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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Addicted

It is often said that the first step in curing an addiction is to admit that you have an addiction. I admit I have an addiction to PC gaming. Does this get me on the path of "redemption"? Nah, I wouldn't think so.

Dalaila (one of my readers) keeps insisting that I have it bad (my WoW addiction) and that the only way to put an end to it is to delete my account. Thanks Dalaila for your support but I beg to differ. I'm going to try to explain in more detail how I feel about gaming addiction as it applies to me.

I've also heard about the "transfer of addictions". I don't know how scientific this theory is but to me it makes sense. Please correct me if it is rubbish. The theory, as I understand it, says that addictive personalities can get rid of a particularly bad addiction by replacing it with another, less destructive addiction. One of the best examples would be to replace a drinking or food addiction with an exercise addiction.

I've already admitted that I am a PC game addict. I stress the term "PC" since I wouldn't touch consoles with a 10-ft pole. Is this such a horrible addiction? I would think not. For one thing, I don't smoke (never have, never will), I don't do drugs (never have, never will), don't booze (except for beer in small amounts) and don't binge eat. Thus, my most destructive addiction happens to be gaming.

Just to let you in on some history, I got my first computer when I was 16, which was quite late in life. My parents had the weird notion that computers = games and they kept refusing to buy me one. Well, they were right in a way. My first computer was pre-loaded with games when I got it (hey, it was back in the day). Guess what happens when a 16-yr old who has been starved of computer games all his life gets his first computer? He starts playing games like there's no tomorrow. Lucky for me, my mother kept me under her heel and only allowed me a limited time to play each day and only after I finished my school work.

Fast forward a few years. I became independent and my mother wasn't on my ass anymore but my love for games kept growing. Despite this, I finished college, got a job and went on with my life just the same as someone who watches TV for entertainment, for example. Hell, I even got a wife :)

Computer games also played a huge role in shaping what I have become: a web developer whose life revolves around computers.

It is true that World of Warcraft became the culmination to my addiction. Why? Easy: because I will play a good game for years. The best pre-WoW example is Diablo 2. I played that game a million times for more than 5 years. Did it ruin my life? No. Did it eat my soul? Again, no. Am I still playing it? No, but mostly because I can't stand the 800x600 graphics anymore. I still love the style of the game though, which is why I'm waiting with bated breath for Diablo 3.

I've played 3D shooters, RTS games, RPGs, platform, racing and adventure games. Guess which ones have kept me hooked the longest? Yep, RPGs. I absolutely adore the RPG genre. In a game I like to feel a sense of progress by improving upon my avatar's skills and equipment. The fondest gaming memories I have are of RPGs such as Ultima Underworld, Morrowind, the Diablo series (!!), Dungeon Siege, WoW and so on. So it was only fitting that World of Warcraft would become my ultimate gaming addiction.

Can you even blame the game? Can you blame me for loving it? Blizzard is notorious for making some of the most addictive games ever. WoW happens to be a "neverending story". The more I play it, the more stuff I discover that I have yet to accomplish. The online nature of the game makes it even more complex and never-ending, even for someone like me who doesn't interact socially with other people in the game (except for the Dungeon Tool which makes it easier to be antisocial).

Occasionally I become tired of WoW and I quit it for a while. This usually happens when I do the same thing every day, like running the same dailies on the same character, buying and selling stuff on the AH or even running random dungeons daily. Eventually, IF I DON'T FIND SOMETHING MORE EXCITING TO TO IN THE MEANTIME, I will return. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and the saying applies to WoW as far as I'm concerned.

Now, it so happens that (as I've mentioned before) I have discovered this amazing workout program called P90X. I had to try it and seriously at that. Since I couldn't do both P90X and WoW, WoW had to go. 3 weeks later I don't miss it at all. I'm absorbed by my training and I don't have time or the compulsion to even think about WoW.

I believe in the power of the mind. I believe that any addiction can be conquered by willpower alone, provided you really set your mind to it. OK, I'm not that strong mentally but I still think I should be able to conquer almost any addiction. Or at least transfer it to something more beneficial. And what could be more beneficial than exercising? In that aspect I would say I now have a "good" addiction but since everything is relative, my new exercise addiction can be called "good" in relation to WoW but WoW could also be considered "good" in relation to, say, drugs.

I'm not going to delete my WoW account. I know that I'll be back at some point because gaming for me is entertainment. I am not a social person in real life either so I don't go out to bars or clubs. I don't have friends that I go out with due to geographical reasons. I don't watch TV because it's crap. WoW just happens to be a damn good form of visual entertainment and pretty much the only thing available to me (excepting the occasional movie). I haven't deleted my Diablo 2 characters from 5-10 years ago even though I'm not gonna play it again. Yes, I tend to be a bit of a hoarder but since a lot of time went into my WoW account, I'd hate to see it go to waste even if I wouldn't play it again. That info lies on Blizzard servers and it will be there forever, at no cost to me. I believe I can control my WoW addiction so I see no reason to delete my account.

