On Therapy and Dependency
Other players used MMOs as a way to cope with dissatisfaction with their work and careers. For them, the problem wasn't stress but the sense that their jobs or lives weren't fulfilling.
Sense of Progress
For players who felt themselves to be at a standstill, the MMO provided a predictable sense of progress.
In the past, I have used the game as a proxy for achievement and accomplishment when I felt myself to be at a stagnant point in my life. For example, if I feel aimless in my career, I play WoW for its clear-cut, achievable goals (ie. getting loot, reaching a new level.) I have felt this to be very beneficial. Though I could see how it might become a substitute for real life for some people, I've used it as a way to get past those 'humps' where I don't feel satisfied. It gives me a sense of forward progress. [WoW, F, 23]
Working away several thousand dollars of debt away, for example, takes a long time, and it's hard to feel like one is making progress when one has rent and etc. to pay as well every month. By contrast, WoW seems engineered to make the player feel as though he/she is making 'progress', which makes me feel almost like my time is less 'wasted' because at least I made progress in the game, even when I'm not making a lot of progress in my personal life. [WoW, M, 23]
Control, Competence, and Status
The lack of control, competence, and social status that some players felt were alleviated when they logged on to an online game.
I use Guild Wars (GW) as a way to escape the stressors of life. There is more control in game. It is much easier, in most cases, to set a goal and achieve it in game. [GW, M, 25]
I hated my job and was constantly dwelling on several disappointments and poor choices I had made. Suddenly I found a world that allowed me far more control than I had in the real one, as well as a place where I could be admired and respected for my skills. I latched onto it strongly. [WoW, M, 36]
During a period of about a year where I was working at a job and role where my work was not particularly engaging, the MMO served as my means to exercise my brain, problem solve and more importantly work with others on problems. In the workplace, I was essentially working alone on most tasks, and have very little background or expertise in the domain I was working in. In the MMO (Wow), it was the reverse, as I frequently grouped with others, socialized and solved challenging in game problems. My game play during this period was very high, often playing late into the evenings, doing dungeon runs, raids; I was essentially filling a void that my job was leaving me with everyday. [WoW, M, 31]
A Sense of Purpose
And finally, some players used MMOs to gain a sense of meaning because they found their lives to be boring and unengaging.
This is a regular state of life for me. I am a worrier, a mother, a full time worker, a wife ... and I suffer from depression, for which I am being treated. I feel my regular life is very boring ... as is my work. WoW lets me feel as if I am doing something interesting. [WoW, F, 31]
It gives a sense of belonging somewhere, when in the RL sometimes you don't know where do you belong. And since all games have clear goals (or at least you make them clear) is easier to achieve them, compared to RL [WoW, F, 27]
I began playing because I had hours of free time, even with a full time job and a family, and I was bored and depressed. It really did make life more exciting and interesting at a time when I was feeling very disappointed in life, and gave me something to look forward to each day and especially on weekends. [LOTRO, F, 50]
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