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Understanding and Dealing with Gaming Problems: A Q&A with a Therapist

And finally, I also asked Shavaun for some do's and dont's for people who are concerned about someone they know who might have a problem. This set of points also helps summarize many of the important things Shavaun brought up throughout the interview.

Things to do:

With a child:


  • Set clear limits regarding computer use and enforce them. Internet use is a privilege not a right.
  • Be a good role model in living an active and balanced lifestyle.
  • Build a positive and loving relationship enjoying a variety of activities together, as much as it's in your power to do so.

With an adult:


  • Communicate in a caring and constructive way about your concerns and sense of loss or disappointment. Do this as long as the individual is willing to interact with you in a positive manner.
  • Make specific requests ("It would make me very happy if we could spend three evenings together and at least one day on the weekend").
  • Allow natural and logical consequences to occur for irresponsible behavior.
  • Take care of your own needs for social and emotional support; find recreational activities that make you happy.
  • Encourage consultation with a professional therapist.
  • Realize that ultimately you cannot control another person and in the process of detachment a sense of loss occurs. Find support for yourself.

Things not to do:


  • Don't be a broken record venting anger and nagging doesn't help. You can state your feelings without communicating in a rageful way.
  • Don't pay for a problem gamer's broadband connection (or other bills) yourself.
  • Don't pay monthly game subscription fees for a problem gamer.
  • Don't do anything that makes it easier for her/him to maintain an irresponsible lifestyle.
  • Don't threaten to leave unless you are serious. Be very clear about what your needs are.

I'd like to thank Shavaun again for taking the time to address these questions. You can contact Shavaun at "therapist @ dreamtreader dot com".

See Also (more recent articles listed first):

- The Trouble with "Addiction"
- A New Disorder is Born
- Problematic Usage
- The Seduction of Achievement
- Addiction
- Understanding MMORPG Addiction

 

Posted on December 2, 2006 | Comments (25) | TrackBack (0)


Comments

Great article!

Posted by: Judson on December 3, 2006 9:49 PM

Thats interesting. My GF and I pick days and times in advance where we will make time for eachother and it works out pretty well for us. For example Wed Night is always our night together, no partying with friends no raids thats our time.

Posted by: Argyuile on December 5, 2006 6:29 AM

This advice is right on target. If you have a relationship with a "gamer" that leaves no time for you, find other activities and friends to meet for dinner etc., over time you will likely find that the "gamer" will simply not notice or care. Then you know it's time for the question: "Is this how I want to spend my life?" If all you have gotten back is anger and defensiveness, just leave. The main thing is, don't waste too much time trying to work it out and hoping your partner will "return" to you. Another aspect not addressed is many "gamers" who leave real life relationships are engaged in the excitement of "hooking up" with another "gamer" and they even get married in their games and meet and marry in real life. You have ceased to matter to the "gamer", he is gone. So don't stay too long hoping it's not true. My perspective is from a two year decline of an 11 year relationship. All the things I did only helped me to leave. I hope others may be more successful. I think the "gamer" finds a place where he can be a hero, flirt, fall in love, meet in real life based on heroic cartoon experiences in a make believe world. I see it as a loser's escape from reality. Especially when others suffer for the "gamer's" narcissistic fantasies. There is little need to have high expectations for dragging a narcissist out of his fantasy world. Moving on sooner rather than later is what I recommend. I would like to see studies of "gamers" who find they have lost time and relationships and more to their fantasy world.

Posted by: Martha on December 5, 2006 10:32 AM

Great article!

Not all gamers are losers, mindlessly driven to play at fantasy and no real life interests. I have been married 12 years to a gamer, and now I game myself. We both game with our daughter and view it as great family time together.

For my family, this gave us a common interest to do together and talk about. We have specific 'offline' nights where we do things outside of the house together.

Aside from gaming, we all read books, go hiking and watch movies together.

