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In Their Own Words

When asked whether they have changed or grown from playing the game, most respondents replied that EQ was "just a game" and that people don't learn anything from it:

No change. Simply play for entertainment and social value. [m, 30]

No, it hasn't really had any kind of impact on me. It's just a game. [m, 23]

This is just a video game to me. I don't analyze it to that extreme, only use it as an escape from the stresses of RL for awhile. [m, 27]

But not all players thought that EQ was "just a game". Some respondents found themselves interacting with people differently outside of EQ:

It didnt change my thinking, it did however change to a minor extent my acting in real life. I have found it easier to share and confront other people with my thoughts...whether this is due to EQ or just me growing emotionally I am not quite sure off though. A very positive change indeed [m, 30]

I believe I have matured in my interaction with other people. When I first began playing I was rather hot-headed and impatient. I've been playing over a year and I think I've become more understanding of other people and their points of view. [m, 19]

Erm, good question. I tend to put a lot more belief in real life experiences contributing to personal growth, but I don't see why a game can't help you grow in addition to RL. I've learned to be a bit more tolerant, I think. I used to get really upset at folks for doing something stupid and getting us all killed, for instance, but again... it's a game and EVERYONE makes mistakes. Mostly, it's reinforced a lot of things I knew already, but sometimes let slip by... like the fact that just because someone doesn't do something MY way doesn't mean it's the wrong way. ;) [f, 30]

Some players felt that they had grown as a person from playing EQ:

Yes, I have learned to deal with more varied personalities and have developed leadership qualities that I lacked before. [f, 33]

Sure have. There is no better confidence builder than keeping your group alive or helping a frustrated player regain his corpse. You may be a lowly cashier or a bored house wife but in Norrath you can be something more that you might never achieve in RL. [f, 33]

Yes. I think that it has given me a more big-picture type sense of the world. Things make sense when I associate them with other things, and I think about things differently now. [m, 14]

Several players commented on gaining a better understanding of group dynamics and leadership:

I think forming a group in EQ is one of the most powerful elements in the game and has shown me a lot about myself and others. Throw 6 strangers together each with different class strengths and weaknesses, all trying to accomplish a common goal together, and you learn a lot about people. I can see what happens when communcation doesn't happen and its helped me try to communicate with people more in real life. [m, 30]

Definatly, I have become more outgoing, more of a leader-oriented person In RL as opposed to the quiet person who contributed only when asked. [m, 18]

Yes - I've learned a bit more about teamwork, and how to execute it. Everyone has their place, and everyone works together for the good of the whole. [m, 14]

Many players felt that the biggest problem EQ had introduced was the amount of time it consumed:

Sometimes I play too much and forget to do things in real life or hold up my responsibilities. Other times I get burned out on EQ and I don't play very much. It goes back and forth. [m, 30]

It's been a bit of a time sink, but I've been able to work around it for the most part. The main victim of the time I spend on EQ has been other leisure activities such as other computer games and reading magazines. Sleep has occassionally been sacrificed, but never more than a couple of hours' worth at a time. [m, 23]

Yes, it causes problems, it sucks up all my free time! Hehe. :) [f, 21]

Several players even used the word "addiction" to describe their attachment to EQ:

Sometimes yes, It is very easy to get addicted and get your priorities out of whack with EQ. You would rather come home and play EQ than do what needs to be done. [f, 22]

EQ has deepened my probelms in life because Eq is an addiction.Once you start, and play for a while it is extremely difficult to sever the link to EQ.I find myself, every free minute of the day, playing EQ or looking at EQ websites. [m, 15]

Players who were in a romantic relationship often cited the strains EQ brought into the relationship:

Yeah -- my soon-to-be ex-wife has an extreme aversion to any kind of computer game. EQ (or my playing it) was just one more nail in the coffin of our union. [m, 40]

