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Problematic Usage


In other words, the people who are most likely to exhibit problematic usage are those who are purposefully using the online environment to escape their real life problems. They are playing to avoid thinking about their real life concerns. Another set of people who are likely to exhibit problematic usage are those who are driven to advance and achieve within the game. They are hooked on the rewards cycle, accumulating resources, currency and rare items. We know that these are not the same group of people because the two motivations are largely uncorrelated (r = .13).

With regards to the two questions we had, the data suggests that there are two pathways that are highly correlated with problematic usage - escapism and achievement. The escapism component is more about the mindset of the people playing, while the achievement component is both about the goal-driven nature of the player as well as the rewards mechanisms provided by the game. In either case, the data suggests that models of problematic usage need to consider both internal and external factors, but also that they need to take account of the different reasons players exhibit problematic usage. There is no single thing about MMORPGs that causes problematic usage and knowing this helps us develop different ways to help people who are exhibiting problematic usage.

Gender and age differences were also analyzed. Male players were significantly more likely to exhibit problematic usage than female players. Players between the ages of 18-22 are the ones most likely to exhibit problematic usage.

See Also (listed in chronological order):

- Understanding MMORPG Addiction
- Addiction
- The Seduction of Achievement
- A New Disorder is Born

 



Comments

I think that is quite possibly the most accurate assesment of the matter I have seen. I believe that the word addiction puts up smokescreens that obscure both problems and solutions.

Posted by: Evangolis on May 11, 2005 2:42 PM

I'm reminded of the arguments about whether marijuana is addictive. Some will say that it isn't truly physically dependency-causing and therefore it isn't addictive, others will say that people do become psychologically dependent on it and let it harm their lives and therefore it is addictive. So even with a real-world actual drug the word addictive is not terribly helpful in clearly delineating the issue.

Posted by: Brent Michael Krupp on May 11, 2005 11:00 PM

This all makes perfect sense to me. I didn't get a very high escapism score in the assessment, but my achievement score was much higher than I expected it to be. And my immersion and roleplaying scores were even higher.

I have been far more "addicted" to my current game, The Matrix Online, than either of the first two MMORPGs I tried. I think this has a lot to do with the way they structured the ability tree in the game (allowing a quick change of skill "loadout" to try any combination of the different "classes" for a particular gaming session) and the way that RP has been emphasised by the Live Events team that they have hired to "act" out the parts the various characters from the films (and some new ones, too).

The achiever in me has been spurred ahead to get that next level so I can increase my memory capacity and try a new mix-match ability loadout. Alternatively, I can also find myself jacking in so I don't miss out on any interactions with the Live Events Team. (Who knows when Niobe or Seraph may decide to make their presence known?)

I also find it interesting that as male players mature there is less of a tendancy for problematic usage, yet female players seem to become more active in games past 35(after a drop-off in the late twenties and early thirties).

Posted by: Augur on May 14, 2005 8:54 PM

"I also find it interesting that as male players mature there is less of a tendancy for problematic usage, yet female players seem to become more active in games past 35(after a drop-off in the late twenties and early thirties)."

Children

Posted by: Lulu on May 24, 2005 9:08 PM

This reflected my situation well. I was once fully addicted to EQ to the point of endagering relationships, purely for escapism from some hard times, I was in my mid twenties.

As I've aged, 33 now, I've become much more able to control my playing. Relationships are fine and I still enjoy playing.

Posted by: Surak on June 2, 2005 10:04 PM

I was very addicted(the bad version) to Ultima Online the 3 years I played. I never could stop to the point where I played for 20 hours one night just to grandmaster Blacksmithing. I even logged off for the nightly server shut down , waited and logged on again. It was sad. All I could ever think of was UO. One night I quit, deleted my characters, and felt good. I played Star wars galaxies for 18 months after that and World of warcraft for 2 months but never felt that pull that UO did. I quit those 2 games but it was because I didnt have fun anymore. It wasnt the same as UO. Now, im playing single player games and I feel like a recovered drug addict. at least they can spell ROFL!