I have repeatedly stated this but chances are high that I will return for Cataclym or even before that. There are some new changes that I'm interested in, including the revamped old continents, flying in the old world, the new races, the new profession and so on. Chances are that I'll have to cut down on my play time. Also, as soon as Diablo 3 hits, and provided it is the real thing, WoW will be dead to me.

Though I've abandoned WoW for the time being, I haven't abandoned gaming. I play Borderlands whenever I have a few spare minutes, in single player only. It's relaxing and I love it because just like Diablo, it is virtually never-ending. It has great RPG features but also combines those with pseudo-realistic shooting mechanics. In order words your gear and stats help you to hit harder but you actually have to aim in order to hit. The graphics are very interesting to say the least (though not everyone will appreciate them) and I love the desolate, Mad Max-like setting.

In case anyone is wondering, I'm well into my 3rd week of P90X (out of a total of 13 weeks) and things are moving along nicely. The first week was the worst. My body was sore all over after each day of training. 2 weeks later I'm a lot stronger, I have way more stamina than before and I've definitely gained muscle mass (about 10 pounds). I am really curious as to how I will look and feel at the end of the program. Hopefully ripped :)

So does all this make sense or am I rambling?

12 comments:

Dalaila (detoxed) said...

I miss a very important part of your life: do you live alone? Are you married/coupled and/or got children?

Gaming addiction (like ANY other serious addiction, of course) becomes a real pain when you have social/family stuff to accomplish. By "stuff" I mean daily tasks that *must* be accomplished to please people around you and give a sense to your life.

Of course if you're a single (or -more precisely- if you live alone in your house) you can be 50 years old and do what you think is better for your life (and no one should be entitled to criticize you, of course).

In my personal opinion haming addition is bad when you start planning your daily routine around the gaming world.

Coming back home earlier to attend a guild meeting, playing WoW at job (I did it and I know TONS of players who do that, especially people like me and you who work in the "web" area), sometimes dreaming about Azeroth, raids, quests, rewards, npc's, ... Spending a LOT of time on Wow-related websites, checking them multiple times in few minutes... drooling for blue posts, forum threads, MMOChampion updates...

All of above are clear signals of gaming addiction. Is this bad for you? It depends: if you have a social/family life it's just *impossible* that you can conciliate both hardcore gaming and real life stuff.

Your first reaction to this statement will be "nah, I can do it with zero problems". I know you can. But you still choose to post stuff on the game, even after you wrote a detailed "farwell" message few days ago. You're clearly anxious to come back to WoW and the P90X program is a mere alternative (or excuse) to stay away in a moment where you're a bit bored of WoW.

I am not judging or criticizing you Darth, because I really see and understand your point. But I don't agree on the "transfer of addictions" theory. you do not need to find an alternative to WoW: if you're addicted, SERIOUSLY addicted, you can just stop playing. Period.

I did it the hard way, as I told you some days ago. I logged to my account and donated all my gold to random people. Then I deleted bank items, toon items and every single toon. After that I meessed up with Battle.net account (random email/password) and I uninstalled the game. That's all.

As long as you think that 5 years of WoW gaming "cannot be deleted, because I invested a lot of time on my toons, gold and gear" you will have a hard time at understanding how deeply you're addicted.

Of course -as already said above- if you have no "social/family" stuff to attend on a daily basis this is not a problem. You can (and should) spend all the time you need on any game.

I am married with 2 children. I understood I was addicted (with far less gold than you, 2 toons only, 3 years of gaming instead of 5, no wow-blog) during a holiday week where my wife and children where away (I had to work, sadly).

I realized I spent a LOT of hours on the game just because I was alone and I could do that.

I know "deleteing" sounds bad, stupid and hard. But trust me: it works MUCH better than any P90X program.

Dalaila (detoxed) said...

On a side note, I forgot to quote you on this hot topic about WoW addiction:

" Though I've abandoned WoW for the time being, I haven't abandoned gaming. I play Borderlands whenever I have a few spare minutes, in single player only. It's relaxing and I love it because just like Diablo, it is virtually never-ending. "

Let me say this is the perfect way to quit your WoW addiction. Single player games that can be played in spare time, with no competition and/or schedules are the best ay to actually play in a healthy way.

Keep in mind that my comments aren't about "gaming" addiction. I always referred to "WoW".

Dalaila (detoxed) said...

Last note ;-)

I stopped WoW (and I am glad I did so) but I still play single-player games when (if) I have time for that. Just Cause 2 is amazing for that and I am sure Diablo III will be the next candidate.

The good thing is that I do not feel any "desire" to play. I do that when I am home with nothing to do (or I am alone) and want to spend some time on a videogame, rarely more than 1 hour (on WoW I could spend a full night, but you know that, right?).

sahm2 said...

Heya Darth! :)

That all makes perfect sense. Sometimes, I think that people who have/had a really bad addiction to something believe that everybody else is as bad off as they are. They cannot comprehend that while yes, you may be addicted to PC gaming, it's not so bad that you're ruining your marriage and/or life - simply because that was their experience doesn't mean it's the same for everybody else. There are degrees of addiction, and yours doesn't seem to be as destructive as other people's addictions might be/have been.

