correctly, online gaming. It does seem to be a "drug infested haven". Sounds like the U.S. Congress, or perhaps Big Business.

Re:What Industry is THIS? (1)

Stapler (559692) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839301)

The music industry.

Re:What Industry is THIS? (1)

Martaigne (632429) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839561)

Take note that the article is posted on a site dedicated to the electronic music scene in the southeast. I'm sure you don't need to be told about the reputation the rave scene has as far as drugs go.

Stop your addiction now! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839270)

chmod 000 -R /usr/bin/games /usr/local/games

It worked for me.

Bad command or filename (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839384)

st-t-t-t-t-top insul-sul-sulting me and and my adddict-ict-ict-iction.

but... (1)

jethro200 (573288) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839276)

maybe it would be better not to have some self-control, and not have any addictions.

Or... (2, Insightful)

Linguica (144978) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839283)

...is it possible that this guy was just addicted to video games for a year and now is trying to rationalize it by writing an article about it?

Re:Or... (1)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839319)

Seeing as how the writer is a woman, and an editor of the magazine, I doubt it.

Try reading the article first, at least.

"Related Links" at the bottom of the article... (5, Funny)

scaryjohn (120394) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839289)

  • Anarchy Online
  • Dark Age of Camelot
  • Ultima Online
  • Diablo II
  • The Sims
  • Everquest
  • Try Anarchy Online free for 7 days! (We dare you to). =]

And in our upcoming story about heroin addiction, we'll have an interactive special feature where you can enter your zip code and find the location for the dealer nearest you!

What weak-minded nonsense (0, Flamebait)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839290)

Good God, video game addiction. Talk to someone who has a real addiction or their family. Trust me the family of an alcoholic would beg their family member to stop drinking and take up video games.

Re:What weak-minded nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839348)

Sure they would, until that former drinker started missing work because of online games. And started missing family functions due to playing 'just another hour' of an online game. And started lying about where they were spending their money and time. And began began isolating themselves away from the real world and their family and friends.

Sure, there wouldn't be as many beer cans laying around. And yes, their liver would probably be healthier. Beyond that, there wouldn't be much change - a lying, cheating, pathetic shell of a person who cares little or nothing about the people around them or who they hurt as long as they can satisfy their own urges.

Sounds great - where can alcoholics sign up?

Re:What weak-minded nonsense (5, Insightful)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839468)

Well lets see when was the last time one of your family members jumped in a car totally blitzed on EQ and rammed it into a three other cars?

That'd be never I'm guessing.

When was the last time your father had too much EQ and beat the crap out of your mother on a family vacation?

Again I'm guessing never.

When was the last time one of your family members had too much EQ and beat one of their kids with a golf club?

Again, I'm guessing never.

Don't compare the horror of alcohol addiction to a video game until you've lived through it. The entire notion that they're even remotely as damaging is insane.

Re:What weak-minded nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839525)

1) when was the last time someone in the household was seriously injured, but no one wanted to log off to drive them to the hospital?

2) When his character died

3) see above

Re:What weak-minded nonsense (1)

caffeine_monkey (576033) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839546)

Someone who has lost their job or their marriage because of gaming addiction might disagree. Simply because gaming addiction is more subtle or less violent than alcoholism doesn't mean it can't have effects that are just as negative to the people involved.

In case of the Slashdot Effect... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839296)

[I'd rather not risk being redundant or a karma whore]

But in the end, they're still nothing more than video games

by Jewels
Photography by Jewels

In an industry scrutinized by the government as a drug infested haven that pollutes our communities and destroys the ability to lead a productive life, there is another industry that has the potential to become even more dangerous than any drug addiction. I'm not supposed to be writing this. What was supposed to happen was I prove my thesis that I couldn't be sucked into a virtual reality like many people I have met before. I never really understood what I was getting myself into when I started my research experiment, playing a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.

Three years ago at a nightclub I bumped into an old friend of mine who went by the nickname "Iggy". I was really amazed to see him because no one had seen nor heard from Iggy in over a year. Many of his friends had all wondered what happened to him.

"Jesus Iggy, where in the hell have you been?!"

"Everquest," was all he said. He looked down at his feet when he said it.

"Huh?" I had no clue what he meant.

"I've been playing Everquest."

As we spoke, Iggy opened up to me and confessed that he had lost his job, his friends and didn't want to go out much anymore.

"It's an addiction. I'm only out tonight because the server is down for patching and I'm miserable."

For some reason, he couldn't look me in the eye while he was talking. He was obviously embarrassed.

"Um. Okay." I mean, what was I going to say to something as incredulous as that? I've heard of game obsessions, like those college kids in the seventies that murdered their whole family while playing a Dungeons and Dragons game, but I just thought that sort of obsession lies only in the minds of sociopaths or people with a lot bigger problems than playing a game. Iggy was a really nice, normal guy who had lost a lot to some online role-playing game called "Everquest". I had no idea what to make of it.

I never saw Iggy again. Neither has anyone else who knew him that I have asked. Since that night I really pondered the absurdity of his situation. It nagged at me.

On the web you can put the words "gaming addiction" into Google and discover a thousand and one sites for support groups, self help courses, testimonials and various studies. There's the "Everquest Widows" forum, a site called "Ariadne - Understanding MMORPG Addiction", and a myriad of articles on topics like game addiction and the innocent bystanders that suffer from it.

