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First-Person Account Of Video Game Addiction 473

Posted by timothy
from the reefer-madness dept.
The Evil Couch writes "Jive Magazine, an entertainment magazine based in Atlanta, has just released a feature article that the editor has spent over a year investigating on gaming addiction. Starting from being on the outside of the gaming community, she has gone from being a somewhat normal person, to being one of the higher level characters in Anarchy Online. 'People have worse entertainment addictions than playing computer games. If I am going to be addicted to something, I would choose online gaming over drugs, bowling, gambling, television, or being a baseball fanatic easily. I don't have to wear ugly shoes, lose my hard earned money or do the wave next to someone I don't know and that just about makes it a no-brainer for me. It IS after all just a video game, like Neal describes in his great novel, Snow Crash. It is just another amusement park.' Sounds like a happy ending to me."
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First-Person Account Of Video Game Addiction

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  • by casio282 (468834) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:35PM (#4839235) Homepage
    'People have worse entertainment addictions than playing computer games. If I am going to be addicted to something, I would choose online gaming over drugs, bowling, gambling, television, or being a baseball fanatic easily ... It IS after all just a video game, ... just another amusement park.'
    Sounds like your classic addict's rationalization to me. For shame, for shame.

    I once had the Everquest on my back, but I kicked. Believe me, these addictions do screw up real lives...

    • "I once had the Everquest on my back. . ."

      Welcome to the new 12 step program of GA - Gamers Anonymous. Please feel free to stand and introduce yourself.

      I am Casio282, and I'm a gameoholic. My wife told me I spent too much time on the computer playing games. She said I was dropping out of life for a game. She said I was giving up on being a social being.

      I told her that the game was played over the modem and I was being Massively Social in my MMPORPG of choice.
    • Yep. Are you going to listen to the heroin addict about the virtues of his vice? Never trust an addict.
      • by The Notorious ASP (628859) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:54PM (#4839395) Journal
        This coming from a guy whose username is "Scotch". Sounds like an addict to me!
      • I agree. After playing war2 for years. Then getting into Starcraft games of which can take an hour to finish I decided no more.

        My old crack, err, Starcraft buddies are trying their best to get me to buy Warcraft 3. I ain't gonna do it.

        I have a son, and a wife. They can suck time like nobody's business. I have no time for such games anymore. Besides, RTCW is so much better ;)

        1 Corinthians 13:11
        When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
      • Real addiction. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:40PM (#4840139) Homepage
        Real addiction occurs when the obsession for the addictive object ends up compromising normal healthy developmental goals. When you start missing classes, when you give up a healthy social life, when you start lying about how much you're drinking/gaming, when you choose your drug/game over your SO (and the relationship with the SO was, pre-addiction, healthy), then there's a problem. I've seen this happen a lot.

        There's a tendency in talking about this to either a. defend the substance ("it's not the game's fault! It's the personality of the person/their lack of willpower/etc! Anything can be addictive!") or b. attack the substance ("won't someone think of the children..." etc.). Both are somewhat wrong-headed. It's naive to think that the game/whatever has nothing to do with it - some things are intrinsically more likely to be part of addictive behaviour than others. Some games are more addictive than others, and MMPORG's seem to lead the pack (there's a lot of possible reasons - their open structure, the psuedo-social aspect and the sense of competition and fear of getting "left behind", the enormity of the game-zone, etc.) MUDs and MOOs used to be the culprit, probably for similar reasons. (The whole "endorphins" explanation that gets tossed around, like the article has it, is really overextended. There are limbic systems far more extensive than that one at play, and it doesn't explain the nature of addiction any more than talking about the digestive system explains world hunger. And other, more 'neuroactive' games, don't show the same addictive effects as the frankly slower Everquest and company.

        Even though many people play FPS's a lot, I haven't seen the sort of destructive fall-out from them that I've seen with other games - I don't know of anyone who failed out of school or became an antisocial shut-in because of Quake or Counterstrike.

        In a sense, people who really like video games but would never let them interfere with the normal functioning of their lives (personal and professional) abuse the term "addiction" when they describe themselves as addicted to the games. I found the article underinformed and somewhat irresponsible - the realities of addiction are far more complex than a little controlled "experiment" will illuminate.

        • Re:Real addiction. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Niten (201835)

          While you have a good point about why, in general, FPS games are far less addictive / destructive than the more "social" games, I would like to add that here at the U of F I have a suitemate who, almost every other night, will stay up until six in the morning playing Counterstrike online. This often causes him to sleep in for the rest of the day and miss an entire day's worth of classes. He even dropped two classes this semester because of this problem.

          So yes, while MMORPGs are generally more addictive than FPSs, even a seemingly innocent FPS has the capability to wreak havoc on one's "real" life. I suppose that this can only get worse in the future, with advanced system such as Xbox Live providing an even more social online gaming experience.

    • by SimplexO (537908) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:45PM (#4839333) Homepage
      It IS after all just a video game...
      It IS after all just pot. I mean come on... It never does anything long term...

      pfft.

    • by whereiswaldo (459052) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:09PM (#4839523) Journal
      I once had the Everquest on my back, but I kicked. Believe me, these addictions do screw up real lives...

      And addictions always have a way of being justified as many people are trying to do here.

      Anyone who has ever smoked cigarettes and quit successfully can tell you that it plays games with your mind when you try and quit. It can even make you feel crazy. The addiction intermingles with your whole being. Without it, you are not the same person everybody loves. You aren't happy. You're stressed out. Unless your craving is satisfied.

      And when the addiction is well on its way to leaving your body and mind, you start to think in new ways. You think "what the fuck was I thinking all those years?" You might even cry about the days of your life that were wasted.

      So do yourself a favour: take one addiction, and stop it. Fill your time with something else. Dwell on helping others instead.
  • by BSOD from above (625268) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:36PM (#4839241) Homepage
    chronic /. addiction.


    Ouch! [hazardfactory.org]

    • If you're addicted to Slashdot, there's a good chance you might be a Bandwidth Junkie. But do not dispair, for there is help!

      Read more about the symptoms, stories, and the 12 steps of Bandwidth Junkies Anonymous on their website! [3fingersalute.net]

    • by netsharc (195805)
      I find I'm addicted to /. I keep reloading the main page to see if there's anything new, and read all the comments to see if someone said anything funny or interesting. It's pathetic really, then when I talk to (geek) friends in the real world I'd just regurgitate the opinions I read online which I agree with. What happened to having one's own opinion.

      Gotta do a Java assignment, I sit there, and reload Slashdot every 5 minutes when I'm supposed to stare at the code and think a bit. Sucks.

      My name is netsharc, and I'm a slash-addict. Anyone else wanna share their story?
  • Similaraties (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Malicious (567158)
    When Bowling, one may have to wear ugly shoes, but occasionally, you may get a trophy, or even prize money.
    Drug addicts, can eventually become wrapped up enough in the life style, that they can become dealers, or sometimes get freebees.
    Play Everquest long enough, eventually you can sell your character for megabucks on Ebay.

    More proof, that evil begets evil.

  • Considering the audience, I don't think we need to read an article to understand gaming addiction...
  • by ekrout (139379) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:37PM (#4839248) Journal
    Game addiction is a serious problem, one that's almost as wretched, terrible, and harmful for loved ones than drug, sex, or gambling addictions.

