Where do you start when you’ve become an addict to something and have almost fully “recovered”? Do you say, “I’ve done something wrong” or do you simply state that you have a problem? For me, I never knew until it had already begun to unwind my life. It was simply how it started. One of my best friends growing up brought it over, let me play it, and next thing I knew – I was hooked. It was simple, playing his Night Elf Druid, a balance druid at that, and questing. I couldn’t stand the dull graphics at first. Except they weren’t dull. I just wasn’t used to high particle effects that could not be seen on a console. I was too used to my Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and even my Nintendo 64. They were what I was used to, even though I played games such as Starcraft and Warcraft. Though what got me wasn’t just the graphics, but the gameplay, then the digital society within the game (other players). I began to find myself wanting to keep playing, and thus I did. I set out, bought a new computer after having shared his account for a few weeks. I bought the battle-chest since Burning Crusade had only been out a few weeks at most, and of course my adventure began. Rather my undoing. I found myself making my first self-paid for account, character, and of course my addiction that soon became a manifestation of disapproval from friends and family.
Now before we get to far, there is some admittance to be made. The game had been something of a hype for me, even at the time, it was something I was curious about due to Warcraft 3. It, however, did take time for World of Warcraft to lure me in completely. It was around the time Wrath of the Lich King had launched. I found myself sucked into the idea of leveling my Draenei Paladin, and dragging feet through each of the dungeons the game had to offer. The whole idea it contained at level cap was something new. Gear Optimization: The idea of fully making sure each part was proper, that gems were in their sockets, enchants for optimal proficiency was there, and of course having the proper weapon proficiency for the weapons of my choosing. The newest part though was add-on’s. That was a whole new exploration of its own that also helped expand my resourcefulness to each group I participated with on that character. Since raiding was something that had not peaked my interest at the time. I found myself questing. II wanted to explore the lore behind WoW, and even become a know-it-all about the the franchise itself. Then the novels released, then the comic books, and of course then another expansion. It wasn’t quite till World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King, had my interest peaked. There I found myself following the storyline of Arthas, Invincible, the games lore of Old Gods, and even the deviance of the horde itself as it unfolded. It got me hooked, I began to stay up, not eat, not sleep, not run errands, and even begin to feel panicked if I felt my subscription beginning to run out. Truths turned to lies, and lies turned into more lies as I needed every reason to play. Even if it had meant having my WoW playing friend come over and stay the night, which turned into days, and days turned into weeks as the obsession became more of a need and want. Even vacations I found myself dragging my computer with me even if I had the SLIGHTEST hint of a working internet. Why? I needed at least some WoW time. Even if it was just a few minutes to get on and talk to friends. Social networking? Could have done it. Even with my cellphone, but instead, it was something about the game.
The first major time it became a problem, my Great Grandmother had passed away. She was someone I had held very dear to me. Someone that had taught me things about life, hobbies, and even lessons regarding craftsmanship’s that I will never forget. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it through all of my life as one would hope. She passed away due to age and health related complications. Once the date was announced, where, when, and who all was there. We set way to leave the house, but there was something else I felt must come along. My laptop and of course World of Warcraft. So I packed my bags, my laptop, and grabbed my phone. Off we went. There was nothing unusual about this to my parents, which in many ways, was because they kept quiet about how they felt. Even my aunts and uncles found it a bit unnerving by the time I got there, I was sitting there, logged into WoW. I would attend raids, level new characters, and spend seamless hours on WoW till it was time to power down, go to sleep, and get up to once more take on the ‘heroic’ deeds that my character would seek out to do at my discretion. Even at the anger of my own parents, whom I’m sure were ready to blow a gasket, but at the time, I didn’t care. The funeral came, the funeral went, and soon as we were done? I was once more logged in and ignoring the pain that was ebbing at my heart. So you see, in ways, I logically told myself that it was okay to use WoW as an out rather than facing the reality of it all.
This problem carried on for years, before the funeral, before the family gatherings, and even before the family trips. It became an obsession, more so an addiction to be quite honest. Why? I wanted it, needed it, and even craved the simple sounds of logging in and having a character on my computer screen moving around. It came to the point of ignoring friends, family, and even my responsibilities. It cost me friendships, relationships, money, and almost a job. Why? Because it’s all I wanted and needed. It was something I found insanely indulging. I even found myself back to where I first started: fighting over the internet. It wasn’t small shouts here and there. It was screaming at the top of our lungs, screaming profanities, hating ourselves for what we were becoming, but most of all, hating WoW because of what it was doing. To me? This was normal. It was helping me get my way and letting me play what I wanted to play the most. World of Warcraft had become my life. It was everything I had and wanted. It made me feel satiated. It wasn’t till after having been in a hardcore raid guild during the events of Cataclysm did I find myself questioning my reasoning behind my drive to play WoW. It started to become a job. Eventually it began to make me want to hate the game. The hardest pushes against bosses such as Ragnaros, Deathwing, Yor’sahj, and all this being on heroic difficulty. Why? We felt like we were the best of the best. Truth was? We were for our server. We had taken over the server as the top guild for both horde and alliance. It made us feel like we became fans. Why? We were being acknowledged by the social parts of it. Good and bad, mind you. Some people hated us, others cheered for us, and others simply didn’t care like we did.