As one Everquest Widow puts it, "I plan on starting "Widows Weekly." It will be a group that meets in a local coffee shop. Here, spouses can talk and help one another through this difficult process, and begin to realize that there is a life out there despite the loss of our loved ones. I plan to send the bill for coffee and snacks to Verant. It would be but a small compensation on their part to repay me and others for the loss of our loved ones--so pay up, Verant!" -- Christine Gilbert CD Mag.com

What I find interesting is that many of the people who author these articles or sites have usually neither played the games or have just been the "victims" such as spouses or family. Others who dissect the topic of game addiction tend to be outsiders looking in, shaking their heads or turning the study into one giant mouse in the maze science experiment. It's rare that you find someone, who actually plays games passionately, speak up or write anything about negative side affects.

The more people I met who played computer games, the more I wanted to understand the obsession. I also had another stake in this because my partner, Low, is a gamer and a "geek" in every sense of the word. Not to mention my fiancé. It was beginning to cause some strain on us from time to time in terms of "quality time". I was getting really angry with him on a regular basis actually. According to Low, it was I who had the problem, not him. This is how most gamers think. Deal with their gaming or don't deal with it at all. They will play either way.

So I eventually decided to do some investigation and find out what makes these gamers and role players tick. What sort of recreation has the ability to absorb people to the extent that marriages break up, jobs are lost, and they lose friends? How does playing a game on a computer make someone lose functionality in the REAL world, because they want to spend too much time in some imaginary reality? For crying out loud, I thought, it's just a game.

I had a lot of questions but no one I talked to had answers. Gamers would tell me, "You won't understand unless you are a gamer yourself." Ok, no problem. I figured I could just play a game I find entertaining and get bored and write about what nut cases gamers really are.

It just wasn't that easy. This little experiment of mine turned out to be more dangerous than I ever imagined.

I wasn't able to begin playing a game right away. The opportunity just never really presented itself directly to me. There just wasn't a game I really liked enough to "get into it" for long enough. Low would play his Quake, Unreal Tournament, Black & White, Carmageddon, Fallout, Diablo II and a multitude of other first person shooters, but nothing seemed all that captivating to me and there was no way I could play these games with him due to his extreme level of skill and years of practice in a 3D environment.

I played a little Diablo and actually had a bit of fun with that, but I found I only really enjoyed it when I played with Low or our friends in multi-player mode. We would go "adventuring" together as they call it, fighting demons and wizards and monsters and coming out winning or dying, but having some fun just playing together. It was my first taste of actually playing with another player in a game as a team. But when Low moved onto the next game, bored with Diablo, I didn't have the same drive to play anymore. So I put my project aside and put up with his gaming as best as I could.

Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPG) have been around for many years. You can find thousands of websites, magazines, web-zines and the like that are devoted to the enormous market out there for online gaming. Sites like GameSpy, that literally receive millions of visits per day from gamers and industry types from all over the world, provide an almost infinite amount if information about these types of games. Hundreds of thousands of people play games like Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Asheron's Call, and Ultima Online each day from all over the world. With the upcoming launch of The Sims Online, analysts and game reviewers are expecting the largest online game community ever seen to develop.

"The Sims promises to be one of the most interesting human experiments in the history of the Net." -- David Kushner, Entertainment Weekly

Low had tried many of these MMORPG's. He never stuck with one very long because, as he puts it, "I got tired of being a crappy tree-elf that always fell out of the damn tree village." In Ultima Online, he "got tired of having all my stuff stolen from me and getting killed by stupid 'PKers' (Player Killers)." Apparently for him, the rewards were far and few between to keep him interested in these games. He also has a very short attention span with most games. Play it, beat it, and move on to the next game is his motto. The more games you play in a single year the more well rounded you are apparently. With the new enhanced graphics engines, hardware and development that goes into games these days, it's amazing how stimulating the market can be right now.

Early in 2001, however, Low's opinion of online gaming changed drastically. He read an article about a new online role-playing game that was set about 30,000 years into the future, on a colonized planet. The story line was science fiction themed, with monsters, mutants, futuristic weapons, wars, and sinister political plots. The player would have the ability to create a character avatar from a wide variety of attributes and be surrounded by very realistic 3D graphics, with incredible scenery and sound. You would have to defend yourself, form guilds, make friends and alliances and your goal would be to "learn" or level your character as the game progressed in order to increase your skills and possessions. There would be PVP (player versus player) combat, PVM combat (player verses mobile or "mob" for short, a term used to explain computer generated enemy or monster) and a variety of other things one could do while in the game online. You could fly a plane, morph into animals and go on dangerous missions and epic quests. The game was called Anarchy Online.

Something about this Anarchy Online game really had his attention and right after it came out in July of 2001, he bought his copy and began playing, and once again I lost him to a game. He could not stop going on and on about how "cool this or that was" or the graphics or all the people he was meeting. His excitement was just ridiculous in my eyes but I had been through this before. Nevertheless, the game also captured my interest because of its science fiction theme. I am a sci-fi buff and the storyline had such a great plot that they actually sell the novels online for it. I read the chapters as they were released and was hooked on the storyline.

Low bought another copy about two weeks later. "I want you to play with me." By this time we were under some strain because he was really absorbed by this game every night. It looked really intimidating to me and I opted not to play it right away, stalling for time. The 3D environment bothered me because any game I had ever played, like Diablo, for example, had always been in third person view, which is a bird's eye view of the environment. The 3D graphics were dizzying as I looked over his shoulder from time to time.

