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MMOG Addiction Makes Mainstream Media 70

Via Game Politics, a story in the Philedelphia Inquirer about Massively Multiplayer Game addiction. The lengthy article looks at the usual complaints from gamers too wrapped up in WoW or Everquest to deal with their real lives. It's surprisingly even-handed, though, showing both sides of the issue. From the article: "Not everyone into Warcraft, EverQuest and other MMORPGs neglects his or her life. Those most susceptible have preexisting problems, such as depression or anxiety disorders, therapists say. Temple University psychology professor Donald A. Hantula said he believed the medium was not to blame for dysfunctional behavior by its users. 'I know people who spend 40 or 50 hours a week playing golf,' said Hantula, who is executive editor of the Journal of Social Psychology."
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MMOG Addiction Makes Mainstream Media

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  • It's not just that they spend so much time on this, it's also that they get absolutely nothing out of it (unless they are a gold farmer). I used to play 2-3 hours a day on WoW and that was just too much for me. I can't even imagine playing 16 hours a day like many people were reported to on our server. It's more than a full time job for many people.
    • Funny, I thought that the main point of gaming is to get enjoyment out of it. If you don't enjoy it you have two options - learn to enjoy it, or just stop playing. It's as simple as that. Hmm, I think that applies to most things in the real world as well....
      • That's the thing when does it turn from enjoyment to an addiction? 30+ hours a week does not seem like entertainment for me and what are they getting out of it? they can push buttons in a better sequence then somebody else? The thing with games are that they are supposed to be fun but how often are they more of a job? especially online game.
    • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:35PM (#16705281) Homepage Journal
      I play about 2-3 hours a night most nights. We put the kid down at 8, tidy up a bit, and jump online around 8:30-9:00, then play until 10 or 11 most nights, maybe a bit later on saturdays and sundays. So maybe 20-25 hours a week.

      Before WoW my wife and I would most likely spend that time playing single player games (we had just gone through dungeon seige for the umpteenth time when we picked up wow), or watching Law and Order/CSI reruns on TV.

      We definately socialize more with eachother while playing WoW then we do when we were watching TV. Infact, our marrage has greatly improved since we started playing (much to my suprise as much as anyone else's!). Although we go out to bars less often. Of course, the two of us at a bar, drinking, shooting pool, etc... will run up a $50+ tab in a night. Not to mention having to get a baby sitter, and dealing with a toddler and a hang over.

      I don't know, maybe we're a fluke. But if you can keep your personal life first, it seems like a good inexpensive way to relax and enjoy socializing while gaming.

      • by daeg ( 828071 )
        Not a fluke at all. I play WoW with my SO and it is the greatest thing ever. We raid three times a week (two nights of MC, one night of Ony, although we've been doing BWL the last few weeks). $30 a month of hours of safe entertainment.

        We socialize more with each other with WoW, and we socialize with more people because of WoW. We've met several other local, down-to-earth couples in the same area, too.

        "No ending" is a great thing, in my opinion. When we played single player games (or multiplayer), unless we
      • Wife and I do the same... unfortunately we play seperate games now (I play EQ, she plays WoW ... ) but we still have fun sitting next to each other, watching over each others shoulders.

        Another aspect which is most excellent and hasn't been brought up - my wife and I are transplants, we currently live 1000 miles from where we grew up. But we have a few friends that play the same games we do. It is nice to see them online and be able to chat/interact with them in real time.
        • Very good point. I do not play WOW anymore since I do not have the time to invest in farming at lvl 60 or multi-hour instance runs.

          However, I do play DDO a few hours on the weekend primarily to socialize with friends that have moved far away and otherwise would not be able to interact with in a group setting.

      • Problem I've been having is that I was a lvl 60 before my wife really started playing, and she hates pvp, instance runs, and groups of more then her and me. Also, with all the experience and playtime I have, I tend to be real fast-moving, and there's a lot of stuff I have ingrained into me that I take for granted, but she's still learning. The difference discourages her, even though I try to reassure her that I had a terrible time when I was getting started (I picked the wrong class, for one), and that even
        • by kage.j ( 721084 )
          I had the same experience with my girlfriend, I made a character (that is now my main, I rolled the wrong class for me first as well) and played only when she did and did stuff with her and we leveled up together until about 55 (Then I blasted to 60 and she took her sweet time but still xD) Now she has more experience and is in a different guild and has fun playing just as I do. We do go out less, only a few times a week now, but we basically see eachother more
    • 1. You are 100% right, it is a waste of time.

