Monday, March 23, 2009

MMO Addiction

There are many articles floating around the internet about video game addiction, more specifically MMO addiction. I’ve always sort of sat on the fence with most addictions. I believe that certain substances create a chemical need and desire in a person to crave them, like most drugs. I also believe certain people are prone to addiction, or more accurately were video games are concerned, obsession. That however doesn’t mean that I think everything that causes someone to be obsessed with it is an addiction, nor do I feel they should be labeled as such. I believe that a strong enough personal will power can overcome nearly any desire, the problem is fostering that will power.

That may come across as a rather soap box “esk” paragraph but I felt it was important to preface this topic. For better or worse I use to be addicted to EverQuest, or at the very least suffer from an unhealthy obsession. From 1999 until 2003 I played roughly 16 hours a day, now if that doesn’t scream problem I don’t know what does. To be fair my parents confronted me about the issue many times and like all addicts I had an excuse for my time on the computer. I was always explaining or rationalizing it away.

I was probably suffering from a little depression at the time. I never really thought about suicide but I did consider most of my future to be rather bleak. College wasn’t going anywhere and I had no real goals to drive me forward. It’s funny, because to this very day I remember the pebble that set the avalanche in motion. I know many people try to find purpose in tragedy and maybe that’s what I’m doing, never the less it is the point where I can say, things changed.

September 11, 2002 I logged onto my computer to check our forums around 7:30AM PST to see what was in store for that day. I noticed a post titled WTC and it asking everyone on the east coast to report in. I will spare the details of that day, as everyone knows them, but luckily our 2 guild mates that worked near the WTC weren’t hurt and the one who worked at the Pentagon was on vacation.

Over the next few months I watched the news as the United States Armed Forces began the invasion of Iraq. One of my child hood friends who was in the reserves got called up and sent in with the Marines. (He was in the Army Reserves) This is the point where I had an epiphany. My friend was going off to war while I sat at home and played video games. If he is willing to go, then why shouldn’t I be willing to go? Motivation, pride, will power, the military had the potential to give me everything I was lacking at this point in my life. I did a little research and ended up signing up for the Army Reserves as a Radio Operator.

Personal will power; I do not believe that any of my military training instilled me with will power. I believe that simply being a choice for me was enough to awaken the will power already in me. Since then I have been to Iraq and still play MMO’s. That constant desire to play video games 16-20 hours a day still exists within me; I just know how to control it now. I know that other things in life must come first and how to balance them.

I have an obsessive personality. When I was 18 I didn’t know that much about myself so I wasn’t aware of my problem. I am always focused on one thing in my life and tend to let the rest suffer. I guess in my case obsession is synonymous with addiction. People can become obsessed with video games as they can be obsessed with anything.

I don’t believe that video games caused my addiction; in fact it was probably the safest thing to be addicted to. When you look at the alternatives of drugs and alcohol I picked a safe vice which gave me a chance to overcome it before it was to self destructive. I am still an obsessive person, so I don’t understand how people can blame video games for addiction. Addiction has been around for centuries, we simply have a new outlet for it.

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