While scanning the WoW headlines over at DailyRadar.com, I saw one that really caught my attention from World of Matticus. It was the second part in a two part series about MMO gaming addiction, particularly World of Warcraft. The post is entitled, “Online Gaming Addiction Part 2 – Signs and Symptoms”. The story was written by guest poster Professor Beej, who happens to actually be a College Professor.
Upon seeing the headline, I had immediately thought, “oh no… Matticus has gone BRK on us”. Although quitting WoW isn’t necessarily a bad thing, often times it is associated with a negative impact on a person’s real life. Thankfully, it appears Matticus is simply trying to enlighten his readers and possibly try to reach some of them before it adversely affects their personal lives. Essentially, that’s what my intention is by linking these posts.
I think everyone should take a few minutes out to read what ProfessorBeej has to say, even if you don’t think you are at all addicted to the game. What you read may be surprising. You just may be able to relate to some of the things he has to say.
Here’s a little bit of my own experience with gaming addiction (namely WoW addiction) that you may want to read as well…
I was most definitely addicted to this game early on, so I found ProfessorBeej’s personal accounts of WoW addiction to be very similar to some of the feelings and behavioral patterns I’d expressed early in my WoW “career” as it were. Although I wasn’t as addicted or attached to the World of Azeroth as other admitted WoW addicts, I was pretty addicted nonetheless.
I was never really a “gamer” prior to WoW. In fact, I’d never even played an MMO before. That, among other factors, may have been one of the things that sucked me in the most. Playing WoW for the first time was the most unimaginably cool gaming experience I’d ever known.
Before World of Warcraft, the only other PC games I had really played were the Diablo series. I had always sort of frowned upon computer gaming, and had viewed it as a tremendous waste of time. However, I’d always had an affinity for role-playing adventure games, which went all the way back to my days of playing Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on my Commodore 64. I just dated myself there didn’t I… 😉
Like most young people back in the 80s and 90s, I enjoyed playing NES, Gameboy, Sega and some of the other gaming consoles and handhelds of the day. It was totally healthy and I wasn’t the least bit addicted to any of them. Well, Tetris was pretty addicting at times. 😉
Anyhow, it was at the age of 29 that I first got into computer gaming. Diablo was on sale for around ten bucks at the local Costco, so I thought what the hell… I had a lot of free time back then and was looking for something fun to do in the evenings that didn’t involve going out and closing down the bars. Needless to say, I was hooked right away. After playing the game for a few weeks I learned that a sequel had come out (I started playing Diablo right as D2 was about to hit).
Playing D2 was a whole new level of awesome. I had thought the first Diablo was as good as gaming could get, but Diablo II blew it out of the water. I continued playing pretty regularly in the evenings and had an absolute blast playing in single-player mode.
Once I discovered Battle.net it was all over for me. I was all about it. Being able to group with, and play against other people from all over the country was a whole new dynamic I hadn’t yet experienced in a game. I relished being able to transfer my items between characters, allowing me to try out a variety of builds and classes. Playing online made it so much easier to level as well, so I found myself wanting to try out multiples of every class.
I played D2 for probably around 4 years. Even though I was really “into it”, I wasn’t really all that addicted. It certainly took a backseat to other activities and mainly just caused me to watch a little less television.
Things took a slight turn when I introduced my wife to the game. Back when her and I first started dating, she was playing this mind-numbingly dull game on her computer that involved feeding fish or some nonsense. At that point in time, I actually hadn’t been playing all that much, but I thought maybe I’d introduce the game to her since she shared my interest in fantasy and other dorky type stuff.
She got hooked right away, and we suddenly found ourselves spending almost entire Saturdays staring at our respective screens. Now although we’d do some power-gaming now and again, we were both also really busy back in those days. She had a job working over 50 hours per week, and I was not only working full time during the week, but also working as a musician 3 weekends per month. We had a busy life, so the occasional marathon Diablofest was more of a guilty pleasure.
When I started becoming more involved with graphic design and web development I dropped some huge coin on a super-duper powerhouse of a PC. While I didn’t really have any interest in playing any other games apart from D2, I was curious to see what else was out there, and what sort of insane graphics my new machine was capable of handling.
I had seen and heard a little bit about WoW, but my early impression of it was that it looked too juvenile for my tastes. The ridiculously disproportionate weapons and some of the other perceived silliness just didn’t strike my fancy when compared to the shockingly mature content in the Diablo series.
After hearing a little more buzz about the game and then learning of Dave Chappelle’s endorsement of it (whom I respected very much as a comedian), I thought well… maybe it’s worth a look. I went ahead and put it on my Christmas wish list for 2005.
My wife bought me the game software, a strategy guide and a 2 month pre-paid game card. She’s a keeper I tell ya. I let the game sit for nearly eight weeks before I finally installed it. In the back of my mind I had this feeling that once I start this game, I’m going to have trouble backing away from the computer. I was right.
Initially, I was so overwhelmed by the content and character controls that I struggled for a little while just getting used to things. My wife was out of town on business when I first tried the game, but when she returned I gave her an introduction to it. Her first words after seeing Garwulf running around Teldrassil were, “give me the install discs”!
She installed the software, made a Dwarf Hunter, and set out on her own unique journey through the World of Azeroth. One of my most memorable in-game moments was when I finally reached the Eastern Kingdoms and ran all the way from Menethil Harbor to Ironforge so that we could “be together”. She and I both were truly in awe of this massive multiplayer game world.
After a few months of exploring this new world, my wife and I started to become incredibly consumed by it. We eventually got invited to a guild, where my wife instantly became a big hit. She was promoted to officer and banker within a week or two, and took the role very seriously. So seriously in fact, that eventually she paused for a moment to witness what had become of her life over the past few months and decided to immediately quit the game.
