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Obsessive

I have a tendency to go way overboard and become totally obsessed with the things I get into. I played a video game solidly for close to 6 years. Solidly meaning that sometimes when it was at its worst I’d play for many hours a day and even when I wasn’t going at it that hard, I would still play every night for an hour or two. World of Warcraft was and is largely bad for me, but it’s not without it’s positives, too. On one hand, the game is terrible for my introverted nature, to the point that my wife started telling people that I just don’t like going out and doing things. I’m completely out of touch with people I talked to regularly just a few years ago to the point that I’d say that I’ve lost friends due to the game. On the other side of that coin, though, I met and befriended people that I never would have known otherwise. How else would I meet people from Colorado, Texas, Rhode Island? I have learned a lot about how people work through that game. I spent time as a guild officer and a regular member. The biggest difference? The amount of time I spent worrying about other people’s happiness. As an officer the entire group of people is looking to you to provide stability and a schedule around which they play the game. When you’re a member, someone else is handling all that stuff and you can just play. It’s a pretty selfish way of playing, really, but no one can run a guild forever. It’s a lot like taking a tough job and not being paid for it.

Warcraft was also bad for relationships that have endured. Like, oh, I don’t know, my wife. I’m pretty sure that there were times when we were living in Savannah that she was close to just leaving and telling me to go to hell. I can look back on it now and see how ridiculous I was being and how hard it was for her, but all I can do from here is apologize and learn from the situation. I’m not saying that Savannah was the last time it became a true addiction, it’s happened since then, but that was the real low point. So why didn’t I just give it up entirely and swear it off? Because of the social aspect of the game. I am truly friends with the people that I’ve met through Warcraft and to just leave would let them down. Now, don’t get me wrong, like any relationship, things must be weighed according to importance. Wife and child? They’re at the top. Friends from Houston who are looking to kill a new boss? They’re lower down. But they are my friends and are more important than, say, a marathon of The Deadliest Catch. Plus, at the end of the day, I enjoy the escapism that a video game gives me. It’s much the same as a great book or movie, except the end user has more control over their experience. It’s not dictated to you. But the truth at the end of the day is that like all things, you have to enjoy them in moderation and keep the really important moments and people in focus.

The addiction is easy to understand. You’re gaining new “things” with a relatively small amount of work. Sure, it make take 4-5 nights at 3 hours a night to get a new fight down with a full group, but really that’s not a huge time investment for someone looking for the thrill of the new kill or the shiny pixel prizes you get. In the times between raids, you’re gaining other smaller achievements and prizes which help to tide you over for the big ones. That was largely where my problem lay. If I could see that I could finish this thing or that thing off in just another hour or two, I would. Then it would snowball into many different things being added together and before you know it you’re playing for 10 hours a day. That’s not healthy in a lot of ways. I gained weight, lost interest in a lot of activities that I had previously enjoyed like playing basketball and softball, and what did I end up to show for it?

I’m on a prolonged official hiatus from Warcraft at the moment, but I have played around with it a little here and there. The thing that has amazed me the most is how little I really miss the game. I still talk to all of my friends that I met through WoW, so the social aspect of the game isn’t much different. I’ve started playing golf again. I realized that the end of golf for me was very close to the start of Warcraft. Funny that. I’m up and around a lot more and I’m feeling better. I’ve actually lost some weight without dieting or serious exercise. I’m planning to lose a lot more, but I already feel better just moving around. I’m closer to my wife than I’ve been in a long time and I’m enjoying hanging out with her and the little one rather than getting home from work and sitting down at the computer immediately. Will I go back to a more serious Warcraft schedule in the future? More than likely. But it will never be something that I do for hours and hours again. I have other interests and I’m not going to repeat the past and cut out things I enjoy in favor of a game. I’m happier now than I have been and I feel a bit like a weight is off my shoulders. The trick now is to maintain that feeling and keeping adding in more things that are healthy while still having fun with gaming.

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