I Am A Recovering Addict of MMORPG Games

Probably a lot of people saw this title and thought it was title bait. It’s not. This article is completely about my addiction with MMORPGS. When I posted the other day about my addiction to MMORPGS I bet most people had no idea the depth of it. Anyway here it is:

I was working at a startup ISP in Moline Illinios. I worked with a bunch of people who were all big gamers. We really had nothing else going on in our lives… We worked the late shift answering support calls. I worked the 3pm until 11pm shift. Most others worked the 12pm to 8pm shift but they all stayed ATLEAST until 11pm playing video games. I have always been naturally good at video games… sports games… whatever. When I was 8 years old I won a tournament in Branson Mo. where I had to play over 14 hours. I beat out over 300 other people of all age ranges. At one time I proclaimed myself the greatest in the world at nhl96 hockey and challenged people to games. I also would play them with no goalie. I was the best. But I digress.

One day while working at Internet Revealed a co worker, Anthony Patrezi was all excited about this new video game coming out from Verant interactive called “Everquest”. He was really excited. I was never really into Dungeons and Dragons although many of my co-workers were. I did not really understand what it was about… He left early that night so he could pre-pay for a copy of the game. When he came in the next day with Everquest he started playing right away…. You see Everquest was a game where you built your own character. You could be a human… or a elf… barbarian or go evil and be a ogre, troll or dark elf. Then you could build the character… give it a certain color of eyes… hair… how tall was it… how fat… etc.. Totally customizable. Then once your character was built you entered the world of Norrath.

I thought the game was simply awesome. I went out and bought it immediately. I made a character…. Choose human… wizard. I named my character Wizinator. (seemed like a good name). I ran out into this virtual world with tons of other people online and started nuking rats with lightning bolts I conjured from the sky. The graphics were AMAZING. I remember the first time I ventured out past the commonlands into the west commonlands and saw a Griffin…. It was this massive flying thing with the head of a lion. In the game everyone was terrified by griffins and griffons. If someone shouted GRIFF you ran like a MOFO to the closest zone. The game was simply magical. After a few weeks of playing more people that we worked with got the game and were just getting ready to start. I realized my choice of race (human) and class (wizard) were pretty dumb and I was going to be in this game for the long haul. So I started over on the same level as these other guys.

We all started our characters out on this new server…. This time I chose a druid as my class and a half elf as my race. This also means I started in a new area…. Called Quenos. With a fresh start I started whaling on stuff, gaining in levels fast with my fellow co workers. We had a really good system at internet revealed. We were able to play Everquest while we worked. After work I would book home as fast as possible to play until 7-8 AM until I passed out. I had no time to cook food or have any sort of human interaction with the world outside Everquest. I ordered pizzas every night and drank water like a fish. I also had TONS of cartons of cigarettes in the house. When I played at home I smoked like a chimney. Sometimes smoking 2+ packs of cigarettes in the 10 hour+ sessions we played. On the weekends it was time to really get in some play time. I am such a completely obsessive person that I never could quit playing. On weekends I would not sleep on Saturday nights…. Hardly ever. I had to be the best…. I had to level up.

Basically how leveling up worked was you got experience from killing mobs (monsters) and when you got enough of that experience you raised a level. If you died you would lose experience. Sometimes as much as half of a level. The experience loss from death was devastating. Sometimes 1 death would cost you as much as 8 hours worth of grinding on mobs experience wise. I remember one of my co-workers in particular who was on a customer support call when he died and ended up shouting at the person on the phone just like “YOU’RE A FU*KING IDIOT I DUNNO HOW TO FIX YOUR PRINTER”… like whoa dude… Some people told him c’mon its just a game and your going to lose your job.

But the thing was it wasn’t a game… It had become our lives. We were spending 16+ hours a day living inside this virtual world. We also had jobs inside this world…. I was a leatherworker… another one of my RL (real life) co workers was a blacksmith… another one was a jeweler. As I reached level 20’ish it was being revealed that by killing some mobs you could get special random stuff… like a badass sword or armor… or whatever. So now we would setup camps where these special items dropped. The random drops were pretty nuts… like sometimes 1 in 30. So you just had to grind it out. Being it was so random though it sucked. Also there became huge jealousy when people would get their items. There started to become a market outside the game for these items….. You would see them being sold on EBAY! So now not only were they sought after in the game but now people were getting them just so they could make money on eBay… and make money they did. Also now if you were in a group of 5 people all of different classes and as a item dropped that was druid only people who could not even use it would be like dude I can sell that I am going to roll on it (rolling meant rolling a virtual magic die. In the game its how disputes were settled).

