Most online gamers start paying attention when a story hits the mainstream news about gaming. I first heard the story of a Korean man who died after playing online for fifty hours some eighteen months ago, and probably missed the web buzz that undoubtedly accompanied this tragic event. However, it coincided with some other interesting developments—the identification of online gaming (not gambling) as a bona fide addiction complete with symptoms, treatments, and clinics around the world ready to help people regain their lives. Role playing is addictive, apparently. Clinics were available in some European countries, and have spread to the United States. In case you’re unsure if you fit the category, here is a brief description of the symptoms:
Signs of Addiction
Gamers who become hooked show clear signs of addiction. Like a drug, gamers who play almost every day, play for extended periods of time (over 4 hours), get restless or irritable if they can’t play, and sacrifice other social activities just to game are showing signs of addiction.
For more information, you can peruse the good doctor’s website and find what you need to break that habit. Perhaps there is a patch you can wear to wean yourself off the keyboard. Disclaimer: for the record I have no clue who this doctor is, I do not endorse the site, and am not a medical professional. Decisions about your health should not be made solely on what you read in my ‘blog or advertisements on the web. If you have a question about English literature, let fly—I’ll get back to you.
I am not actually writing this in anything more than an informative tone—I have known enough addicts, as most of us have I’m sure, to realize that anything can become addictive. I like a definition of addiction someone floated to me years ago—“If the activity begins to interrupt or impact your relationships with others in a detrimental fashion or harms your physical and/or mental well-being, then you are an addict and need to evaluate your life.” If you have a horror story about online gaming destroying your marriage, kid’s lives, or stealing your soul, I am nothing but empathetic. Actually, my wife and I had another couple over for dinner around Christmas, and I was warned by my wife not to show the husband my EQII ‘toons or to talk about online gaming, as he had been forced to chose between “drying out” or getting a divorce. I’m guessing there are many such stories. We all know a guildmate whose goodbye post stated, “I have to quit because this game is taking over my life.”
One of my personal favorites actually occurred over Teamspeak a couple years ago. We were running the “Return to Nek Castle” instance and the healer suddenly poofed—she disconnected both from the game and Teamspeak simultaneously. We chalked it up to a power outage, internet issues, or some other problem. About an hour later her husband logged onto Teamspeak and told us he had physically pulled the cable out of the wall to stop her from gaming. This was during our run, and we needed a healer, so I was a bit annoyed he couldn’t wait to have his marital spat after I received a master chest or something. He went on to tell us that she had stopped working around the house or doing anything except playing online. She was hiring people to do tasks that she had always taken care of in the past and she had to make a decision between the virtual world and the real one. I have talked to them once or twice since that night–they did post a goodbye message.
Which brings me to my current dilemma. I really want to try Lord of the Rings Online. I have read a few thorough reviews, and am a certified Tolkien-phile. But this raises a problem—while I don’t think I fit the “addict” definition above, I can’t bring myself to split time between games. I really have pushed myself to write and post each day over the last week, rather than just coming home and logging into EQII. I know if I get into LotRO and enjoy the game, I will feel guilty about not working on my ‘toons in EQ2.
I read any number of ‘blogs and posts by people who happily split time between a variety of games. I feel the drive to move my ‘toons along at a quick clip, not sacrificing speed for the enjoyment of content, but none-the-less always moving through the game with an eye towards progression. I just feel uncomfortable gaming in one MMO, while I have open accounts in another. It’s the reason I cancelled both my WoW accounts rather than leave them for occasional play when I was in Norrath. I do not have a problem with alt’s, however—I enjoy playing a variety of classes immensely and let my rest meter move along on ‘toons while I do other things quite happily.
One other element is weighing on my decision—the specifications for LotRO. I meet the minimum spec’s for the game, but do not approach the “recommended” requirements. I do plan on getting a new rig sometime soon, and that will certainly position me to play the game on an adequate system. WoW has spoiled many gamers, however—if you can’t play in a fairly lag free and low graphically intensive environment, it seems a chore to play at all. Vanguard is off my list of things to try for this very reason. The cacophony of voices lambasting lag and graphics problems during beta (yes, I know it was beta) has left me cold.
I did put an application in for the LotR Online Beta this morning after reconsidering trying something new. I almost bought the Beta disk and the preorder a couple weeks ago after Wilhelm tried the game. Incidentally, this is the same day I decided to cancel WoW and move back to EQII. I was looking for something I would enjoy again. The spec’s on the box are the only reason I did not walk out of the store with the beta installer that day. I think P@tsh@t did a great job of objectively evaluating the game for what it is, and not for what it is supposed to be. Incidentally, there are a couple other installments of that review on his site. Scroll down from part III to see his take on visual content and performance.
I need to get back to my two-boxing and get a heritage knocked out today—I just feel cranky if I type posts and don’t slay a certain number of mobs. Have a good Thursday!