For the last 2 weeks, I have been in-game a lot, shooting sleepers, sucking gas, melting rocks and even chased a hauler through a C2, Tigerears-style (just without a killmail, phail). I was online as much as RL permits and since we are recruiting I also had to pre-screen candidates and conduct interviews with the finalists and my team.
Together, this amounts to actually a lot of time spent in game and my real life noticed. Although I do keep my daily workout and don’t think I neglect my RL work just yet, something had to give. Chores around the house remained undone, other personal projects are on ice. A slippery slope for many gamers:
WOW addiction is a little like smoking. You can play 60 hours a week for a while without much impact. After a few months the effects are noticed at work and your wife starts to moan much more. After a few years you realise you have put on 3 stone, almost lost your job (if you are lucky) and the family is no longer living with you.
It takes a long while for the effects to be fully apparent (just like smoking). By the time the cancer has taken you though, so much damage has been done that it is too late to repair it.
I last played in August 2011, but not hard-core for maybe a year now, after 5 years of addiction. I still think about WOW daily and the urges to play again are strong at times. I wont screw my life up again though. My WOW cancer is in remission and I wont allow it to come back.
WOW should be banned. To many, it is as dangerous as drugs or alcohol. Sure some can maintain a healthy balance, just like many can have a social smoke or drink without becoming alcoholics. But a very high percentage of wow players are addicted. Log on on christmas day and you will see them all opening their virtual christmas presents in Ironforge rather than enjoying their family.
I so want to play again. I dream of it and fantasize about it. Even after all I know I so really want to play. The game is dangerous and bloody evil. WoW Detox
Does this apply to EVE Online?
World of Warcraft is not the same as EVE Online. WoW is a much simpler game where challenges are virtually always overcome with better gear rather than more skill (endgame raiding is a little different). The game is known to be highly repetitive and causes burnout since killing the same Kobolt (“You no take candle“) for the 100th time becomes unfunny even to the heavily addicted. EVE Online also offers repetitive activities as every high security miner, low security gate camper and null security POS basher knows. But the enormous breadth of the game with a myriad of different playstyles and options prevent this single-task burnout and replaces it with a new challenge on every corner. I met quite a few “bitter old vets” who admitted that they played the game for years but still don’t know the mechanics of vast aspects of the game. Try that in WoW or Angry Birds.
2. Persistent Environment
If you log off in WoW, the game world persists. All you leave behind are are memories in other player’s brains. The world does not care whether you are in it or not, whether you vanquished some big demon or defended an outpost. It truly is a Skinner box in which nothing but perception changes. Eventually, this induces the realisation that all activity is quite literally meaningless. Even hard-nosed WoW players come to that conclusion and at this point ask themselves why they spent this much time for not generating lasting impact.
EVE Online is totally different here, players shape the environment to a great extent, take sovereignty by various means, acquire resources that are used by others or build objects that change the course of the game. The much touted “sandbox” system is rather unique and a stroke of (marketing) genius. Since my interaction have a lasting effect on the game itself and my friends and foes, I can rightly develop a feeling that I have “created” something, built something or destroyed something of value to others. For example, we settled a new C4 WH which was (still is) a logistical nightmare. Our new recruits now fly in to the safe POS we set up and find an environment that I helped create – even if I am not online. I am quite proud of that, it was a big achievement with lasting effect on my friend’s ability to enjoy the game.
3. Reliance and Teamwork
Whereas every move in WoW has gone to de-humanize the game wherever possible (few group quests, dungeon finder, raid finder, BGs for PvP and the total abolition of the guilds as the core unit for trust), EVE Online has gone the opposite way. Virtually nothing can be achieved by soloing. Anything above mission running and high-sec mining requires a focussed and trusting team of players working in unison and in different roles. This demand for teamwork not only creates tighter “friendships” (I wrote plenty about that here and here and here), it also makes the game more “real”. As the transition between game and reality becomes fuzzy, addiction to the game can easily creep into the real, “real” world. For example, I find myself chatting on TS or the text chat a lot without actually playing the game.
4. Beyond the log-in screen
EVE is unique in that it is unashamedly unplayable (ha! literary masterpiece, this!) without the resources created by the players. Creating and reading these requires a lot of time and energy not actually spent in “space” and therefore they don’t feel like game time at all. Without bloggers like Jester, PJHarvey, Seismic Stan and many others, crucial information about the game would not flow. The same is true for the podcasts which not only entertain and inform but also allow to take the game to the gym, the car and the house-cleaning chores. Immersion is complete. The game has morphed from a temporal, limited activity to a lifestyle.
So, back to addiction. The quote on top of this post accuses the game manufacturer being the culprit for his addiction. Similar to cigarettes, the case can be made that enjoyable products (I take people’s word for it that cigarettes are enjoyable) need to be regulated due their highly addictive nature and detrimental health effects. And many politicians indeed call for regulations of these games, presumably just as their fathers advocated regulation of TV as the source of all evil. I can’t do the topic justice today and will write more about this later. But addiction does creep into one’s life, slowly, enjoyably and carefully. It does eat the personality of the victim like a cancer and replaces the urges to experience Real Life content with that of the gaming world. A balanced approach is harder to take when the game itself features triggers which match the player’s own desire for rewards. For example, I will never be addicted to Angry Birds or World of Warcraft.
EVE Online? I need to be very careful.