    Take, for example, the EverQuest Widows page [yahoo.com]. Their opening paragraph states simply that "EverQuest-Widows is a forum for partners, family, and friends of people who play EverQuest compulsively [who] turn to each other [for emotional support]".

    So please catch yourselves before you joke about addiction. All addictions, not just ones related to drugs, are serious problems that must be solved before disaster strikes.

    In conclusion, I urge you all to read this heart-wrenching essay [selfpsychology.org] in which Jeffrey Stark talks about how a video game ruined his young life.

    Truly a sad story. Remember people: games are for fun/entertainment, and are not real life. Same goes with Slashdot!
    • Horse shit. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NineNine (235196) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:43PM (#4839318)
      These "people" are pathetic. They are simply people with zero self-esteem, zero drive, and who are intrinsically lazy. They have the willpower of a doorknob. I know this is gonna be modded "flamebait", but it's very simple. It's not a physical "addition" and it's insulting to people with real additions. These are just lazy fucking slobs who use "addiction" as a crutch so as they don't have to get their fat asses off of the sofa. Any serious problems that strike these people and their families are brought on by themselves. It's that simple.
      • Re:Horse shit. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by whereiswaldo (459052) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:02PM (#4839463) Journal
        Any serious problems that strike these people and their families are brought on by themselves. It's that simple.

        Without compassion, these people may never come out of their addiction. It's easy to have zero tolerance for others' mistakes, but remember that someday you may need help. Maybe you already do and you just don't know it. Maybe we all need a little help sometimes... let's be there for each other.
      • Re:Horse shit. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:10PM (#4839528) Homepage

        These "people" are pathetic. They are simply people with zero self-esteem, zero drive, and who are intrinsically lazy.

        I can remember when I played MUD 15 hours a day, fanatically, to protect my position on the toplist and my position in the guild. I thought I was very important, and with that devotion, drive and laziness were not the problem at all. I wouldn't wake up at 7.30 to be at the uni computer rooms at 8.00 then (note: all of this is years ago). Self-esteem, perhaps. The other two are horse-shit.

        In my opinion there are three big factors that make online roleplaying addictive:

        • Competition. When your friends make 200k xp/hour, and so do the guys around your #14 place on the toplist, you want to get at least that as well.
        • Responsibility. Once you're one of the higher players in a guild, you're important for the rest. My MUD had unique weapons in it, and there would be a reboot every few days, at unpredictable times. The good players had to be online when the reboot happened, or this reboot would suck for us.
        • Escapism. After a while, your real life will slowly become a mess. You panic. In the meantime, you also think your online problems matter. And you get that endorphin rush the author also mentioned. So you decide to play another hour, and the trouble gets worse.

        And for some people, social contacts I suppose. But I was thinking of xp/hour, and finding exploits (always a fun race between players and coders).

        In short, the human brain wasn't built to make a difference between real life and virtual life. And the importance people want to have in RL is sometimes easier to get online.

      • They are simply people with zero self-esteem, zero drive, and who are intrinsically lazy. They have the willpower of a doorknob.
        Your statement about them having the willpower of a doorknob is correct. But to say they are intrinsically lazy is false. How many hours do they put into these games? Generally, these people play for hundreds of hours.
        I've never found a game which captivated me so thoroughly, but many people have.
        It was about a week ago that an article was posted to slashdot, citing Will Wrights concern about the ethical issues surrounding the Sims Online, and as well he should be. He is supplying a product which stimulates the pleasure center of the brain, as any drug dealer does.
        Working in maxis tech support, there were a number of callers who we dealt with all the time, and many others I had simply heard stories about. People who had lost their jobs, people who played the sims 8 hours a day, people who called Tech support, just to have someone to actually talk to. They were so absorbed in the game, the only people they shared any frame of reference with were the people who worked to fix the game.
        We've heard about everquest, and the like, but I gaurantee, when the sims online comes out, it will offer 100s of case studies for psychiatrists world wide.
        Next time an article like this gets posted, it will be in newsweek, or time, not gamespy.
      • by Vagary (21383) <jawarren@gmai l . com> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:14PM (#4839557) Journal

        You have an excellent point that there are three different forms of addiction which should be regarded as very different:

        • Psychological (eg: gaming)
        • Physical (eg: coffee)
        • Combined (eg: smoking)

        Combined and Physical addictions tend to be narcotics-related and tend to be understood in a simplistic way by non-addicts. But the war on drugs hasn't had a new twist since the rise of ecstacy in North America; fighting drug addiction cannot hope to attract the funding or media attention it once did. So now purely psychological addictions are en vogue.

        I'm not suggesting that some addictions should be left untreated, but it is important to keep their power in mind when making judgements about the sufferers. Right now the hot addiction in Canada is gambling. Should I feel as sorry for someone who goes through mood swings when they stop gambling as someone whose heart stops when they go off heroin? Should I wish the government to devote equally proportional tax dollars to each? Should I spend as much of my time worrying and learning about each?

      • Re:Horse shit. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by freeweed (309734) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:15PM (#4839565)
        Thank you for having the courage to post what noone else seems able to (including myself :).

        What ever happened to people helping themselves, anyway? Why is everything always someone else's fault, no matter what?

        "He ignored me because of a video game." Sorry, lady, he ignored you because he's an insensitive asshole. It's not that hard to turn off the damn computer once in a while, and pay attention to those you supposedly care about. If you don't, that shows more about how much you care than it does about some sort of 'addiction'.
        • Re:Horse shit. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dephex Twin (416238)
          It's not that hard to turn off the damn computer once in a while, and pay attention to those you supposedly care about.

          Congratulations. You aren't addicted to video games at all. It's not hard for me to keep from gambling either. I guess gambling addicts are just being little babies about it, too. (Who knows, you might actually think that...)
          If you don't, that shows more about how much you care than it does about some sort of 'addiction'.
          It's an addiciton! If it was a matter of caring more about one or another it would be called a passion.
          What ever happened to people helping themselves, anyway? Why is everything always someone else's fault, no matter what?
          Who says that just because it is an addiction that the addict doesn't need to help him/herself, first and foremost? The reason for noticing the addiciton trends is so that you can maybe take measures to keep other people from falling into the same trap in the future.
      • "They are simply people with zero self-esteem....."

        So you think you can just shake off low self-esteem by "getting off your ass" ? It's that easy, huh ? Why do you think people get addicted to other "real" addictions in the first place ?

        "Any serious problems that strike these people and their families are brought on by themselves"

        Does this include the victims of other "real" addictions ? Any why the hell do their families deserve any of the problems ?
      • 'Simply' no self-esteem? And alcoholics are just stupid fucking slobs who need to lay off the sauce, eh?
        Talk about insulting, you insensitive clod.

        Having had a mean active presence of 10+ hours a day on a MUD, displacing sleep until 4-5am while still participating in school, I still wouldn't call it an addiction. But it did displace regular activities, upsetting my sleep rhythm, and partially ruining my first year in university.

        Was it an addiction, though? I logged on first thing in the morning, between classes, and when I got home. You call it.
      • So can you explain the difference from an addiction that could be caused be a mental illness and a physical one?

        People like you crack me up. That being: A person who belives that a person with low-self esteem or a mental illness is a loser or pathetic, the are not...Hell, not even you are pathetic in reality. Serial killers are not evil either. The human brain is just a set of electrons and chemical reactions. That fact that you are juding people by who they are is just silly.

