It was 10 minutes till 7am. I had to be at work in an hour for my standard Wednesday 8am meeting. And, I started the morning as I usually did, as many guys my age probably started their day (I was convincing even to myself) – in front of my monitor camping a mob so that I could get one piece closer to my “epic” weapon. I was up for the last 7 hours trying to run the gauntlet of a level 50 scenario in EverQuest that would get me a weapon not too many players had. It was only one more thing that I focused on as I tried to get geared up so that the guild I was in could get a leg up on “raids”.
At this time in my life, I was 28 years old. I had graduated college several years back with a degree in Mathematics and I held a job at an internationally recognized computer company. I would work the entirety of my day with the game in mind, writing down on 3×5 index cards what I needed to get and how I was going to acquire certain virtual objects. I wrote down how I was going to attempt various scenarios and started preparing complex excel sheets with time lines and performance metrics. I spent, on average, 4 hours sleeping after work so that I could be online and in-game during non-peak hours. My social life stopped almost as fast as my cleric became level 30.
I broke up with my girlfriend who I had also introduced to EverQuest. She had become a level 50 mage faster than I had become a level 50 cleric. We had a terrible break-up online as she started spending more time with this level 30 bard who caught her fancy! I didn’t really care as my life was consumed, almost every moment of the day, by the attraction to the story, the anonymity of my character and the camaraderie that I was forming with my new-found friends in this virtual bubble of fantasy and new experiences.
After about 6 months of keeping this schedule, I began to realize that I hated my job. I put on 30 pounds from not moving and eating fast foods at any time of the day. I had cluster headaches, undoubtedly, from the number of hours I spent in front of my monitor! I realized that I was completely entrenched into this online video game addiction when, even after gaining that weight and looking terribly, I was asked out on a date by someone that I wanted to date several years back. I still remember saying, “Uhm, I can’t tonight. My guild is raiding in this new plane and we are hoping to get some really great items.” I remember going home and this inner voice yelled at me “Are you kidding me – ‘my guild is raiding'”? At this point, I realized that I was addicted to a video game!
Over the course of the next several months, I pulled back from the game play rather drastically. I would still check in, from time to time, however, I was overly concerned with my mental and physical well-being. I didn’t consider myself an addictive personality, in general, but there was something that called out to many. For me, it was a means to escapism. It was a way to push aside life problems by becoming absorbed into something that added no real tangible quality to my life.
I ended up leaving my job and finding something in a different city. I increased my outdoor activity time and adjusted my diet/nutrition. I won’t say that the idea doesn’t occasionally visit me to create a quick level 20 – 30 character in some new game. However, now with a family, I find more meaningful dialogue in this game of life that we live than in the online gaming world that once so transfixed my senses.
My Video Game Addiction – a Retrospective!
Displaying My Video Game Addiction – a Retrospective!.