Posted by: David on June 6, 2005 8:46 PM

I am pretty convinced I lost a boyfriend to WoW. He put aside all his concerns about real life aside. (quit his job, told me he couldn't be in a relationship) and plays WoW all the time. And he denies addiction of course, but anyone can see his life revolves around Azeroth. We are friends and WoW and other games are 90% of what he talks about. He is escaping reality by accomplishing things... in a game.... He even had a roleplay wedding with another character who talked him into it (after we split). Imagine my discomfort even if it is roleplay.

He is educated, has a degree and isn't really making a sincere effort to look for a job. He lives with his mother and father. The best thing they could do is kick him out of the house so he can grow up... but they won't.

I enjoy playing WoW and other games but not at the expense of someone I love... I wish I could help him... Maybe he will wake up someday and see all the time he has wasted and REAL people he lost.

What in the world has happended to young men?

Posted by: nameless1 on July 13, 2005 12:04 AM

hi cool site great job yee, i am a recovering addict from eq2 after almost a year i lost my job my life and a year of my life sucked out of me. i was suicidal after quiting i spent like 2 weeks crying and forceing myself to do thinkgs to forget about that dam game.what relly made me put it all into perspective and quit was a few urban dictionary entry's on ever quest 2 http://www.urbandictionary.com type in everquest and bam you get a rude wake up call that relly made me want to quit.
well i thin morpgs are
Created by people just as lonely as the people who play it. You play a gnome, elf, fairy or (Imagine this) a man. Your goal is to loose your job, wife, family, money, ability to use muscles (Besides clicking fingers and wrists), and life to this game. Your character collects graphical swords and potions in a never ending quest to obtain level 99 status. If you do, you are transported (in real "life") 10 years into the future, with no idea how the outside world looks, or how the sun looks for that matter.
"Yo Jim! I aint seen you 10 years! Where have you been?"
"Yae Carl, I'ft been defeating dragons and healing the week in Milotaph, a starved colony. I'm a level 96 Demi-God, and I must make haste to the local tavern to buy yet more lotion and energy serum. Good day villager."
"So, I guess you aint on for basketball then?"

Posted by: cascadia surrealist on July 18, 2005 8:02 PM

Cascadia Surrealist,

Nice one. Got a good laugh out of your quotes =)
Take care and good luck.

Nick Yee: Interesting reading. I enjoy your articles on MMORG "addiction". Thanks.

~Chris

Posted by: ~Chris on October 1, 2005 1:18 AM

The article reminded me of a summer when I was addicted to an mmorpg. Luckly I haven't played it for years now.

Anyway the article give insight into an often obscure area of psychology. I think they needs to be more sites like this one instead of people making assumptions about gaming addiction.

Posted by: Bruce on November 20, 2005 8:51 AM

I feel i started to get a little addicted to World of warcraft, i used to play it when i got home from college, and most weekends, at first it was fine, but after a a month or 2 went by i saw my college work quality getting worse, this was a wake up call for me and i just stopped playing, cancled my subscription and felt alot better, this it went on for nearly 3 months though, not as long as some of the worse cases, plus i relised early enough to react and i passed my year at college.

All i know is, family and freinds shouldn't let you get so far gone that you feel you don't want to stop playing, i relised myself and corrected the situation, not everyone is that lucky.

Although reading the WoW site latly, they had parent control for your account, this is a great idea i feel, read more here:

http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/info/faq/parental-control-faq-small.html

I feel all MMORG's should deploy this, and futher more limit EVERY account to a certain amount of hours a week/day.

Thanks for reading

--lee

Posted by: Lee on November 20, 2005 9:06 AM

I used to play a lot of video games and starcraft is one of those. I do enjoy the battle and the strategy thing when the game is played. However, I noticed that I am becoming an addict. I started to miss classes and important affairs just to play. Although I learned to counter it, I felt bad for making it a hobby. I sohuld have considered it as the least of my priorities.