        If you can understand that, then it doesn't even matter if you don't understand anything about physical or psychological addition.

    • Hi,
      I'm GigsVT, and I'm addicted to water.

      It started out innocently enough, a drink here or there at the water fountain in school. Then all my friends started doing it too. It was hard to resist the urge to drink.

      Luckily I found this site [dhmo.org] before it was too late. I have since quit drinking water, and am proud to say I only drink rum or vodka these days.
    • >Game addiction is a serious problem, one that's almost as wretched, terrible, and harmful for loved ones than drug, sex, or gambling addictions.

      I call Nonsense!

      Have you ever lived with someone with an addiction like drugs or alcohol? To say that game addiction is as harmful as alcohol is absolutely ludicrous!

      I've been to that EQ Widows site and it's a joke. A bunch of self-absorbed women who have nothing better to do than sit around and bitch about their husbands video games, and talk about the best ways to delete thier spouses characters. It's utterly pathetic.

      And again, talk to the spouse of someone with a real addiction.
    • Truly a sad story. Remember people: games are for fun/entertainment, and are not real life. Same goes with Slashdot!

      If I made you smile, befriend me [slashdot.org] (435 fans)!
      This from a guy who seems to get his self esteem from his number of /. friends?
  • by markwelch (553433) <markwelch@markwelch.com> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:37PM (#4839254) Homepage Journal
    I disagree with the notion that addiction to computer games is more beneficial than "addiction" to bowling, or other non-harmful physical activities. Generally, those who bowl don't do it alone; the issue is, is it better to spend time interacting with people through a very limited artificial interface that includes non-human interaction (e.g. online games) or none (non-online computer games), or to spend that time engaged in interactions that are "real" (e.g. you are face-to-face with another human being, interacting).

    I'm not advocating drug use or even sexual addiction, but just disagreeing on the issue of computer game addiction. I've gone through phases when I've spent a lot of time playing computer games, mostly offline but sometimes online, and the main benefit is the sense of escape, not skill development or interaction with others.

    • Real? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Synn (6288)
      Wow, so I guess your comment is meaningless because it wasn't given to me in person, therefore it's not "real".

      Your viewpoint is very 80's.
  • by HaiLHaiL (250648) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:37PM (#4839256) Homepage
    An old friend of mine was a MUD addict. He claimed it to be more addictive than crack. As a result of his MUD playing, he flunked a semester of school, since he wouldn't go to class, study, do his homework, etc.

    Sounds pretty far fetched, but MUDs can be so damn enticing.
    • by Stapler (559692)
      Well, MMORPGs are just MUDs with 3D graphics brah... :P
    • by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@@@monkelectric...com> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:00PM (#4839449)
      This girl I was interested in spent easily 12 - 18 hours/day playing muds. She pretty much only got out to go to class and to see LOTR :). We went on some dates but I couldn't handle it... She was always telling me about what was happening in the *5* muds she played simultaneously. I wanted to scream at her, "you dumb bitch none of it is real!" She was used to the admiration of sex-crazed mud boys who adored her because she played muds AND had a vagina (and she was quite attractive). Whereas I thought her MUDing was a serious character flaw.

      I play alot of videogames, so its not that foreign to me ... But MUD addiction seems to center around some serious pathologies (and I supppose alot of other non-chemical addictions). It's always the same kind of person who is attracted to MUDs, dark, depressed theatre geeks who need to escape reality. Anybody who you can walk up to and say, "Hey how you doin today?" and they reply "Great! I found the key of zathros today." has serious problems not related to videogames :) In the end I just gave up on her

      • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:17PM (#4839582) Homepage

        This girl I was interested in spent easily 12-18 hours/day playing muds.

        So did I. But our computer rooms weren't open longer. I'm so happy I didn't study at the Uni of Warwick in the UK, where they were open 24/7. I knew a guy there who slept in his car for a year. Many people didn't leave the labs for days (can sleep on three or four chairs). Etc.

        One of the worst of them eventually married some American woman, and last I heard, was working for Microsoft.

        So let that be a warning!

        (hi guys, I'm sure some of you will read this :-))

    • Was he featured in this [mit.edu] book?
    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:20PM (#4839601) Homepage

      Happened to one of my college buddies too. When they kicked him out, he screamed "They can't do this to me! I'm a wizard!"

      It's funny... as past history. Not such a giggle at the time, as I remember.

    • There is still a good number of people who play MajorMUD [majormud.com], and are addicted even though they have scripts to play for them 24/7.

      Muds, IMO, are like those "choose your own adventure" books I used to read as a kid. It's pretty much an interactive, never-ending storybook, as opposed to graphical online RPG's.
  • "the editor has spent over a year investigating on gaming addiction." I wish I could call my playing to much video games something scientific like that. *sighs, goes back to playing PS2*
  • by core plexus (599119) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:38PM (#4839261) Homepage
    "In an industry scrutinized by the government as a drug infested haven that pollutes our communities and destroys the ability to lead a productive life, there is another industry that has the potential to become even more dangerous than any drug addiction."

    After reading through the article, I fail to find what the first industry alluded to in that paragraph is. It doesn't seem to be gaming, or more correctly, online gaming. It does seem to be a "drug infested haven". Sounds like the U.S. Congress, or perhaps Big Business.

    • Completely out of context, but...

      "In an industry scrutinized by the government as a drug infested haven that pollutes our
      communities and destroys the ability to lead a productive life
      [...]

      If things weren't so twisted; that would be an apt description of the Defence industry.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:39PM (#4839270)
    chmod 000 -R /usr/bin/games /usr/local/games

    It worked for me.
  • Or... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Linguica (144978)
    ...is it possible that this guy was just addicted to video games for a year and now is trying to rationalize it by writing an article about it?
    • Anarchy Online
    • Dark Age of Camelot
    • Ultima Online
    • Diablo II
    • The Sims
    • Everquest
    • Try Anarchy Online free for 7 days! (We dare you to). =]

    And in our upcoming story about heroin addiction, we'll have an interactive special feature where you can enter your zip code and find the location for the dealer nearest you!

  • Gaming addiction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Helpadingoatemybaby (629248) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:42PM (#4839300)
    I've been there.

    Having all my money going into arcade games was morale destroying. I believe that there is no difference between being addicted to video games and VLT's (slot machines).

    It's not whether you win or lose, it's just that you have to keep playing. It's a vaguely sexual feeling -- that you might be found out, that you'll be "in trouble."

    Profoundly depressing, actually. After a couple of years I managed to stop, but there was no self help groups back then, nobody to talk to (and who takes a 12 year old that's spending $50 a day on video games seriously anyway??)

    If you're addicted, step back, do whatever, throw out the computer. Quit two, three, four times or as many as it takes to get it out of your life. And don't go back.

  • by dagg (153577) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:42PM (#4839306) Journal
    Sounds like the husband that says he is a great husband:
    • Doesn't beat his wife.
    • Doesn't drink.
    • Doesn't do drugs.
    • Doesn't sleep around.
    But all he does do is sit in front of the TV and talk on Internet chat rooms. Just because you don't beat your wife doesn't mean you are a good person. And just because playing video games doesn't make you a bad person doesn't mean it is good for you.

    --Your sex [tilegarden.com]

  • Myself, I totally wasted about three years on MUDs, 1993-1995. And I only consider myself cured from all the psychological after effects of that life since about a year. I still haven't finished my CS study, but it's finally going fast, I'll finish that thesis soon. Still, years down the drain.

