The Reality of MMORPG Addiction

Game-Tied HandsQuite a few gamers will remember the nights and days where they spent 12, 15 or more hours on an MMORPG like World of Warcraft or EverQuest. But who of them would go as far as call that an addiction? After all, that word hints at decline and misery, which might seem out of place to some, when it refers to prolonged time spent at a computer. However, as MMORPGs continue to become more popular, the worry of games consuming a person’s life to the point that it can be classified as an addiction grows. There have already been several reports of people not only losing their jobs and neglecting their families, but even suffering serious health consequences due to excessive gaming habits.

The media aren’t short on horror stories about online game addictions: According to the BBC, a Korean man collapsed and died after playing Starcraft for more than 50 hours, stopping only for short periods of sleep and bathroom breaks. A 13-year-old boy committed suicide by jumping off a building to honor the heroes in an online game. A 3-month old baby starved to death, after her parents left the house to visit an Internet café and nurture their virtual child.

Addiction to online games, and especially addiction to MMORPGs, is no longer a joke, but a verifiable condition that has left a trail of bodies in its wake.

The Addiction

Video game addiction is not a new phenomenon and has been around for a few decades. However, addiction of this magnitude was a rarity with traditional games, because players often got bored, finished the game and had little interaction with people.

The introduction of MMORPGs changed the rules of gaming and created an atmosphere rife with addiction potential. People that are wallflowers and unable to cope socially in real life can create the perfect avatar to reflect who they wish they could be, according to Nick Yee’s Daedalus Gateway. Someone with low self-esteem, due to insecurities about their looks or weight, can become a muscular and attractive elf.

The virtual world is made up of hundreds of thousands of players, many of which have similar interests. Someone with few friends in his small community can find many others like him in the virtual worlds of MMORPGs.

Like most other addictions, such as drugs and alcohol, there are symptoms both physical and psychological. Physical symptoms include carpel tunnel syndrome from hours of typing, weight loss from skipping meals, dry eyes, back aches and headaches from spending hours sitting and playing, as well as loss of sleep. Psychological symptoms include feelings of euphoria while at the computer, inability to stop or compulsion to play and depression when not at the computer, according to Kimberly Young in her paper Addiction to MMORPGS: Symptoms and Treatment. There’s already a link between online addiction and depression – the social environment of games can worsen the effect significantly for some individuals.

The addiction can soon control a person’s life. He may grow to ignore and neglect his friends and families, become frequently late or absent from his job and lie to his loved ones about his activities. As seen in the above news reports, extreme addiction can go as far as to lead to death from exhaustion and dehydration or suicide.

The Treatment

People unfamiliar with addiction may suggest the easiest treatment for MMORPG addiction would be to simply quit the game and delete the individual’s character. However, the consequences of this approach can easily be counter-productive and cause a significant backlash. In a way, this is sudden death to the person’s (virtual) ego. If the person is somewhat neurotic, it can break their mentality, taking into consideration how long it took to level up and get that avatar. If the person relates to the avatar very tightly due to virtual social acceptance in comparison to the physical world, the negative consequences could go all the way to suicide in some cases.

Think about an addiction such as smoking. People who decide to quit cold turkey often relapse within a week, month or several months later. The same is true for other addictions, including MMORPGs, according to Online Gamers Anonymous that uses a 12-step program to help sufferers of MMORPG addiction.

The first step to treating a MMORPG addiction is to admit that there is a problem. The addict must realize that the game is causing problems in his life and be willing to make a change. Without this simple, but integral step, there is little chance for success.

Once a problem has been realized, the best course of action is a complete psychological assessment by a professional. MMORPG addiction is a symptom of a much larger problem. The player prefers the virtual paradise world of the game to the real world. It’s an escape from reality, which is a common theme for addictions.

One of the major factors that can influence MMORPG addiction is social anxiety. The player finds it easier to make friends and build relationships in the game world than in real life. One of the common treatments for social anxiety disorder in relation to video games is to have the player join a physical role playing game club, such as Dungeons and Dragons, so he can have face-to-face interactions with other players, but still get the fantasy world aspect.

Treatment of MMORPG addiction is similar to the treatment of other addictions, with one major difference. Computers have become a necessary part of life and players cannot be expected to abstain from their use. In this way, MMORPG addiction is similar to food addiction, according to CBS News. With help, the individual can learn to use computers and successfully avoid online gaming.

The World Responds

With addiction rates on the rise, the world has begun to respond to online gaming addiction. Many treatments and counseling centers have developed programs for Internet and gaming addiction. In response to the rash of deaths associated with marathon gaming, game developers have incorporated parental controls to limit the amount of time a person can play and some countries have created standard limits on the amount of consecutive hours a player may indulge.