Posted by: Wong Hu on November 20, 2005 6:38 PM

I never played these games, but used drugs...I just wonder if these games like some drugs could alter your personality? And how are people treated with a psychiatrist? what can close people do to get their friend or relatives out of their 'addiction'?

Posted by: Shanti on December 18, 2005 12:39 PM

I've found that having come out of high school into a serious relationship, moving out of home and in with my gf and getting a fairly inconvenient job, from a social perspective (hospitality) I found myself spending more and more of my spare time on MMORPGs because it was about the only way I could ever socialize most days...

I was hooked on EQ in 99-00 and quit for about 4 years... took the game up again at the end of 04 and have become fairly convincingly hooked again in 05...

I've also had an issue with addiction to marijuana earlier in my life and I can tell you that being addicted to EQ is MUCH MUCH WORSE...

there psychological dependence on drugs was there, and became worse, but so long as you had the self control to refrain from moving on to "bigger and better drugs" all it took was a few lucid days to realise the mistakes I was making and to deal with the problem (yes I was lucky)

Being addicted to EQ is SO much worse because it is constantly there, freely available, there is no one to say dude you've had too much because everyone there is just as hooked as you are and if you play your cards right you can maintain RL relationships while keeping this addiction at the same time.

On top of that as long as you go to the right places you always see people who are worse then you and you can placate yourself into believing that your really fine and that those are the people with a problem and not you.

One thing you said in your introduction nick was that you avoided using the word addiction because of the different implications which people have in their use of te word... I think you SHOULD use the word because the difference you pointed out is precisely the problem... society sees addiction as problematic overuse of any substance in order to satisfy a dependance, gamers see the exact same thing as a badge of pride... I remember when some guy in Korea died having played everquest for 50 hours straight everyone was talking about it, but rather then acknowledge it as a real problem people began bragging about their 24 and 48 hour play sessions... to gamers addiction is a source of pride not a problem, and it is only the lucky gamers that wake up to it and can help themselves

Posted by: Guy on January 2, 2006 10:38 PM

I think one of the big issues is the social element present in these games. Not saying this is a bad thing, but I know at times how hard it can sometimes be to discuss things and there is no one around even remotely interested. I play online games myself part-time but usually I can easily discuss any topic and have proper feedback from it. Could be things like the politics at the moment or even some remotely known sport and some one will be happy to talk about it, even if they are from another country. It is this element of social which I believe gets more and more people involved with it. As society (especially here) is getter ever more isolated (unless you enjoy getting your lungs full of smoke in the local night club) especially for anyone intellectual in this time where intelligence is for the elite. I feel this aspect is missed out the most. Same with chat rooms, forums and other mediums, they attract similar people with similar interests into them so itís like going into a discussion group with people who want to discuss the subjects.

As for problematic, it would be the fragile nature of MMOG's and other mediums is the fact some one grow emotional attachments to other online people. People start seeing other's as friends and sometimes lovers (and usually getting a nasty surprise as they find out they are not the good looking elf they seem to be). This seems to be the biggest miss. You can say itís for the goals and loot, but how does that separate it from more challenging and frankly more fun single player games? The social aspect is the key. Would you rather play all day long by yourself or would you go for diminished quality and have the ability to speak to others while you are playing, forming groups and doing other fun things together?

As Maslowís hierarchy of needs state, there needs to be social for improving self-esteem, respect of others and even Rogerís mentions this as well. The problematic bit is the fact this separates from the Real self to the Ideal self causing neurosis. Letís use a imaginary scenario of me. I am this good looking elf running around, I get people hitting on me, I have laughs with others, people finding my jokes amusing and generally come out as a fun loving extrovert. In real life, I might be an overweight bald maths teacher with the humour of a wooden plank (no offence to those who are) or even a child who is bullied at school being able to express himself.

The social aspect which you seem to miss out and which I gathered from personal experience and case study examples are in my personal opinion is the 60-80% of the issues around problematic use. [This is seperate from Escapism.]