Sometimes EQ has made problems in my relationship with my fiance. I play mostly at night, when he is at work. But he gets upset when he gets home, and I play for another 4 hours or so, because "we just started this raid, and I just HAVE to be here for it". Eq is a game you just can't sit down and play for an hour. Once you get involved in something, it's hard to just log off. Sometimes I play to much, and I have had to regulate myself from spending too much time playing. [f, 21]

yes, it drew me into the cpu game more than my real life... i wanted to spend more time online than i did with my RL girlfriend [m, 27]

When asked whether they have ever had any emotionally moving experiences in EQ, many players talked about the altruism they had experienced in the game:

I remember one instance in particular when I had just got level 51 (the guy referenced knew this), our group had a bad pull and then I started getting hit hard-- this guy took the monster off me, moved it away and died, allowing me and my other friend to escape (evac). I was emotionally moved that he did this for me, If i remember correctly i think i even shed a tear it was so moving (seriously)-- I worked to be sure he got a Ressurection and I thanked him for his heroic deed! [m, 17]

I came across a Barbarian character who was struck down by a gnoll. He lay there bleeding about to die. Luckily I had bandages on me and knelt down and brought him back to life. This was a strange thing on a racewar server as I was playing a High-elf and we are considered enemies. He was very amazed and thanked me over and over. I felt very moved. [m, 30]

Maybe. I have had a friend once in a group sacrificie himself once (basically the whole group was in a bad situation, so he basically told everyone to run, while he taunted and got all the monsters to aggro on him, giving us time to get away). This was particularly poignant as I know my friend doesn't have but a few hours a week to play, and thus a death would be a loss of a weeks worth of playing time...[m, 29]

Some players talked about friendships that developed in EQ:

Yes, Im very close to several people on EQ and treat them as very good friends. When some of them have problems, they can talk to me and I take it seriously, as they will speak to me about real problems and not just the "game". [f, 22]

Yes! Several! Mostly finding out during times of feeling down over my RL that I am important to my close friends on EQ who have stood by me offering every kind of support imaginable!!! [f, 49]

Yes. When the Test server was deleted I lost the interstion with friends in game and the character I had. I didn't realize the ties I had to those pixels before. After that, I learned to play more for the moment, since it could end again at any time. Luckily, my friends came back. The pixels dno't really matter =( [m, 28]

Other players described experiences of frustration and anguish:

If you mean total anguish as I LDd during a battle or got caught in an event as a newbie and got ripped apart eight successive times at my bind point by a 30th level necromancer, then sure. Otherwise, no. [m, 30]

Hmmm, if you count the time when I screamed at the computer screen when I went linkdead in the middle of an important fight, I guess that would be the most emotional I have ever gotten! ;) [f, 21]

When respondents were asked to comment on whether nothing pertaining to the real world can be learned from the game because it is all fake, most players argued passionately that this was not the case:

The game is fake of course. Were only looking at our computer screens and pixels. But the people playing it are real. With real feelings, emotions, and desires. The actions I do and things I say make a difference as people remember and form opinions about myself. Once a high level character cast a bunch of super buff spells on me and said "soandso said you were a really nice person." and I had never met her before. I thanked her and felt good. [m, 30]

I think that whenever you have the oportunity to interact with other people, you have the opportunity to learn something. Everyone has something to teach you, be it online or in person. Afterall, you learn from what someone writes in a book, and you don't meet with the person in the flesh. Why would online be any different? With as many people you interact with in EQ, how can you not atleast learn something? That I think is the reason I have played EQ, the people that I meet. [f, 21]

I think any time kids get into environments where they can "try out" personalities and interact in a social environment they learn. I think your ability to "learn" from EQ is a factor of your age and emotional maturity. The younger you are, the greater the chance of learning. [m, 37]

I think this is proposterous, Norrath is a world with real consequences such as being an outcast, and very realistic rewards like always being asked to group, it is very much lifelike. If you learn nothing else, you will probably learn soon enough how to get along with others, like it or not. [m, 16]

I think they are wrong, in every aspect. Are the people playing it fake? Hell no, and therefore everything you say and hear is real, they are saying it, and you are hearing it just like what would happen in RL. And sometimes it can be easier to say things online rather than in person. Many things can be learned about people through EQ. [m, 17]