Five years ago, I was in my college dorm room in North Carolina sitting at my computer for 8 hours straight. I did not move for anything. Not for food, water, or even to take a bathroom break. Why was that? Well I had become addicted to the MMO, City of Heroes/Villains and I was in the middle of a task force mission. A Task Force mission is similar to the raids in World of Warcraft. Task Force missions requires a big time commitment in order to gain good loot and experience. Even the shortest play through was a four hour mission but most took missions were even longer than that. At the time I had a full schedule of classes about 20 credit hours and had very little time to spare. I thought I had all the time the world to play this game but my grades were slowly slipping away. At that time, the only thing that mattered was playing the game. When my teachers sat me down and told me I was about to fail, I knew that I had become addicted. I had to stop then and there so I erased all of my characters and removed all the credit information from my account. That was the last time I set foot into the world of City of Heroes/Villains.
A part of me wanted to blame the game since right before I left, they were about to add achievements based on the amount of time you’ve played. The next thing I did was punish myself saying that I was “stupid and ignorant” for ever letting myself get sucked into the game. I spent a month not playing any video games feeling that would stop my problems for good but that just made me want to play video games even more. I just craved video games even more so once again became a video game addict. The next month I bought Guitar Hero 2 which I spent about six hours a day playing non-stop for about two months.
College passed on and my relationship grew with my girlfriend (who is now my wife). It took me some time to realize what was more important in life. Was it video games or my real life relationships? The question cornered me greatly at times. Do I give up games for good or do I find a relationship that suits my life? This question made the solution seem black and white but really the answer was in the middle. I did not have to give up video games or my personal relationships but adapt my video game life to fit around my personal life. That doesn’t mean I change the games I play but play them for more moderate amounts of time rather than binge gaming.
Though I choose not to play MMO’s they can have more addictive tendencies than most other genres. You can play these games casually but the majority of us get sucked up into them. Kotaku featured this video of a World of Warcraft player quitting after almost five years with no friends. The comments are mixed between “good job” and “you make gamers look bad”. Although I think the comments that are great are the ones that are coming from gamers who support his move to leave World of Warcraft. One great comment reads “Man. You sound just like me (but instead of a band, I draw and paint). Beautiful woman, beautiful kid, great job. But, the difference is that I had to stop with the WoW. I had to… I didn’t want to. I still have the itch to play. But, I just don’t have time, unless I take time from those other things (which benefits my life greatly), to playing a very fun and addictive online game. If I were rich enough not to work, I would probably play again”. I agree with this comment completely. I Still have the urge to play city of heroes/villains but, I have to put things in prospective.
It might seem like I am beating up video games but anything we do can be turned into an addiction. Reading, writing, movies, eating, cleaning and many more things can be taken to a level of addiction. We are physical beings that need interaction with one another in order to grow. Video Games started out as a social activity since the first arcade machines were always tested in social atmospheres such as bars, and arcades. You don’t have to go out to a bar or arcade to prove a point but make gaming a social activity. I invite my friends over at least once a week to have gaming sessions in person, because the interactions we have together can almost be more exciting than the game itself. We usually play Black Ops together competing against others online. Most of the time we end up getting beat horribly but losing is the least of our concerns. Just shouting out “enemy ten o’clock” and watching each others’ back brings a sense of social activity to the game that is missing from playing by yourself. Sure you could shout that over the mike to your friend online from your home but just watching him jump from his seat in the middle of a shoot out is something that has to be seen with your own eyes.
Chris Morris from yahoo games posted a great article on being a video game addict vs enthusiast. It is okay every once and awhile to have a gaming binge which I do from time to time. I don’t suggest doing it everyday but sometimes it can be wonderful for me to play Borderlands eight hours straight. Just like my passion for beer you have to realize when enough is enough. I am not asking anyone to quit any game, but just keep in mind that there is more to life than video games. I have a beautiful wife, great friends, a passion for beer, and never let video games define who I am. Here’s to overcoming gaming addiction and becoming a gaming enthusiast.Gaming Addiction Vs Enthusiasm,