I, too, play WoW for the entertainment reasons you listed. I am married with three kids and a deployed husband; so for me, WoW is a form of relaxation that doesn't require a babysitter. :) Do I love to play and have I occasionally stayed up late to finish a particular task or level? Yes. Do I let WoW interfere with taking care of my kids? Nope. So... yeah. I hear ya, and believe ya! You'll be back to the game later this year, and there's nothing wrong with that. :)

Also, I'm glad to hear that P90X is working out for you (pun not intended). That's the program my husband uses, and he and I both love the results. ;) As long as you follow the program, it works very, very well. I'm sure you'll get the results you're looking for!

Darth Solo said...

Dalaila thanks for the long insights :)

I mentioned that I was married but I didn't mention yet that I don't have kids.

I used to be REALLY addicted in 2006 when I started. Guilds, raids, the whole shebang. I've been playing the game since spring 2006 but during that time I took a break of more than a year and also shorter breaks in between.

I can't say that my life revolves around WoW since I have an otherwise normal life. Since I've quit it again, I don't miss it but I still keep an eye out on announcements, articles and some blogs. I read much less now, just the really interesting stuff.

And P90X is not an excuse to get away from WoW, trust me. It's very serious with me.

I'll have a look at Just Cause 2... see what it's all about.

Once again, thanks for the support! Oh and BTW, I understand your life is more complicated than mine what with two kids :)

Darth Solo said...

@sahm2 hey thanks! It looks like you have even more things to worry about than most WoW players. It's all about balance I believe. If you don't go over the top it should be fine.

Can you tell me more about P90X, how it worked for you? I'm almost done with my 3rd week and I've been sticking to it "religiously". Results are already starting to show. I'm wondering if at the end of the program you can really see dramatic changes.

Dalaila (detoxed) said...

@ Sahm2 (quoting)

" Sometimes, I think that people who have/had a really bad addiction to something believe that everybody else is as bad off as they are "

I'll be honest here: you cannot say you're NOT completely addicted if you play WoW since 5 years, have multiple toons, a TON of gold (gold cap...), a WoW-related blog and deeply know classes, professions and gold tricks.

Toons and gold require a LOT of time, you know that. Raiding, dailies, intensive AH play, etc... same story.

The real problem of addiction is understanding you have it (the addiction).

Can WoW be played by casual players?

Yes. But casual gamers don't know how to play the AuctionHouse to make tons of money, power-level professions 0-450, read and learn from GreedyGoblin for dirty tricks, read blue posts on official forums and WoW-related blogs and so on.

This IS deep and true addiction. I'm non saying "bad" or "good" addiction. I'm just giving a definition.


It's true that Darth's addiction does not seem "destructive", I agree on that. And that's why I like to share my opinions on his blog, because I feel he's a wise man, and not a dead nerd :-)

But remember: the path from "good" addiction to "bad" addiction is very short. It's like smokers who say "I can stop when I want" and end smoking for the entire life.

Darth Solo said...

Ha thanks Dalaila but I'm not sure I'm so wise. There are things in life that I regret doing... Anyhoo, how about if we think of WoW as a hobby instead of an addiction?

Dalaila (detoxed) said...

@ Darth

" how about if we think of WoW as a hobby instead of an addiction? "

Any hobby, sport, or activity can become a bad addiction. I'm from Italy and I can tell you that in my country one of the worst addictions for husbands is soccer.

That said, I focus on WoW because we're on a WoW blog. It CAN be a hobby, of course. But as soon as you start playing hours and hours... each single day... for years... it's just a bad addiction.

That -of course- unless your real life allows that. I mean if your work, family affects, daily tasks, body and so on do not suffer from this "hobby"... well, no problem.

The point is: even fat people (obesity) think they eat in the correct way so that fatness is not food-related. Reality can be distorted because you (the addicted, not YOU) is unable to correctly judge the situation, assuming a defensive stance whenever you talk about the problem.

Darth Solo said...

True true. I know all about European soccer addiction :) I never get people who are so into watching sports as opposed to actually practicing them, either in Europe with soccer, the US with football/baseball/basketball or Asia with cricket.

sahm2 said...

Hey Darth,
I am more of a casual player, simply because I don't have the time/energy to really be serious. Although sometimes I can tell I'm starting to get sucked in more than what I should... but you're absolutely right, it's all about balance.

My husband started P90X with the opposite goal as yours - he was trying to lose weight. Three months into it, his weight has gone down 20 pounds - but he's gained serious muscle mass through his chest, shoulders, and arms, so I'm sure that additional bulk has affected the numbers. (I'm not sure if any other muscles have bulked up - I've only seen pictures from the waist up lol, and I'm not *too* familiar with which exercises are done in the program.)

Darth Solo said...

@sahm2 thanks for the update! The program is great for both losing weight and gaining muscle mass or even in cases where although you're thin, you're not satisfied with your body (like me).