MMORPG addiction is a prevalent problem among players and, as the gaming worlds become larger and more realistic, it is an issue that will only grow. Luckily, the world has begun to study and understand the mechanism behind the addiction and continues to develop effective treatment.

For more information about Internet and online gaming addiction, visit www.netaddiction.com.

Tags:


  • Johnson

    I was addicted to MapleStory for a while. I would get up at around 2:00 in the morning before school to start up the game and play a few more hours than the night before before I woke up my dad up at around 7:30. I eventually just got bored, with the help of my computer crapping itself and aborting the game too many times. I still play it on and off.
    I did the same thing with RuneScape before I found MapleStory. I’m more addicted to creating art and filmmaking now. I still find myself on the computer for hours a day, but usually just to finish editing my movies.

  • Sorry, gaming cannot be an addiction for the same reason that gambling isn’t.

    The correct term with gambling would be “problem gambling”, or in worst cases “pathological gambling” and it’s classified as a character/mental disorder, not an addiction.

    There are no chemicals involved that would cause addiction. If people have “problem gaming”, the issue is not with the product, it’s with the person having the issue.

    Let’s start taking some responsibility and not blame everything on the world.

  • formergamer

    Gamers are counterproductive. Those hours wasted accomplishing virtual tasks do not educate, spark creativity, provide meaningful social interaction. I would even say that the entertainment factor is exceedingly mind numbing. Have you ever watched someone play a game straight through? All they do is use their thumbs with a zombie look on their face to perform repetitive tasks to reach a goal that has no substance. Films and television are shorter and have better stories than games. Literature keeps the mind sharp and frees the imagination. Games are simple, dull, task based time drains. They do nothing for one’s personal life nor do they contribute anything to society… Just turn it off an go outside.

  • erm

    And then there are those of us whose playtime would be considered “addictive” but are mature enough to balance our time with real life. We see the game almost as a job that we love. In fact, the closest comparison I could think of would be to engaging in a sport, and like any sport one needs to practice/play to get better. The caveat of the mmo “sport” is that it involves no real physical activity.

    I’m in a hardcore WoW guild. We’re fairly high on the world rankings, and I raid four days a week from 12am – 3am; such a late time to accommodate my homework and studying while working through college as a sophomore at Duke. I play frisbee twice a week and rock climb the same amount. I captain a dodgeball team while still playing an mmo 12+ hours a week, and I try to stay competitive in all parts of my life, online and off.

    When the next expansion comes out, I’m probably going to play for 15-30 hours straight to stay competitive and reach the max level first on our server, and I have no problem with that. I’m going to have to move some things around in my schedule, but I’ll make it work.

    What this article attempts to do is to blame the games themselves for being addictive, and offer strategies to “treat” the addiction caused by the game. It suggests that a cure involves completely “avoiding onling gaming,” while still making use of the internet and computers.

    Online gaming is not inherently addictive or even harmful. The examples given of “addiction” causing deaths are due to people who simply can’t prioritize their lives correctly. In order for people to enjoy online gaming they must have balance in their lives. The game should not be the top priority. For parents, friends, etc. worried about an online gamer: the cure is not to cut them off from the game. Let them play the game, but help them balance their lives by inviting them to fun real life activites.

    TL;DR its not that the games are addictive, its that not all people have balanced their lives properly

    Have a nice day everyone!

  • Lucid

    How is “gaming addiction” any different from “football addiction” or any other sports for that matter? I know plenty of people who spend hours a day on fantasy football and keeping up to date on every player’s stats and watch 4 football games at once on a big screen.

  • uranoob

    umm weight loss from skippign meals? clearly this person did no research i am more then capable of healing a raid while eating a hot pocket, i never miss a meal if anythign i eat more when gamming, nub

  • Mike

    @Nikola:

    Gaming and gambling addictions do have biological bases, and are serious addictions. Neurotransmitters in your brain control how you feel and can be controlled by gaming and gambling.

  • Jo jo

    The problem with this kind of article is that it misses the problem. It’s an escape. Erm above seems like he has a life he likes so he has no problem spreading out his time. like me he can manage his game time and real life time. Now When your home is a mess and bills are coming up and you are out of work and generally life sucks then of course you are going to avoid RL as much as possible. Some drink themselves out of it, some game, others do drugs. it isn’t that any of those things are the cause they are just a sign of some other problem they are avoiding.

    As for jumping off a bridge. tells you how much of a home life he had if his only relationship was with a game.

  • Noy

    I agree with Erm. Blaming the game is like blaming the gun. Addiction is based purely on the attitude and behavioral patterns of a person.

    Also, gaming seems to be looked down upon because it is not widely accepted a social norm. Gamers in general save a ton more money than the guy who hits up the bar every weekend as his way of socializing. But as you throw money at overpriced alcohol and drink away your liver, at least you’re ‘normal and accepted’.

    Rethink this gaming style and addiction definition.

  • Chris

    @ Nikola

    The information you have presented as fact is partially false. While playing video games does not directly inject you with an addictive chemical, it can trigger extremely high doses of chemicals to be released into the blood stream and brain. High amounts of adrenaline and other endorphines can be found in the blood of someone who plays video games, gambles, etc.
    The neuron receptors within certain persons can be much more sensitive to these chemicals than that of your average person. This can cause a person to literally have a physical response within their brain that causes them to crave an activity, to the point it forgoes their other physical needs. This can happen with nearly any activity that stimulates these chemicals to be released, but in this case it is video games.

    My sources:
    B.A. in biochemistry
    Senior in Med School

  • BobSmith

    Formergamer, I could go into great detail describing clever gameplay elements and complex plots that exist in many modern games, games that teach using real world physics, etc etc, but everyone here, including you, knows you’re wrong.

    As far as MMOs go, I have the opposite problem. I cannot generally sustain interest when playing an MMO. They’re full of repetitive combat and dumb fetch quests, or “go kill monster X for a reward” quests.

    As far as addiction goes, there have been far too many 12 step groups, and far too little scientific research into the nature of addiction. 12 step programs are religious in nature, not based in science, and simply don’t work. Treatment for harmful addictions is in the stone age, currently. Shows on TV like “Intervention” are all well and good, but most of those people will be back in the same habits a few months later.

  • matthew barnard

    Its funny how people can justify things to them selves. sounds like the majority of people on here are in pretty hardcore denial. like anything else in life gaming can be unhealthy if indulged in too much. doesnt matter that its not a drug or somthing like that, it can reach the point of becoming a problem, anyone who says otherwise like the majority of people on here clearly have there own personal bias.

  • j.o.

    Sports addiction is different compared to gaming addicting. Watching 4 different Football games at the same time is just a devoted Football Fan. Whereas a gaming-addict would unhealthily play 4 games at once. You cannot compare sports to games. Its just not practical I mean in gaming there is no teamwork whatsoever. Sure there are team games but NO TEAM WORK like in football or hockey. Hell there are even movies based off sports. How many gaming movies have you seen besides the cartoon ones and GAMER.

    I’d rather be the dude spending his money at the bars talking to people and picking up chicks Than to be at home on my ass typing to internet chicks that are really dudes.

    Weight loss is true. Gamers skip meals. Eating a Hot Pocket or a stouffers frozen dinner does not compare to a hardy meal that contains all the natural food groups. organic ingredients vs chemical shit that suppose to be food.

    There are gaming , gambling, drug, Smoking, eating, all Sorts of addiction you do not hear about. You brain releases NATURAL chemicals like dopamine, seratonine, adrenaline, and other various chemicals during certain activities. The more you repeat those activities the more chemicals are released. Then you continue to repeat that activity because it feels good. Hello addiction how are yah holdin up… it is a internal and external conflict. Some causes of addiction is caused external like being addicting to fast food, smoking, drug abuse or neglecting to take meals or living unhealthily due to your addiction for what ever it may be.

    People can be easily addicted to anything. Its an addiction.

  • devboy

    I was a “Quaker” for a number of years. I played 12 or more hours at a time with great regularity. While the complexities aren’t there like they are in WOW, there is still a rush when you play. It was hard to see how it affected me while I was inside it, but I eventually did, and broke out. Now I’m having the same trouble with Reddit. 80(

  • Drokk

    Yes, I fully believe gaming can become an addiction. If you don’t think you can become addicted then either you are addicted and in denial, you have not found the game for you, or you are not a real gamer. I was a dedicated EQ player for about 5 years then moved into WoW until about a year ago.
    Now that I quit, I can reflect back and remember times that I turned down vacations, parties, or time with family members that I turned down over a game. This is time that I completely wasted and will never get back. Some of my family has passed away and friends have died in war, I could kick myself for not using my God given time for better use.
    To me it’s not much different than being addicted to alcohol. There are times when I got angry over not getting more time to play. There were even times when I went on vacations and 85% of my time I was thinking about the game and what I was going to do when I could log back in.
    You can say this sounds crazy but addictions affect people in different ways. Cigarettes are another addiction some people face and others it is near impossible to be hooked. Check out the book “The Tipping Point” there is a piece on cigarette addiction and how it is not addicting to everyone. I feel there are some similarities in this book’s take on addiction and how gaming affected me.

  • Nick B

    @ j.o.

    Wow, how mis-informed you are about games. Also, someone who is totally obsessed with fantasy football would NOT be watching in a bar and picking up chicks at the same time.

    In regards to your comment about teamwork…yes, sports does require teamwork, but the point you were addressing was about being obsessed with FANTASY FOOTBALL. Fantasy football has nothing to do with teamwork, and MMORPGs actually require that you do group up with other people and work as a team.

    Real sports > online gaming
    Fantasy Sports < online gaming

  • O.J.

    >Sports addiction is different compared to gaming addicting.

    The subject matter is different, but the behaviors are not.

    >Watching 4 different Football games at the same time is just a devoted Football Fan.

    Yeah, okay. In denial much?

    >Whereas a gaming-addict would unhealthily play 4 games at once.

    Um, what? No one does this.

    >You cannot compare sports to games. Its just not practical I mean in gaming there is no teamwork whatsoever. Sure there are team games but NO TEAM WORK like in football or hockey.

    Lies. Team Fortress/Left 4 Dead/other FPS games, just for example, live and die on teamwork. True, the anonymity of internet multiplayer makes it much easier to grief other people—you don’t usually see quarterbacks running off the field with the football in a pickup game—but teamwork is there and it is required to win.

    The key to a successful game is to make something that’s simple to learn, but difficult to master. Kind of like basketball, or football.

  • Alex

    I played RuneScape for 4 years, during my high school years. Once I got to college & realized that I could no longer play for long hours and do well in school at the same time, I quit. I was losing general interest in the game as well, but I totaled over 8,000 hours of gameplay in 4 years.

    Was I addicted? It’s hard to say. The time spent playing would suggest it, but I did not have much trouble quitting once I realized that intense gaming will hinder my future goals (phd. in History). Besides, social life in college is much more fun.

  • Rob

    I used to think I was addicted to WoW, I would play when i wasn’t working, pretty much every moment. Then I realized I was just bored and used it as an outlet. When I go on vacation, I don’t play WoW. So, am I addicted? I’m not sure. I don’t really miss it like you’d think if you were addicted to something. I think mostly MMOs are a mask for some other inherent problem and don’t form a chemical dependancy like some drugs.

  • Luke

    This article has some problems. For example, poor fact checking. The 13 year old boy who jumped off the building played warcraft: orcs and humans. This is not an MMORPG and shouldn’t even be considered an online game.

    It also assumes there is something inherently addicting about MMORPGs. Pointing out a few sensational anecdotes about suicide is a clumsy way of showing that there is a problem. It is believable because most people know someone (or have heard of someone) who is overly obsessed with an online game. But is it really the gaming aspect that causes people to spend so much time with it? For every person I know that plays world of warcraft too much, I know a dozen who spend hours on facebook.

    Here is an alternate hypothesis: social interaction is inherently interesting to people, they are drawn to it like moths to a lamp. Some people are self conscious and inhibited in a traditional social setting, so they feel more comfortable online. In addition, the game gives people an experience that they can share and relate to each other about.

    I am not advocating MMORPGs as a substitute for social interaction, spending too much time sitting down is not very healthy and will ultimately be unsatisfying. But let’s stop referring to it as some sort of unnatural, barely understood addiction. Playing an MMORPG has a lot more in common with being in a bridge club than it does to being addicted to some substance.

  • Media specialist :)

    re: chemical basis of MMORPG addiction

    although i appreciate the contribution, i strongly disagree witht the thesis that there are same chemical basis and processes involved in cigarette and MMORPG consumption.

    There are no chemicals emmiting or being imported into the body stream via MMORPG’s. Cigarettes, certain types of foods and, of course, drugs are essentially something different. They can actually change the chemical and biological composition of neurotransmitters, which leads to severe forms of addiction.

    MMORPG and other prodcuts based on social or textual itneraction are completely different. They create same “chemical” reactions as do people who are romantically envolved. If i remember correctly, there was a study recently that stated how people who brake up go through same apstinency syndroms as certain forms of drug addicts. Does this mean that romantic relationships are addictive in a same way as heorin, cocaine or nikotin? 🙂

    What i think here is a standard mistake of comparing things that have no comparable elements in common. Enjoying video games (which is a strong socio-cultural issue) is not a same thing as smoking cigarretes. 🙂 In media theory there have been attempts to link media exposure to cause-effect relations (just like in natural sciences) but it is (mostly) dissmissed today as false and exxagerated. (magic bullet or hypodermic theory)

    And, naming a suicide (a false one as it seems) as a valid argument in case on mmorpg addiction is just plain ridiclous. For example, in Japan annually more than 32000 (!) people commit suicide. Now, i for once, think you will find that almost none, or at least next to none, arte connected with being a MMORPG user. And we are talking about a society that is media “high”. 😉

  • Roc

    Life would be boring without addiction to pleasurable experiences.

