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On Therapy and Dependency

The Empowering Reality

When asked whether the MMO ultimately helped or hurt them in dealing with their problems, players talked about both positive and negative outcomes. On the positive side, players who were experiencing depression described how the online environment reminded them of the things they could achieve in the physical world.

As strange as it may sound, learning to play and enjoy life in an MMO helped me regain my life outside the MMO world -- not by substituting one fake world for a more painful real world, but by providing me with a much-needed detached environment to revitalize my own personal traits and strengths without the stress of being watched and analyzed constantly by well-meaning friends. [DAoC, F, 48]

The most important reason I play the game is because I've needed a different way of looking at myself since my depression after losing a child -- i find when I visualize myself differently (more positively) then I actually feel differently (more positively about myself) in real life. I wish there were more games for people that don't want to kill so much. Things like putting out fires, and emergency rescue leagues would be awesome. [Runescape, F, 43]

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. Three years later, I had recovered a sense of myself and my potential, and had a more compatible relationship and an extremely satisfying job. And as my real life began to rival my online life, EverQuest began to fade away. 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. [LoTR, F, 50]

And some players even described how the online game was helpful even when they their depression made them suicidal.

The people I met in game became an important support group for me (my only support group) - whether I talked to them about my issues or not. I don't know how I would have made it through that tough time without them, since I had constantly thought about suicide before I had been playing an mmo. [WoW, F, 21]

I was literally going to commit suicide - I had an idea, a method, and had planned it all out (I had recently been hit with the country western song trifecta of house burning down, dogs dying in the fire, and my mom's death shortly after). A friend invited me to try Everquest 2. I became engaged with it - every day I woke up wanting to see what would happen next. I made friends that I cared about, and began to form a community. Little by little, I started to see how what was going on virtually could also go on in my RL, and I began to venture forth there, too. Being involved in adventures and leveling LITERALLY saved my life. [WoW, F, 33]

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Posted on February 17, 2008 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

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