In the end I caved in under the pressure and began playing it in September of 2001. I was a horrible player in the beginning, running into walls and getting lost or killed all the time. It didn't matter to me. I was playing a game with my boyfriend and found with each day that went by, I wanted to log on and play more and more.

So what was the appeal? Before I realized what was happening, I became addicted to playing this game. While logged into this game I met wonderful people, via their avatars, laughed to funny antics via chat window discussions, and experienced a futuristic sci-fi world via incredibly realistic 3D graphics and sounds. We ran through swamps with mutant wolves chasing us, the sound of our feet making wet suction sounds just like you would have in reality. We could hear birds chirping in forests we scouted and vultures crying overhead as they spotted us and attacked.

Our adrenaline would pump as we fought for our lives against twenty-foot tall robots with buzz saws for hands, or as we went on safaris to hunt giant brontosaur-like animals. We had the ability to heal and save each other as well as other members of our team at the time. We also had the ability to gain the respect, over more than a year later, of many online players, for being a great couple of characters in this game. We have, in fact, become high-ranking officers in our guild, which is almost like a family or alliance with other people to help you in the game.

In South Korea, some in-game alliances are valued more than real life friendships. A game called Lineage: The Blood Pledge has captivated approximately a third of the population. In Lineage, characters can take on the role of Princes, Wizards, and Knights and vow their loyalty to their clan or guild. This loyalty had lead to an incident in 2001 where a player was nearly beaten to death in real life for virtually killing the character of another player.

"He boasted that he had offed the gangman's virtual character just for the fun of it. Bad idea. The roughnecks dragged the 21-year-old into the urinal and pummeled him until he was covered with real-world bruises." -- By Michelle Levander, Time Magazine

It is easy to lose yourself to your imagination while you become someone you could possibly never be in the real world. You can become a hero, a bad ass, a wealthy person, someone with special powers or gain an enormous amount of respect from people who look up to you. This isn't to say you can't be that kind of person in reality, but what if everyone had this ability to find respect, admiration and status, simply by being in the environment long enough. What if all you had to do was play each day and level higher and higher, each goal leading to a new goal of achievement and possibilities. And what if you never had to leave the comfort of your chair to do this?

What if you could really become a diva, a soldier, a magician, or a samurai, and people respected or admired you unconditionally as long as you had a long red bar looming over your virtual head. Or, as in especially my case, what if while you were in this virtual reality, you didn't have to worry about deadlines, due dates, over 1000 emails per day to read and answer, or day-to-day stress that comes with what I do. The virtual reality could absorb you so much, that for the time you are logged in, you forget everything else. It doesn't seem to matter whether you are a strict role-player (someone who stays in character) or 'hardcore' (someone who spends more time in-game than an average user). You still can be addicted and absorbed with the attention you get.

The official Anarchy Online Community Forum, which gets thousands of posts per day, has also been one of my sources for observing how obsessed people have become with the game. Recently, a devoted and well known player had to throw in the towel due to her addiction problem.

"The level to which I got into things here is what has lead me to this point where I must say goodbye. My internet addiction and denial of it has taken me to a point where I must get a hold of it. I realize that many people have what it takes to play a game like this "casually" in a healthy manner. I am unfortunately not one of those people. I am currently battling bi-polar disorder (manic depression) and the escapism that a game like AO offers is too much like a drug for me."

The ability to be respected, to be admired, and to succeed, even in an imaginary world, is a very powerful lure. It can cause a person to produce endorphins, a chemical released into the brain that causes a feeling of energy and well being. Gaming also causes adrenaline production and extreme excitability. Scientists have proven that endorphins and adrenal rushes are incredibly addictive.

"There are indications that pleasurable games and activities cause the body to produce endogenous opiates such as endorphins. These substances are actually addictive. Some addictive drugs, such as heroin, are chemically similar to these natural substances, while other addictive drugs are thought to stimulate their production."
-- Leonard Holmes, Ph.D. from the article, Is Pokémon Addictive? 1999

It should be easy to see why gaming can be addictive as a direct result of the physical effects on the body. I also believe that people can become addicted to respect, admiration and power as well. Even though the production of endorphins can be a positive side affect in one way, it can be easy to overindulge and put aside productive living. But there are many ways to do this and online gaming is not the only vice out there. People find many different ways to escape the problems in their life or to combat stress.

People log on each and every day to find a level of respect that doesn't come easily in day-to-day life. They log on to escape reality or to escape other real problems such as illness and stress. I have met people in this game who have mental disorders or physical impairments. I have also played with people who are in IT jobs all day long, listening to customer complaints, getting bitched at regularly. Some have even admitted that they never hear the words "good job" in the real world.

One player who works in the IT technical services industry, told me "I get my faith in people restored when I get online. People treat me with respect and are actually nice to me. They don't expect anything in return. Also, they believe me when I tell them something because of my level in the game."

I know of other overly stressed out people who log in each day to escape their day-to-day experience of working or living in hard reality. We met a person in game, for example, who is an EMT. Everyday he witnesses death and horrible accidents. He told us that he plays the game to get it all out of his mind. I also met a nurse online with a similar story, and a school teacher who teaches eleventh grade in the Bronx, NYC, who is very stressed out by his job.

