The Grand Vision New Leaders building near the HSR station in Jhubei, in Taiwan. Taken on the 13th of January 2007 with a Nikon D200 and a 18-35mm lens. Part of the HSR Hsinchu Series 1.
In this article, I discuss the continuing dangers of the internet, particularly the effects of online gaming, be it World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies or any other type of MMORG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game).
MORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) is a genre of online computer role-playing games (RPGs) in which a large number of players interact with one another in a virtual world. As in all RPGs, players assume the role of a fictional character (most commonly in a fantasy setting) and take control over many of that character’s actions. MMORPGs are distinguished from single-player or small multi-player RPGs by the number of players, and by the game’s persistent world, usually hosted by the game’s publisher, which continues to exist and evolve while the player is away from the game.
MMORPGs are very popular throughout the world, with combined global memberships in subscription and non-subscription games exceeding 15 million as of 2006. Overall, revenues for MMORPGs exceeded half a billion dollars in 2005 and are expected to reach over a billion dollars by 2009.
When we talk about MMORG addictions, we are not talking about the casual gamer who plays a few hours a week, but the gamer who can not live without playing; people who will play 2 to 12 hours of these games every single day.
Like any addiction, these are a form of escapism. Trying to escape the reality of their own lives, these gamers take on a virtual life in their games and find comfort and solace in this imaginary world. If a gamer plays consistently a large period of hours per day in one of these worlds, they have a problem in their lives. Maybe they hare unsatisfied with their careers, their family life or their relevant importance in life.
One such reason might be looking at your classmates and seeing that you are not the politician, the millionaire or the successful businessman that they have become over the years. But what these people do not realize, is that for every success story, there are counterpoints. The man who isn’t a millionaire, might have a loving family.
The first thing to do when you realize that you are not happy with your life is to implement a change of sort. Forgetting your life and loosing yourself in a blissful world are not ways to resolve these situations. As with all addictions, for the addictive personality to be able to improve and overcome their addiction, they need to realize that they are in fact addicted. Most programs, like AA, will not accept anyone who does not accept this.
Also, they must want to change. This is hard, since most gamers are very happy with their situation and will go on playing. One gamer said that “don’t bother, because at one point, the interest or the game will fade.” That is the wrong attitude to have, since these games are set in persistent virtual worlds, meaning that they will constantly evolve, thereby maintaining the interest of the gamers. With patches, new editions and add-ons, these worlds will continue to generate interest. Once the games are old, new games will come out with everything improved.
With players and guilds set on different servers, and players around the world, these games are dangerous to borderline personalities or anyone who finds a more than passing interest. Some people’s psyche is strong enough to resist the attraction of these worlds. Others will fall in and wonder what happened to their lives, after their wives have left them and they are living alone in an apartment, playing their games.
That is not to say that all gamers are addicts; most gamers have no trouble leaving the games and concentrating on their own lives.
Like any addiction, their are different ways of getting your loved ones off these games. Going cold turkey is definitely an option, but you have to remember that if your child is the one playing, they will be able to play at their friend’s house or at school. When the player is an adult, it is even harder; how do you tell an adult that he can no longer play his game?
If you have the financial means, you could check your loved one into a rehab clinic. Professionals will know how to deal with this form of addiction. Even if this sounds extreme, it is an effective way of dealing with it. Otherwise, your loved one has to be able to decided and accept that they have a problem. Like all addiciton counselling, the gamer will need to wean himself off his addiction little by little, depending on the severity of it.
Lastly, try counselling, psychotherapy and just plain talk about the problem. If your loved one categorically refuses, it is either time for more serious measures or to realize that you need to make a change to keep yourself and the rest of your family happy. Tough love. If your husband is playing, consider leaving. If your son/daughter is playing and is over 18, consider kicking them out. Maybe this will be the reality check that your loved one needs.
Kathleen Pennell writes:
My husband has an addiction to World of Warcraft. He left the east coast and loving family, wife of 17 years, children, & job to be with his online “wife” she was his mule in the game. This woman worked on him in the game and this game suck the soul out of my husband and my marriage.
When he would come home from work he went straight to the game every night he even did it at work. If I asked him to be away from the game he became enraged. If he had to leave WOW for real life he became abusive.
My 18 year old son has left school and is avoiding getting a job. He plays on World of Warcraft everyday for a minimum of 12 hours a day getting him out to even go shopping is a struggle. He says the only career he wants is the Army so he can carry a gun.He is an intelligent articulate good looking teenager.But he won´t get a life Is this because his WOW addiction makes him agressive. I have read that the Army Psycholgists won´t take Game players as they think the fantasy aspect makes them a weak personality and easily influenced. Should I throw out the computer?
Hatewow tells us:
I just wanted to say it helped to read all the comments on this site concerning World of Warcraft. I never felt like anyone but a person with a child playing this game existed. My husband plays after about 6 months (maybe) of having it, more than 8 hours/day. He had been playing online poker for 2 years or so but at least we still conversed then. Now, we rarely do. He is tied to the game; unable to assist with normal child care and household chores. We went to FL for Christmas with his family and most nights he was playing WOW. It was noticed and commented on by every person in his family. He is incredibly loyal to them but became angry and insolent when they confronted him with this issue. I was happy because he was not playing it every day/ night- whenever he was NOT working. Thank God he has no internet access at work.