It was rather nice to see a therapist NOT get into a lather over gaming, but to come at the subject realistically. Gaming, like many other hobbies/interests, isn't for everyone, but it is here to stay. It can be a great pass time or a horrible addiction. As it is with all things, moderation goes a long way.

Cheers

Posted by: Lisa on December 5, 2006 11:55 AM

Nice job :)

I especially like how you(Shavaun) adequately defined the addiction problem, but I think that maybe creating a bigger distinction between the idea of gaming addiction and chemical addictions.

I come from the perspective of Shavauns children in that I grew up in a family were the parents had little time for children because they needed to provide for the family. I really think online games would have been a huge step up from TV and single player games in my personal development. I grew up as a total introvert, and changed completely when I went to college (Im not going to go into details, but I partied a lot), which wasnt easy. I would like to know if anyone has any additional experience/knowledge on developmental effects of being a part of an online community?

I really hate not knowing who posts, so Im 26, male and play WoW about 20-25 hours a week.

Posted by: Rob on December 7, 2006 7:33 AM

I think there's an area that really needs some more investigation here, and it was briefly alluded to early in the article - having to do with the development of intimate relationships within the game world. I think some people are at terrible risk - I've "met" people who have apparently ruined their marriages over these. Another very strange phenomenon I've come across: in-game romances between people who never plan to meet in the real world. These appear sometimes to be very serious - there's no plan to ever meet, ever call - probably affairs. But they're impressively serious. Possibly predatory? Not sure. But alarming, at least to this parent. I'd like to hear some thoughts on what motivates people to do these things - I've heard the people involved describe "needs they never knew they had"... or how this or that person "fills the void in my heart" - it's very moving, but potentially explosive stuff! Any insights? Thanks!

Posted by: Eveline on December 7, 2006 10:12 AM

A very well thought out article. The focus on identifying the dysfunction rather than the addiction is especially helpful.

One of my problems with the anti-gaming crowd is the failure to recognise that sometimes the gaming and online relationships are a positive change for the gamer. Sometimes it is the "real life" relationships problematic and the angry spouse or "loved one" the problem that causes the dysfunction.

Two examples: A woman in my guild who was very popular and nice, and built many close friendships turned out to be an isolated and abused housewife. Her husband video-tape monitored her at home, regularly sexually abused her, and had isolated her from any "real life" friends. Through the game she made new friends, gathered a support base, and then appealed to me, her guild leader for help to get out. Together we got the number of the women's center nearest her, and three hours later she was gone, her and her children in a safe house. Now she lives with her children, is employed, and is on year two of a positive and nurturing relationship with someone she met online. She no longer plays, as she is now able to get her needs met in the real world. Nevertheless, the ex-husband blamed the game and identified her as a problem gamer.

Second example: A 25 year old woman living with the same people she had grown up with. Alcoholism and injection drug use was the norm in this community, although she didn't drink or do drugs herself due to health problems. Her role in her home was essentially that of an enabler, tending to the children while the parents drank, cooking for people, cleaning up after the nightly party. She discovered video games where she learned to type, and design simple web pages for her guild. More importantly she stopped enabling the dysfunction around her, and started detaching and re-socialising as she met people from broader walks of life. We also criticised the constant "crises" that were going on in her life, and I think that feedback helped her see beyond it herself. After two years of gaming she left the house, got a job as a secretary in my city, and managed to build herself a financially sucessful life with some help from some of us (from the game) who live around here. She still games. Her family, of course, blames the game, and identifies her as a problem gamer. (the sad part of this story is that she was unable to get custody of her siblings, despite the involvment of social services in the situation, possibly because of the accusation that she was a video game addict)

For myself I have also had real life support from people I met online, and have been able to reshape my life to include things that worked better for me including a career shift towards tech (I was basically a Ludite before EQ). Some of my party friends did lose me from their lives when I started gaming, but to be honest, our lifestyles had diverged, and eventually some seperation had to happen. One or two did blame the game at first but five years later, seeing me happy and healthy, they have come around.