    And from what I hear of these MMORPGs, they must be more addictive. I will stay the fuck away from every online game.

    So this article reads familiar. Author knew someone who wasted years, cut himself off completely (so did I - apart from MUD playing friends). She didn't believe she could be sucked in, tried the game, and was also trapped.

    So these games are exactly like heroin, addiction-wise. If you haven't played a MMORPG yet, don't start.

    That said, LPC is still a cool programming language :-)

  • Evercrack (Score:5, Informative)

    by prichardson (603676) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:42PM (#4839308) Journal
    I remember this time last year i was just kicking my everquest addiction. I realized that it just wasn't fuffilling at all. My social life was trashed, except with my friend who also played. I wasn't even enjoying the time I did spend playing it. When I canceled my subscription it felt as if I risen to a new level of councousness.

    Now I have a lot more friends, have lost 40 pounds and am much happier than I was before.

    I still play video games some, but not a lot.

    Also, please note the difference between a mental addiction and a chemical addiction. A mental addiction is all force of habbit, like video games or marajawana. A chemical addiction, to nicotine or alchahol is much different and a lit harder to kick.
    • Re:Evercrack (Score:2, Insightful)

      by messiertom (590151)
      Well, one could argue that something like Everquest (or pot, or masturbation, et. al.) that's considered a "mental addiction" gives great pleasure. This pleasure is caused by the release of endorphins in the brain (which is actually what nicotone does too; it increases endorphin release).

      So really, I don't consider there to be any difference between traditional addictions like nicotine and less conventional ones like Everquest (which btw, I DON'T play)
    • I personally have a theory as to why EQ is so addictive (other than the ones presented in the article above).

      When I finally rejoined reality last year (all my friends quit at the same time) we started discussing the addiction rationally. The common theme we all found was everyone changed their view at least 10 times a minuite except when chatting. I don't know if everyone is aware of this, but when your mind gets confused spatially it creates alot of adrenaline and some morphines.

      We eventually decided that half of the addiction to everquest was the simple act of pressing f9 to get an adrenaline high.
  • by foolip (588195) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:42PM (#4839309) Homepage
    While I agree that games are "better" being addicted to than most drugs (coffee, anyone?) I really can't agree with the conclusion of this article. Gaming addiction can be expensive as hell (especially if you're on dial-up and pay per minute, as we do in Sweden). I had a brush with this sort of behaviour when my brother was playing Ultima Online every day for about half a year -- although he eventually just got tired of it. Any activity which holds you from interactive with other people for a very long time is quite harmful to you, even if you don't actually *like* people.
  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <(teamhasnoi) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:43PM (#4839312) Homepage Journal
    and I am a Slashdotaholic.
  • Where's the line? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nefrayu (601593) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:43PM (#4839317) Homepage
    Where's the line drawn between addiction and fandom? I've been hooked on Command and Conquer games since they first appeared. I've tried others in the genre like Starcraft, but they just haven't done it for me. I'm going through withdrawl waiting for Generals to finally make it to the shelves, annoying the piss out of the local software shop guys everytime I'm in the mall by asking them to give me the up to date release date.
    When I do get a new C&C game, I normally spend the next 3 weeks playing that in my free time. I find myself staying up until 3 or 4 am, and my girlfriend gets hooked too, so that doesn't help things (is she an "enabler?"). After about 3 weeks, it doesn't give me as much of a "high" as it used to, so I don't play it as much. But then comes the expansion pack and another 3 weeks of my life.
    So I ask you, when does this become an addiction and when is it just being a fan?
  • Lucky for her (Score:3, Insightful)

    by caffeine_monkey (576033) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:44PM (#4839320)
    It seems a bit irresponsible for her to dismiss gaming addiction as "just another amusement park". Clearly some people don't have the same willpower as she does, and for them gaming addiction is a real problem that causes them to become antisocial and lose touch with their friends, their jobs, their lives. The very word "addiction" means that the compulsion is stronger than the person's resistance. Any kind of behaviour which resists one's better judgement is damaging, IMHO.
  • I think video games, especially online games, are addictive not only for their stimulation, but also their communication. What better way to communicate with someone then to use primeval instincts like killing?

    On another note, knowledge can also be addictive, take the everything2.com phenominon. 50,000 people addicted to knowledge
  • NEWSFLASH! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rayonic (462789)
    Obsessive-compulsives can get addicted to video games.

    Film at eleven.
  • The difference... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cynical_Dude (548704) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:50PM (#4839365)
    ...between online roleplaying and other games, even online ones is the amount of time needed to get "into the game" every time you play.

    If I compare my Everquest addiction (which is over) to my Counter-Strike addiction (which is being revived) I'd say that I can pop in for a quick game of CS, but just as quickly log out again and go off to some social activity, whereas EQ would keep me tied to the screen.

    The problem with EQ (and AO, DAoC, whatever) is that you need on average around an hour just to get going in the game. You need to get to some place where you can kill something, find a group, wait for friends, etc etc...

    Once you enter the high level game in any online RPG you will have to sacrifice even more time. 24-hour non-stop playing sessions of a 50+ member guild for some rare item are not uncommon in the very high end game.

    THAT's when your life starts going down the drain...
  • by Bicoid (631498) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:53PM (#4839383)
    Question is, when're they going to start legislating games? I mean, if Evercrack and MUDs are the "hard" games, then what about so-called gateway games? Are they going to make Pacman illegal because it can lead to more severe game abuse? And they do have anecdotal evidence that video gaming can lead to violence and other crimes. Who knows, people might start committing armed robbery because they can't afford the next Evercrack expansion.

    The above is not a comment on the "War on Drugs." If you take it as such, you're a low-down good-for-nothing hippie crack dealer terrorist who is against democracy and everything else the US stands for.
  • by agent oranje (169160) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:58PM (#4839434) Journal
    Essentially, this woman just conveyed that she is an addict, but justifies her addiction as healthy, as she could be doing something worse...??!

    Well, I'm glad I'm addicted to nicotine. Without cigarettes, I might be smoking crack! Thank god I found this addiction before I moved onto something more serious, like bowling or television.
  • by Warin (200873) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @03:59PM (#4839438)
    I was a MUSH addict back in 1995. I'd play for hours at a time, instead of going out to look for work (I'd been laid off from an ISP before the internet REALLY boomed) or paying enough attention to my wife and new son. And I payed for it with a divorce and a lot of very hard times.

    The addiction to EQ and MMORPG's is very similar. There is a sense of community that is often lacking in our 'real world' For me, it was emotional support that my wife didnt have the energy to give me while dealing with our child.

    It's easy to call people who get addicted to games losers, or deride them for their lack of character. But in the end, it's about finding something there we dont find elsewhere. I was on the beta for Earth and Beyond, and even ran a fansite in the days before it was even beta... but I got out when I saw myself going down the same road I had in 95. Not everyone can do that... and the sooner people realise the fact that these games are addictive for a reason and make the effort to break the cycle, the sooner there will be less Everquest Widows.
  • One thing that makes this a little worse than other addictions is that it can be done anywhere, thanks to thing like the gameboy.

    I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner by a friend. It was me, another mutual friend, her, her parents and her brother.

    Her Brother was about 26 I'd say, and he spent the entire time sitting amongs the rest of us on the couch playing Metroid Fusion on his BGA. He had headphones one and would make random comments like "Ah there it is!" or "Now where did he go." We would all look at him thinking he was addressing someone.