I am pissed and unhappy. I love my husband and want HIM back but he will not listen when I ask him to cut it down. To go to the park, play a board game, or watch a movie with me and the kids. And by the way, his sex drive is almost obsolete. This from a wonderful and attentive lover during our almost 9 year marraige.
He just bought some expanded version of WOW. He told me the game never ended and my stomach dropped. I wonder if we will last this. I wonder if I stop accepting if we are already over.
Hurts like hell to not be able to compete with a stupid game.
Tips, Tricks and Advice
Maniacide gives his insider tricks to help:
Handy tips for parents of WoW addicted teenagers. I should point out that I’m a Warcraft player, but even I could not stomach playing for 12 hours a day….so. Here’s some insider tips from a hardened gamer…
Strategy 1. Throw the switch. 12 hours is ludicrous. Suggest switching off the power supply at the mains randomly to cause him to reboot. If you do this enough, he will “DC” (disconnect in WoW speak) so often that he will lost the respect of his guild and fellow gamers. Best times to throw the switch…
a) about 1900 local time on Wednesday. This is when Molten Core resets. If he is a hardened WoW addict, this wil piss him off. Also try to get the Instance reset times for your region from www.wow.com – killing the power when he is trying to get into a big raid helps a lot.
b) About mid-morning and mid-evening – this will surely annoy his buddies and they will throw him out of a group.
Strategy 2. Start playing yourself. Find out which server he is on and follow him around, announcing that you are his mom/dad. Be generally “parent embarassing”. This works really well.
Strategy 3. Kill his income. WoW costs money – no money, no game. The dude aint got no job, so this should be easy enough.
Strategy 4. timelock your home broadband. Get a router that restricts port access to certain times of day. This works a treat, especially when you lock him out with a strong admin password.
If none of that works, try this…
Get rid of your broadband connection,
Face up to the fact that he is an addict,
Get him some professional help (counselling),
Enforce your authority, if not as parents then as landords,
Be prepared for a fight…..
For sure, you should consider getting rid of all computers and internet connections at your home. The only good thing of your son being home is that you can keep an eye on him.
Your son needs a reality check. At 18, I was enrolled in Computer Science in an university, living for the 1st time by myself in a new city with other students in the same situation. My parents paid for my 1st semester and then I paid my own way because my program was a coop program, real work experience mixed in with studies at the campus.
You should also definitely consider either counseling or therapy for your son. Also, does he have a car that you got him? Take his keys away and sell it. Are there any other freedoms that he takes for granted? Restrict them. Also, I suggest you get rid of the TV in his room, as well as all of his video games. Watching TV is relaxing for adults after a long hard day of work, but teens should do something more constructive, like reading a book.
In my opinion, restricting his internet access could be the first easy step. Secondly, if your son is playing 12 hours of WoW every day, is he fit? Try reasoning with him that if he wants to join the army, he needs to be very fit. Try making him start exercising at a local gym with you.
At 18, your son is nearly an adult. I admit that your influence on him might be limited. I remember that I normally did the opposite of what my parents told me to do.
Would military school be something you would consider for him? In Canada, after military school, you normally become an officer. If he wants a career in the army, you could reason with him about this. From what I have read, getting into military colleges is quite demanding, try using this as leverage or influence on him. If he really enjoys guns as much as you say, you might join a local shooting range, where he could try his hand at real shooting. I suggest this even if you dislike guns because it has the benefit of making him leave the house. However, make sure that he can not take the firearms home. Keep them under lock and key at the shooting range.
You could also take him to paintball games. Most teenagers who like guns really enjoy this activity. It is physically demanding, you are outside in the woods in the fresh air. You could also try go-carting. Normally those type of kids enjoy carting as well.
Try getting him interested in military strategies and tactics with books and wargames. Though I suggest, you keep the games as board games like Risk and Axis And Allies or other strategy games.
Remember to always play your son’s strengths. It will make him feel good to be really good at something. You know your son and you know at what he is good at. Try working on these.
The best way to go in my opinion is cold turkey. Getting rid of the internet connection, getting rid of his computer, severely limiting his freedoms until he has earned them back. One thing is for sure, he needs to finish school first. Try motivating him by rewarding him with things that he wants if he succeeds, excluding computers and the internet.
Teenagers need clearly defined boundries. If they see that they can get away with things, they will always try it. They will always probe and push and try to do things their way, but you have to stand firm and let him know it is your way.
You could also take him camping. Even if you do not enjoy this, it gets him away from computers and the comfortable reality that he has established for himself. Make him do a lot of chores at home. An idle mind is a bored mind.
I do not think you should consider the ‘brat camps’. However, if your son is no longer thinks that he has to do what you say, you might have a problem, especially in cases when the children are physically stronger than their parents.
You should also immediately hire a private tutor to get him back on track in his school work. Private teachers can establish a curriculum fit for your son so that he can continue learning and growing.
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This post is part of a series on the Dangers of The Internet.