Being On The Cusp Of A Gaming Addiction

Oddly enough, this brief article about Japanese housewives reminded me of, well….believe it or not…me a decade ago:

I’ve never covered a subject that has raised as many questions as this,” says writer Yuki Ishikawa, speaking about her new book portraying the lives of housewives addicted to online games.

…the more Ishikawa listened to the stories of the 17 housewives she met, the less she understood them.

…In a bid to get the inside story on the world of housewives addicted to online games, Ishikawa signed up to eight online games, but her enthusiasm for the games didn’t last long.

Through her interviews with the housewives, Ishikawa sensed the arrival of a new “era.” Even if the housewives sacrificed their time to cook meals to play online games, they would tend to brush their addictions to games off by saying, “It can’t be helped.” They don’t care about real human relations.

Way, way back in the day, before I started doing Right Wing News, I used to play an online game that now appears to be defunct. Basically, you were on a kingdom with 25 other people and you built up your own private little country. The higher your personal networth and the higher the networth of the people in your kingdom, the better you did.

Because I experimented relentlessly, had an outstanding mind for math, and worked like a dog, I was one of the best players in the world. By that, I mean that I was top 100 out of…gosh, I think there were maybe 20,000 : players?

To do that well, I had to be relentlessly disciplined, log in regularly, and I had to spend several hours a day:  at it. Each game ran about 2 months with roughly a 2 week warm-up/beta. At first, it was fun. I think the first time around I finished like 80th in the world. After that, I started a little rudimentary gaming page explaining to people how to play, I had a lot of friends who played, and I have to admit that I:  : enjoyed it a lot. Despite the fact that I was putting a lot of time in on the game, I don’t think there was anything all that unhealthy about it, although I certainly could have put my time to better use.

By the end of the next round, which was about 10 weeks later, I was top 100 again, but I was starting to get very bored with it. Moreover, I was sneaking and playing at work. I held off on a vacation because I didn’t want:  to:  spend 3 days away from the game. I was starting to really resent the amount of time I was spending playing each day. I mean, it wasn’t like I got a prize for being one of the best players in the world at the game, right? Still, I didn’t want to let my friends down. After all, I was by far the best player out of my group. I also had a webpage that was being viewed by a few hundred people a day, which was pretty heady stuff for me at the time.

In any case, I was thrilled when that round was over and then when the next round started up, wow, it was a tough call. Did I really want to spend another 10 weeks of my life doing that? Still, I started playing, was once again Top 100 early on, but was just so sickened by the idea of doing it for another two months, that I quit and got another primo player to replace me (for the benefit of my friends). Still, I didn’t entirely give it up. I still hung out with people who played and talked about the game, kept up with it, and kept updating the website until a few months later I finally gave up on the game for good.

The experience I just described may sound alien to a lot of people — but let me tell you, it’s not rare at all. I personally know multiple people who’ve gone down the exact same path with World of Warcraft, : for example — except they got to the same point of extreme frustration I reached and instead of quitting, they kept going with it for months.

How does it happen?

Well, you put in an immense amount of time, get really good, and then the effort you’ve already put in becomes a justification for spending more time on it. Are you really going to spend all that time on something and then just give it up? It’s even worse when you have friends involved who’ve come to rely on you in the game. Are you going to let them down just to do lame stuff like going outside or hanging out with friends in the real world? Pish, what kind of crazy talk is that?

Additionally, keep in mind that many games today are specifically designed to addict you. They’re deceptively simple, yet immerse you in another world, reward you for spending more time in the game, give you longer and longer periods between reinforcement, and you suffer in:  the:  game if you don’t regularly play. These games are designed to keep you playing, like a rat pressing a lever hoping to have a pellet of food drop down.

How do you steer clear of that kind of unhealthy behavior? Ask yourself some questions. The first one is the most important: Are you genuinely having fun or does the game turn : into a chore? If you’re not playing the game for fun, why are you still playing? Are there better uses of your time? Is the game interfering with the rest of your life? For example, are you missing work, skipping vacations, or do you have relationships that are suffering because of it?

Whether you quit playing a game or not is a call only you can make, but I can assure you, nobody in any online game is indispensible. The people you’re playing with? They’ll find a way to get by just fine without you and if your friendship means anything, you’ll find a way to continue it outside the game. Moreover, all that time you put in? If you’re not having fun, what’s the point? That’s why you started playing in the first place,:  : wasn’t it? To have fun? If you’re the best player in the world, what’s it worth to you if it’s just another job instead of something you want to do? Quiting when I did was a good decision, one that I never regretted. I suspect there are a lot of other people out there in the same boat who’d feel the same way if they ever gave it up, too.

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