  • Some of the posts here are simply ludicrous.

    Very few of the posters here have done any research into the industry or the science/research centers currently studying these type of issues.

    Even the leading researchers in the industry right now don’t have the answers that some of you feel comfortable tossing up as “facts” on a Internet blog.

    Don’t be in such haste to provide an answer. This article or the comments carry no weight in the meta-argument.

    @ the author, please “verify” this statement:

    “Addiction to online games, and especially addiction to MMORPGs, is no longer a joke, but a verifiable condition that has left a trail of bodies in its wake.”

    A “verifiable condition”? I am pretty sure no organized group of science has come out to say that gaming addiction is a medical condition. As of the time of this response, gaming addiction has been proposed to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) but has not been approved (it was recently denied).

    If you know anything about the DSM approval can take a significant amount of proven studies, research and time.

    Everyone here should do themselves a favor and read some of the leading bodies of research into video games and gamer psychology before making bold, unfounded comments. No need to make unexplored metaphors up to have an Internets battle either.

    Source:
    Been working in the industry/well studied in psychology/B.S. in related field/thousands upon thousands of hours of research

  • Jake

    Here are the actual reasons why people continue to play these games:
    -Peer pressure (make sure to show up to the raid on time!)
    -Gambling (I hope my item drops today!)
    -Investment (I’ve worked so hard to improve my character)
    -Friendship

    I have been playing World of Warcraft for years, but have recently stopped because of how it affected my real life. Its fun, and it’s okay to do in moderation. The key is finding the maturity to realizing you need to correctly prioritize real life over the game. I plan to start playing again when the next expansion releases, but I will control myself because I’ve experienced first hand how the game can destroy one’s life.

    Something some of you must realize is that friends are made in these games, even if they are on the other side of the country, you grow relationships with these people. If you are to quit a game, those relationships would have to be torn.

    Also, do not lump games together. I’m looking at you, formergamer. If you seriously think that games can’t spark creativity, don’t educate, and don’t have good stories, you have a very shallow pool of gaming experience. Do you realize that video games are one of the few forms of entertainment that can really require you to think?

    Bottom-line: Not all games are as ‘addictive’ as MMO’s. MMO’s are fine if played in moderation. The content of games vary greatly. Gaming (in general) is not any more destructive than any other form of entertainment and should not be used as a scapegoat.

  • Addiction could does not necissarly mean that it can cause immediate death. It all works into a 12 step program dealing with unmanageability of life with a certain thing.

  • Dza

    I’ve been a gamer for 14 years and I can’t believe some of the stuff that some people have posted against video games. It seems as though blaming video games is the new “hot button”. I’ve read articles that say video games are not art, not educational, not creative, not entertaining, not good for you etc., but that’s all up to opinion really. The main difference between gamers and non-gamers? Gamers don’t care that you don’t game.

    “if people have (a) “problem gaming”, the issue is not with the product, it’s with the person having the issue.” -Nikola Begedin

  • roy

    My mum watches TV about 2hrs each day.. is she a TV addict?

  • Recovering WoW Addict

    I was addicted to World of Warcraft for about 2 years. It was all I would do all day everyday. I used it as an escape from my real life. I was having problems with depression and just didn’t want to face my issues. I basically imploded on myself and ignored everything else in my life that wasn’t about the game. I kept telling myself that I needed to stop, but I kept logging on. Eventually something snapped and I got professional help which eventually led me to quit.

    I do believe it’s a form of addiction. It was something I did that had a negative impact on the other aspects of my life, yet I continued to “abuse” the game. People that say to just stop really do not understand.

    I totally agree with find balance in your life. You need other activities that also give pleasure/joy.

  • Jumbo

    There are some seriously strong cases of denial here. Using the term “balance” as an excuse.

    I was once an MMO addict (World of Warcraft). I can say that looking back I exhibited all the traits of addiction. Pretending I didn’t spend too much time on it, lieing to loved ones etc. It was only when I eventually forced myself to give up (mainly because I was truly rubbish at it) that I realised this.

