At the risk of sounding nerdy I’d like to share with you something from my past which has opened my eyes to this issue:
I am now a 21 year old male who, fortunately, has been able to kick a longstanding computer game addiction. In early 2007 I found myself being introduced to a very popular online game, and I’m sure a lot of you will have heard of it, ‘World of Warcraft’ affectionately known as ‘WoW’. It started innocently enough, but had I known what the next 7 years of my life would have been like, I would never have given the game a second more of my time.
At the time I was moving into year 7 at school and, like all things back then, I had good intentions in trying out this ‘AMAZING GAME’ – or so some of my mates called it. I started out playing it a couple of times a week, after school, only for an hour or so before I was kicked off by my parents. I was never really any good at the game back then; I didn’t understand the purpose of the game, but I wanted to. Oh boy I really wanted to.
So, with my parents’ credit card on a rolling subscription, I set about getting better at the game. It happened slowly at first, between being driven to friends’ houses on the weekend and doing homework during the week I didn’t have an awful lot of time. As the years rolled by, however, I started spending more and more time plonked in front of the computer, enveloped in my virtual life. As I spent more time playing, the more I understood about the game; and the more I understood about the game the more I wanted to play it! It was a vicious cycle that begged me to play more… to devote more time to this game that seemingly gave me nothing in return.
Come 2009 I had become very good at WoW and had been completing weekly end game content with a group of about 40 other players, of all age groups and nationalities. I’m not sure what I liked more about WoW…. The sense of achievement from being in the best end game team on our server, or the fact that I was meeting so many wonderful (and some toxic) people who I would never have gotten to meet under other circumstances – many of whom I am still in contact with today. At this stage my addiction was seeded and blooming, but I would still make the effort to meet up with mates from school regularly. In the coming years I would not only hurt my friends and family, but also deprive myself of a lot things that I really shouldn’t have.
My addiction to WoW got to a stage (in 2011) where I would hear my phone start to ring, and I would simply look to see who was calling. If it was my best mate I would assume that he would just want to hang out. I’d think about picking up the phone and eventually going to meet him, but a lot of the time I wouldn’t. I’d tell myself that I’d ring him back after this fight, but again, a large portion of the time I would forget to, immersed in my own world with my online buddies.
It may sound bad, but it was very difficult at times to decide what was more important to me….. My mates and education or this absolute plague of a game. Sadly, the real world rarely won.
In 2012, my high school graduation year, I decided that enough was enough and I unsubscribed from the game. I still played on and off whenever I felt I needed to play. Or my online mates NEEDED my help, which was so often one of my excuses I told myself to keep playing. But finally in 2013, my first year of University, I managed to ditch my addiction for good.
It was hard, REALLY HARD. Probably the hardest thing I have ever done. I had to delete every trace of the game from every computer I owned and sometimes then I felt it wasn’t enough. But spending 12 hours a day sitting in front of a computer is no way to live your life.
Playing WoW for all those years had a detrimental effect on my ‘real life’ social skills and relationships as well as my state of mind. For all intents and purposes gaming was my drug for this long period of time! As many other gamers have said before me….. I wouldn’t wish a game as time consuming and addictive as WoW, on anyone.
For those interested…. Another example of somebody talking about their own addiction to gaming. http://kotaku.com/5384643/i-kept-playing–the-costs-of-my-gaming-addiction