Posted by: Welegu on December 7, 2006 12:34 PM

This article is really helpful. I have been known to have an addictive personality, and my passion for MMORPGs often leads me into a negative spiral of escapism and denial of the real world.

When my girlfriend threatened to leave me because of it, I snapped back to reality. It is true that you should NOT, EVER, NEVER, NEVER, tell a problem gamer that you will leave because they game unless you intend to do it. This will only instill a sense of guilt in an ALREADY DEPRESSED INDIVIDUAL. They will only play it more, and resign to your leaving in a depression.

Gaming really can be a hobby. Start characters together. Theorycraft and see which duo works the best together. Make cute, matching night elves (girls like alliance and pretty races sometimes!)

Make a male human with your girlfriend and name him after yourself.

Roleplay with your girlfriend and tell her how you really feel about her in real life. Remind her that you care.

Have nights where you turn off the computer and TV and talk to each other.

This article is extremely helpful for anyone in a problem relationship with gaming.

Posted by: Solomon Carter on December 7, 2006 1:50 PM

To Eveline re: romances that start in the game. This is indeed an area for further exploration, as it seems to be fairly common and sometimes there are serious consequences to real life relationships. I think the reasons this happens are fascinating!

In addition there ARE occasionally strange and predatory people who make others uncomfortable during game play...during my time in Lineage2 I had two in-game "stalkers" - loners whom I had befriended who became fixated on my elf as if she was a real character with romantic potential!
Interesting stories about what happened but it was odd to notice that I actually had the reaction of "fear" to things that they would say at times.

Another article topic perhaps.

Thanks everyone else for the feedback!

Posted by: Shavaun on December 8, 2006 11:02 AM

It's true that I've worried about whether I have a gaming addiction or not. I looked at "real life maintenance criteria" and do see that I am affected in a number of ways, though I'm not sure that it's entirely adverse.
I have certainly lost interest in food. But- I used to be overweight, which suggests that I was an overeater through boredom. Boredom alleviated through gaming= weight now normal.
I used to chew my fingers until they bled, out of anxiety. Focus on game= less anxiety= intact fingers.
Chronic shyness made going out with friends an ordeal. I still go out, and it's still often an ordeal, but communication with new-found online friends and guildies makes me feel much less socially isolated.
Ennui and dissatisfaction with job led to chronic mild depression. Achieveable in-game goals and exciting variety, as well as reassuring grind with a guarantee of recompense and autonomy- the choice is yours- provides a kind of satisfaction not otherwise available. I feel myself to be emotionally more well-adjusted now, as a curious result of frequent gaming, than I was prior to getting hooked. I care even less about my job (though I still get all my work done), but maybe this is a good thing (?).
My house is perfectly tidy. I'm online so much, I don't get a chance to mess it up.
MMORPG's- opiate of the masses, or a therapeutic boon?

Posted by: Alison on December 12, 2006 4:16 AM

I'm happy to see not everybody is stuck on the "addiction" opposition. There's nothing like addiction in online gaming. Nowadays some people even use that as an excuse to flee responsability : "It's a drug I can't do anything".
This article points the problem : compulsive gaming comes from a pathology specific to the person and not the game. And thanks for the precision about online socialization, it's hard to explain to people how online relationships are perfectly sane and sometimes more than when you see the other with your own eyes.

However I somehow disagree with the way the author is going about the problem of dealing with a compulsive gamer. Hitting bottom isn't a good solution in my opinion. There are other things to try before. Hitting bottom is another form of conflict that in most case will enforce the idea of the gamer that (s)he's right.
First thing to try is communication. Compulsive gaming as a form of escapism from reality hides a depression. It could be compulsive golf, checks, polo or whatever hobby, escapism comes from a psychological problem. And in a couple, problems rarely come from only one side. There's something wrong with the gamer AND the partner. And then communication is the best way to resolve problems in couple.
Basically you must interrest yourself with what the gamer interrests in. Yes that means that awful couple breaking game you hate so much. Once the gamer trusts you enough to talk about the game you'll be able to talk about "more". Time to bring yourself as a better hobby than the game.


