Confessions of a Gaming Addict

Is there an addiction label for people that play MMOs?  Game-a-holic, em-em-o-holic, vidyict…someone will pen one better.
Hi.  I’m Todd and I’m addicted to playing massive multiplayer online games.   They’re great as an entertainment option.  I could justify playing a game vs. watching a show on the TV, but they don’t add any real value to life.  I look at people with hobbies that are productive and I’m jealous, but I rarely indulge in that kind of self-flagellation.   I deal with it just like a do when I have a task that has to be done that’s not particularly enjoyable – I put my head down and plow forward until it’s done.  I usually just let those fleeting feelings of guilt wash through me until they pass, then hit the power button on my computer and fire up another round of gaming.
I haven’t been posting anything on here in weeks, but my excuse was that I am working on Air War College and it’s taking all my spare time, but that simply isn’t true.  I stopped working on my novel for the same reason, the clock is ticking and I need to finish the stupid course, but I’ve made very little progress in the last few weeks.  So I’m not writing and I’m not studying all that much, but I can tell you I made it to level 50 with my Sith Warrior. 
My intentions were good.  But we all know where good intentions lead.  I gave myself a pass on writing so that I could devote more time to finishing all this reading I have to do (and it’s like 1600 pages) but what do I do?  I squander all that time, I fritter it away finding other things to do and ultimately I end up sitting back down at the computer and logging in to SWTOR again.  Last year I managed to break my gaming habit (I thought).  I didn’t refer to it as an addiction, because, you know, I could quit anytime I wanted to.  I just enjoyed it, it was better than sitting in front of the boob tube all evening.  Right?  I’ve been playing MMORPGs for more than 20 years but most of my hobbies don’t really generate anything useful, unlike someone that makes furniture in their spare time or knits or crafts stuff.   I managed to quit playing video games for almost a year.  I finished my manuscript, at least the first draft and a few revisions before this game came out, and I made a few decent chalk drawings.  But I slipped and I’m neck deep again, just like an alcoholic or a drug addict.   
The people that make these are smart.  I think humans are designed to want to achieve “stuff” even if it’s meaningless.   Milestones and marking them is often enough to keep us going even when we aren’t sure where we’re going.  “Just five more minutes, honey, I’ve almost got enough armaments to complete my daily.”  They feed the addict in all of us.  I don’t think I have a particularly addictive personality but I’ve always loved gaming in all its forms, from physical games like baseball and football and golf, to board games to RPGs, and combined with my fascination of computers from day one, has created a potent combination for my little brain. 
I know that some people devote even more of their time and energy to MMOs than I do, some people have an unhealthy problem with them.  I had a guildmate a long time ago that committed suicide when the game we were playing ended.   My problem is nothing like that, but I am at a point in my life that I am disappointed if I “waste” too much time.  The clock seems to tick a little faster every year and the day just doesn’t have enough hours in it.  Weekends fly by.  When I look back at my weekend I don’t want to see vapor.  I want to have spent it doing something of value, like maybe spending some quality time with my wife and kids or writing or drawing or making a piece of furniture. Instead I managed to get my Champion lightsaber. 
I’m going to make a pledge to cut down on gaming again, and spend that time better.  I’m probably fooling myself that I can handle it, just a little here and there, that’s how backsliding always starts, and I’ve slid all the way back.  But If I have that much time to game and not study the least I can do is work on my novel.  Oh by the way, Mass Effect 3 comes out in a few weeks …

World of Warcraft is the Bane of Productivity!

I have to come clean.  I’m addicted to World of Warcraft.  That’s the first step, right?  Back before I started writing my novel, I mean years and years before I pretty much didn’t do anything productive with my free time.  I played Massive Multiplayer Online games.  I’ve played a lot of them, starting with the old Neverwinter Nights game on AOL, Meridian 59, Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest, Star Wars Galaxies, Everquest 2 and then the mother of all of them … World of Warcraft.  That’s not even all of them but you get the idea.  I played WoW for probably close to 4 years then finally tired of it and started writing in my spare time instead.  I can’t tell you how good it made me feel to do something at least semi-productive with my “free” time. 

But I did it.  A few weeks ago I went back in to WoW to try the new expansion.  My kids did it first, then my wife and she said it was fun.  One of my coworkers, who plays a lot, said it was fun.

It is fun.  Now I’m hooked again.  I make plans to spend a good part of the day writing or editing and decide just to pop in to do a quick quest and next thing you know the day is gone.  Somebody help me!

As an aside, we took our daughter to college a few weeks ago and set her free.  She came back this past weekend, but you all know how that goes. =)

I passed my Air War College test, but it took them 6 weeks to grade the last test and it shot my timeline all to hell, so I won’t be getting promoted on this upcoming board.  It’s not their fault, I started way too late.  I’ll have it done for next year, so now I can throttle back a bit and actually try to finish editing my book and maybe get in some new writing too.  I have some ideas for the sequel that are forming, and I need to get those down, if I can just stay away from WoW.  It’s got a very strong pull, but at least I can recognize that I have a problem and there is no such thing as just a little WoW for me.  I haven’t bathed been keeping up my blog or twittering much either, but I’ll making an effort to put it behind me.  I hope you are all having a much more productive week!

Clear Ether!