Last night I stayed at work until 11:45pm playing Mah Jong Solitaire and Freecell, instead of going home to my wonderful wife or grading papers (I'm a high school teacher). I know, solitaire is nowhere near as interesting as EverQuest or other role-playing games. I think for me, the more mindless and repetitive the game is, the more addicting it is. I mostly play to escape, to turn off my mind and avoid thinking about the problems in my marriage or my personal failings. Ironically, playing the games makes me want to play more so I won't think about how much I'm wasting time by playing the games! I also wouldn't have so many problems to avoid if I just played less.
I often play for hours at a time, past the point where my eyes and hands hurt, past the point where I am even trying to win the game. After playing freecell or solitaire for a few hours, I will often just blindly click on the cards without strategizing.
I hate that I play so much, and I don't get any enjoyment out of it. It's just compulsive behavior. Every time, I tell myself I won't play more than one game, and every time I play at least three hours. "One's too many, and a hundred ain't enough"--I guess that's what makes it an addiction.
I've been disturbed by some of the comments here by people who still play games, arguing that we shouldn't blame the game or that games aren't addictive or that "you should just get a life and not play so much." It's true that there are personal weaknesses that cause addiction, and that different people become addicted to different things, but it is not always helpful to an addict to point out that the root problem is some unknown weakness inside, not the fact that he drinks (or plays computer games) so much that he can't hold a job. The problem IS that we play computer games so much and so compulsively that they are hurting other parts of our lives. Yes, we need to work on those root problems, but everybody has needs, and addictions prey on those needs, whether it's for love, joy, tranquility, or success. You're not going to eliminate all your needs, unless you're a Zen master, and if you're addicted to gaming, you're not a Zen master.
I can tell you that, for me, computer games are more addictive than alcohol, pot, tobacco, gambling, sex, pornography, and most other common addictions. Maybe it's because games are easier to obtain or have less of a social stigma than any of those other things. Maybe it's just that my personality is particularly attracted to repetitive, numbing tasks. I'm not a bad person because I can't control my gaming habit. I'm also not a better person just because I CAN control my drinking. It just means that I don't need A.A., but I DO need OLGA. (Thanks for being here.)
Lately I've been so bored with my life--with having a house that's never clean, with always being behind on my schoolwork, with the problems in my relationship with my wife--that I've considered killing myself just to end my problems, which aren't even that bad! Unlike some of the people here, I haven't lost my job or a loved one to game addiction. I'm a maintenance addict, like an alcoholic who manages to hold down a job and a family. I won't ever actually kill myself, and I probably won't lose my wife or my job to gaming, but I don't want to live like this anymore.
I'm in therapy AND marriage counseling, but I'm hoping OLGA can provide additional help.