Otherwise, very good article.

Posted by: Max on January 17, 2007 2:13 PM

I've been a gamer myself a long time probably since 8-10 years old. As i'm reading through out the article my childhood and adolecent years fall on those descriptions above.

The lack of immediate rewards in real life and unable to see the consequences of my action has led me to play more video games. The easy access/"parents can't control me" is one of the main pusher for me. I'm constantly in denial as shown in the examples in the article, such as neglecting most of my responsibilities in the house and refusing to listen when I'm playing.

Now I'm still playing Guildwars and thinking of quitting altogether. The main thing is that I shelled 150 bucks for that game including expansions and collector's editions with 2k hours of gaming time. Not to mention best looking gears and high completion rate across 8 characters.

Now I'm 18 and I felt that those 2k hours spent should have went to sleep which is superior to all mmos out there haha. But the thing is that the games I played helped me to mature more faster learning about economics, psychology, mind solving, research (especially researching overpowered builds which takes of work) and probably alot more. Most notable of them is that I actually gained a somewhat mmo addiction immunity and will probably to combat addiction on my future partner or my children aswell.

And if all thing fail and I'm addicted to mmo again then that time I would probably have a decent job and buy all those epic loots I want and eventually quit because there is nothing to do anymore.

Posted by: Jun on January 19, 2007 5:39 AM

"And if all thing fail and I'm addicted to mmo again then that time I would probably have a decent job and buy all those epic loots I want and eventually quit because there is nothing to do anymore.

Posted by: Jun on January 19, 2007 05:39 AM"

Jun too funny but too real,
what started as something of a eureka of games
to me in the beggining of 1999 when redmoon was released as a beta, ragnarok beta, then talesweaver, then back to ragnarok private servers, then back to redmoon private, then back to ragnarok, and now guild wars...

I'm a 22 male that vowed not to get back into mmo
every time i said i pulled myself away from each game.
but what happend, friends started to talk about the latest games and what led next? the thought, the urge, and the action,
i bought factions CE and was blown away by the immersive world that was created, and there went 100 bucks, soon after spending 160 hours in 25 days and buying loot from websites, then came in a credit cards purchase of NF,

whats wrong?

An understanding that there is a factor not only with myself, but with society as a whole. habitual idosynchrosies, that after enough programing of the mind, restrictions and moderation switches are turned off.

many of the things talked about in the interview with the therapist makes sense.
I can appreciate what is trying to be done here, and yes, "you dont have to hit rock bottom to figure out something is wrong" allthough that tends to be, when most come to that hurtful realization.
yes, so many have tried to counteract the time they spend on mmo's by spending quality nights with eachother, but what do you find most of their minds are on? not with the group, but how your going to find the next rare gold perfect sundering mod for you flashy new weapon.
the problem with these games, is you cant just pick up and play a game, finish it and feel satisfied... no its is an alternate reality that lives 24 hours of the day wether your conscious or not. it is a "second life", but who of us have the time to have a second life without neglecting the first one, the real one?

like most things in this world, games are only a instant gratification, such as most selfish pursuits. truth be told, when you reach lvl 60 on your mage that you have spent 40+ game days on and you jump for joy, only seconds later are you back on the chair trying to get to 61.
and thus the cycle continues, until when? when does it stop? until your wrists have given out and are now crippled by carpel tunnel syndrome?
or when you can no longer see because the eyes have given out, or perhaps die of exhaustion
from neglecting your own body.


these things are the worst case scenarios, where no one thinks it will happen to, and no it most likely will not due to moderation.
but if you knew something was harmful would you offer it? apparently the ciggarette companies do.