      2. You should not have been modded troll. (Initiating a discussion with a bias is not always a troll.)

      3. Movies, reading fictional books, and watching non instructive television are also complete wastes of time. So is going to the theatre.

      I stopped apologizing for enjoying World of Warcraft when I gave up my Sunday of play to go visit my extended family. We didn't visit, everyone - but me - sat around watching and discussing football, and sleepin

  • Online gaming addiction is much more enjoyable when its free. [] That way, when you lose your job you can keep on playing and sink further down the spiral! Huzzah.
    • It was self regulating when access to the internet was more restricted.

      If your grades went down too much, you lost your internet access, and your ability to mud -- so you had a vested interested in not failing all of your classes.

      Then came the September that never ended ...
    • is more fun. I need to get back into that actually.
  • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:13PM (#16704795) Journal
    Kate Bennett plays "World of Wasrcraft" in the bedroom of her apartment near Pottstown. Bennett, a counselor who has dealt with online game addictions, is herself an avid player.

    That's, of course "World of Warcraft," unless Wasrcraft is some kinky sex game I haven't been made aware of (playing in the bedroom, after all...)
  • Has the world come to an end?

    Temple University psychology professor Donald A. Hantula said he believed the medium was not to blame for dysfunctional behavior by its users. 'I know people who spend 40 or 50 hours a week playing golf,' said Hantula, who is executive editor of the Journal of Social Psychology."

    the quote says it all. Yes, you can spend an unhealthy amount of time doing anything, just because it is electronic/a "game"/SF/F does not make that thing BAD, it just makes you a lazy bum with not self

    • by Fozzyuw ( 950608 )
      Yes, you can spend an unhealthy amount of time doing anything.

      *sigh* I guess I better call Sex Addicts consoler... again.

  • I can't believe... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:16PM (#16704867)
    I can't believe that the press still uses Shawn Woolley as an example of MMO addiction. The Inquirer glosses over the fact he had a fairly serious mental illness, as I recall he had episodes where he believed game characters were chasing down the street. This was not a normal guy.
  • by ShadowsHawk ( 916454 ) on Friday November 03, 2006 @01:16PM (#16704869)
    It's sad commentary when you have to note that a media piece is presented without bias.
    • It's sad commentary when you have to note that a media piece is presented without bias.

      More of a reflection that the mainstream media tends to be rather clueless when reporting on some of the darker aspects of technology. Many mainstream pieces are much more of the "video games are addictive and damaging to society" instead of more balanced pieces.

      Anyone else around here old enough to remember murders being blamed on D&D because a few people with a very loose grasp of reality did some really bad things

  • I was semi-hardcore about EQ and later WoW at my worst, but even that took up more time than was reasonable. One of the things I hear MMOG addicts say (and I've said myself at times) is that at least it's better than watching TV. I am not so sure about that anymore. I finally pulled my head out of my ass and walked away from WoW around the time my kids went back to school this year and oddly enough, I find myself spending less time watching television than I did even when I was playing.

    MMOGs are fun but
    • Is there really a point to any MMORPG other than maxing out your stats and/or level?
      • Exploring. I play EQ still, the new expansion has been out for what, a month? and I've only gained 20% of a level (they raised the cap 5 levels). I've been way too busy exploring new content to care. Seriously, EQ expansions are huge. I play WoW from time to time (on my wife's account) with my RL friends, and Azeroth is so freaking tiny...
      • by rob1980 ( 941751 )
        Is there really any point to playing golf other than lowering your score?
        • Of course.

          Driving around in a golf cart and drinking beer.