    The phrase “it’s not a problem” is typically one I used a lot, and for me afterwards I now see it was a problem, and that (as many people have responded here) they are using the very same argument.

  • SomeDude

    To those people here who doubt that this is a genuine problem, I suggest you look at this:

    http://www.wowdetox.com/

  • Tonya Daniels Simons

    This is the same argument that was used back when Dungeons and Dragons started. OMG, it’s terrible. People are dying, blah blah blah. People are killing because they are dreaming about fictional dragons etc. Please. The people that do those types of acts are mentally imbalanced to begin with so they would’ve found a way to do whatever act that they committed. The comparison to MMORPG to depression, addiction etc is the same in my eyes as Ozzy Osbourne’s music causing a couple of kids to run out and kill people then themselves. Bull$*&! (WTF, really? Is that all that you have?) The people that are dying would’ve found another way to die. If a person neglects their child for 3 months as a result of MMORPG, they would’ve neglected it over something else just as easily. And yet, it’s the games fault not their own. This is a quick fix/temporary insanity answer. What’s the best way to get out of killing somebody? OMG, it’s a game or music, I saw something on television that made me want to eat my neighbor’s dog and dance naked in the moonlight.
    On a positive side, relationships have formed between people that may not have taken place because of location. Some people live on little islands (I have a friend who lives off the coast of Canada.)or other out of reach areas. They often felt isolated and lonely and now have somewhat of a social life. (Per se) I’m not denying the fact that MMORPG can eat up time, however if also fills up a void for some people. I would for once like to see an article that shows the positive side of MMORPG. People are lonely and this world is in great pain and if gaming helps ease some of that, I don’t personally see the problem.

  • Tonya Daniels Simons

    BTW, I do find it suspicious that the article immediately links a center that can help and I suspect (not confirmed yet) that this article is Christian motivated. Meaning, written by Christians. Hahahahaha.

  • MJ

    If you can just quit, then you were not addicted, you just played too much.

    I was addicted to Everquest 2. I switched to a part-time job so I could play more. I slept only 4-5 hours a night. All my time outside the game was spent thinking about it. I knew I shouldn’t be playing as much, I lied to friends and family, telling them I was building websites (I’m a web developer). Every event in my calender was related to something happening in game. And I couldn’t stop. I tried so many times, but it was… painful to stop – it’s hard to describe unless you’ve actually been addicted to something, but I couldn’t function without it.

    Looking back on it, I think a large part of the addiction was to the escapism rather than the game itself (the game could have been any MMO tbh, EQ2 was just the one I was playing at that point).

    Outside the game I was in massive debt and my life was a shambles. While in the game I was wanted and useful. I could wrap my mind around all the intricacies of the game and be a source of wisdom to those around me, I could play in raids and help my virtual friends, I could also gain many personal accomplishments and feel a real sense of achievement that was missing in my real life.

    The end started really simply. We lost power. For two weeks we had no electricity and at first it was terrible. I literally had the shakes. I just sat there thinking about the game, worried about all the things I was missing, worried about how far behind I was getting and what my friends would do without me.

    The need to play diminished over the two weeks, but when power came back 14 days later I logged in – and no one missed me. Things weren’t that different from two weeks before. I’d missed basically nothing. So I logged out. It was still hard, and part of me wanted to log in and get up to date, but I managed to resist.

    The interesting thing is that as my life improved my need to play went down. I sold a lot of my belongings, got a better job, concentrated on reducing my debts and my need to hide in a virtual world diminished.

    Gaming can be an addiction, it doesn’t have to be a chemical addiction to be a massive problem, although I have no doubt that there were chemical releases in my brain that made me feel positively euphoric. Even if you only see it as a mental defect with the person playing you can’t deny that it’s a massive issue for those people.

    I look back on that time now and it seems crazy what I was putting myself through and I’m glad I got out of it. I’ll never play an MMO again, it’s not worth the risk.

  • BBB

    Just be careful. The basic argument for gaming being considered an addiction is that your brain becomes addicted to the good feelings you get. This same response should be attainable through any activity that you enjoy. Like all things, gaming must be done in moderation. Personally, I find that the best solution is to just stop your subscription if you get bored. Play something that takes less of your time and is less demanding on your schedule. Then go back to your old game when you feel like you want to. It’s much easier to stop playing when you can’t anyways.

  • Tara

    @ Tonya – Positive things with gaming: http://www.helium.com/items/1461690-spouse-boyfriend-girlfriend-wow

    I found happiness in my real life through World of Warcraft. I met my husband online. We have a wonderful child and a nice house. We get all our chores done, we pay all our bills, and we both have stable, professional careers.