the only thing to do is go cold turkey, in my own experience, i have found by occupying my time with things that are really meaningful and give a true sense of accomplishment brings much joy. as video games talk to many, through all walks of life, its just there becuase its all we known about. and with the rise of video games it can only get worse. its too good to be true.
we all have sweet tooths and games are our candy
I think until, like cancer, where many people are affected greatly and there is a public announcement of like a prohibition of video games lol,will ones have a more concious understanding about what problems lie within the entertainment we feed ourselves.

many enjoy alltypes of games. for the most part, video games are mostly junk food for our brains.
Granted it does give some learning such as research, hand eye, and other things.... but as humanbeings we are a physical people and if the only hand eye coordination is upon the index finger and the left mouse button (sarcasm)
i dont think this dexterity will be much use when you are faced with a real life situation that requires you to use all your vital force.
we live in a generation that wants to use the least amount of physical labor to our jobs, creating one really laze group of people.
where I live, the ratio of office jobs to labor jobs are like 1:10 why? no one wants to do hard work. lol well for the moment we dont need to be laborious, but when the time comes, say a disaster strikes and earthquakes strike, your lvl 15 fireball spell isnt going to save you.


illustration: we all enjoy candy, i love it, i know its bad for me, so i could easily say dont eat candy, its unhealthy... but i still long for sweets, something sugary, but there are alternatives, so many fruits are packed with sweetness, yet we long for the processed and food devoid of any nutrition., the only way to become healthy is by awareness and action.

so ya, its easy to say, but different to DO so ill stop here hoping to put this part of my life behind me....yet again.

Mrfantasmik

Posted by: Mrfantasmik on February 6, 2007 9:53 PM

My name is Julian, and I am a WoW Addict.

The posts here are great, and spot on ... Mrfantasmik has it nicely; I've been there before; I have quit; I have come back, I transferred my character (but kept in touch with the person who i transfered it to), got my characters back, and then levelled up again.

I've played nearly 50days (24hour period) of WoW in the past 12months. That's an awful lot of time...

Look at it this way, if you had 8 hours sleep a night that would be roughly 9 days of sleep each month.

Or if i was paid for those hours worked, that's around 60 to 70 thousand dollars.


I'm a millionarie, well couple of million actually, but that's not much these days...and I love playing WoW. I'm not into raiding, and I enjoy just soloing around, occassionally getting groups for dungeons. But I know now that it is a waste of time...

How much more could I enjoy life if I spent my 50 days:
1) Talking with my family.
2) Going to the beach.
3) Working on my fitness.
4) Helping a charity.
5) Making more money for the future of my family/retirement.
6) Making love.
7) ....what would you do....?

So, I am going to stop again...and this time it will be for good.

Like mrfan...hoping to put this behind you again; I begged my wife to play again, and I should never have done that, wrong to ask, wrong to put her in that situation, wrong, wrong, wrong.

IF you COULD pause the game, IF you COULD stop the world, IF you could avoid the feeling of being left behind, then maybe it would be alright - but wake up, it's a second world, and you are being left behind - in the tangible real world.

I've no doubt that in the future things will get worse. When you can voice control (you can already voice chat with vent), when you can remotely control (bluetooth makes you cable less and HDTV puts you on the couch) your character, and when you can immerse in the world - VAK; then some people will fall into that world and will not emerge. I hope I never have to see that.

J

Posted by: Julian on February 15, 2007 12:03 AM

Edit on the above...I just realised of course that my assumption was wrong on the amount earned, because I work an 8 hour day...not 24 hours. So, if all that wow time had been work time for me then that would be 3 times that amount...so around 180-200K.

Posted by: Julian on February 15, 2007 12:22 AM

@Julian: Sad to see such wasted effort in mmorpg's at times. Nice job on quitting while you can.

Posted by: Yongyoon Kim on February 15, 2007 4:48 PM

A recap on the above post on quitting - I decided before quitting that i needed closure so I spent 2 more days:
Getting my 5,200g epic flying mount.
Finishing my quests in outland.

