My story - and then a question. Actually, I'll start and end with that question, so here it is: Is it possible to go from playing compulsively to playing in a healthy way? Does anyone do that? In fact, on a more basic level, do "casual gamers" even REALLY exist in EQ and DAOC and other MMORPGs?
I'll keep my story brief - since it seems so very similar to so much else I've read. And frankly, I consider myself fortunate that my own addiction, if that's what it was, was relatively short-lived and minor. At least compared to some of the stories I've seen here.
I'm a 36-year old man with a fiance; nice home, nice car, nice dogs. A professional. In other words, not the slacker teenager that was my own personal stereotype for 'gamers.'
Never interested in gaming much prior to MMORPGs. Sure I played DOOM back in the day, enjoyed sucking at CounterStrike for a while, played Battlefield 1942 and the like. Love those games - but none were truly addictive.
In 2001, a much younger relative introduced me to Dark Age of Camelot. Despite the fact that I'd ridiculed the Dungeons and Dragons crowd back in the 80s, despite the fact that I knew it was dorky to some extent ... it hooked me.
I only played for a couple of months - but it became a little dangerous, a little addictive. Finally I tossed the game in the trash one night.
But I never forgot. Never stopped thinking about it every now and then.
Fast forward to Christmas 2004. Watching that same young relative play DAOC. He never seemed addicted; he played it off and on. He'd get serious for a while, then forget it, then come back to it. He'd played for years and never made it to Lvl 50.
Watching him play got me thinking. I wondered if my old toon was still in existence (little did I know that Mythic, like all the profitable companies, loathes deleting characters .... because they know we'll come back!)
So when I got home I made a call and happily discovered my dusty 3-year old character was still waiting for me.
At this point, I'm self-employed. No one to watch me all day, no one to harm except my own income (well, and my family, my dogs, my life, my lawn, my sex life, etc etc etc ...).
The result was predicatble. I immediately became immersed. Bought every expansion and every book; was soon buying Plat and stuff on E-bay (and I was the one making fun of others for being dorky? Was I the pot or the kettle here?). Quickly rose through the ranks of my guild, became a favorite of the guildmaster (who was a dude with no life who weighed about 400 pounds - I've seen pictures - and who played with his wife all day every day. No clue how they survived for money. Get this: they wore our guild colors WHEN THEY GOT MARRIED)!
(Now that's worth making fun of!)
So I played pretty hard core for 2-3 months. Got to Lvl 50, working on the Master Levels, maxed out a trade .... you know the drill. Strangely enough, I always sucked at the game. Horrible in RvR. But as everyone knows, if you're willing to play 8-10 hours a day, you'll gain status and prestige and popularity within the game.
I had it all in whacky Camelot-world. Even a very nice house. I was oh-so-proud.
Of course, real-life was a mess. My business suffered horribly. My fiance was not such a big DAOC fan. She described the game with words I'd have bet she didn't even know.
It got ugly. And remember, it all happened just from January to March of 2005. It's not like I played for years.
I quit one morning at 4:00 a.m. I got called a "noob" by some other loser like me - and it really bothered me. (Of course, now I realize that getting called a "noob" by a hardcore gamer is a pretty intense compliment. When they start calling you uber and leet .... well, that's not the compliment you want!)
But it bothered me. And I sat there, 4 in the morning, my lady long since in bed, work starting in a few hours, on a weeknight, wondering why on Earth I was so bothered by an insult from a kid that sounded 14.
Then I realized something else: I'd started playing at 8:00 a.m. the day before. I'd been playing for 20 straight hours.
At that moment, sleepy and exhausted and aching, I deleted my beloved sorceror (RIP Phoenixrisen), deleted my newer toons, and tossed a few hundred bucks worth of disks and books in the trash. Didn't say goodbye to anyone, never gave a hint that I was quitting. Just quit. Just a little under a year ago. March 2005.
Did I say this would be brief? Oops.
So back to my question. Although I haven't played in a year, don't have the software, and don't even have a decent gaming computer ..... I've been considering buying it again.
The strange thing is ..... Camelot has always been in the back of my mind. I'll bet a week hasn't gone by without me thinking about it.
I miss it.
Simple as that. I miss it.
I even called to see if I could get poor Phoenixrisen back. Nope. He's gone forever (RIP).
But I've been pondering going back to it, carefully. Trying to find a way to play for a couple hours a few times a week. I'm not even thinking about doing it right now, just sort of looking ahead to a point where I am financially comfortable enough, where my business is secure .... and where I've developed more discipline.
All right, now that you've heard all of that addict-speak-sounding silliness and awful rationalization, back to that question:
Can it be done?
Could I play the game in a healthy way?
Anyone tried it? Succeeded?
Is it even possible?
Is it worth the risk?
And that biggie I've been wondering about: does ANYBODY actually play these games "casually," or is the "casual gamer" nothing but a myth?
Sorry for the long post, sorry if I asked a question already asked or put it in the wrong forum, and an even bigger sorry if its an inappropriate question. But a big thanks for any thoughts or advice.
Edited by: lizwool at: 11/25/06 14:39