[I didnít really proof read this, so I apologise if it comes out as nonsense.]

Posted by: Steven on January 8, 2006 2:18 PM

You have to choose how much of your life you are willing to give up to be attached to a computer like a fungus on the side of a tree, playing an MMORPG.

Posted by: Robert on January 20, 2006 11:28 AM

Ok, I tryed to stop playing eve online last year. Got back in the game and now very decided to stop gaming period.

Where is the problem for me?

I think personnaly that a game stops being just a game when you cant live a "normal life" without being constantly drawned back compulsively in your game of choice.

If for a week you cant get your mind off what is going on with your character in the game you are compulsevely hooked in gaming.

Games are part of human life. Everybody plays with stuff. People doe sports, hobbies crafts etc. As kids we played alot. Games and especially MMORGS can get your game life to "eat up" other spheres of your life such as relationships, work, shool, personnal hygene, meals and sleep.

The addicted gamer is for me someone that had is "gaming" consume large parts of his daily life where he is drawned to spend most of time gaming to the detriment of a natural balance between work (or school), relationships, sleep, meals, daliy choars etc.

At some point of you progress in this obsession you game isolated.

And something that I havent seened here is the intake of substances whiles gaming.

Some players to elevate their gaming will drink, smoke drugs, take pills like speed to get either out of reality or to get more competive againts others.

There is alot to understand in this rather uncharted phenomenon of obsessive gaming or how you want to call it.

Bottom end gaming when it come problematic is without question a healf problem and should be treated as such.

Posted by: Phil D on March 5, 2006 9:16 PM

Social element was by far the best draw for me. I have played DAoC for 4 years now. I still play alot yes but not at the out of control addiction level that i was. the frist 1/2 year or so that i played the game i was in playing about 13 to 14 hours a day and going to school and just passing my classes.I had 3.75 GPA the year before i started. On the weekends when i had no classes 18 to 20 hours was how much i normally played. The hardest part for me was i was a leader of a guild in the game and if anyone needed help with anything in the game i was there for them, I was filling my need to help people in a game and i was helpless to stop doing it. I knew i had a problem i didn't want to totally give the game up becuase of the social aspects of the game but i new i needed some way to force man hand to leave the game for a period of time so that i would some perspective when i came back. i joined the military and it forced me to go with out the game for almost a year and game me control of my life again. Do i still play yes. But when friend wants to play baseball or something i can simply /quit and go play baseball now!

Posted by: james H on March 7, 2006 9:02 AM

I purchsed World of Warcraft so that my wife and I could spend time doing something we like together. We also thought that this might save us a little money by not going to movies, etc. Well my wife loved the game so much she was playing way more more than I would. I would log off to get some rest because of work the next but my wife would stay on for hours after. She loved the social aspect of the game very much. She was a stay at home mom and would also play during the day. Eventually our sex life began to suffer, she would never come to bed and finally when I asked her to stop playing so much she ignored me and actually started playing more. She was playing up to 80+ hours a week. I felt that she was beginning to ignore the children and let them run around the house unattended. We have a two year who can get into things quite quickly. The house chores no longer were gettng done and I was beginning to be blamed for not helping.

One day I found phone numbers of players on her desk. I couldnt understand why she would need to call these folks on the telephone. I logged on and asked other players if they knew who they were. I found myself being extremely jealous. My online friends assured me that I was being irrational and that there was nothing to be jealous about. I agreed however the next day she was extremely mad that I was asking about the phone numbers, accused me of not trusting her and invading her privacy and flat out asked for a divorce. Days later I logged on and those same friends who said I was being irrational told me that she in fact was having an online affair with another player. I was devistated. I also found out that this player was 17 years old. My wife is 33 and a mother of two (which seems in line with your survey).

The relationship has since escallated to phone sex and in game sex with this player(basically both players masterbating while either on the phone or online) and possibly group online sex (PuO).