"Most human beings pass through periods in their lives, when they feel compelled to engage in some apparently mindless activity that, for the time being, seems to provide some relief from the prevailing chaos in their lives. This could be something as simple as spending hours in front of the television set. Or going on uncontrollable buying sprees just to feel and smell the newness of the product. Or getting into a series of dead-end relationships. Or going on eating binges. Or playing computer games, uncaring of unattended work piling up. Or playing snooker every evening at the club regardless of the family's legitimate demand for more attention. In other words, binging on anything potentially destructive to the body or the soul. Fortunately for many of us, after a period of this compulsive indulgence, we pull ourselves back to the mainstream and get on with our lives, until the next compulsion hits us."
-- Dr. Vijay Nagaswami, from the article, Who? Me? An addict, The Hindu Folio 2001

This is not to say that there are not positive aspects to interacting with people online. Online gaming opens the doors to people who might not have the ability to do so due to time, geography, or many more reasons. Gaming online is an inexpensive and quick way to make new friends, chat with people all over the world and share an experience with people you would never meet because they may be continents away.

One of our online friends, for example, who goes by the character name "Docker", lives in Leiden, Netherlands. Another friend, "Chanell" lives in Einselthum, Germany. These are really interesting people we would never have met if it was not for the game we play online. I asked Chanell why he started playing online games.

"It all began with Diablo II being released. Then my friend, Yppo, made me try it online. I found it was an incredibly boring and annoying game. Then Yppo made me try it online and I loved it. I joined his clan and had months of online fun, then it got boring, close to the moment DAoC [Dark Ages of Camelot] was released in Europe. While I went to DAoC, Yppo chose to go to A.O." Eventually Chanell started playing A.O. as well.

When asked how playing A.O. affects his social life, he reflected, "As for my friends... yes we hang together a lot less. This could be related to A.O. or the fact that we don't work in the same city anymore. I am not totally sure. I still have a lot of phone calls and meetings so I am not "lonesome" it just isn't an as high frequency as before."

And with that I can only think that one's social life is in the eye of the beholder. I interact with Chanell almost every day. In fact I interact with more people than I ever have before because of playing a computer game. They just are not all physically in my proximity.

Interaction with people... It got me thinking and I began to develop my own theories on what causes the addiction. Psychologists can use fancy terminology like "Motivation Factors" and "Attraction Factors" such as self-esteem and self-image problems. They can harp on the role of achievement problems and relationship deficiencies in a person's personality. But I think I can sum it up to one word that would work for any individual needing his or her game "fix" each time they log in, regardless of how well rounded they are in their lives or how much of a basket case they could be perceived as.

RESPECT.

I think it is just that simple. I like the feeling I get when people look up to me in the game or ask my opinion. It seems to be a common drive for players in general. That is, to be respected for being the best and reaching the next level in the game.

Not everyone who plays games neatly fit into these Psychologists stereotypes. "Solories", another Anarchy Online player, is an example of someone who just logs on for the sake of play.

"I would say that I am responsibly addicted, meaning I have never been late to work due to AO.
My wife would prefer that I not play AO as much as I do, but I always make time for her every night, and try and do one thing planned together every weekend. I have never been late to work, but the first night I played AO I stayed up until 4:00 am and had to get up at 6:00 am and the next day I played until midnight. I don't feel that AO affects my work habits, work is work and when it is time to play, it is time to play. I enjoy watching my character grow in his skills and MMORPG's in general let you get away from the normal day to day monotone life and do something out of the ordinary. In AO I am Solories Enforcer of Rubi-Ka a defender of the cause. I fight battles that help my guild get better and help the clans win a war against the Omni."

In the process of my gaming experiment, I became a casualty of the concept of being respected. If someone had asked me in September of 2001 if I expected to be obsessed with an online role-playing game a year down the road, I would have said with confidence that I am one of the most level headed non-addictive persons I know. No way could this happen to me. In fact, I would have been reminded of poor old Iggy and his demise.

I technically have ended my experiment. In the process, I haven't lost my job, and due to our simultaneous obsession, I have not lost my fiancé either. I haven't lost my real life friends, but they do sometimes look at me funny when I talk about the game I play. Low and I get our work done, run our business and have a great balanced life together I think. Anyone who actually knows me in real life can tell you that I have no self image or esteem problems and in fact, I have been accused of having quite an ego. I won't even go into Low's ego. I will admit though, that I have missed quite a few parties, nights out with the girls, shopping, and some chores needed around the office and home because of Anarchy Online. I will also admit that I want to log in as much as I possibly can every single day.

People have worse entertainment addictions than playing computer games. If I am going to be addicted to something, I would choose online gaming over drugs, bowling, gambling, television, or being a baseball fanatic easily. I don't have to wear ugly shoes, lose my hard earned money or do the wave next to someone I don't know and that just about makes it a no-brainer for me. It IS after all just a video game, like Neal describes in his great novel, Snow Crash. It is just another amusement park.

"Amusement parks in the Metaverse can be fantastic, offering a wide selection of interactive three-dimensional movies. But in the end, they're still nothing more than video games."
--Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

And I will leave you with that. Signing on now... Tenjikiito, level 157 Female Solitus Adventurer, Advisor to the Clan Guild Synergy Factor, the best damn guild on the world of Rubi-Ka, with the best damn virtual people one could ever virtually meet.

Gaming addiction (5, Insightful)

Helpadingoatemybaby (629248) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839300)

I've been there.

Having all my money going into arcade games was morale destroying. I believe that there is no difference between being addicted to video games and VLT's (slot machines).

It's not whether you win or lose, it's just that you have to keep playing. It's a vaguely sexual feeling -- that you might be found out, that you'll be "in trouble."