          Sheesh. (dumb ass n00b questions, I tell ya... :o)

      • I know plenty of MMO players who have lousy character stats but have been playing longer than I have. (I've been playing since May 06 and have reached the max level with my character.) They play to socialize and roleplay. Others play to PVP. Others play to explore the environment and earn money so they can collect and craft clothes and items. That's the cool thing about many MMOs .. there's no one way the game is designed for you to enjoy it. You can do whatever you want.
      • I play WoW because, as someone in the military, I make friends and then have to move hundreds or thousands of miles away. With WoW, we not only keep in touch, but we can kill stuff and run around together while keeping in touch. Also, we get to rehash the old IRL in-jokes and confuse the rest of the guild.
        "Hey look, it's the five minute druid! Too late."
    • I wouldn't say TV is better than MMOs inherently, but it is less likely to be as much of a timesink. Most shows only have up to 2.5 hours of new material every week (if they're a daily, half-hour show). There's no group of friends (virtual or not) waiting on you so that they can watch their TV show. If you decide to quit the Daily Show early and watch the rebroadcast later, you're not going to piss off your group/raid. You can half pay attention to the TV while you're doing your homework, talking to friends
    • by Avatar8 ( 748465 )

      Everybody knows that success in EQ/WoW/Whatever means maxing out every stat you can - it it weren't people wouldn't spend so much time playing.

      For the Achiever type of player, you are correct: it's all about reaching goals and being the best.

      For the other archetype players, it is very different.

      Player killers play to ruin someone else's day. Player vs. player (quite different, but still grouped as one type) seek the competition that another human offers. This could be competition in anything: chess, ten

  • Since TFA says, (paraphrased) "the medium is not at fault for the users' own issues"...does this mean that people with other addictions (eg, alcoholics) are more prone to becoming addicted to say, WoW? Does anyone know if there are lots of incidences of 'cross addiction' (going from one addiction to another)? MMOs are quite different to other sorts of well-known addictions - they typically take place in homes (and not back alleys/casinos/bars/etc).. So if people went from MMO addiction to the other addictio
    • People who are resistant to alcohol (a genetic disposition) are more likely to get addicted.
    • by Avatar8 ( 748465 )
      The only reference I have for cross addiction is to suggest that you visit a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and notice how many people are smoking, chugging down quarts of coffee or chewing gum like crazy.

      My hat is off to them for breaking a destructive addiction, but it is obvious the addictive personality is still there and being dealt with (or not) constantly.

  • Why isn't there a 'minder' program or algorithm that would prevent people from logging on constantly? Let's be honest here, no one should be on for 24 hours straight or 80 hours a week. The system could either boot you off or reduce the amount of rewards you get if you spend too much time in the system. This would reduce gold farmers as well. Now you can argue what the lower limit is going to be before you get kicked off or lower rewards, but some reporting would be nice especially for parents of kids who p
    • There are controls that you can set that limit the times during the day that you can play. They even have a seperate password so that you can have someone set your limits and not be able to change them. But for the serious addicts there are always other ways around -- whether it be getting a second and third account or playing on some of the homebrew servers around. I noticed with my son that whenever he couldn't get on WOW he just hung out in the forums. I finally ended up keeping the power cord to hi
    • > no one should be on for 24 hours straight or 80 hours a week

      After my summer law class ended--a four-week gruelling ordeal--I took a week off work to stay home and "recover". I spent much of that time playing MxO. It felt great to be able to indulge in 12, 14 hours straight gaming with no other demands on my time.

      Do I do this often? Of course not, almost never. The demands of real life don't allow it, and I do have other hobbies and interests besides. But if the system had logged me off because someo

      • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
        Games like this USED to charge by the hour. And a few have tried recently and died a miserably, lonely death. The truth is that charging by the hour doesn't work.

        If you charge $.10/hr, your casual gamer eats you alive with admin fees, and the hardcore gamer gives you barely enough to get by. If you charge $1/hr, you get the casual users, but the hardcore gamers can't afford your game. Is there a happy medium in there somewhere? I say there's not. You would have to pick hardcore or casual gamer, and pr
        • Oh course, the hourly rate could be variable. For example, $1/hr for the first 10 hours per month, and $.10/hr for any hours after that. Then you would be able to address both the casual and hardcore gamers.

          • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
            Oh man, I could hear the complaining that would cause. You MIGHT get away with some kind of gradual reduction... But I doubt it.

            On the other hand, PSU is charging $10 a month and has virtually no content the first month, and they got away with it... So maybe you could charge anything you want and they'd pay anyhow.
    • Everquest has a handy little in-game egg timer. Set how long you want to play and it will pop up when the time expires, reminding you to log off and tend to real life.

      That being said, self-control is what it all comes down to. You can have all the controls in the world but if you choose to ignore them or never use them, what's the point? Like everything in life, self-control.
    • Yeah...

      Not that I'd ever play for 24 hours straight, but I PAY for 24/7 access to their servers. Putting a limit on time you could be online reduces the value of the service I'm paying for. Even if I don't use the service I've paid for to its fullest, I did pay for it.
    • by rob1980 ( 941751 )
      One second we're all complaining about computers fucking up the democratic process in this country, the next we're asking for our computers to tell us when we can or cannot play video games. I got two words in response: fuck that.
  • I thought this subject hit "mainstream media" attention when one of my favorite shows (South Park) did a show about it...
    • Me too. I thought this was just really old news. I thought South Park had a larger audience than the Philedelphia Enquirer.
  • MMORPGs are only addictive to people who already have mental and/or emotional problems. The thing is, though, that MMORPGs are designed in such a way as to entice only those types of people to play them (as opposed to use them as chatrooms) for any appreciable length of time. That's why their communities suck so bad.

  • Watch this nine minutes YouTube video []. It is a short story on MMORPGs from a New Zealand television show, Campbell Live.
  • I know people who have dropped out of their PhD programs to play MMOs.

    This is not good.
  • Well, seeing what his title is, I'd be surprised if he's not one of them.

    At least people who play that much golf die of causes that we were ment to die of, like skin cancer. People addicted to things like WoW suffer the rest of their short lives with Carpal-tunnel syndrome, poor souls
  • "I know people who spend 40 or 50 hours a week playing golf,"

    The difference here is that state and federal legislators also play golf, which makes it harder for them to treat golfers (compulsive or otherwise) as "the other."

    Maybe if we all got together and started mailing law-makers a DS Lite and a copy of Brain Age...
  • Im a 15 year old sophmore in high school who recently, by myself, got rid of my pretty intense "addition" to WoW. The summer of 2006 and my freshman year were full of glory days of not getting A's in my classes or recieving recognition for achievment, but killing infamous dragons and completing the most grueling 40 man dungeons in WoW. Oh man was it fun sitting down all day playing World of Warcraft. I even got a full set of the second best armor in the game! So what is my first intention after my armor set
    • Congratulations.
      Welcome back to reality.
      I 'retired' from mudding 5 years ago once I realised how much of a time drain it was. Even playing sinple player PC games has a purpose - you can finish them and feel a sense of satisfaction afterwards. When games go on forever.. you literally have to slog through them to 'keep up' and continue playing.

      I logged my main char in after 1 year's idle time.. and died within 15 minutes. I then realised it would take me over an hour to 'restore' my character (you lose spells
  • Let me start off by saying that I play WoW maybe 1-2 hours a day, maybe. I've been playing since the game started, and only have one lvl60 character that doesn't even have tier0 set. I work 50-60 hours a week, married, and have a pregnant wife (who is 39 weeks and 2 days, and also plays WoW) and have never lost what come first in my life. I would love to see someone tell me I'm addicted for just playing the game. From what I have read on /. and other news sited about this MMORPG addiction is that they a
  • It saddens me whenever games pop up in the press regarding social issues. Usually, in a negative light.

    To put things in perspective, I played EverQuest from Jan. 2002 to Mar. 2005 and World of Warcraft from Dec. 2004 to Sept. 2006. I also "suffer" from depression. By all accounts, I should be an addict. In reality, having stepped away from WoW after 10 months of raiding 3 nights a week (about 4-5 hours a night), I'm not feeling withdrawals or a burning desire to play. I do miss the socializing though.


Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl