The Addictive Properties Of World of Warcraft And The Road To Recovery

on November 16, 2009 11:30 AM

The average game can capture our interest and keep it for a certain amount of time, but usually games don’t keep us from doing what is necessary to our everyday lives. However, it seems that MMORPGs have the ability to pull players in and keep them. While some people are able to play casually, you see a fair amount of people who play, what seems like, all day every day. The biggest offender in this category is World of Warcraft. While this isn’t new information, the bigger question is why do people get addicted to the game and what ways can we regain a normal life after quitting.

For those of you that haven’t ever played, World of Warcraft is a fantasy MMORPG that takes place in the Warcraft universe. You play as a hero of one of the two factions, horde and alliance, and you complete quests and level up to the max level. At max level (80 right now) there is endgame content for users to participate in, and that is where the addiction really starts. The most addictive part of Warcraft would have to be the hunt for loot, whether it be gear, mounts, or even vanity pets, Blizzard makes you want to give exorbitant quantities of your life to get the best gear and the most rare pets and mounts. Most players joke that no one quits Warcraft, they say that people just leave and will usually come back for a new expansion or new set of raid instances, but what if you were to try and quit for good?

This is the point where I am at, after playing World of Warcraft for over 4 years and seeing most everything the game has had to offer, I finally realized that I needed to stop. There was a time about two years ago where I put Warcraft in front of most things. I scheduled work and school around raids, and told all my friends that I was busy and never went out. I stopped functioning like a normal person should, sleeping mainly between sessions of Warcraft. Work and school became pesky interruptions to my Warcraft social life. It sounds pathetic, but there are multitudes of people who are just as bad, if not worse. In the last year, I thought that I could just play casual Warcraft, but as a raider, a casual experience is hard to come by. I started getting into bad habits again, I was putting off writing and work, not doing school assignments, not playing other games, and I was even putting off my girlfriend to get raids done. I had the epiphany while talking to one of my guild mates, who I have played Warcraft with for almost 4 years. His wife was leaving him, and he said it was her fault, that she was acting childish, she wanted to have time to relax after work and such. However, he didn’t work, he just stayed at home with his daughter all day and played Warcraft, from the time he would wake up, to the time he would sleep, he was in Ventrilo and on Warcraft. I realized that that was what I didn’t want to be, I didn’t want to be in denial of my own problems, it seems childish, to put the game in front of my own priorities, and to escape to that degree. There are some things that you can’t use video games to escape from, and real life is one. The road to recovery is one that takes a strong will and a bit of imagination.

In my life, I have quit many things that other people struggle with, I just recently quit smoking after having been a smoker for 8 years. I have been able to shake these addictions, but I didn’t get why I couldn’t quit Warcraft; however, I think I may have found a good strategy. The first step I took was that I logged off one day and uninstalled the game itself; however, I did not tell anyone what I was intending to do, that way, no one would try to talk me out of it. I made sure that the date coincided with when my paid time was going to end. This precaution was made so that I wouldn’t want to re install in order to get my moneys worth. I am also avoiding Ventrilo. If you are familiar with drug rehab, one thing a recovering addict must do is to disassociate with anyone who may bring them back into addiction, that is why I am avoiding Ventrilo. With the game uninstalled, account cancelled, and avoiding other players, the first step is complete, but now we have to fill in all that new found free time with some sort of activities.

First and foremost, use quitting Warcraft as a means to reconnect with friends, family, and loved ones. I feel that this is the most important, because who else will be there for you when things go wrong. You don’t have to make grand gestures, you should just try and rekindle your relationships again. Another thing to do with the time you gain is to focus on school or work. As a former Warcraft nut, I know that I let school fall by the wayside as I was hunting for loot. Just think, if you spent 5 hours a day playing Warcraft, you can spend just 10 hours a week more on studying and school work, then you still have another 25 hours a week to spend on other things, and your grades will most likely improve. Also, Warcraft does not include exercise, so use that money that you would play Warcraft with each month and get a gym membership. If you exercise an hour a day everyday, not only will you feel better, but you will start looking a lot better as well. Another thing that goes hand in hand with exercise is sleep. With Warcraft out of your life, you can go to sleep earlier and get a full 8 hours. Hell, you can even use some of the extra time to play other games, and with so many games releasing in the next 6 months, you shouldn’t have a problem finding some good ones. With all of these things paired together, you will most likely find yourself wondering why you wasted your time on such a time killer.

Although World of Warcraft is an addicting game, I am in no way stating that everyone who plays will get addicted, but if you find yourself in this type of situation, it is always nice to have a reference point when it comes to recovery. Just remember, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask someone for help if you are struggling with any sort of addiction. The only way you can get proper help, is if you know you have a problem, and you have the support of other people. Just because it is a game, doesn’t mean that it can’t have detrimental side effects to your personal and social life. I hope this advice is useful to any of you out there that may have a problem, even if you haven’t realized it yet.

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Evan is not only a contributing editor but also the official west coast liaison for the site. He is a Sony fanboy without regard but has also spent countless hours grinding away in Azeroth. A true video game music enthusiast and a well versed video game historian. You do not want to argue with the man, you will probably lose.
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