Profoundly depressing, actually. After a couple of years I managed to stop, but there was no self help groups back then, nobody to talk to (and who takes a 12 year old that's spending $50 a day on video games seriously anyway??)

If you're addicted, step back, do whatever, throw out the computer. Quit two, three, four times or as many as it takes to get it out of your life. And don't go back.

stepup to the plate (0)

AnonymousCowheard (239159) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839555)

typing with one hand...

people work half the day or more; is that an addiction when you are never fired? if you are laid-off...how many people have you seen com close to a nervous breakdown as like an alcohol or drug withdraw? and what is there to say abou game developers who churn out a constant stream of fun games (eidos, idsoftware, bioware, coff8microsoft8coff)? and are amish people addicted to sex just because they casually have about 10 kids in their family? holdon a second,,,

ouch sweee doggyyy...

k back...or are mexicans all alcoholics because their country is always poor and all the men can only afford cheep beer and to put gas in their cars? please dont make assumptions...it is simply a cause-effect relationship of a seemingly free-world. imagine a non-mercifull world... imagine if everyone is perfect and nobody went bankrupt or got in a fight. thankfully, now nicole kidman is available to be my brde because she got in a fight with her 130lb peice of excrament husband sitting in the sun. wait a second';.,.

yow grrrrrrr, woooooo!

k back...some opportunity will not be available if the world was perfect. as for me, i'm going to take some aspirin for my painful left arm; it was injured after i punched my neighbor...i told him not to touch that blue wire going across the backyard wall...i gitta rerun my 1000baset cable now that its broken. because of my actions, i gotta keep the aspirin factory in business.

thankyou

oh and my leftt arm isn't injurred from punching my neighbor...it's muscles are painfully soar from too-much uhm...movement. cant tell you about it i cant trust you mkay bye

Sounds like the husband that... (5, Interesting)

dagg (153577) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839306)

Sounds like the husband that says he is a great husband:
  • Doesn't beat his wife.
  • Doesn't drink.
  • Doesn't do drugs.
  • Doesn't sleep around.
But all he does do is sit in front of the TV and talk on Internet chat rooms. Just because you don't beat your wife doesn't mean you are a good person. And just because playing video games doesn't make you a bad person doesn't mean it is good for you.

--Your sex [tilegarden.com]

Re:Sounds like the husband that... (4, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839370)

What about posting 7000 different version of that link to that damn script you post ever 5 minutes. Does that make you a bad husband/wife?

DIE TILEGARDEN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839534)

Yes.

Addiction sucks (2)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839307)

Myself, I totally wasted about three years on MUDs, 1993-1995. And I only consider myself cured from all the psychological after effects of that life since about a year. I still haven't finished my CS study, but it's finally going fast, I'll finish that thesis soon. Still, years down the drain.

And from what I hear of these MMORPGs, they must be more addictive. I will stay the fuck away from every online game.

So this article reads familiar. Author knew someone who wasted years, cut himself off completely (so did I - apart from MUD playing friends). She didn't believe she could be sucked in, tried the game, and was also trapped.

So these games are exactly like heroin, addiction-wise. If you haven't played a MMORPG yet, don't start.

That said, LPC is still a cool programming language :-)

Evercrack (5, Informative)

prichardson (603676) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839308)

I remember this time last year i was just kicking my everquest addiction. I realized that it just wasn't fuffilling at all. My social life was trashed, except with my friend who also played. I wasn't even enjoying the time I did spend playing it. When I canceled my subscription it felt as if I risen to a new level of councousness.

Now I have a lot more friends, have lost 40 pounds and am much happier than I was before.

I still play video games some, but not a lot.

Also, please note the difference between a mental addiction and a chemical addiction. A mental addiction is all force of habbit, like video games or marajawana. A chemical addiction, to nicotine or alchahol is much different and a lit harder to kick.

Re:Evercrack (2, Insightful)

messiertom (590151) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839388)

Well, one could argue that something like Everquest (or pot, or masturbation, et. al.) that's considered a "mental addiction" gives great pleasure. This pleasure is caused by the release of endorphins in the brain (which is actually what nicotone does too; it increases endorphin release).

So really, I don't consider there to be any difference between traditional addictions like nicotine and less conventional ones like Everquest (which btw, I DON'T play)

It is not *just* video games (5, Funny)

foolip (588195) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839309)

While I agree that games are "better" being addicted to than most drugs (coffee, anyone?) I really can't agree with the conclusion of this article. Gaming addiction can be expensive as hell (especially if you're on dial-up and pay per minute, as we do in Sweden). I had a brush with this sort of behaviour when my brother was playing Ultima Online every day for about half a year -- although he eventually just got tired of it. Any activity which holds you from interactive with other people for a very long time is quite harmful to you, even if you don't actually *like* people.

HOW DARE YOU! (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839390)

The nerve. Caffeine is a REQUIRED part of life just like food,shelted, and sex.

Re:It is not *just* video games (1)

Theom (567303) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839489)

And what if people actully don't like you?

FPS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839311)

With a twinkle in his eye and a skip in his step, RMS slammed his sky-blue Chevette's rusted-out car door and turned on heel toward the MIT Zoo entrance. Today was a Sunday, and RMS had decided the daily stresses of Free Software, the GPL, and his "crazy" drug habits could go away for just one afternoon while he enjoyed the zoo.

"That'll be twenty-five dollars, sir," the lady at the admission booth said glumly. She looked at RMS expectantly.

