Gaming Addictions

I don’t think I’ve ever been addicted to games. I like games. I’ve played them an awful lot; some I’ve played a little obsessively. But I don’t think I was addicted. Those games I played somewhat obsessively, I usually just stopped playing one day, for one reason or another – travel, moving, illness, warmer weather. If one can just stop, one’s not addicted right?

Dragon Quest VIII – I believe I received this for Christmas a few years back. I had played the original games in the series – Dragon Warrior I and II on the NES. So, when a new installment in the series was coming out, I got rather, um, excited.

I stayed up multiple work nights late playing this game. Jon Hayter, The Escapist‘s Creative Director, and I bonded over alchemy recipes and arena team builds. There was more than one night I awoke on my living room couch to the sound of one of my party members dying in battle, only to find myself in an area completely other than the one I remembered being in, fighting monsters I shouldn’t have been at my level. Yes, I was literally playing in my sleep.

World of Warcraft – Everyone at The Escapist HQ was playing this game. No, really. They were all trying to get me to join in winter 2005. I finally caved in early spring and rolled a Tauren Druid. (For the Horde!) And then a Troll Priest. And then Human Priest. And then another Troll Priest on another server.

I never reached the then level cap of 60 with any of these characters. But I did play a couple of them a bit obsessively in bursts. Honeybun, fabulous Troll Priest of the Tasty Breakfast Treats guild, was often seen gallivanting the countryside around Tarren Mill with fellow guildies Hashbrown and Branmuffin most nights of the week. And occasionally whole days on the weekend. Hey, it was winter time during that time period, and well, I’m not a fan of the cold. But as with many of my other characters, Honey wandered off into obscurity at about level 33.

None of these obsessions ended in a way other than what should be called “unceremonious.” I never really had a Clear Moment where enough was enough. No one ever suggested I maybe take a break. Perhaps that’s because, as you’ll see from the video supplement to this issue, I’m surrounded by others who might have experienced Moments of Games Obsession. Or perhaps it’s more to do with there being so many good games available, it’s hard to become too obsessed with just one game.

Really, there’s a whole big world out there, with tons of other things to become obsessed with, like I currently am with reruns of House and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series of books. Maybe I’m just too easily distracted by new, shiny things to become addicted. Or maybe I’m just consuming this type of stuff the way it’s been designed to be consumed?

Games are designed to suck you in, make you want to stay a while, just like books, movies and TV shows are. Hollywood uses formulas to build the perfect trap for your mind for a few hours. Books follow the same pattern, time after time. TV shows are quite structured, and with DVRs piling up hour after hour of TV goodness, they are more dangerous than ever. So why do games catch all the flack?

Is it just because they’re new? Does the interactivity of games make them more dangerous? Maybe it’s perhaps because games are longer in duration than the other forms of media? We wondered, too, and so we created an issue of The Escapist to discuss games addiction, from both outside and inside perspectives. Find these articles and more this week, at The Escapist.



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