Lots of stress… Things became very political in the game. Eventually they implemented a Guild system where you could band together. This was awesome because now people in the guild would help eachother.

Well long story long now ending shortly is I became lvl 50 pretty fast on the server. In fact I was the 5th over all and the first half elf. I was awesome. I had the sword that sparkled and all my cool gear from the plane of fear. I would roll up into town and newbs everywhere would just be in awe.

I ruled the world….. or this virtual one anyway….

Meanwhile my real life had fallen apart. I had lost my job and was in debt with creditors calling ringing my phone off the wall not even to mention I was fat as could be weighing over 400lbs. I could not deal with my real life. I hated any time that took away from my Everquest time. I was ruler in that world.

Then one day my power was shut off…. Omg…. I was so depressed. Not only was my online world now shutoff but now I had to confront my life that I had neglected for the last 2 years. It looked pretty hopeless so I decided to move out of my apartment that was driving me more into debt and possibly go live with my parents.

My parents came over to help me move all my items into a storage closet and offered to let me live with them. I love my parents but I was like 25 years old was not about to move in with them. My friend George Schaeffer III suggested I come live with him in Des Moines Iowa and try to find work there since it was a much more thriving area. I made the move and what a amazing move it was… I wont go into all the details but soon after I met my girlfriend (now wife) and 3 years later we are living together in Omaha Nebraska. It had been a long time since I played a MMORPG like Everquest and I had just started my own business and doing pretty well. I had been dreaming about Everquest though for the last couple years… killing snakes in Blackburrow… camping the ogre for the bone bladed claymore… hunting that asshole that dropped the great Zweilander in the barbarian land… (you guys who played EQ know what im talking about). It was amazing that I was still having dreams about this game YEARS after I had played it.

We were about to go on a trip so I downloaded this mini Everquest game to my PDA. What harm could it do? I mean it was a PDA game…. I took it on a trip to Vegas with my wife and played it with all my free time. I would wake up in the middle of the night and go in the bathroom and play it… I had the bug back. I started talking to my wife about it saying I was feeling like I wanted to play. She was pretty ignorant about how the massive online world games worked and kind of encouraged me to look into it.

About that time a new game was about to come out called “World of Warcraft” and I was intrigued. I also liked how there was virtually no death penalty. I purchased the game and started playing. I was doing really well on the internet making several thousand dollars a day completely passively… So why not take a little time for myself? I mean seriously I deserved it right? So I started playing during the day while my wife was at work…. It was kind of the same deal as Everquest… you make your character.. pick your race and other stuff then get going. Course this was many years later and they had done a lot better in the graphics although it did not have nearly the amazing earth shattering effect as Everquest did when I first started playing it. Anyway I played this about 8 hours a day while my wife was at work then when she went to bed I would play more. I was able to level fine but I could not camp for the cool items… so I did what any other wealthy person who didn’t have the time to play did… I bought them on Ebay… In the next few weeks I spent thousands on eBay. I bought enough gold to buy my level 60 horse… a sword that shot flames… it was awesome. My wife never knew and I do not think still knows the depth of my addiction.

Then about 3 months after I started playing World of Warcraft it was Christmas… I was traveling back to my hometown. I was almost pissed off that I was not going to be able to play Warcraft..

My sister was married to a guy who had 2 kids from a previous marriage but this guy also had a addiction to online multiplayer games. He came over to my parents and would sit in another room and play his game the whole time. He completely ignored his kids. It was …. So sad.

I believe at that time I had what alcoholics refer to as a “moment of clarity”. I envisioned myself neglecting my family and kids. It was very very very awakening. I confessed to my wife that night that I had an addiction to playing online games. I think she understood but kind of downplayed it. Like I said I still to this day do not think she understands the depth of my addiction. Anyway I can never play a game like that again. I now have 2 daughters and a very happy marriage and I live for my kids and wife. I have never played a massive multiplayer game like that since.

I do from time to time play games like desktop tower defense or something on the xbox 360 but nothing that encases me like that. I also have made people around me very aware of my addiction. Especially people like Dillsmack who can spot it a mile away cause he would know if I got wrapped up in a online game.

Anyway all this sounds pretty crazy right? Well I dunno that I am that odd… I am reading about people getting trapped in these worlds all the time in the mainstream media… whether its 2nd life…. Everquest… World of Warcraft…. Whatever. People have even committed suicide over it.

So I still dream about Everquest…. Kiting hill giants and frost giants with my druid…. Powerleveling my twink rogue. The scariest thing is I am on a plane right now writing this post and remember all the above things with such clarity….

Addiction is a motherfsckr. I know this addiction is pretty pathetic compared to some peoples….. But its there and I know its something I always need to be conscious of.