This has completely destroyed my family. I have lost my best friend and my lover, the mother to my children, and my wife who I love dearly. I have told her that I feel she is addicted to which she denies. I have asked her to seek help which she refuses.

Right now she is packing her things and moving out. She says she is tired of people telling her what to do and wants her independance. She has developed a very short and fierce temper and gets angry very quickly. I wish there was someplace for me to go to get her help. But all I can do is let this play out.

Posted by: Joe W. on March 29, 2006 8:25 PM

I have been having problems myself, with World of Warcraft. I am a 17-year-old female, and have been nationally awarded several times for visual art, have attended seminars, been published, etc... But I have a problem with the concept of visual perfection. A video game, one with the aesthetics like WoW, can take on a single "perfection", the pixel itself is a symbol of something I strive for (but never achieve) in my art. I began to abandon art to play, and it was stress relief from my art, a way to no longer have perfection looming over my head.

However, I realize there are many opportunities that I've lost, ideas that will never be implemented, because I simply can't be creative in a game. The problem is that I just can't stop thinking about it.

You either die or you don't. You beat a quest or you don't. You are wearing an item, or you aren't. In art, everything is relative! No line is stright, it's just can be straight "relative" to lines bent at higher angles, which all depends on surroundings and the viewer, essentially how that person perceives contrast. But in a game, no critic can deny whether you are a certain level.

I'm struggling right now between making artwork and doing this game, all the while participating in higher-level courses for school, and maintaining my 4.0.

Last year, I began severe procrastination in my school work, writing whole essays and filling entire projects, even art ones, only a couple hours before school and the day it was due. I want to stop, but there's another twist to my situation: I have a sibling who shares my WoW account. I have started structuring my day around when he plays, and when he's not on the computer, I feel like I have to take advantage of the time he's not on (and end up playing longer than I ever would have if we both had seperate accounts).

I'd say I wish I had never come across this game, as I had barely played video games before this. However, I often actually do have fun with the game, and I can't just get rid of my account because that would be unfair to my brother, though he's just as "addicted" as I am.

However, I feel guilty complaining about this with Joe W.'s entry right above mine. As I see it, unless we die playing the game, we will be enlightened to the real world before we die.

Posted by: Orthopterai on June 26, 2006 5:00 PM

My 22 yr old son, who was just a brilliant student started WOW @ college. This led to a downward spiral of his academic, social, family lives as well as his health. His g'friend broke up with him, he's argementative with family, no more real life friends, sits at the computer for hours and neglects to take care of himself, gaining 20 to 30 lbs over the past 1 1/2 years. Friends had graduated and moved on. Any suggestions of help to quit ? He tried to quit, but lasted 2days to maximum of 2 weekes. Now feels depressed and anxious. Help !

Posted by: rose on July 5, 2006 11:49 PM

While there are aspects of the game that can lead to psychological dependence, it is often times those areas just outside the game that keep you hooked. With the advent of chat servers, you are able to assign a voice to the pixel-people you play with. You begin to get a sense of personality, and identity. Suddenly the people you play with have a humanity about them.

You care about them.

There has been a plethora of research that is often funded by the companies designing these games to the end of finding what the most effective ways are to draw players to a game and maintain their subscription. That is why the rewards system is so attractive. It was designed deliberately bearing in mind the things that generate a positive response "IRL" as gamers would say.

Beyond the escapism and the achievement motivator, there is a world of friendships and loyalties that abound.

It's more than just finding the person that you want to be intimate with. As we spend such a great deal of time with 40-50 other players. (often 5 hours a night 7 days a week if not more) you definitely begin to know who it is you are playing with. In my experience, I play with a group of guys very much like myself and so we have a great time adding our own fun social component to the game.

When I progressed through content so quickly that the game content no longer held the value it once did, the main reason I kept coming back to the game was the people I missed spending time with.

The Escapist component is also more than just getting away from the frustrations of life. You get to be a hero. A man who has faced failure time and time again can suddenly save 39 of his friends and slay the dragon of legend, earning himself respect, admiration, appreciation.