    We manage to raid 3 or more nights a week, and casually game other nights. He likes Starcraft and I level alts.

    We do have some rules with the game, the main one being no playing while our son is awake. He goes to bed around 7:30 and we will normally log on and play until 11:30 to 12.

    I think of all those people who watch prime time TV, then the news, then the late night shows. They watch TV for all the hours we are gaming. Are their lives any less or more successful? In game, I work with 9 – 24 other people to solve problems (down bosses). I manage resources and time. I barter and trade. I have friends. And I have entertainment too while using my brain.

    tl;dr: I play, I have a nice life. It is possible.

  • Sam

    Once again I see articles like this and immediately see one thing. All of the examples used in this article are extreme cases, not everyone is going to starve their kids over an MMO. Most people play MMOs because it is their form of stress release and entertainment. It is also a place where you can socialize with people who have the same interests as yourself, just like a basketball game, or a book signing. I am not saying that people do not spend excessive amounts of time on MMOs, that is entirely true. However, as with every individual there are different priorities that we create in our lives, and for some people MMOs rank higher than being social in their community.

  • Tonya,

    Why would you bang on Christians in this situation? I don’t think this has anything to do with the conversation other than the fact that 12 step programs are religious based. Religion has little impact on addition/video games/this argument in general. Null point noted.

    Also your point about positive sides of MMORPGs, there are plenty of these. Stop tabulating the negatives and start focusing on the positives.

  • Tonya Daniels Simons

    (ILikeCandy)
    The reason being is generally, (not all cases) when there is something that anybody enjoys, the christian community finds a way to say it’s wrong. I grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist Church. I hated it. I was considered, in my day (80s), a satanist because I liked DnD and I listened to Iron Maiden. LOL. If you do a little bit of research you will soon trace a lot of things of this nature to Christianity. I’m noy bashing you or your beliefs. I have mine and you are more certainly entitled to yours. All that I am saying, is please do some research. If I’m wrong, I can live with it. On the flip side, IF I’m not. can you? Christians are all these wonderful people that they make themselves out to be and they do (TRUST ME) have hidden agendas. Again, no disrespect to any Christians.

  • Tonya Daniels Simons

    BTW, Tara..I’m very happy for you. You have done what few have and it sounds like you have a wonderful life.

  • Chris

    This is what we get when the so-called professionals try to understand a problem to death. Excessive gaming ain’t an addiction, it’s a mental disorder, like excessive gambling is. Calling it an addiction is an insult to people struggling with addictions to various substances. Gaming, as everything else we do for entertainment, needs to be done with some moderation.

  • Tonya,

    I am not Christian, I was just saying that your point regarding this article being written by Christians is rather void. You are basing your opinion on personal experience rather than research.

    You ask me to “research” the subject but I am unsure where exactly you are pointing me.

    “If you do a little bit of research you will soon trace a lot of things of this nature to Christianity.”

    I’ve done plenty of research on this particular subject (religious individuals speaking out against video games) but your comment is extremely vague. The fundamental argument goes well beyond the context of this article. Addiction to video games cannot encompass the entirety of “religious vs. non-religious” arguments which you seem to be bringing up due to your personal experience and perhaps negativity towards Christians due to said experience. Not to mention you have only hypothesized that the article was written by Christians, but offer no evidence of this.

    For these reasons I see your argument against Christians in this situation completely unfounded and useless in this conversation, I quote:

    “I suspect (not confirmed yet) that this article is Christian motivated. Meaning, written by Christians. Hahahahaha.”

  • Carlos Valero

    There is the potential for gaming to make the world a better place. Watch this video and you will see that in video games have the potential to solve many real world problems in time and make the world a better place.

    Some of you asked for some evidence of video games doing something good, here it is.

    http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1mQJnf/www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

  • J

    Meh, anyone can get addicted to anything in this world..

    only the weak have no control over themselves

  • OGx3

    Hmm…I’ve noticed that the people who are “testifying” against video games, as a former addict, also stated that they had problems in their own lives. One person claimed that

    “Outside the game I was in massive debt and my life was a shambles”

    while another stated

    “I was having problems with depression”

    which only leads me to further believe that most video game addiction problems start with the person/before the video game. As a wise man (or woman) once said

    “where there is a will there is a way, if there is no way there was no will”

  • Addiction lies in the individual, not in the substance. Stop blaming the substance and start educating individuals.

  • Anon

    I have noticed that not a single person attacked or debated iLikeCandy’s argument based on the DSM. I wounder, is this because he/she has just provided effective evidence that you are all completely ignorant of the actual subject of this debate? Maybe this comment was unproductive, but I thought I would point this out.

