Thursday, February 23, 2012

Confessions of a Gaming Addict

Is there an addiction label for people that play MMOs?  Game-a-holic, em-em-o-holic, vidyict…someone will pen one better.
Hi.  I’m Todd and I’m addicted to playing massive multiplayer online games.   They’re great as an entertainment option.  I could justify playing a game vs. watching a show on the TV, but they don’t add any real value to life.  I look at people with hobbies that are productive and I’m jealous, but I rarely indulge in that kind of self-flagellation.   I deal with it just like a do when I have a task that has to be done that’s not particularly enjoyable – I put my head down and plow forward until it’s done.  I usually just let those fleeting feelings of guilt wash through me until they pass, then hit the power button on my computer and fire up another round of gaming.
I haven’t been posting anything on here in weeks, but my excuse was that I am working on Air War College and it’s taking all my spare time, but that simply isn’t true.  I stopped working on my novel for the same reason, the clock is ticking and I need to finish the stupid course, but I’ve made very little progress in the last few weeks.  So I’m not writing and I’m not studying all that much, but I can tell you I made it to level 50 with my Sith Warrior. 
My intentions were good.  But we all know where good intentions lead.  I gave myself a pass on writing so that I could devote more time to finishing all this reading I have to do (and it’s like 1600 pages) but what do I do?  I squander all that time, I fritter it away finding other things to do and ultimately I end up sitting back down at the computer and logging in to SWTOR again.  Last year I managed to break my gaming habit (I thought).  I didn’t refer to it as an addiction, because, you know, I could quit anytime I wanted to.  I just enjoyed it, it was better than sitting in front of the boob tube all evening.  Right?  I’ve been playing MMORPGs for more than 20 years but most of my hobbies don’t really generate anything useful, unlike someone that makes furniture in their spare time or knits or crafts stuff.   I managed to quit playing video games for almost a year.  I finished my manuscript, at least the first draft and a few revisions before this game came out, and I made a few decent chalk drawings.  But I slipped and I’m neck deep again, just like an alcoholic or a drug addict.   
The people that make these are smart.  I think humans are designed to want to achieve “stuff” even if it’s meaningless.   Milestones and marking them is often enough to keep us going even when we aren’t sure where we’re going.  “Just five more minutes, honey, I’ve almost got enough armaments to complete my daily.”  They feed the addict in all of us.  I don’t think I have a particularly addictive personality but I’ve always loved gaming in all its forms, from physical games like baseball and football and golf, to board games to RPGs, and combined with my fascination of computers from day one, has created a potent combination for my little brain. 
I know that some people devote even more of their time and energy to MMOs than I do, some people have an unhealthy problem with them.  I had a guildmate a long time ago that committed suicide when the game we were playing ended.   My problem is nothing like that, but I am at a point in my life that I am disappointed if I “waste” too much time.  The clock seems to tick a little faster every year and the day just doesn’t have enough hours in it.  Weekends fly by.  When I look back at my weekend I don’t want to see vapor.  I want to have spent it doing something of value, like maybe spending some quality time with my wife and kids or writing or drawing or making a piece of furniture. Instead I managed to get my Champion lightsaber. 
I’m going to make a pledge to cut down on gaming again, and spend that time better.  I’m probably fooling myself that I can handle it, just a little here and there, that’s how backsliding always starts, and I’ve slid all the way back.  But If I have that much time to game and not study the least I can do is work on my novel.  Oh by the way, Mass Effect 3 comes out in a few weeks …

4 comments:

  1. I am SOOOOOO glad I don't have a problem with computer games. I've hated them ever since my husband fell in love with the Atari. Sure, I played a few games, but it's not fun when your turn is short and you have to wait forever for your next one. And playing alone? No thanks!

    My husband loves Civilization. Plays it EVERY night. Eventually he'll have to give up the game. He has the 32 bit version because he hates the newer one. If he has to replace his laptop (and it's beginning to look like he might), he won't be able to play the game any more. I'm sure it'll break his heart, too.

    Good luck in cutting back. If you see yourself slipping, maybe you should pick up a fun book to read instead. That might get you back into the mood to write (I know it helps me).

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    1. Hi Stacy! I actually have several books I'm trying to read also, but I'm enjoying Star Wars: The old Republic way too much. Sorry to hear about your husband's problem. I hope he can find a suitable substitute. =)

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  2. Thank you for sharing this with us, Todd. When you finished writing this personal post, did it help you to feel better?

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  3. Hi Ivy! The funny thing is I sat down to write something completely different and that was what came out. I guess I needed to get that off my chest. I will only feel better about it if I play less and study more. I'm glad you came by to say hi!

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