Though this was something that eventually began to die out shortly after the release of Mists of Pandaria. The guild fell apart, people moved on, and friendships were lost. Like most things in life, WoW began to become an expendable time slot for them. Some of them got married, some had kids, and some simply just found more creative hobbies. Even if it was gaming related. Shortly after having begun to wing away from WoW, it was interesting to see things a bit differently. A hate had begun to bubble. A dislike for the title really. Logging in after having joined another raid team began to feel like a job even though I had fun. Then came another raid group disbanding. Shortly after, another one, and another one, and finally another one. After several refreshes and restarts, it was time to try something new. Our teams merged, players began to give out availabilities for grouping if they could. It was just sort of playbook really so that even if we didn’t do anything, it allowed us to get on, chit chat, and of course act like complete fools. Somewhere a year later we found ourselves once more with another guild, but this time things went smooth. We raided, we cleared content, we opened up more of the lore, which really drove us to keep going. Shortly after, we began to go back on hiatus. During this time I began to make new friends that didn’t live halfway across the nation, two states away, or even half way across the world. Instead I got to meet people in an aspect I wasn’t used to. It was this aspect that of reality that began to sink in, and that’s when the little rain cloud with lightning bolts appeared over me (think like the cartoons).
I had finally realized in the past that I ignored much of my life for World of Warcraft. Things I can’t get back. A relationship, a funeral gathering, respect from friends or family, and even the bits of my life that could have been even more adventurous than before. The reality sat in, which meant so did my disapproval, but there were people there who genuinely cared, which lead me back once more to one thing: playing WoW. Though this time around it has better reasons, which has lead to me playing with friends, taking time away from it, and even running an amazing team of creative writers, gamers, and self-proclaimed gaming experts. What does this mean? My life has become mine again. WoW doesn’t own it, nor does the addiction, which means I’ve in many ways, broken the bonds that many have not had the strength to break yet. Does it pain me to not play like I should, how much I should, and why? No. Because I know the people behind the screen, running their animated characters around, and even talk to me through the title understand that my life has meaning. They also understand that sometimes, addiction can be something nasty, and truly horrendous for those who missed much of their life because of a game or a substance. I can’t say I don’t game anymore. I actually do. I still work on review titles, I still social game, but I do not let it consume me. I have since begun seeing my friends, my family, going away from the games when needed, and simply being honest about my intentions. Do I plan on playing more WoW in the future? Possibly. How soon? I can’t tell you that, but what I can tell you is this, once you regain control of your life, once you begin to let things smooth over, then you can think about all the things you can do. The freedoms you have lost, but regained because of the bonds that were broken.
As of the past few months I have begun to find new hobbies, new friends, new adventures, and even new gaming events to go to. As a gamer, sometimes the best thing to do, is simply walk away from the one problem there is. For my problem? Taking a break from WoW was it. I still play two times a week, sometimes three. I have friends I do not see because they are still heavily indulged in the title, but eventually – they will see the things they have missed. The opportunities that are fading away. They will simply be in many ways, free of bonds that held them there in bad ways. For some of you, this was a rant, a jumbling of words. To some of you, it’s an admittance of being guilty of a painful addiction, a distasteful hunger, and of course a newly shed light on something that was once a bad habit, which has since, turned positive. There’s nothing wrong with playing games, there’s nothing wrong with being social, and there is nothing wrong when walking away from something that is seemingly becoming a problem.
Now that you have read my confession. I have a question for you, the reader, and of course fellow gamers. We all have problems that come up in our lives. Problems that could be something to do with finances, relationships, family, friends, and or something completely different. We all try to find ways to hide our problems. We all try to find ways to shove it to the back of our mind. When you have problems come up you can’t deal with, how do you manage them? Do you go to a game to subdue it? Do you purposely find yourself addicted to a game title in order to escape? Have you been addicted to a game? Let me know in the comments. Sometimes the first step is simple. Admitting there is a problem. Then dealing with it. With this we also find ourselves pushing away those around us because of something bothering us. Have you ever found yourself addicted to a game? If so what happened? Why? What were your repercussions because of it? I know mine were quite dangerous on their own. I lost nine years of my life.