    What's probably worse is that neither his parents nor his sister made him stop. They just let him be a zombie amongst us. I must admit that I was like this about 10 years ago with the first gameboy. In the car especially, but I was 13, he is 26 and no one seems to really care enough to do anything.

    With most other addictions you have to be in a certain area to do it, or it costs a lot of money. ie. portable tv's aren't that cheap and don't get good reception, but gameboys, gamegears, etc.. work just as well anywhere and no one really looks at you oddle if you use one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:07PM (#4839513)
    I suffered for years from video game and technology (i.e. Slashdot-esque geek) addiction. The moderators who are busy now preparing to mod my post as flamebait are likely now doing the same things I once did:
    • Spending thousands ($20k/year or more) on gaming, gaming hardware, and gaming 'paraphanelia' (posters, artifacts, clothing items with game logos, etc.) Sure, I guess I could afford it... but imagine how much this could have helped my future retirement? Or could it have paid for school (I now have $$$ in debt) or even fed the homeless?
    • Ruining relationships with real people. My tech addiction killed a five-year relationship and ended my marriage, not to mention disconnecting me from friends, old and new. It will take years for me to repair the damge, if I can ever do so.
    • Making me socially inept. I have the mouth of a sailor, the patience of a crack addict and the manners of a mob hit man. This wasn't always the case... but after several years of interacting only with armed players on computer displays, most of my skills for interacting with real people are long gone. Habits are hard to break.
    • Ruining my education. I was paying thousands in tuition and then not showing up to class. I would end up with my high-end laptop on the campus wireless network sitting under stairs or in utility closets somewhere gaming. I missed exams, papers, and innumerable opportunities, including the opportunity to study abroad.
    • Setting myself up for withdrawal... Giving up gaming left me with literally nothing in my life. I had sacrificed everything -- everything -- in the interest of the game. I essentially burned every bridge for gaming success. So now, when I am finally trying to give up... what do I have to turn to? Nothing. I must face my debt, my loneliness, and my academic failures on my own. The desire to continue with my gaming/tech habits is incredible. I have started drinking, feeling that it is better to be passed out on the floor than gaming (it's cheaper, too.)

    I'm not saying that everyone will be affected this way... But I urge you all to be careful. You, in the Slashdot crowd, are easily the most susceptible... and I suspect that many of you are affected already.

    Good luck to you all.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 08, 2002 @08:12PM (#4840967)
      Here is my story

      I started p;aying games back when I was about seven years old. It all started with my NES, and man did I love it. I played it hard for a while, about 3 or 4 hours a day. Not much longer, we got a computer, and I started playing Dune 2, I lost so much time to those games. By the time I got to high school, I was the biggest gamer in my school.

      I remember back in grade eight, the teacher had us all write something nice about each of us on a piece of paper. Out of about 25 people, 15 or so all said either, he is good at nintendo or video games. I never realised that this was bad. I am naturally intelligent, and I did no homework or notes or studying for tests. I was able to pull about an eighty average, while playing these games.

      Once I got to high school, I started to get more advanced games, I had an N64, SNES, and a powerful computer (heck, I am typing this on that computer) I was playing hardcore my Command and Conquer and zelda on the nintendos. My marks were slumping a bit, but I was not challenged by the classes and I didn't care. Then in grade eleven we got the internet. I started downloading so much junk, and playing online games like a crazed heiena on crystal meth. My marks were about eighty because I was "learning" so much from the internet. Then I discovered pokemon, Final Fantasy, and a few other games that I hardcore played.

      I was logging on about eight hours a day on those things, that and downloading music. I never did any homework, all I was doing was playing games of half-life, and Total Annihilation. It was about halfway through my final year, and I started to really think about what I had been doing.

      I was by far the most intelligent person in the school, but I wasn't going to get any scholorship because I did not work in the classes and that brought down my grades. (I ended up second in the class by about 1%) I have never had a girlfriend. I was drastically overweight. I had spent tons of money on games and internet connections. I had never learnt how to do homework or to study. My grammer and language skills were degrading and as were my skills in the real world.

      After that I entered university, and I made a promise to myself. No more video games. I packed up my nintendos and my computer games and left them at home, while I went off to the university. Now in my second year, I am faced with the aftermath of my life I had when I was younger. I have already lost about 50 lbs in the last year and a half. I have made numerous friends. My self-esteem has skyrocketed. I will freely admit that I was addicted, but I have worked with it and now have it undercontrol.

      Like all addictions, one never gets over it. I have on this computer very few games, like solitare, and I catch myself playing them, even though I try not to. I surf the web far to much, like right now, I am typing on slashdot instead of studing for my econ final tomorrow that is worth 100%. They are hard to deal with, and when I first stopped the games, I felt strange.

      I still to this day have problems stemming from the games I played in my youth. I have poor workhabits, and at university that causes failure. I have never had a girlfriend. However, I do have some good things that came from the video games. I am a CS major, learning how to program in C++ probably inspired from all my computer games. I can hold my head up high and say to all my friends that I am a better game player than them. When I hear them talk about everquest, I laugh inside because I can see their addiction and they can't. They still get to beat thiers. I don't have the added wasted time here in universtiy of playing games, unlike some of them. I never watch TV, because I never got into it, and since I don't play games anymore, I have more free time than ever before. My work ethic is slowly growing better here in the University. My collection of video games it worth a lot.

      True games have cost me alot, financally, physically, and mentally, but I have started to get out of the hole. I feel that I have had to face obsticals that have made me stronger overcoming them. I must say that instead of getting scholarships, but working for tuition has made me work harder at school.

      Video games are addicting, but it is possible to get out from their grasp. The road to recovery is long and hard, but also fufilling and filled with rewards. The hardest step to take is the first one, to get rid of the games and work to be a better person.

      Thanks Kendric
  • I tried playing EQ way back when. I didn't find it very fun at all, mainly because I felt the setting lacked personality, the players lacked personality moreso.

    I then tried the Anarchy Online Beta for... about a week during the summer. I thought the game sucked. Probably a good thing.

    I tried playing DAOC. This lasted a bit longer, because the setting was much more interesting. I started playing close to the time the game began.
    I actually had some fun going out and killing things, unlike EQ. I thought the people in the
    game were a bit better as well. I even joined a guild. Unfortunately, the fun didn't really last too long.

    When I got to around level 15 or so, I began to realize that the game was quickly turning into a part time job. I had to spend more and more time on the parts of the game I didn't like. To make matters worse, quite a few people from the EQ community seemed to have discovered the game, and the servers started to get filled with lamers.

    Since I was only taking one class at the time that was really that difficult, it didn't really hurt me that much... but I felt that I would just have to keep pouring more and more hours into the unrewarding aspects of the game. At the same time, I began to feel alienated from my guild because a lot of the members were putting in 60+ hours a week! I decided to quit the game, which was a good thing.

    I think the real reason I tried these MMORPGs was to recreate the fun I had playing D&D during high school.

    The reason I think I enjoy NWN so much right now is that it isn't an MMORPG. I can play once a week, or less, and not worry about being left behind by the people I know. I'm not playing a monthly fee, either, so if I don't play very much, it isn't like I'm wasting cash.
  • computers cured me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gyratedotorg (545872)

    i was somewhat addicted to games when i was a kid. then i went to college and took up computer science. now that i understand the algorithms and stuff behind the games, the magic is gone.

    now i wish that someone could suggest a game for me to get addicted to.