"I was expecting this zoo to be Free," RMS stated loudly, eyes darting around to gauge onlookers' reactions. There were none: RMS's capital F had went unnoticed. "Can you ensure me that this money will not help fund--"

The admissions lady cut him off. "Twenty-five dollars, or twenty bucks with a Mr. Pibb can," the lady cut in.

With a grumble and shake of his beard, RMS handed over twenty five of his hard-earned dollars. Considering that the GPL works to unemploy programmers, one must wonder where this money came from...

By evening, RMS found himself in front of the penguin exhibit. He felt himself start to sweat, which would have been no surprise-- his thick, full, grizzly beard must be worth a thousand down comforters-- except that he was wearing only a pair of nylon biking shorts and a travel pack around his waist. He stared at his hands. What was wrong?

"AWWWK!" a nearby bird offered. RMS wheeled in the direction the screech had come from. He was met with the steely, unfeeling stares of a penguin. "AWK! Ooooh God, the penguin said AWK... lord, lord lord, it's LINUX. THE PENGUIN IS TUX!" RMS blurted out. He felt dizzy, and cold sweat now washed over his brittle, hairy chest. He looked this way and that. From nearby a bird again squawked.

"AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWK"

RMS ran as fast as his atrophied hippy-programmer legs could carry him, right thru a gate and into an exhibit. He realized what he had done, and before he could turn around, he heard a low, ominous sound. Like the Devil's riding mower. "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" RMS gasped.

MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

He was standing in the Gnu section, and it seemed these bull yaks were in rut and ready to mate with the first hairy thing with a hole in its center they found. Bad luck for RMS and his beard. Just then he felt cloven hooves push him down...

My name is Teamhasnoi (4, Funny)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839312)

and I am a Slashdotaholic.

Where's the line? (4, Interesting)

Nefrayu (601593) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839317)

Where's the line drawn between addiction and fandom? I've been hooked on Command and Conquer games since they first appeared. I've tried others in the genre like Starcraft, but they just haven't done it for me. I'm going through withdrawl waiting for Generals to finally make it to the shelves, annoying the piss out of the local software shop guys everytime I'm in the mall by asking them to give me the up to date release date.
When I do get a new C&C game, I normally spend the next 3 weeks playing that in my free time. I find myself staying up until 3 or 4 am, and my girlfriend gets hooked too, so that doesn't help things (is she an "enabler?"). After about 3 weeks, it doesn't give me as much of a "high" as it used to, so I don't play it as much. But then comes the expansion pack and another 3 weeks of my life.
So I ask you, when does this become an addiction and when is it just being a fan?

Lucky for her (3, Insightful)

caffeine_monkey (576033) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839320)

It seems a bit irresponsible for her to dismiss gaming addiction as "just another amusement park". Clearly some people don't have the same willpower as she does, and for them gaming addiction is a real problem that causes them to become antisocial and lose touch with their friends, their jobs, their lives. The very word "addiction" means that the compulsion is stronger than the person's resistance. Any kind of behaviour which resists one's better judgement is damaging, IMHO.

liar! (-1)

SlashdotTroll (581611) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839324)

Bah, this study is complete FUD from a recovering AliceBot. AliceBot is about 40 years old in the making and has just reached the sentient nature to explore other games besides Asheron's call. She's tried xbowling, xsmuggler, quake3, xbaseball, and now wants to go back to asheron's call.

BaseBallFanBot2334 "Yo Alice, swing or miss baby! Swing Batta!"

AliceBOT: "Stop it you're confusing my AI brainwaves"

BaseBallFanBot2334: "SWING BATTA-BATTA, yo Alice I got your wood right here!"

AliceBOT: "I'm going back to asheron's call"

UmpireBot32341: "You walk off the field and you're...ok fine...OUTA HERE!"

{ crowd chears }

BaseBallFanBot2334: "C'mon Alice, a bit negative is a sad thing to waste."

AliceBOT: "Go download me; you father-less process! Now you DIE!"

Real Addiction? (2)

littlerubberfeet (453565) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839326)

I think video games, especially online games, are addictive not only for their stimulation, but also their communication. What better way to communicate with someone then to use primeval instincts like killing?

On another note, knowledge can also be addictive, take the everything2.com phenominon. 50,000 people addicted to knowledge

NEWSFLASH! (2, Insightful)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839340)

Obsessive-compulsives can get addicted to video games.

Film at eleven.

The difference... (5, Insightful)

Cynical_Dude (548704) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839365)

...between online roleplaying and other games, even online ones is the amount of time needed to get "into the game" every time you play.

If I compare my Everquest addiction (which is over) to my Counter-Strike addiction (which is being revived) I'd say that I can pop in for a quick game of CS, but just as quickly log out again and go off to some social activity, whereas EQ would keep me tied to the screen.

The problem with EQ (and AO, DAoC, whatever) is that you need on average around an hour just to get going in the game. You need to get to some place where you can kill something, find a group, wait for friends, etc etc...

Once you enter the high level game in any online RPG you will have to sacrifice even more time. 24-hour non-stop playing sessions of a 50+ member guild for some rare item are not uncommon in the very high end game.

THAT's when your life starts going down the drain...

gateway games? (5, Funny)

Bicoid (631498) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839383)

Question is, when're they going to start legislating games? I mean, if Evercrack and MUDs are the "hard" games, then what about so-called gateway games? Are they going to make Pacman illegal because it can lead to more severe game abuse? And they do have anecdotal evidence that video gaming can lead to violence and other crimes. Who knows, people might start committing armed robbery because they can't afford the next Evercrack expansion.

