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Would you consider yourself addicted to EQ?

About two-thirds (62.1%, N=2328) of EQ players would consider themselves addicted to EQ. There are no significant age or gender differences.

How many hours is too many hours of EQ? And does that automatically equate to addiction? Many respondents tried to grapple with this issue:

I play EQ for 18 month now. And when I take all time of my characters and calculet the average I played 4h a day. This is mad. I tryed to stop playing EQ for some month, because I had to do a excam. But I found me everyday looking through the internet and reading EQ sites. I often find me thinking about EQ and daydreaming. I am addicted and know that, and I like it. [m, 24]

I like to play EQ alot. I play whenever I have free time. I don't watch tv during the week anymore but I don't miss it at all. I tape some shows on some nights that I watch on the weekend. I play at work as well during lunch. Basically if I don't have to do anything I will play EQ. I don't consider myself addicted but I can say it takes a lot of my time. I enjoy playing many of my characters but not as much as I do playing with the same people all the time and friends I have made in the game and guildmates. If I had to play without them I would just solo until I was able to play with them. [m, 28]

I do think i am an EQ addict, and yes I have tryd to stop. This was after i got my brother hookd on it tho, so even after i quit, he beggd me to get back on to play with him. I held out for a long time, but I eventualy crackd, and got re-addicted. I think i like EQ, but i cant be shure. Its just to damn addicting to know if i actuialy enjoy the game. You might say, "well you would know if you like it or not" Well that might be true for some, but i just dont know. [m, 17]

On the other hand, there were clear-cut cases where the respondents themselves recognized that their game-play was seriously affecting them:

Yes, I am now officially a hermit. I had problems keeping in touch with old friends to begin with. Now its rare I see anyone other than the two people I live with. Both of which also play EQ, constantly. My girlfriend, and my roommate. Neither of them have jobs, and both of them play EQ 95% of their time awake. When I come home from work in the morning, my girl logs, and sits in my lap and watches me play. I dont have a phone plugged in anymore, I just check messages now and then. I dont answer my door. I barely talk to any friends or family. We have fun, I love EQ... but it -IS- without a doubt, an addiction. When your sitting there, knowing you have important things to do, but keep playing anyway... when your two closest loved ones cant pry themselves from "the game" to get themselves lives... when there is no food or clean clothes... etc... etc... [m, 22]

Yes, I consider myself addicted to EQ. I haven't tried quitting yet, but I will have to in a few months. I don't spend enough time with my 2 1/2 year old daughter. I'm a full-time mom, and my daughter watches TV all day while I play the game. In September, I will start homeschooling her, so I'll have to cut down on my EQ time. I'd like to stop now so I would have time to take her to the park during the week, or even let her play in the backyard, but leveling, getting new spells and new skills is all I think about. [f, 27]

Several respondents articulated some of the effects of withdrawal:

I recently had to spend two weeks in another country for my job. Because the latency back to the US was so horrible there, I couldn't play EQ (600ms and greater). A day didn't go by that I wasn't thinking about it - would my friends surpass me in levels, would I lose interest in the game from not playing (yes, I was actually worried about this). I made a point of browsing the message boards every day to see what Verant was up to, found myself feeling anger and delight in the opinions expressed by both sides. I am now a permanent part of this community. [m, 27]

I am addicted to EQ and I hate it and myself for it. When I play I sit down and play for a minimum of 12 hours at a time, and I inevitably feel guilty about it, thinking there a large number of things I should be doing instead, like reading or furthering my education or pursuing my career. But I can't seem to help myself, it draws me in every time. I have been out of work now for over a month and now find myself in a stressful, depressed state that it only quelled when I am playing EQ, because it's easy to forget about real world troubles and problems, but the problem is when you get back to the real world, problems and troubles have become bigger, and it's a bad, bad cycle. I've tried quitting seriously on several occassions, but I was shocked to find each time that the experience reminds of what I've heard quitting heroin is like. There are serious withdrawal pangs, anxiety, and a feeling of being lost and not quite knowing what next to do with yourself. I don't think this could possibly be the norm for most people, maybe I just have an addictive personality, although I've never been addicted to anything before in my life. [m, 26]

Many respondents gave reasons for why they felt the game was so addictive. One often-cited reason was that it allowed players to escape the real world:

I think anyone that plays more than 20 hours a week is addicted tho most would deny it. The sad truth is that in many ways EQ is better than RL. It is easier to succeed in EQ, I can be beautiful, fit and healthy in EQ - in real life I am chronicly ill and there isn't much fun or achievement to be had. EQ is more than just an opiate, and much more than just a game. In a very real sense EQ gives me an opportunity to feel free. [f, 36]