  • Social Interaction (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616)
    Since I fit in the class of "addicts", I figured I would post my thoughts and observations of myself..

    I think the social interaction is very much undervalued here. When I was in college, I worked two jobs to pay my way, so "free time" was rare. However, from both of my jobs I could get on the internet, and I wound up spending entire days playing MUDs and chatting on IRC. Thanks to the wonders of screen, I could go from home to class to my jobs, and simply reattach to my running IRC session. Sure, I had no girlfriend, but then again, none of the girls I knew would have enjoyed being taken on a date involving a 3AM moonlit stroll through the campus, since I got off work after the bars and resturaunts and such closed. Chatting online gave me a chance to talk to people instead of staring at a terminal in an empty server room late at night. I even picked up speed typing skills to boot. I greatly valued my social interaction with these "virtual" people.

    Only, these people are no more "virtual" than I am! I have known some of them for almost a decade. Some I have visited in person, and had a blast getting to see the so-called "virtual" person. Others are in other countries, places I'll never get to go but love to hear about. Calling these people "virtual" is an insult to their real world counterparts.

    I now work 9-to-5 as a software developer, and I don't get to IRC from work. I don't have time at home on the evenings to play games much, but I still chat with my friends on evenings. Perhaps people might call me an "addict" still, but I don't let it interfere with other things I want to do.

    If you lost it in all that rambling, the point here is twofold:
    1) social interaction is social interaction. Ask yourself what benefits do you gain from constraining people to be in the same place at the same time (aside from the possibility of sex)?
    2) The internet provides a useful source of social interaction. Turning it off (regulating it, in other words) because some people can't handle their addiction won't help anyone.
  • "In the process, I haven't lost my job, and due to our simultaneous obsession, I have not lost my fiancé either. I haven't lost my real life friends, but they do sometimes look at me funny when I talk about the game I play. Low and I get our work done, run our business and have a great balanced life together I think. Anyone who actually knows me in real life can tell you that I have no self image or esteem problems and in fact, I have been accused of having quite an ego. I won't even go into Low's ego."

    In other words playing video games does not automatically make you an addict if you practice control and don't use them to fill an emotional void of some sort. Just like having a few drinks at a bar with your buddies doesn't make you an alcoholic.

    Is the phrase "Moderation in all things." really so hard for the modern world to understand?

    On a side note, if a severe beating is the penalty for cold blooded PK'ing in South Korea I wonder what they do to cheaters? And is there any chance we could adopt it here? :)

  • she has gone from being a somewhat normal person, to being one of the higher level characters in Anarchy Online...sounds like a happy ending to me

    no, sounds like she really didget addicted. Can you say "rationalization"?
  • by GroundBounce (20126) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:36PM (#4839721)
    Sounds like a pretty nice ending to me.

    Yeah right. Just ask the two people I know who actually LOST THEIR JOBS because of game addictions. These statements are nothing but self-serving masturbation to give game addicts a false sense of security that they don't have a real problem.

    Sure, game addiction isn't as bad as crack or alchohol, but I've seen it cause serious havoc in people's lives, including getting fired from their jobs, just like alchoholics and drug addicts.

    Casual gaming is great, and maybe even constructive, just like social drinking. But when it becomes an addiction it can be as disruptive to your life as any other kind of addiction, and ignoring it or saying it is OK because it's not physically harmful like alchohol is doing a disservice to people with serious cases who may need help before they end up in the unemployment line.
  • Addiction (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Coleco (41062)
    My experience with video game addiction goes back to the hayday of Quake. The way it was like was exactly the same way that crack addicts or heroin addicts are portrayed. That is to say, I sacrificed basically a couple of years that I can't really remember and what justified playing Quake, say, 12 hours a day was that there were other 'friends' I had that did the same thing, and that's really the only thing we had in common. I'm sure I would have fit the psychological profile of an addict in other ways too.

    My point is this however. Since then I've done and tried a variety of different drugs and while they're fun, they've never interfered with my life in any way, and I always felt like I got bored really quickly and it was just a pasttime. also I rarely drink and it doesn't really appeal to me most of the time.

    I was really good about not playing games for a while. But I had to go cold turkey..

    Then a year ago one day I was suppose to to meet up with this girl that I really liked and I ended up playing puzzle fighter for 8 hours straight and totally losing track of time. After that I wiped all my games and broke all my game cds and vowed never to return to video games.

    So really for me games interfered with my life as much as a serious drug problem would, I disagree that it's 'better' than a drug addiction. Maybe somewhat more healthy physically I guess.
  • by jjohnson (62583) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:42PM (#4839772) Homepage
    I've never been into MMORPG, but I have had some marathon sessions with Sim City and Civilization and any good FPS. My trick to setting an alarm for myself is to ignore my bladder for as long as I can. Having created a competing need that escalates in realtime, I have an unavoidable time limit: going to the bathroom == turn the game off. At some point "just one more turn" no longer outweighs "I'm about to piss myself".
  • I wonder how the "Evercrack" stories will contribute to the current calls for more explicit regulation of the computer/video game industry?

    While I do have problems with some titles which (I believe) explicitly market to an inappropriate segment of our population (much like rated R movies during the 1980s/90s ... before movie companies realized they could make more money selling non-R rated movies) ... I'm not sure we can regulate MMORPG based on the "addiction" argument.

    I keep thinking about the lessons thus far from the "Drug War" -- there are significant (unintended) costs to such regulation/criminalization. If we put an age limit, I think we make MMORPG a more subversive activity. This opens the door for kids to engage in other, more harmful subversive activities -- similar in the way some people are introduced to drugs through "underground" music scenes or serious alcoholism from weekend binge drinking during college. Can you imagine if we criminalized MMORPG for youths ... we'd have "Evercrack houses" in major urban (and even some suburban) communities. Imagine what else people would be providing in these Evercrack houses ... shudder.

    Like many of the other posters, I agree that many Evercrack addicts would have fallen into some other pitfall even if they had never played MMORPGs. Addictions in general often are a manifestation of some other problem ... social life difficulties, non-satisfactory career, self-image issues, etc. This does not mean that these people should not get help. But it does mean that we should be treating the underlying illness and not just the synmptoms (addiction).
  • by bigdavex (155746) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:50PM (#4839827)

    I've heard of game obsessions, like those college kids in the seventies that murdered their whole family while playing a Dungeons and Dragons game, but I just thought that sort of obsession lies only in the minds of sociopaths or people with a lot bigger problems than playing a game.

    I remember that. And afterwards, didn't they take out their kidneys and sell them?

  • by Rie Beam (632299) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @04:56PM (#4839869) Journal
    If you stop and think about it for a second, your real life addiction is ruining your roleplaying life. You've already missed several quests, and your traveling partners have moved on to another part of the world. We really need something to break people's addiction to the "real" world, as it takes so many roleplaying lives, its an epidemic. "Social Interaction" has become like a drug to some roleplayers, and they are quickly flocking to this addiction. It is a proven fact, also, that 100% who exist in the real world eventually die. You heard me right! 100%! This is a terrible statistic, and we must do something about it! The "real" world addiction ends here!
  • Not a bad problem, though. I just play games basically every day. Maybe it's tacops, maybe it's mech IV, maybe it's just civ 2. But if a day goes by where I don't play games, I start to shake uncontrollably.