I then spent an hour flying around at super speed on the new mount, then headed back to the place in Night Elf homeworld, Hearthglen, where my character (now 70) first started as a level 1.

While travelling there I came across a level 7 druid just starting out; made me realise how much time this person was going to spend and had in front of them to reach 70 and beyond.

I logged out in the same place I first spawned over a year ago; I then burned the game onto a DVD with all my local data, then deleted it from the Computer to make it harder to go back.


So, that's the end now - I have two boys who are very young, and I wonder if I would ever let them go near games like this; based on my experience, no - not this type of MMO.

I'll be off all games for a while now, focus on real life. Good luck all.

Posted by: Julian on February 16, 2007 3:24 PM

I remember playing Gemstone III back when AOL was "the bestest" and the game charged an hourly rate. That was about ten years ago and I could barely speak any English, let alone typing words on a keyboard. But man did I persist...one summer and almost $1000 in playing "fee" later, I did not know it was the first step to my MMO "dedication." (only good thing came out of that was how much I improved my English via crazy dictionary look-ups, obviously, I'm an immigrant.)

After GSIII, it was various MUDS. Then EQ, DAoC, Lineage II/GW (briefly), CoH/CoV, and WoW.

Talk about ghosts and memories, I feel old just thinking about them.

Ya know what I noticed about the common factors regarding in-game romance in all these games?

Love at first sight. Whether it's a well written character bio or physically "fit" avatar, people like what they see and as MMO goes graphical, the quality of those avatars improve. The game essentially makes sure the first and superficial impression is always pleasant to the eyes. You know you'd never -think- about getting too friendly with that female Wood Elf if you only knew the person behind that avatar is triple her size and weight in real life scale, eh? I've learned better >.>

Now, with the first step padded and encouraged by the game design, the next potential pitfall is covered by the nature of those games - lack of immediate real life identity. Thanks to that, one can have little fear about rejection, and low self-esteem isn't as much a severe problem as it might be in a real life encounter. A player is encouraged to be bolder in his/her advances in the face of rejection when you can simply log off or make another character. Or, if you are those "think positive" people - there are plenty Wood Elves and whatever else out there.

Then, haven't you realized that it seems to be a lot easier for you (or other people you've known) to share secrets in games? He/she seems to always be there for you, willing to lend a ear or shoulder, intimacy is built that way, slowly and inevitable, as long as you are willing to communicate.

One tends to log on in search of pleasure - pve, pvp, crafting, talking to friends/guildies etc. You are looking for happiness, so it's natural that you more often than not will be pleasant to the online friends - especially a few who are on really good/personal/close terms with you. Even if you are having The Horrible Monday, you'd expect some buddies or that cute night elf to cheer you up with words and what not. In short, you rarely see the bad side of that "good friend" directed at you. Chances are you are more satisfied with them than your spouse/gf/roommate/parents who just nagged you to take out the trash/take her out/wash the dishes/do homework.

Repeat that on a daily basis. Romance or not you've got something going on gradually.

And all this time you never really know if he/she's gonna be that wonderful and understanding person with the body of a delicious eyecandy. Funny how one can easily trust the lack of real identiy when a complete set of fake info is provided by the game.

Of course now we usually have Ventrilo/TS, but that's really another matter entirely.

People -do- meet in game and sometimes something good come out of it, but there are probably just as many, if not more, hopeless fantasies and inevitable disasters. I've known more than a few people change their relationships with either the gamers or real life partners because of the game - good marriages, drama filled affairs, agonizing divorces, and wistful hook ups.

And I still haven't found that special Wood Elf after all these years -.- No, unfavorable and nasty surprise does not count.

Don't laugh or it may happen to YOU!

Posted by: windezz on February 19, 2007 1:19 PM

For all the talk of ruined relationships, I have the opposite-- I was alone and sad, and met my future fiancee on a game. He's now moved to be with me, and we enjoy spending time together, in games and out.

Posted by: ihavenomouth on February 27, 2007 2:33 PM

One final thought: if gaming is a problem for you, as it seemed to be for Julian, then getting out is good. By all means, improve your life.

But I wanted to note that you can't look at those 50 hours of game time and say, "That's time I could have spent exercising or earning more money!"

Without the game, you'd have wasted that time some other way. You'd have sat down and watched TV, read a magazine, played FreeCell... We're all time wasters.

Posted by: ihavenomouth on February 27, 2007 2:38 PM

I can't believe I never found something like this before! I am only 14, and I am a MAJOR MMORPG player. I have played WoW, Guild Wars, Runescape, and at least 5 others. I didn't think until today about video game addiction because I have been "grounded" from the computer. I have a personal story about why I'm such a video game player too. It's because when I was maybe 7 my parents thought it would be good if they got me a Game Boy, the old black and white one. I was so overjoyed because my father played the Nintendo 64 with me almost every day after I got back from school. It "ruined" my life after I got to about 10 years old. I was contantly playing games, getting worse grades every year, and not caring about it either. But still, my parents spoiled me by buying me each of the new game systems. I have almost all of them to date other than the Wii and the PS3.

I have to say though, gaming online is still better than playing games on a PS2 or something. If you noticed, a lot of people play that game. Runescape, for example, has over 200,000 players. at least one of those players has to know you somehow! And if there is a situation where no one does, you can get the friends you already know to play them if they can. I have at least 3 friends that play WoW, 6 if you count ones that have tried it, 3 who play Guild Wars, and at least 10 who play Runescape. And if you have a lover, like someone said above, get them to try it too. Show them why you love games and how fun they are to you.

I like this article because it relates to me, especially on page 4-7. I am going to get my parents to read this soon and see why I'm addicted. I am thankful for whoever made this article. I'm going to tell my friends too, because almost everyone on my school bus is addicted to games too, and almost everyone in my school is addicted to internet addiction.

Posted by: TravisM. on March 7, 2007 1:33 PM

I like reading comments to articles sometimes more than the articles themselves... I'm another of the "happy" stories. I met my current boyfriend (nearly four years now, and going strong!) via online gaming. I think one of the major things that is pointed out to me here is that often gamers who are with gamers don't really talk about "addiction" all that much. We probably play games randing from 0-5 hours per day between the two of us... sometimes I'm playing and he's not, or vice-versa, or we're both playing (often different games!)

However, we both also regularly play our bills on time, turn the computers off for some time every night to do something together (even if it's as simple as laying and talking), keep the apartment as neat as it can be for two working twenty-somethings, and both hold steady jobs. So, I think we're doing okay! Maybe there should be some kind of comparison done, of couples where both game vs. couples with one gamer and one non-gamer -- I'd like to see if there's any discrepancy over charges of "addiction" etc.

Perhaps it's just a difference in life values to a point -- neither of us are social butterflies, we don't enjoy "partying," don't drink, both of us are fair academic buffs, etc. ---- therefore, not going out a lot suits us fine and dandy! However, if one values that sort of lifestyle, perhaps it's just that you're less compatible in general. I'd love to see a study of self-proclaimed introvert vs. extrovert couple stuff too!

~Tez, 23, F, WoW

Posted by: Tez on March 9, 2007 12:51 PM

This was a great article, and thoughtful discussion. I look forward to learning more.

Well done.

Posted by: Daemone on March 13, 2007 11:24 AM

First of all this article relates to me a lot, some of the things mentioned hit very close to home and i'm seeing a councillor at the moment to try and understand WHY I play MMO's so much. Looking at my past I clocked just over 3000 hours on guild wars, was in one of the top teams in different tournament types so pressure was on to play, and also I have now since moved on to WoW. I followed the RL friends as I wanted to spend more time with them, they kept bugging me to join them and they had previously played GW. I only play the MMO's with RL friends tho, they started my interest and if i'm alone in the game with majority of those I don't "know" I move on to something else, although I haven't left the online games circle yet which I am worried about.
I relate to julian's post a lot and I was interested by the two most recent posts.