I continued to play because I was also unhappy with the circumstances in my real life and needed to "forget" about it for as long as I could. I was having financial troubles and marital problems as well. I could ignore my real life and escape into eq. This wasnt for the fun, it was a "need" that I felt to not deal with my life responsibly and eq was my chosen method of "druging" myself into blissful ignorance. [m, 33]

Yes, I do consider myself addicted to it. I think I am because I like hanging around with many people at a place and doing something fun. Since EQ is half social and half an RPG, that's the perfect enviroment for me. There's also no stress about real life relationships while in EQ since they aren't real life. I don't have to worry about that girl that I just bought a drink for and if she thinks I'm "cute", and I don't have to worry about that random guy trying to start a fight with my friend. In EQ, both situations can be just turned off; worries are gone, and I continue with the fun I was having before. [m, 22]

Other players talked about the friends and social obligation factor:

I am an EQ addict. I play every day, only taking a break when I get to a point where I have real life stress over something that happens in game. When I do take breaks, it's usually for only a day. I worry about my game life as much as I worry about my real life. If I am late getting on, I feel like people will be disappointed with me. As a guild leader, when conflicts arise people come to me to resolve them. People look to you to have events, help them get things, quest, etc. I have had people in my own guild leave because they didn't feel we gave them enough of our time or enough "phat lewt". I try to please everyone, but it is unrealistic to think you can be everywhere for everyone, keeping them all happy. It gets to be a heavy burden to bear, and sometimes I end up in tears out of frustration. I am an addict. Will I quit? No. Why? Because I love it. =) [f, 30]

I'm addicted to, so much as the interactioni between friends that I have meet in game. I look forward to going home after work and loging in to see haow every one is. Did they have good a good day at work. Did there baby get over the colic problem. It's like a small town...only you get to choose who you want to be around. If I don't feel like being around a particular personality...I just play a different character. But on the whole I see these people as an extended family. Each one that leaves (and I've known several) and never returns hurts as much as loosing a "true" friend or loved one. I have tried quiting...and just limiting my play. But when you progress in levels, and to group with verious people you MUST level, it makes it difficult to just "limit" your play time. I am currently looking at getting one character high enough to go on a Dragon/Plains raid. After that I am going to reconsider keeping my account open. [anon]

Other players attributed it to the constant presence of the "next best thing":

The game is set up to make you want the next best thing. "Oh look what that guy has! How do I get that?" The answer is always to spend more time online either getting higher level to go camp the item, or to just go camp the item (or slight variation, camp the quest items that result in the new item). But you are rewarded for playing more. Better items, more freedom on where you can go. [m, 21]

And players who do quit EQ may find themselves hooked into playing again:

Every few months I get really bored. Im either stuck in a nasty level and cant find something interesting to camp/kill for good xp. Or maybe if Ive found it consistently hard to find good groups. Sometimes its just cos Ive come across too many kids playing EQ who have no sense of fair play and treating people with respect and ruin my EQ experience. And I can only ignore 20 people at a time dammit! :-p So I take a break - cold turkey - and say I dont want to play EQ ever again. Of course I always seem to come back after a month or so. Usually when Im bored and have nothing better to do. But of course thats usually all it takes...I get hooked back into the whole levelling and exp junkie cycle. [f, 27]

I had been playing EQ for about 2 months when I began to realize the amount of time I was spending away from reality and my obligations. I gradually weaned myself off EQ after another 2 months. I haven't played EQ regularly for a few months now. Although I have regained some control, I still feel serious urges to play now and again. EQ has a very distinct society that I found appealing. Everyone who played found something they liked alot and just kept doing it. Repetition and social interaction is what addicted me to EQ. I would wager to say that I am still addicted even though I don't play for long stretches at a time. EQ is highly addictive and quitting entirely is something VERY difficult to do. After all, if you do quit... everything you worked so hard for (your stats, equipment, friends) is gone forever since characters are stored solely on the Verant servers. The only thing you can take with you is the stories. And those anecdotes will haunt you endlessly until you give in to the urge to re-immerse yourself in Norrath just one more time. [m, 27]

But players who have it under control put a different spin on things:

In a happy way, yes. :) It's true that I would feel a lot of pain if I had to quit EverQuest...but I think that far from being the "menace" that I've seen EQ addiction made into, it's actually a lot more healthy than (for example) people who come home in the evening and spend 4 or 5 hours watching television. In EverQuest, I interact with people, do creative things, think and strategize, and generally enjoy myself. I think it's not much different than other forms of recreation with friends and others. So no, I've never tried quitting. Why would I want to? I enjoy spending time playing EverQuest, and I don't see it as fundamentally unhealthy behavior. [f, 23]

More recent findings on this issue can be found at the "Ariadne" report.