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Although this is my first soapbox I’ve decided instead of taking the usual rant direction of a soapbox, I will take it in the opposite direction… asking for help.

To set the scene, about 6 months ago I had a couple of World of Warcraft figurines sitting in my work cubicle, a Troll Priest and a NELF Druid (both equally awesome).

A work colleague (lets call him ‘Bob’) whom at the time was a fantastic fellow techie, always on time, very helpful, in a good relationship and a all-round nice guy, spotted the figurines on my desk, one thing lead to another and we started chatting about… The World of Warcraft, he had oddly only vaguely heard of it, and since I hadn’t played it in over 2 years I was quite happy to offer him my copy… So after a couple of days I scrounged up my copy of WoW and gave Bob the installation CDs + a Trial CD-KEY, and I told him he’ll enjoy it.

Fast forward 4 months, Bob is now one of the most unreliable people I know, he’s rarely on time for anything work related, he always IMing his guild mates at work, he’s packed on the pounds, anything you say to him barely gets a response and worst of all his partner of over 3 years has left him… I was never friends with his partner so I can’t really ask her what the caused the meltdown of their relationship but I think I could safely hazard a guess that it may be WoW related…

Now two weekends ago I went to his house for the first time in months, and it was clear that he did very little except play World of Warcraft, it looked like he hadn’t eaten a proper cooked meal in months, his house was full of McDonald wrappers (unsurprisingly McDonalds is just across the road from where he lives) and there was literally a 5cm thick layer of cigarette butts covering his entire desk, honestly If I hadn’t seen it for myself I wouldn’t of believed that such a train wreck could happen over such a short period.

I asked him if he ‘may’ be playing Warcraft a bit too much, but in response he got clearly agitated that I dare suggest such a thing, and I could feel the entire time I was at his house he was waiting for me to leave so he could get back into the his own World.

I feel partially responsible for hooking him up with an ‘addictive substance’, and it seems that he’s … overly addicted to it to say the least. Unquestionable it’s ruining his life, his health, and no doubt he wont be holding onto his job much longer if this continues…

But on the flipside it’s quite clear that he’s very passionate about Warcraft, he’s seem to of found a great guild, he treats the guild members almost as his family, and he really… really enjoys playing the World of Warcraft. Obviously this would be great if it were handled in moderation but due to the ultra addictive nature of the MMORPG grinding model it’s very hard to keep a grasp on reality while seriously competing in a MMORPG.

Thus it leaves me in a bit on a conundrum, he’s having what he views to be the time of his life and I don’t want to ruin something he’s clearly enjoying it… but I also don’t want him to see him ruin his life for cruddy levels, ranks and items which honestly have no real world worth.

So my question is to the Limiters, has anyone ever tried to do a MMORPG intervention? How did it go, and any advice on how to approach the topic of getting someone to distance themselves from a World they love?

  1. avatar wrthofnino

    I was involved in a MMORPG intervention… and I was the person who received the intervention.

    It would be nothing for me to play 8 hours a night… I would come home from my job, (at which I would sneak looks at strategy websites for my rogue)… plop down in front of the computer, and play play play. I would completely ignore my wife and 4 year-old child, and would even become agitated if they continued to try to get my attention.

    After years of emotional neglect, my family had finally had enough… I was grossly overweight, unhealthy, and a pain to deal with on a daily basis. I quit one night after things had finally hit rock bottom, (won’t go into detail here, let’s just say I was given an ultimatum, change or lose us forever)… gave away all my stuff, said goodbye to my online “friends” and signed off… been 8 months now and I am so happy! I have lost over 90lbs, my health is back and my relationship with my wife and daughter has never been stronger.

    I am a recovering Wowaholic (yes, video games ARE an addiction), played for 2 years and almost lost my job, family and wife over my obsession. It was all I could think about, it dominated every waking moment of my conscious, (and unconscious at night) mind.

    Yes, online gaming addiction DOES exist… still don’t believe me, check out this website http://www.wowdetox.com… sad testimony to something so devastating and so misunderstood.

    I now devote myself to my family, my work, and I blog regularly about MMORPG addiction over at http://wrathofnino.wordpress.com

  2. avatar Neitzsche's THE WILL TO POWER

    Just think of MMORPGs as a way to weed out society’s weaker members.

  3. Haha. I quit WoW after some hardcore end-game raiding. I told myself “after Illidan it’s over”. No more gear-whoring, DKP saving, or PVPing. Technically, we beat the game, so I had to tell myself that this was the end of the line.

  4. I don’t think WoW is ultimately to blame, I used to raid, one of the top end raid groups on my server, decked out in the shiniest of loot, and all that. Yes, I spent more time than the average player on the computer, but I still managed to cook my own food, and not just live off fast food, I still managed to maintain a social life (although, I might have talked about WoW a little too much during it) the only issue I had was balancing University work when the final year modules started piling on, so simply I quit. This wasn’t some monumental decision that needed an intervention, games have no chemical inducement like that of caffeine, nicotine or heroin, I just thought “I don’t have enough time to play this how I want to play this” and stopped. Yeah, sure, I get the odd moment of “I miss the game” but that’s what it is, a game, there are others.