    Personally, I believe that game controllers are coated with crack. This has two effects; first, you have to play every day, which wears out controllers. Second, to get your fix, when the crack wears off the controller, you have to buy another one.

    Seriously though; My joystick (thrustmaster F22 pro) takes up more space than my mousing area. You have to have priorities.

  • im doomed (Score:2, Funny)

    by becktabs (628093)
    im addicted to computer games AND drugs...worst part about it is they make a perfect combination.
  • by C4-GodH8sMe (67047) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @05:38PM (#4840129)
    For some of us there is nothing else.

    I've been a gamer since the age of six. Eighteen years later I'm still saving the world, slaying dragons, and rescuing princesses. What did you do today? :)

    Seriously though, gaming is all I have ever known. A broken home didn't offer much stimulation. Interaction at home was practically nonexistant. Unless you're the aggressive type. I don't feed on it, so it never really interested me. My sister on the other hand, seems to crave it.

    School was no sanctuary either. Of course, I was the geek. In the entire school there was maybe 6 of us. Yes we spent our time playing Dungeons and Dragons, Doom, and whatnot. But can you honestly sit here and tell me that these are bad addictions that cause me to be anti-social, lazy, and a unproductive member of society?

    You obviously have no idea what gaming can be about. Have you ever thought to look into how much effort goes into preparing for a weekend of D&D? And how much fun you AND YOUR FRIENDS can have together. Social interaction is NOT necessarily defined by hanging out at the mall, or at work long hours with coworkers - it could be in the comfort of your own home with some close friends). A lot of gamers are recluses because of the way they are stereotyped. This thread is dripping with it.

    I can only argue with the ignorant for so long before I realize it's futile (hence rarely posting on /.).

    Try talking to a hardcore gamer about games. You'd be surprised how much more there is to it. Talk about what interests you. I bet (s)he can twist whatever you do for fun into an 'addiction' too.

    Is it really an addiction if this is the only thing life really has to offer that is stimulating? If the outside world is dull and bland, why be there? Maybe it's not so wrong if the person can't break from time to time to deal woth work and such. Maybe that person realizes that what he is doing is more important to him/her than going to that crappy job again. Let me assure you that work and relationships are not the end-all-be-all of this world. If they are for you, I'm sorry. You're going to need a lot of help.

    Sure, some people are weak willed and are late for work, miss a payment, or whatever because they were playing a game. How many times have you come to work late because you were up late drinking? Or on a date the night beore? Or reading a book all night that you've been dying to read? Or even working late the previous evening? My point being, you can twist anything in to an addiction. Nothing in this world is healthy for you. You might as well do something you enjoy and ignore people that have nothing better to do that stroke their egos by telling you you're useless because you enjoy something they can't even begin to grasp.

    Oh I'm sorry, It's not addiction if it's your thing, right? Didn't mean to point any fingers. But for the purposes of this article, stop thinking about fishing this weekend for a second, stop typing your lures, and take that ridiculous hat off. Oh, but fishing is productive... I forgot. Because you do it.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to bed. I'm up 2 hours past my bedtime because I was playing Baldur's Gate : Dark Alliance. I enjoyed every minute of it. I'll still be enjoying it at work tonight while I have to put up with the boss. I'll be half asleep thinking to myself while he drones on about what a pitiful man he is, what a worthless existence we all are really living, and how I'm going to save the world or slay a dragon later tonight. No respect I tell ya...
    • Are you sure gaming is everything life has to offer?
    • If your post is serious...

      If you're happy with it and causing nobody else harm, then that is fine. If you have income, can hold your job, and want for nothing more, then fine. If you pull yourself away to work properly and don't skive at your job to do it, great. But if not, and your productivity is suffering, you will be sacked sooner or later. Plenty of us out here work fucking hard for our money, and cannot take a life of leisure and skiving to the extremes you suggest you have.

      Heck I'd love to just play music all day, but I probably won't ever get paid for that.

  • by EvilBuu (145749) <EvilBuu@@@yifan...net> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:40PM (#4840488) Homepage
    ...but I think I'd enjoy a side-scrolling, third-person account of video game addiction more myself. Even Metroid is first-person now...
  • by analog_line (465182) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @06:42PM (#4840504)
    Yes, I play games, an awful lot. In the vernacular, I would be called a gaming addict. I've called myself that, and have no problem with it, so feel free. Whether it is a "real" addiction could be argued to death. I don't get the shivers when I'm not playing a game, but I certainly think about it often enough. It fills my time. I reject out of hand all accusations that I merely am rationalizing anything. I frankly don't see it as by default irrational in the first place, so there's no need to spin it to make it appear so.

    Here's the real end of the story. People are responsible for the consequences of their own actions. Of the myriad positions made on this point, the ones that have been modded up appear to fall into one of two catagories.

    1) These "gaming addicts" are worthless and spineless, without the self control the gods gave moths.

    2) The games made me do it! I couldn't stop myself! They're dangerous! Keep away!

    There is (at the very least) a third way to look at the whole "addiction" scenario. Maybe, just maybe, people have respsonsibly taken a look at the world around them, their lives, and sundry other things, and have chosen to spend a large portion of their time playing video games. Who gave any of you the right to pass judgement on another person's social situation? Hmm? I'm waiting. The world is a hellhole these days. Our government seems intent on passive-agressively stripping us of our rights, moving us inexorably toward the gods know what kind of war. People with a grudge against me because of a government I can't stand and have excercised my franchise against are out there looking to kill anyone who might happen to be around, and scare the fuck out of the rest of them. If you disagree with anyone, they want you marginalized or dead. I wouldn't wish this world on anyone. How can you be surprised that people would feel the need to form their own communities to try and insulate themselves. Why do you give a damn whether that community is online or person-to-person?

    No one gets out of this alive, eh? So take a look at the log in your own eye before you worry about those around you. You techno-fetishistic, mysoginist, life-less circuit-heads. (Hit a little close to home? Good. No? Consider yourself suitably insulted, in whatever way fits.)
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday December 08, 2002 @07:47PM (#4840855) Homepage Journal
    from the article: Three years ago at a nightclub I bumped into an old friend of mine who went by the nickname "Iggy". I was really amazed to see him because no one had seen nor heard from Iggy in over a year. Many of his friends had all wondered what happened to him.

    Man, that is so 100% what happens to me about every two weeks. My answer is not "everquest", it's "girlfriend".

  • by willpost (449227) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @09:07PM (#4841250)
    Phase 1: Leave for a vacation
    You need to break the mental cycle. Everything in your mind and around you can draw you back in. Go somewhere interesting and different for a week and a half, and make sure it takes at least 8 hours to get there. You may bring a laptop, but have no games installed and avoid web browsing. Leave music at home, and avoid anything that will remind you of home.

    Phase 2: Enjoy your vacation
    While on vacation, treat yourself to something nice. Remember what it's like to feel alive. Take a tour. Start up some conversations (Especially if you're single). If you're shy, force yourself to talk to some people. Your brain is outside of your normal cycle. Thoughts will take new paths and flow more freely. Take some photos.

    Phase 3: Examine your life
    At the end of your vacation, spend some time thinking about your situation. Are you happy with your job/career? Do you feel secure at home? Have you accomplished or are working towards your dreams/life plans? Think about your age, how much time you expect to have left, and how you'd like to spend that time.

    Phase 4: Getting home
    Put a vacation photo on your desktop to help empower your mind. At this point you won't have a desire to play games. You can do one of two things:
    a) Hard approach - Treat the games as mental parasitic poison. Uninstall all of them. Get out some scissors and destroy the CDs.
    b) Moderate approach - Games are ok in small amounts but keep an eye on yourself. Spend a certain time each day evaluating yourself and how you want to seriously live life.

    Either way, you will suddenly have an abundance of free time. Do not turn on the TV! Avoid too much music! Feels boring, doesn't it? That's the true nature of reality. Spend this time wisely. Avoid receiving the negative influences and criticism that got you in trouble before.

    Congratulations! You are a new person.
  • by kaoshin (110328) on Sunday December 08, 2002 @11:03PM (#4841723)
    I spent my entire Sunday playing Leisure Suit Larry 6. Sure, I could have been out flirting with real women all of that time... but the next time I have to light a cellulite burning lamp of knowledge to bone a chick with transparent pants in the penthouse I break into, I'll know that my zipper can be used as a match strike plate. I think it pays to devote a percentage of ones time to mastering the arts. It shows you care.
  • Remember there's a world outside the MUD. That's easy to say, I know it, but there are a few easy techniques you can use to make sure you never forget that.

    1. Every few hours, force yourself away from the computer, and go take a walk. Yes, I do mean outside. Yes, I am serious. Go now. You won't need to be away for THAT long, 20-30 minutes is how long I usually spend when trying to make sure that my passions for programming, knowledge (everything2 is as addictive as any MUD) and mudding don't develop into addictions. Sometimes, when you're feeling particularly reclusive, force yourself to take your walk in a populated area, just to make sure that your subconscious still has a fresh image of what people look like.

    2. Remember that the values of the MUD world are not real. You may be the guild master, have a wizard character and a billion XP on your main mortal, but that shouldn't give you satisfaction enough that you forget real-world values. When was the last time you visited a friend? Are you neglecting your {girl|boy}friend? If you're having difficulties keeping these things in mind, a simple way to make sure you don't forget that XP can't give you a hug when you need one is to take a long mudding break every now and then. I mean at least a couple of weeks. When you get back, some of the competition may have climbed to a higher experience level than you, but you should be able to see that this is not the end of the world.

    3. A weak mind is more prone to obsessive behaviour and addiction than a strong one. The mind lives in your brain, and your brain is part of the complex system that is the human body. If you're an anti-social gamer/MUDder/noder/coder, odds are you feed on a strict diet of sugar, starch, spice, caffeine and nicotine, and never get any exercise. I know you don't want to, but you really have to change this. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit nearby instead of the bag of chips. Get some daily exercise. Keep in mind that your body is a system of which your brain is a part. As a computer geek, you should know that overall performance is improved if you eliminate bottlenecks. A possible explanation for the silly old adage that a healthy soul lives in a healthy body is that the supply of blood (with fresh, life-giving oxygen and other goodness!) to your brain possibly becomes more efficient if you keep your body more efficient. This will remind you that you HAVE a body, something computer obsessions make you forget.

    4. Make sure you have at least one hobby not related to computers, and make sure you maintain it with the same zeal that powers your computing hobby. Learn how to paint, learn how to play a musical instrument or use your voice as one, take up martial arts, whatever. The point is to make sure you don't forget that your mind can do other things than play MUDs / write e2 nodes / write C code. Aikido and playing the electric bass worked for me, your mileage may vary. This will also give a rich quality to your hobby life / voluntary skill development that you wouldn't have gotten on computers alone. Nowadays I'm as likely to spend a couple of hours honing my slap/pop technique or learning a scale as I am to spend them hacking away on the computer.

    5. See people who don't play MUDs. Ideally, people who don't like computers at all. No, they're not lamers. No, they're not ignorant. They just have different interests than you, and "different" does not necessarily imply "superior" or "inferior". Go to your local heavy metal bar, or hang out with your newfound band or martial arts buddies, or whatever. This will help you remember that other people have interesting lives too, which in turn will help you remember that there is a vast and interesting world with billions of rooms and the most well-coded mobs you've ever seen, right in front of you!

    An alcoholic / drug addict can never become a social drinker / casual user, but an obsessed gamer, programmer or e2 noder most certainly can develop sane computing habits. Give it a try. Learning to appreciate the real world trains your mind and makes computing more enjoyable, not less. You're a human being, your mind makes you able to do lots of interesting things instead of just focusing on one single skill. Specialization is for insects.

    I speak as someone who has been through both an alcohol addiction and a period of obsessive MUDding.

  • by Morgaine (4316) on Monday December 09, 2002 @05:27AM (#4842865)
    There are a number of fallacies being expressed in this thread.

    The first is that, for some reason which is never explained, interaction with humans by going out and meeting them in the flesh is somehow good, while interacting with their chosen images in an online world is somehow bad. There are many reasons why this argument is threadbare, and there are even counterarguments to favor online interaction, but I'll point out just one fallacy that undermines it all: so-called "direct" interaction is actually nothing of the sort, it's just better-integrated electronic interaction with those people in your physical proximity. Your eyes and ears (both electronic signal interfaces) provide you with most of that alleged "direct" interaction unless you're in sexual contact, and that's no different online. The difference is primarily one of bandwidth and degree of integration with your senses; it's early days in that respect online, admittedly, but if your anti-online argument relies on those underdeveloped aspects of it then you have to admit that your argument will lose validity in the future as those things improve.

    The second fallacy relates to bandwidth of interaction and its importance. The signals we receive are merely hints to our perceptual machinery, as our minds perform an immense amount of interpretation on the data that comes in. The extent of this internal processing is so collosal that we are easily immersed in virtual worlds when reading novels, and the bandwidth of incoming data there is absolutely minute, a tiny fraction of today's typical modem bandwidth. In a modern online MMRPG, the bandwidths involved are much closer to those in so-called "direct" interaction that those involved in reading, so the low-bandwidth argument is not convincing. In any case, I've yet to hear anyone trying to claim that reading is not worthwhile owing to low bandwidth compared to "direct" interaction with people.

    And finally, since the topic of so many contributions has been addiction and loss of time that could better be spent in worthwhile personal development, it is worth pointing out an unstated or forgotten insincerity on the part of many people that criticize online worlds. Something like 85 percent of people in the developed world that come home after work or school and begin some form of entertainment (as opposed to more work), do so by turning on the television. This non-interactive medium spoon-feeds them brainless addictive pap for the masses for hours each day, almost entirely bypasses their intellectual machinery, wastes their time while creating nothing in which they can take pride, and certainly involves no worthwhile social interaction. The concept of a TV watcher somehow finding fault with people that inhabit an online world full to the brim with an intense interactive social fabric is so incongruous as to be funny.

    PS. I come to this from the perspective of where things are going in a few decades' time. It wasn't so long ago that family and friends used to be puzzled by my inhabiting Internet communities like this one and many others --- "That's not real life, just gazing at a monitor, you shouldn't be wasting your time" was their (usually unstated) view. Now several of them use the Internet, and even inhabit their own online communities without any encouragement from me. Apparently there is "life" online as well, it turns out, haha. Well, it's early days still, I'll be the first to admit, but anyone that thinks of online worlds purely in terms of addiction and waste of time simply does not understand what the future holds.

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