On Therapy and Dependency
Many players talked about how the MMO was a way of dealing with chronic stress from work and life. In many of their cases, the game seemed to function as a way of gaining a sense of peace at the end of the day to avoid being constantly overrun by stress.
Logging into WoW at the end of the day is a great stress reliever, as it's one of the few times I'm not thinking (at all) about experiments, the future of my career, or anything like that. It allows me to relax, let things from the day go, and find a more healthy state of mind as the day ends. Also, although WoW gives me a list quests to do (sort of like work, in a way), I know I am in control of what I do, and I know that each task is, in the end, possible. Science just doesn't work that way. [WoW, F, 33]
I'm a dentist and my wife is the head of an insurance company claims department. These are 2 fairly stressful occupations - we use EQ to unwind. Neither one of us cares for the trash on television and this is something we can do together in a cooperative spirit. [EQ, M, 70]
There was a time when finances were tight due to a change in employment; this created a lot of pressure and stress until things smoothed out again. Having the game to escape into when I came home in the evening was very therapeutic. [CoH, M, 39]
Other players used MMOs as a stepping-stone in dealing with and resolving a stressful problem. Thus, the MMO wasn't a way of simply leaving stress behind, but it played a role in helping to work out a problem. For many players, the MMO did this by allowing the problem to be mulled over in the back of the head without being overwhelming. Here are some examples of this "divide and conquer" approach:
It provided a way to divide my attention so that I could engage with the game while another, less communicative aspect could chew on what was bothering it. Ultimately, the space provided in that exercise catalyzed some insight and paved the way for change. [WoW, F, 51]
It was an area where I could concentrate on the mechanics of the game and my relation to the game (it was mostly a solo-based MMO) gave me some space to deal with the issues I was dealing with. [WoW, M, 28]
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