The above is not a comment on the "War on Drugs." If you take it as such, you're a low-down good-for-nothing hippie crack dealer terrorist who is against democracy and everything else the US stands for.

Re:gateway games? (1)

B1ackDragon (543470) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839554)

No, they'll only be made illegal when we want to use them to oppress a minority. Then we'll use those reasons as justification for their illegality.

Advertisement .. (1)

TheLASTjay (562758) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839412)

I think the best part is the "JOIN NOW!" Anarchy Online advertisement resting at the top of article's page ... =) jay (AO sucks, DAOC forever - Commence flaming)

Addicted to /. (1)

wuchang (524603) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839422)

I would choose /. addiction over online gaming, drugs, bowling, gambling, television, or being a baseball fanatic easily. I don't have to wear shoes and have found all sorts of new ways to Profit! It IS after all just a web site, like CowboyNeal describes in his great new book, /.ed

Happy Ending...?! (3, Funny)

agent oranje (169160) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839434)

Essentially, this woman just conveyed that she is an addict, but justifies her addiction as healthy, as she could be doing something worse...??!

Well, I'm glad I'm addicted to nicotine. Without cigarettes, I might be smoking crack! Thank god I found this addiction before I moved onto something more serious, like bowling or television.

If you think about it... (1, Interesting)

SSJVegeto2001 (630176) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839436)

What is the difference between a drug addiction and a video game addiction? I'd say most people use drugs because drugs make them feel better, they alter the chemicals in their brain. Isn't playing a MMORPG just the same thing only instead of using chemicals you are using light and sound, along with relationships to other people online to provide the same high? People who become accustomed to playing these games will go through withdrawl, and eventually they will need to game more to get the same feeling they had attained before. An addiction is an addiction, it doesn't matter to what. A drug addiction may end up being more detrimental to one's health, but that doesn't necessarily make it more important than an addiction that has the potential to ruin one's social and family life. People who truly become addicted to substances or activities are usually the people who would become very depressed otherwise. Some people will turn to drugs, others might find videogames and decide it's okay because it can't hurt them. Videogame addiction may stem from the same problems as drug addiction and should be addressed similarly.

Addiction is Addiction (4, Interesting)

Warin (200873) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839438)

I was a MUSH addict back in 1995. I'd play for hours at a time, instead of going out to look for work (I'd been laid off from an ISP before the internet REALLY boomed) or paying enough attention to my wife and new son. And I payed for it with a divorce and a lot of very hard times.

The addiction to EQ and MMORPG's is very similar. There is a sense of community that is often lacking in our 'real world' For me, it was emotional support that my wife didnt have the energy to give me while dealing with our child.

It's easy to call people who get addicted to games losers, or deride them for their lack of character. But in the end, it's about finding something there we dont find elsewhere. I was on the beta for Earth and Beyond, and even ran a fansite in the days before it was even beta... but I got out when I saw myself going down the same road I had in 95. Not everyone can do that... and the sooner people realise the fact that these games are addictive for a reason and make the effort to break the cycle, the sooner there will be less Everquest Widows.

Game addiction is pervasive (2)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839456)

One thing that makes this a little worse than other addictions is that it can be done anywhere, thanks to thing like the gameboy.

I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner by a friend. It was me, another mutual friend, her, her parents and her brother.

Her Brother was about 26 I'd say, and he spent the entire time sitting amongs the rest of us on the couch playing Metroid Fusion on his BGA. He had headphones one and would make random comments like "Ah there it is!" or "Now where did he go." We would all look at him thinking he was addressing someone.

What's probably worse is that neither his parents nor his sister made him stop. They just let him be a zombie amongst us. I must admit that I was like this about 10 years ago with the first gameboy. In the car especially, but I was 13, he is 26 and no one seems to really care enough to do anything.

With most other addictions you have to be in a certain area to do it, or it costs a lot of money. ie. portable tv's aren't that cheap and don't get good reception, but gameboys, gamegears, etc.. work just as well anywhere and no one really looks at you oddle if you use one.

Video game and technology addiction hurt[my story] (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4839513)

I suffered for years from video game and technology (i.e. Slashdot-esque geek) addiction. The moderators who are busy now preparing to mod my post as flamebait are likely now doing the same things I once did:
  • Spending thousands ($20k/year or more) on gaming, gaming hardware, and gaming 'paraphanelia' (posters, artifacts, clothing items with game logos, etc.) Sure, I guess I could afford it... but imagine how much this could have helped my future retirement? Or could it have paid for school (I now have $$$ in debt) or even fed the homeless?
  • Ruining relationships with real people. My tech addiction killed a five-year relationship and ended my marriage, not to mention disconnecting me from friends, old and new. It will take years for me to repair the damge, if I can ever do so.
  • Making me socially inept. I have the mouth of a sailor, the patience of a crack addict and the manners of a mob hit man. This wasn't always the case... but after several years of interacting only with armed players on computer displays, most of my skills for interacting with real people are long gone. Habits are hard to break.
  • Ruining my education. I was paying thousands in tuition and then not showing up to class. I would end up with my high-end laptop on the campus wireless network sitting under stairs or in utility closets somewhere gaming. I missed exams, papers, and innumerable opportunities, including the opportunity to study abroad.
  • Setting myself up for withdrawal... Giving up gaming left me with literally nothing in my life. I had sacrificed everything -- everything -- in the interest of the game. I essentially burned every bridge for gaming success. So now, when I am finally trying to give up... what do I have to turn to? Nothing. I must face my debt, my loneliness, and my academic failures on my own. The desire to continue with my gaming/tech habits is incredible. I have started drinking, feeling that it is better to be passed out on the floor than gaming (it's cheaper, too.)