If we spend such a great deal of time pursuing relationships with others to find this kind of response from our fellow man, why is it considered such a despicable enterprise.

I know firsthand what it feels like to have your real life suffer from playing the game too much. To be honest I'm clean and sober for about a week but I can already feel myself being able to pull away from the game. Regardless, the people that I spent time with in game who I was able to work with and succeed with are people that I will not sever communication with as I leave the game.

People must learn to understand that MMORPGs are deceptively SOCIAL despite the appearance of lonely time-wasting.

As a student who is not exactly gung-ho about going out and getting trashed every night with friends and trying to mate with something, I consider my WoW time an acceptable (and healthier) alternative. I can play a game, enjoy the company of my friends, and even occasionally flirt with girls in a friendly way.

Where the line needs to be drawn is not at making friends online instead of offline. The line needs to be drawn when the health of the gamer comes into question and when the well-being of his currently standing relationships (if they are of merit) come in danger.

Posted by: CleanandSober on July 6, 2006 12:18 PM

To the woman worried about her son. All you can do is let him know that you are worried from a loving perspective. Do not approach it as though it were a terrible waste of his time and his faculties.

Many times the troubles of life will make the escapism offered by the game that much more attractive, and at times it may appear our best and only friend.

Especially after hearing what he has been through, I'm sure he is more reluctant than ever to stop playing the game. That is why the best thing for him is to SLOWLY find other things that interest him. Have him find something fun to do with his time a few days a week. If he can limit himself to a "raid schedule" then he will get a little more control over his gameplay.

Naturally, that self-control is what I would assume he is most lacking as I went through a similar situation myself.

Evaluating the potential merits of a carrot or stick operation will prove to show that the carrot is the only way to go here.

There are things in this world that mean more to people than WoW or any MMO. Finding what means more to me than anything else in this world gave me the strength and determination to find my self-control and my eventual departure from the game.

Help him find that. Help provide that.

I'm sorry that you've suffered from this already. It is perhaps the greatest tragedy of gaming when we hurt those whom we truly care about. I wish you the best of luck, and I have faith that there is still hope.

Posted by: CleanandSober on July 6, 2006 12:26 PM

I'm afraid that I am addicted to the MMORPG Runescape. Sometimes I tend to fall out of the addiction, but a new update or the fact that I'm lowering in rank, forces me to continue playing. I really like the game, but not if it ruins my life and relations with people I care about.

Posted by: Aeroavi on December 7, 2006 9:55 PM

About seven months ago, I began to fall into a gaming addiction or problematic usage with videogames. I gradually increased the amount of time I played the game. Although I successfully decreased my play time once school started, I returned once again to my habits as I became depressed, increasingly self-conscious, anxious, and less motivated in schoolwork. In order to escape my problems, I played games. The solution was always temporary, but the game (an MMO) provided a way to escape to another world in which accomplishments were set ideally in quests and leveling. Playing the game itself gave me an escape, while completing tasks within the game gave me a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. Once I went to school with my neglected workload, I restarted my cycle of feeling depressed, self-conscious, etc. and playing again the next day. The day I tried to stop playing gave me some withdrawal symptoms, such as, feelings of depression mixed with tearful outbursts and irritation with surrounding people. A few months later, I began to prioritize, plan, strategize, talk, explain, etc. in order to help myself and others with my problem. At the moment, I'm on my way to completely eliminating my gaming problem as an escape and as an easy way to achieve small accomplishments through leveling. According to your surveys, achievement and escapism do not correlate. However, I must have used escapism to forget real-life problems in some cases and used achievement as a way to make myself feel better mentally. All in all, games should serve as pure entertainment or (as your articles/studies have stated) social platforms that provide ways in which to learn leadership skills. Games should not be used to escape real-life situations and moderation is key factor as well.