It was at that moment that I first realized I may be addicted to this game.
Her decision to leave Azeroth almost felt like a break up. I was really distraught for a few days afterward. This was exacerbated by the fact that my mother was gravely ill with cancer at the time. However, it was my mom’s illness that caused me to justify and validate my “need to play”. There is no question that my vulnerable condition and need for an escape from the real life horror of losing a loved one who was so dear to me, was ultimately the reason I was so sucked into the game.
After precisely two weeks of life without WoW, my wife decided to come back to Azeroth. She found that the time she’d normally spent playing WoW was now simply being filled by mindless TV programs. She decided she’d come back as a casual player, which is what she did. That was over three years ago, and although she beats herself up now and then because she feels like she wastes too much time playing the cursed game, she’s about as casual as it gets. And guess what…? She’s the banker as well as a high ranking officer for our guild. Ironic isn’t it..?
Her playtime now probably amounts to 6-8 hours per week at the very most, which includes organizing the guild bank and issuing DKP for bank donations. She’ll often go a week or more without logging in. A hardcore guild wouldn’t allow their banker to be so negligent, but that’s not how we roll. Our guild is very accommodating to casual players. At any rate, my wife has definitely exorcised her WoW demons.
WoW became more enjoyable than ever once my wife came back. Within about a month or so of her return to the game, we helped found our guild, Clan Destined, where we’ve remained ever since. Yet, just as the World of Warcraft was really starting to become incredibly fun for me once again, the real world was taking a turn for the worse.
My mom entered the hospital that summer and never went home after that. Her 10 year battle with cancer finally ended in the summer of ’06.
Along with family and friends, I spent nearly six weeks at her bedside, initially in the ER, then ultimately at Hospice. It was the most incredibly painful and horrifyingly surreal period of my entire life.
Once the dust settled from this earth shaking experience, and we returned to our regular lives and business as usual, I soon found myself drawn once again into the World of Azeroth. It’s such a fantastic stress outlet and escape from the troubles of real life. It’s really hard to avoid the compulsion to play when you’re going through periods of depression.
At this point in time I would say that I was moderately addicted. WoW hadn’t really adversely affected my life at this point, but it certainly hadn’t made it prosper any either. I viewed it as cheap therapy, and didn’t really see anything wrong with spending time in-game in order to cope with a lot of the stresses that I was dealing with in real life.
One morning I was sat at my computer playing WoW with a terrible hangover after having gone to some friends’ house the night before for a Halloween party. I remember sitting there thinking how shitty I felt and why on earth was I staring at a computer screen at 10am on a Sunday, when I probably should be out lying on the couch with my wife (and wrestling the remote from her clutches so that I could watch NFL). Needless to say, it wasn’t long after that thought when my wife walked in and made a joke about a WoW itnervention. Now granted she said it in jest, I knew she had some underlying feelings about my time spent playing WoW.
It was at this time that I thought, man… I am addicted to this game. I felt like total poop after having had too much fun the night before, yet I sat staring at a computer screen almost as if I felt like it was a duty. I woke up thinking, “well… I better get to leveling my Warrior”.
WoW has the ability to convince you that you need to constantly “work at it” to get anywhere. While there is some truth to that statement, the real truth is… why do you “need” to get anywhere within WoW..?
It is just a game.
Between dealing with the responsibilities of being a husband and a father, along with the gradual relief from my depression of losing a loved one, I ultimately saw WoW for what it was worth.
It is an incredibly fun usage of one’s time, but not something that should be heavily invested in.
There was a period of my life where I would get really irritable if I were unable to log on, or if I had some real life complications interfere with my playing time. All I can say is I am very fortunate that I shook that off. Like I said, I think a lot of that was due to my assumed need for an escape from my real life grief, but I’m grateful now that my feelings have changed.
Ironically, I was actually becoming a bit disenchanted with WoW just about the time I started HuntsmansLodge.com. I wasn’t searching for a way to get back into the game when I launched this site, I was merely trying to put a positive spin on all of my time spent in this virtual world. Since starting the site, I’ve played less and enjoyed the game more. Go figure.
Eventually WoW will be a thing of the past, and if you’re like my wife and I, hopefully you’ll look back on your time spent playing with pleasant thoughts and reflection. However, if you unwittingly made sacrifices in your real life in order to advance your life within the World of Azeroth, you’re going to be terribly sorry.
I shake my head at all of the regulars who hang out in Ironforge, dueling each other, spamming trade and flexing their epeens all day and night. While they may be godly in the World of Azeroth, what must their actual lives be like..? I don’t know, but it seems like you’re missing a lot of it if you’re spending 10-12 hours a day in front of a computer monitor.
Then again, I can often spend 10 hours per day in front of my computer screen. Wait a minute… I make money doing that. Nevermind. 😉
Holy shit… I just critted you guys with a massively crushing Garwulf wall of text!
Sheesh… I sure can ramble.
Anyway, this is why I don’t stress all of the number crunching and elitist bullshit that you get a lot of other sites. World of Warcraft is just a game and meant to be enjoyed. While part of my aim is to share advice and experience in order to enhance others’ level of play, I encourage fun more than anything.
I sometimes get laughed at for my rare pet obsession, but guess what… taming rare pets is the thing I enjoy most about this game. If you’re like me and would rather be lurking around Sholazar Basin hours on end looking for a Spirit Beast than wiping for three hours on a raid boss, then more power to you. It’s your fifteen bucks a month, so do what you enjoy.
Remember… being a noob isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 😉