There is a dark side to MMORPGs that players
are oftentimes unwilling to confront - the prevalence of addiction.
A significant number of respondents considered
themselves to be addicted to the game. Female players below
the age of 23 were more likely than male players of the same
age range to consider themselves addicted to the game.
The effect of addiction can also be felt by
the number of players who have tried to quit but were unsuccessful.
About 10% of EQ and DAOC players, and about 20% of UO players,
have tried to quit but were unsuccessful. It is unclear whether
the rate of failure decreases with age because older players
are more successful when they try to quit, or because they
are less likely to try to quit to begin with. The former is
probably the correct interpretation.
Some players brush this issue
aside and trivialize it, arguing that gaming addiction cannot
be as serious as substance addiction. Some players deny their
own addiction by claiming "it's just a game", but
stories such as the following force both players and observers
to rethink the seriousness of gaming addiction.
could take a guess that I was playing about 90+ hours a
week. I was living in San Fran at that time. EBay was paying
our rent (for my boyfriend and I). We had closeted ourselves
inside our 1 bedroom apartment for days at a time. We went
out only to buy food and cigarettes. I called my family
on the east coast maybe once a month, he called his maybe
once every 2 weeks. Food consisted of fast food or anything
hand held or anything that could be cooked in under 20 minutes.
We literally saw no one but each other for months at a time,
we didn't bother with friends or cultivating friendships.
were kicked out of our apartment in January 2001, we fled
back to the east coast, to our families. I left the dude
within weeks of moving back east, losing my computer and
all access to EverQuest. <poof> Having no crutch and
no co-dependent in my life at that point, I actually attempted
socializing again. I called old friends and hung out with
my family. So, I attempt to "normalize". Interacting
with more than 1 person at a time was just impossible. I
could not speak with more than 1 person at a time, if there
were 2+ people in a room, I had to leave it. The noise.....living
with other people, holy christ the noise, I felt as if I
had just come out of a bubble after 12 months and my ears
could suddenly clearly hear everything around me.
found that I could no longer clearly express anger or emotional
pain. Ever seen a toddler throw a temper tantrum? I had
no self-worth, whatsoever. I was embarrassed and riddled
with guilt that I had spent 12 months playing EQ and had
cut myself off from the world for it. I still cannot manage
my anger and the self-worth looks about like swiss cheese.
I am violent when I am angry. VIOLENT. I was not like this
before I invested a chunk of my life in this game.
Got a job, made some money, saved a lot of money. In May
2001, I bought a computer, bought EQ and started messing
around with it again. I ran into an old EQ friend in game,
the old camaraderie rekindled, he ended up on a plane and
flew out to meet me in July 2001. In August, we married.
I moved to Kansas to be with him and have not regretted
anything for a second.
what's going on with EQ? In July, I paid $50 to have my
main character transferred to the server my husband and
friends inhabit and as per "The Rules", I lost
her gear in the transfer. I poked around at the game for
a couple of months and just wasn't having any fun. I had
little decent gear, so I felt like a retard. My character
had been level 56 for a year at that point, so I was uncomfortable
with that aspect of it also. The groove was just not there.
I iced the account for a few months, just did not play at
all. The game has always worked the same for me: shit starts
happening when you find the groove. When you find old friends
and start killing together, when you find a good, comfortable
guild, when you start having FUN again, you've found the
went poking around for the groove in April 2002 and I freaking
found it again. I can't escape the fun, it's lurking around
every corner. I'm playing a whopping 10-20 hours a week,
I am proud to report. The husband is the ONLY reason I do
not play more than that. It is a battle of wills to fight
off the groove. I just simply don't play, I turn my shoulder
on it and wait for the weekend, but the urge is just freaking
killer. I can't walk back into it and I know it.
hope you're getting some real stuff, I hope to God you're
getting more than standard fluffy responses. I don't know
why I want people to understand the shadier side of this
game, I certainly don't want MMORPGs banned or made the
scapegoat for suicides. This is a real addiction and I could
point at any number of people who are either dealing with
the addiction first-hand or dealing with it as a loved-one.
I have friends in this game who NEVER took a break, they've
been playing this game for 2 and 3 years straight. They
come home from work and log on and play until 3am, wake
up 3 hours later and go to work. I'm guilty of the same
and I'd do it again if I gave myself the chance. [f, 25,
A male player describes a different kind of
incident that made him realize how serious his addiction was.
happened while playing the game EverQuest. I had been working
over this one quest over the few weeks a lot, like many
hours a day. When I had gathered the required ingredients
for the item that I would need for the next stage (for those
that have played EQ it was the shawl quest) I went to see
the guy that gave out the quest. When I finally got there,
I started putting those stuff into the trade window, (it
was the last shawl quest, would've gotten me 7th shawl)
and hit trade. Only thing I got was a reply from some other
NPC that said like: "Thanks, though I don't have any
use for these".
first reaction was this weird feeling, I felt like empty
like when someone dumps you or etc. I just stared at the
screen my mouth open and couldn't realize what had happened.
Soon I understood and petitioned as is the way in EQ when
you need help, but the GMs refused to help me and that is
when I got so mad I had never before been. All that time
wasted and I would have to re-do the whole quest would I
want the 7th shawl. I shut down the computer, stood up in
the manner that my chair fell and walked over to my door
and started hitting it in fury. It had many holes after
than and I had also scored few hits on the concrete wall
next to it.
I had to see a doctor for my hand and had it fixed. Few
knuckles had splintered into pieces and they glued it up,
was a month or so before I could use my right hand again.
I realized then that how addictive this game can be and
how much it has influence on our feelings, I'm sure nothing
in real life could get me so angry as I was then, when I
started counting the hours I've spent with it I made a decision
that I will stop playing, and now as I write this, I no
longer play EQ and though I still visit my old guilds message
boards, check the latest news in EQ and feel tempted to
start again, I am happy I quit, it's quite different out
in the real life and much better than anything the game
could offer. [m, 26, EQ]
Many players get defensive when outsiders
make accusations against MMORPGs, and this is because many
MMORPG players witnessed how D&D was unfairly blamed for
Satanism, sexual perversions, insanity, witchcraft and murder
among other things in the late 80's. But the reality is that
gaming addiction is a very real issue that should be taken
very seriously, and this issue alone makes it difficult to
write MMORPGs off as "just a game".