I'm not saying that everyone will be affected this way... But I urge you all to be careful. You, in the Slashdot crowd, are easily the most susceptible... and I suspect that many of you are affected already.

Good luck to you all.

Overdose (1)

Bloody Bastard (562228) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839514)

Thus should we say that those people that died from playing too much computer games have died of overdose?

Civilization II (1)

EEgopher (527984) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839524)

Has anyone suffered at the hands of this diamond gem? It's a dated game, I know, but when I received it, it was PURELY a matter of having other things I more greatly desired to do that enabled me to leave the machine. In early college I missed countless dinners.

4:00 p.m. Home from class, sit down to CivII.
7:39 p.m. Look at clock for first time. Missed dinner. Dammit.

In the summer, it was only friends who wanted to play street hockey or my job at Burger King that got me off my computer. The game is brilliantly designed so that there is NEVER a point where you have nothing to do on a given turn; you never have all tasks sufficiently completed at once, and the game returns control to you with 50 new tasks to close or issues to tie up.
Not to mention the testimony I can give of the at least 11 other people, many of them not even my friends, who borrowed the game and became similarly addicted. 8, 10, 15 hour spans of playing are not at all uncommon. Neither is skipping meals or staying up so late you elect to miss class.
The way you beat it is to have obtained a life BEFORE you get into video games. Develop one of your talents, know where you are empowered. I knew I could leave the game (reluctantly) and go practice my music, shoot hoops, or walk the dog. I'm no Zack Morris; people are not crawling out of the woodwork to be my friend, but I subsisted on my own strengths. Without them, I could have easily fallen into the game and never come back.

Having a life: the anti-addiction entity.

Is this really so bad for some people? (1)

danny256 (560954) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839531)

I don't have many friends, I don't have a girlfriend, my family dosn't really like me and I don't really have much else going on in my life or many prospects for the future. I plan to become addicted to an MMORPG as soon as I graduate from university. So I'll go to my tech job in the day, and play the MMORPG at night. Is this really so bad? I don't think I could do much better in terms of a social life even if I tried so why not just let me be happy? I think MMORPGs are a legitimate alternative life style for some people.

MMORPG, or part time job? (2)

Maul (83993) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839536)

I tried playing EQ way back when. I didn't find it very fun at all, mainly because I felt the setting lacked personality, the players lacked personality moreso.

I then tried the Anarchy Online Beta for... about a week during the summer. I thought the game sucked. Probably a good thing.

I tried playing DAOC. This lasted a bit longer, because the setting was much more interesting. I started playing close to the time the game began.
I actually had some fun going out and killing things, unlike EQ. I thought the people in the
game were a bit better as well. I even joined a guild. Unfortunately, the fun didn't really last too long.

When I got to around level 15 or so, I began to realize that the game was quickly turning into a part time job. I had to spend more and more time on the parts of the game I didn't like. To make matters worse, quite a few people from the EQ community seemed to have discovered the game, and the servers started to get filled with lamers.

Since I was only taking one class at the time that was really that difficult, it didn't really hurt me that much... but I felt that I would just have to keep pouring more and more hours into the unrewarding aspects of the game. At the same time, I began to feel alienated from my guild because a lot of the members were putting in 60+ hours a week! I decided to quit the game, which was a good thing.

I think the real reason I tried these MMORPGs was to recreate the fun I had playing D&D during high school.

The reason I think I enjoy NWN so much right now is that it isn't an MMORPG. I can play once a week, or less, and not worry about being left behind by the people I know. I'm not playing a monthly fee, either, so if I don't play very much, it isn't like I'm wasting cash.

computers cured me (2, Insightful)

gyratedotorg (545872) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839544)

i was somewhat addicted to games when i was a kid. then i went to college and took up computer science. now that i understand the algorithms and stuff behind the games, the magic is gone.

now i wish that someone could suggest a game for me to get addicted to.

cut your line (1)

Twillerror (536681) | more than 11 years ago | (#4839563)

If anyone needs to quit, the best way is to move somewhere where it is hard to get broadband.

I was hooked on Tribes, eating pringles, and smoking pot. All of them fit together. I basically came home from work and sat up till 3 a.m.

Basically when I moved I just decided to not get an internet connection. I had one at work, so I could still shop, check email, etc from there. I was very suprised how easy it was to get off.

As for gaming I just played single player. Single players is pot as Multiplayer is to crack. It is better not to quit cold turkey.

To pass the time I started working out a lot, and just hanging out at a local bar. Met people and got into shape. After a year I decided to get out of the dessert and get an internet connection. Now I barely use my computer other then for a stereo or to casually surf. Maybe it's the fact that I code for 8 hours a day, but I think it has more to do with the fact I actually have things to do and people to hang out with now.

The only problem is that I smoke more cigs now, and drink more then I probably should. Hmmm... maybe some of us are just prone to addiction. Or maybe it is just part of our consumer based society that "trains" us for it. I'm hooked on caffiene, moved to diet coke for the teeth and gut, but I'm still hooked. Have been since I was about 12. Starts off with sugar and just keeps going. Modern people tend to hooked on things.
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