I get a lot of conflict in my life from playing mmo's from family and friends and partners, I have met many couples in-game who are happy, been together a long time and have stable jobs. I envy that. I see two people with a common interest and "gel" and I think that is what keeps them together.
I realised that from this a couple with problems or lack of common interest is the same whether one plays games obsessively or drinks heavily or works obsessively. They all lead to issues at home, so of course there is a problem when your trying to live with a "gamer" if you aren't one. Maybe you aren't as suited to each other as you think if they can so easily just blank you out many hours of the day. I think a study into couples who play MMO's would lead to nothing more than a study of couples who cycle together. It's a hobby after all, it's when you have conflicting interests that you have to work on solutions. It is different of course if you have turned to games while in a relationship to escape however.

This is pretty tough for me to write a comment on here and I am also struggled reading all of it as it does cover problems I have, but I am trying to fix it, trying to find a way out of the spiral.
I wish I could say I am stopping, but as I see it past years haven't been all that great and possibly why I ended up glued to the screen for so long. Maybe after the sessions I have planned I will see what I fear most or am running from that attracts me to the game. My first assumptions are I have a mother who is forever anxious and worries about everything (who also had recent few years of fighting cancer) so I am feeling guilty about how she is. That I reached a point in my education where I stopped achieving top marks which I was drilled to expect all the time. The introduction to weed and drink around same time I started playing games. Couldn't drink much or smoke so other option was gaming? The fact I just stopped playing GW and took up WoW and can't even comfortably play GW any more wihtout getting bored says a lot about why I am playing these games.
Anyways enough with the self-analysis.
I will note I have found it easier to talk to people online about problems I have than people around my RL. I see that a lot. Went on a bit here, sometimes have to say things to get the ball rolling.

Thanks for the article, it has really made me think.

Posted by: bob on February 23, 2008 6:25 AM

I have over 90 days played on my main character in wow. When you mentioned in the article the phrase "narcisstic and irresponsible" with regards to playing too much, that spoke directly to me.

I am married with a career i worked hard for and i was introduced to raiding in a guild by a younger wow player that i met online. I became obsessed with him - talking to him constantly on vent to the exclusion of sleep, food, and turning up late for work. I felt like i was in an amazing fantasy world which contained all the fun, stimulation and recognition that had been missing from my life. We talked about finding it addictive to talk to each other, but never anything more explicit than that. The thought of ever meeting him in person is ridiculous to me as he is so much younger than me. We started a new guild together and during this time i was getting deeper involved whilst he was starting to lose interest in me. He eventually got bored of me and left me running the guild we had started together on my own - this had grown into a truly huge raiding guild where i was getting the feeling of power and influence over so many people whilst really enjoying the teamwork involved with the other officers in organising it. Guild leading however was more stress than my day job and i was truly burning out. I called it quits after 7 months of my guild,and stopped playing. I then realised just how much i had neglected my career, friends, family and husband during this time and how much of a stressed out wreck i had become. The first few weeks of stopping felt like an awakening/rebirth, but now im feeling empty and missing the game and the guy who i had been involved with. For those few weeks of romance and heroic fantasy all in one , with all the "friends" i could ever want (mainly people sucking up to their guild leader of course.....) burnt an indelible impression on me, and leaves other hobbies/lesiure activities falling short. I feel like I will never be the same again, and though i know what i did was wrong, i dont know what to do instead. Reading that article made me realise however that continuing to be "narcissistic and irresponsible" isnt however an option. I dont know if i can take away the damage done to my career and feel so bored/am unable to get any kind of "high" that compares to what i had before every single day - im hoping that time will fix a lot of this, and i will just do my best meanwhile....

Posted by: Jane on September 13, 2010 4:03 AM
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