Posted by: Yongyoon Kim on January 30, 2007 8:59 PM

About seven months ago, I began to fall into a gaming addiction or problematic usage with videogames. I gradually increased the amount of time I played the game. Although I successfully decreased my play time once school started, I returned once again to my habits as I became depressed, increasingly self-conscious, anxious, and less motivated in schoolwork. In order to escape my problems, I played games. The solution was always temporary, but the game (an MMO) provided a way to escape to another world in which accomplishments were set ideally in quests and leveling. Playing the game itself gave me an escape, while completing tasks within the game gave me a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. Once I went to school with my neglected workload, I restarted my cycle of feeling depressed, self-conscious, etc. and playing again the next day. The day I tried to stop playing gave me some withdrawal symptoms, such as, feelings of depression mixed with tearful outbursts and irritation with surrounding people. A few months later, I began to prioritize, plan, strategize, talk, explain, etc. in order to help myself and others with my problem. At the moment, I'm on my way to completely eliminating my gaming problem as an escape and as an easy way to achieve small accomplishments through leveling. According to your surveys, achievement and escapism do not correlate. However, I must have used escapism to forget real-life problems in some cases and used achievement as a way to make myself feel better mentally. All in all, games should serve as pure entertainment or (as your articles/studies have stated) social platforms that provide ways in which to learn leadership skills. Games should not be used to escape real-life situations and moderation is key factor as well.

Posted by: Yongyoon Kim on January 30, 2007 9:00 PM

About seven months ago, I began to fall into a gaming addiction or problematic usage with videogames. I gradually increased the amount of time I played the game. Although I successfully decreased my play time once school started, I returned once again to my habits as I became depressed, increasingly self-conscious, anxious, and less motivated in schoolwork. In order to escape my problems, I played games. The solution was always temporary, but the game (an MMO) provided a way to escape to another world in which accomplishments were set ideally in quests and leveling. Playing the game itself gave me an escape, while completing tasks within the game gave me a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. Once I went to school with my neglected workload, I restarted my cycle of feeling depressed, self-conscious, etc. and playing again the next day. The day I tried to stop playing gave me some withdrawal symptoms, such as, feelings of depression mixed with tearful outbursts and irritation with surrounding people. A few months later, I began to prioritize, plan, strategize, talk, explain, etc. in order to help myself and others with my problem. At the moment, I'm on my way to completely eliminating my gaming problem as an escape and as an easy way to achieve small accomplishments through leveling. According to your surveys, achievement and escapism do not correlate. However, I must have used escapism to forget real-life problems in some cases and used achievement as a way to make myself feel better mentally. All in all, games should serve as pure entertainment or (as your articles/studies have stated) social platforms that provide ways in which to learn leadership skills. Games should not be used to escape real-life situations and moderation is key factor as well.

Posted by: Yongyoon Kim on January 30, 2007 9:00 PM

TNx you very much of all your survey! and more, because this is my survey on our project. Tnx for the POINTERS! Mwuah. hehe

Posted by: Rafael on January 31, 2007 3:15 AM

Some people have problems and 'deal' with it with an addiction. That addiction might happen to be MMORPG. When it comes to addiction I think games at least don't leave you with a chemical dependency and the chemical damage. In fact the 'addiction' to a 'game' might be a sign that a problem needs to be addressed eg depression, compulsive personality, low self esteem, etc

I see a lot of teens playing regularly and for some parents are complaining. What I see is that they chat on line with friends, laugh, relax, have a good time. Many play with real life friends, school friends, cousins, neighbours even, continuing the real life connection or creating new ones as they discover eg at school other people are playing the same game. For some they continue off game to chat online while doing homework despite living miles away. The game is an excuse to do something together they all enjoy. If anything it helps them socialize in a safe arena: they are not on the streets, in the mall or out late at night: they talk on line!

What the parents see is that their 'child' is becoming independent and detaching from the family activities. Then they hear the media hype about 'addiction'. Add some school problems and the game is used as a scapegoat. To these parents I would suggest to take an interest in what their children are passionate about versus asking your children to be involved in your ways to relax or have fun. I know I did. It took me a while to find a game we were both interested in. He plays other games and I don't but at least we do meet somewhere inside something he likes. His friends reaction is: I wish my mum or dad would play too sometimes! I find that those who do have an extraordinary connection with their teen even if they dont play side by side in the game.