  • Anon

    I would like to note that the phrase “you are all” was meant to directly indicate, and of course to lump together, all the people pointing to the denial argument, or biomedical arguments as proof that gaming is addictive.

  • Thank you Anon!

    I was hoping someone at some point would actually provide some real evidence in their arguments…

    *shrug* – lame blog is lame.

  • a Non eMouse

    I agree with Nikola Begedin and erg.
    Games aren’t the problem, they’re just a means of avoiding the problem.

    The real problem is with the way society treats people during their formative years. I know personally because I have had this problem. (still do, though I no longer use games as the treatment… now I read books. Same problem, different escape)

    My problem is that I quickly get bored of something that isn’t challenging. I am an extremely fast learner, and thus in school I did horribly. Yes, horribly. I learned things quickly, and then got bored of them as the teacher methodically plodded along to make sure the rest of the class learned it. I aced tests and quizzes with A’s and an occasional B… but never did a single bit of homework. In math classes (my fav subject) I usually slept through everything, and yes I still had the high marks on tests and quizzes.

    In truth I believe the solution lies in the way KhanAcademy is moving lectures away from the classroom, and allowing the teacher to focus on helping kids instead of talking them into a coma.

    tl;dr – School sucks the life out of you and makes life not worth living… so we find anything to avoid it, not just games.

    Anyone that has time should watch the Khan Academy TED Talk.

  • In my opinion people who get addicted to games are very weak. I never got addicted to anything and i tried a lot.

    Getting addicted has mainly to do with your own mental state. If youre a strong person, you wont get addicted easily. The problem is, most people who believe they are mentally strong are not.

    Thats the point of getting addicted, you know that youre dooing something too much, you like what you are dooing and want to continue dooing it – thats the point where weak people get addicted and strong people decide to continue or not.

  • moomoojimmy

    Get ready for a lesson from a seasoned vet. I studied Psychology at university and have played MMO’s for years and consequently have thought about this for years.

    The problem in this issue is that people have reported that this game is making them depressed and addicted and some people even kill themselves reporting MMO’s to be the cause.

    I would argue that it is not mmo’s that are the cause so much as their underlying condition. This games provides exactly what depressed people need -> reward. Therefore temporarily making them happy. However these games cannot yet provide what people percieve as life rewards or long term socially acceptable goals. Therefore, as soon as the game is put down, their more long term goals are detrimented due to time loss. This loss does not have a good effect on people already depressed.

    In addition to this, the lack of exposure to sunlight and lack of physical exercise (both known to increase symptoms of depression) are increasingly ramping up those depressive symptoms.

    A more advanced point is that ambition and depression have an interrelation, the 2 work together to enable you to advance in life. People with strong tendencies towards these drives or emotions will find alot of ‘addiction’ or ‘enjoyment’ in MMO’s.

    End result = not a happy bunny.

    Combat method = people prone to depression get professional or medical help before playing this game or rule this one out as one for you.

    People with suoer ambition, realise what the game is doing and ration your time to it, channel your energies elsewhere as you believe is fit. Or sit this one out.

    Lots of exercise and sunlight are always a bonus.

    Use these techniques and then you will be able to enjoy MMO’s as the great and fun hobby they can be. Take it from me, a happy financial advisor in a stable relationship that loves MMO’s.

  • BH nullvalue

    holy crap a 12 step program?? you’re just trading one addiction for another . 12 step addiction is real and it keeps you feeling powerless ,helpless and dependent on “working the steps”. reaffirming powerlessness is literally one of the steps. Oh and idgaf that this is a necropost Xp

  • mauro scattolini

    I wont say anything about if the articles is right or wrong, actually I prefear different source of information as a student and researcher, but first nobody actually defined the concept of addiction, or of addiction to videogame (presence of withdrawal symptoms etc…) because a game designer or a graphic designer or anyone who work in the game industry could be related to heavy pc and game usage, but cannot be included into the addicted category. Second most of the time when discussion are about psychological subject is important to speak about and explain all the different point of view, because every has it’s own ‘right side’ and ‘wrong side’ and there isn’t a single research or theory that could explain a phenomena complex as addictions are.

    So different things are able to trigger an addiction to videogames, from fun (who doesn’t like something fun? We all want to have fun) to depression, social phobia, videogame passion, anxiety, fear of being ugly/fat/social unsuitable, other addictions…

    potentially everything could make us addicted, from water to sex or even starving (as anorexia showed us – read Valerie Compan research articles -), we are as human born to experience addition.
    The point is to learn to ‘control’ it, and don’t be overwhelmed by it.