    Actually, that’s a lie.

    I don’t miss “the game” I miss the people, those are what kept me hooked, those are what kept me online til server restarts, and those are the people who provided the most fun in the game. Yeah, I do kind of miss my little Earthen Ring

  5. TBH, I don’t think there’s such a thing as video game addiction. I used to be ‘addicted’ to video games for all of my life until I was 15, managed to get a girlfriend, and realized that having fun with other people was, well, fun.

    These days, I play above the average amount that is probably healthy, but I do it because I’m serious about writing for games – particularly, game reviews. But, for many years, before I’d decided that game journalism was what I wanted to do, I took a lot greater care in choosing what I would play, when I would play, and how long.

    If anything, I’d say that rather than video game addictions, there are just obsessive personalities. There are just some people who get involved with some sort of hobby, to the point where it impairs their ability to do other things properly. It’s not the video game, it’s the person. I believe that my own experiences are a first-hand account of how truthful this is. To get someone to stop being obsessed, you have to show them the joys of doing other things; or else, when you tell them that they’ve gained weight, lost their girlfriend, and generally suck at life, why should they care?

    • avatar Manar

      I concur with Dennis and Scott that atidcdion is a chronic condition. Assuming I worked at a public treatment center there are several things I would do to further the work of aligning this belief to what is actually practiced in our profession. Direct work with clients and families would include the education piece about how atidcdion is like having cancer, not like having a really bad case of the measles. Framing the issue of chronic vs. acute this way is crucial to helping all involved take the long view of success. Group work with a mixed-stage set of clients over an extended number of sessions as in Weegmann and English, skyped or cell phone based assertive continuing care, in-person quarterly RMC’s, would all be woven into my practice (assuming my agency was supportive). Much systemic work is needed to spread this vital reframing of atidcdion as a chronic condition. From an education standpoint, this concept and practice is not a hard shift to sell, but many of these shifts will cost money. When it comes down to dollars that is a different story. From all levels within the agency, to community, state and federal funding sources both education and advocacy is necessary. I am ready to sign up for the sustained push that is required for progress to be made. Taking these sytemic changes even further into the very critical need for overall change in our nation’s atidcdion treatment and aftercare structure. Toward that end I agree with McClellan and Meyers and say increases in funding support are needed to implement best practices in treating adults, adolescents, those who are dually diagnosed and incarcerated.

  6. If you feel dedicated to the subject of reading about “addiction” in regards to online games:
    http://digitalcommons.bolton.ac.uk/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=psych_journalspr

  7. Re-reading this article and Paul’s comments made me miss WoW, again.

    My personal stance is that most “addictions” do not exist, but of course, with anything, we can have strong urges to further vices that may not be good for our social lives, or physical health. The key is going cold turkey, and tricking yourself that “it’s not that great”. Like I mentioned just now, you’ll still get “flashes of fun”. Resist these urges!

  8. avatar Chris Bolt

    @Chris Carter
    Dude we didn’t beat the game until we downed Kil’Jaeden, which you weren’t there for you jerk.

    But yeah, there is a ton of room for abuse with MMO’s… ahh crap brb guys, I’ve got to go wipe on Yogg’Saron for the next 5 hours.

  9. World of Warcrack is like any other psychological addiction. If you control your exposure and set limits for yourself then it’s much easier to control. I’ve been playing since Beta, and I can tell you over the last four years there were times when I really wanted to go past the limits I set for myself.

    By keeping myself in check I’ve been able to maintain friendships IRL and keep my job. (I work at home, so I can’t afford to have a WoW addiction).

    Bottom line here is, you should walk into addictive situations the way you would addictive substances. KNOW that they’re addictive right off the bat and set rules and guidelines for yourself. If you’re weak enough to break a promise to yourself, then I wouldn’t suggest playing modern MMO’s (or doing drugs lol )

    • avatar Ana

      Seth,Thanks for posting this spimle and clear teaching on the jornaling sheets. What you stated in the video was so right on. If we take the time to do the sheets, we can see the direct link between out addiction and our pain My experience was this: I had no clue to whuy I acted out. Once I did about about 12 these sheets, its became as clear as crystal to me. This was the begining to my journey of peruing healing and recovery.Thanks again for the teaching. I know this was helpful to me and will be a great tool for anybody who follows the journaling sheets.

  10. avatar Lady Flame

    Massively multiplayer online games are habit forming. They are designed to pull you in and keep you playing. Unfortunately for some, the games become an all consuming addiction. Here are tips on how to maximize your online gaming fun without crossing the line into irresponsibility, obsession and (for some) addiction.

    http://searchwarp.com/swa511090-Kicking-The-Habit.htm

  11. avatar Lucio

    From the sound of it I’m not sure if he’s really enjoying playing WoW, or if he’s just doing it compulsively. Anyway, it’s been over a year since this was posted and I was wondering what happened since then?

    (I found this article while researching sources for an article about MMORPG Addiction that we posted on our blog – http://www.killerguides.com/blog/mmorpg/the-reality-of-mmorpg-addiction/ )

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