So yes young people are passionate. Learning to put balance in your life between different activities is something they will need to learn. With support and a good role model it won't be an issue. And yes some people will get overboard and learn a valuable lesson about their personality. And finally yes there are some people who will become addicted because they have an addiction problem.

Posted by: Betty on August 16, 2007 4:02 PM

I couldn't disagree more with some of what was said in this article (though not all of what was said). Addiction is a clinical term. We use it in that sense - I am addicted to X, be it alcohol, cocaine, sex, food, or MMOs. You can be addicted to virtually anything. It matters not that people misuse the word, or attach a different meaning to it. If we allow that to be the case for language in general, we defeat the purpose of language - to communicate specific ideas to each other. Baggage or no baggage, popular usage aside, addiction is a word with very specific meaning.

While an addiction may not always negatively impact your life (on the surface), it is still an addiction. These types of people are what we call "functional addicts." Just because a college student can play an MMO for 12 hours a day, and not ruin his or her life, doesn't mean they aren't addicted. They could also drink beer for 12 hours a day, and not affect their daily routines, but that doesn't change the fact that anyone who drinks all day, every day isn't most likely an addict.

I speak as one who has suffered many addiction in my life, including heavy drugs, alcohol, sex, food and, yes, MMOs. I have an addictive personality, in that it is easier than normal for me to become addicted to something. I can say this - my MMO addiction is no more or less potent than any of my other addictions. It has caused the same amount of lost sleep, wasted time, hurt feelings, missed work, and money spent. Am I to blame for my addiction, or is the game? I would say 70/30, with 70% being me. But if the game wasn't designed to be addictive, that is, if it didn't have game mechanics that affected me psychologically (in a "positive" way), it would not be a problem, would it? So the game does bear some responsibility in the dichotomy. If cocaine had not "bite", would I want to do it in the first place? Of course not. And thus, I wouldn't become addicted to it, psychologically or physically.

I also speak as a game designer, of some 8 years, who has worked as a lead on MMO projects, including one major AAA shipped MMO. There may be a debate about whether games and specifically MMOs are addictive, but the truth of the matter cares not about intellectual debates. Lives have been and are being affected, debate or not. Addictions are real.

Posted by: Matthew on March 26, 2010 7:36 AM

Matthew - I appreciate the thoughtful comments and I think we agree on the substantive issues but we disagree on the semantics.

Unlike your claim that "addiction is a clinical term", the word "addiction" is not used in the DSM-IV; it is not a clinical term. The DSM-IV uses the phrase "substance dependence". As currently defined in the DSM-IV, substance dependence can only occur with physical drugs. There is debate about whether people can be "addicted" to video games in the APA precisely because it isn't clear a biological model of dependence and withdrawal can be applied to non-biological things like shopping or gaming. While I agree with you that many people may have problems with gaming, researchers have yet to work out a coherent model of what drives that behavior and how best to deal with it.

And unlike your argument, I'd suggest that words are only meaningful when they have a specific and shared definition. A word that can mean anything or can apply to anything loses its meaning. The word "addiction" is used colloquially to mean so many imprecise things that it simply becomes a distraction in actual discussions, where its main contribution is miring everyone in negative connotations. This is similar to referring to Obama as a fascist and socialist in the healthcare debates.

And I think it's the same thing in MMO "addiction". We can choose to use a highly imprecise and loaded colloquial term and conflate it with drugs, but what I'm arguing is that doing this distracts people from talking logically and coherently about what's really happening, why it's happening, and how ultimately to best help people with problems.

As in the healthcare debate, when we start using empty phrases like fascist socialist, we're actually no longer having a coherent debate about healthcare.

Posted by: Nick Yee on March 26, 2010 10:38 AM
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