I now perceive the truth about the endlessness and long term player retention of MMOs.

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Falcon's picture
Last seen: 8 years 1 month ago
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Joined: 08/16/2013 - 8:49am
I now perceive the truth about the endlessness and long term player retention of MMOs.

I believe this is a major point in my progress because my view on the game has shifted completely...

I didn't think much of MMOs back in my pre-problematic gaming days. They were just online games with a lot of other players that you could see in-game. I never knew anyone and no one ever knew me. They were just there, and we were all enjoying the same world together. I largely ignored other players unless I had a newbie question and didn't want to spend the time figuring it out myself (scanning through wikis or forums felt like way too much effort for just some game). Of course, I only played the MMORPG if I liked the in-game world, story, and controls, just like I would in a console game.

Later, when I developed anxiety and some depression in high school, I started getting into the MMO part of MMORPG (where before it was largely just "RPG" to me). I decided that if I wanted to advance and get good at this game I liked so much, I should start getting more competitive. You can't have competition without other people. So, I talked more to these strangers. I explored their wikis and forums and fanmade game-websites. I learned about these people and their way of life. And then, probably as steady-paced and constant as my current recovery is going, I merged in with this society over a long period of time.

As I got more and more into the life of the "competitive gamer," I learned things that I never knew. I found out about time sacrifices that people made for getting ahead, such as grinding. It always felt against my nature to grind for some game, but with gritted teeth, I put myself through it. I learned the various prices for in-game objects to get good at the market. I learned strategies and skill combinations. Heck, I even learned what clothing and colors were considered stylish and popular.

But this stuff was all new to me, and completely changed how I saw the game. Since I was always kind of oblivious, I sort of felt it was the same way to these other players. I thought everyone back in my pre-addiction days was like me, and that during the point that I started becoming addicted, that's when the game itself "changed" for everyone else, too. This was such a strong belief that I had, I'm not sure why.

What I learned recently was the dark truth. There were no "early innocent happy days" concerning the game. It was always this way. The playerbase was always this way.

This literally stunned me for a second. I looked up archives about the game from early 2011, back when I still played the game out of slight interest and only for fun (pre-addiction days). The threads from back then are exactly the same as the threads from now. They're all about what the best endgame items are, or how to rank certain endgame skills (one thread even promoted spending 10 hours a day of just mindlessly grinding a certain skill in order to be "accepted" as good eventually). I wasn't even remotely interested in this stuff back when I was a young teen and just enjoying the casual gameplay. I wasn't exposed to it and/or just blocked it out, so I held the belief that it didn't exist. Now I found out that it was all there, all along. Just waiting to attract the interest of and consume yet another person who was in desperate need of an escape from real life.

I also looked at old screenshots of the game that I had taken in those earlier days. They were usually of things that looked cool in the game that I wanted to maybe draw later. But there, in those screencaps, I actually recognized usernames of people that I had made friends with just a few months ago, in 2013. This kind of creeped me out, because I didn't know these people were actively playing for so long. But what's worse is that even back then in 2011, from what I could tell in the pictures, they were working hard to be "pro." Of course, they're still playing, even now.

Something else I realized: I categorized all pre-addiction generation questlines in the MMORPG as "good" and all the newer ones as "bad" and low-quality. I actually had never done the older generations though; I considered them "better" because I associated them with my own experiences at the time, probably. They came out when I was still innocently interested in the game and actually having genuine, responsible fun, so I always thought of them positively. While recently doing these generations though, I realized that they're the same exact quality as the newer ones that have come out. They're all the same: just more and more "content" being put out to keep the interest of the masses.

I guess I'm one of those people who have to see something to fully believe it. I've heard of all of this in other games and MMORPGs in general, but now that I've witnessed it in my MMO, it hits closer to home. Now I believe it.

They're always gonna be releasing new generations and story continuations... New skills, new characters, new quests! It truly does never end.

My progress here is some release from the nostalgia and sentimentality of my "older days" that still kept me attached to the game, even during recovery. I learned the cold, hard reality. This game I somehow used to "love" so much and cling to for memories...

Now I can more comfortably say, "Good riddance."

Live your story.

Exavatar's picture
Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
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Joined: 10/25/2013 - 3:47pm
I'm glad you can say "good

I'm glad you can say "good riddance"! I also was addicted to an MMO and during the first few months of my recovery, I would wistfully look at my avatar pictures, pictures I had taken within the game, and chat logs. Slowly over time I deleted all of them, or at least I thought I did, but I kept finding them. i found one the other day on my hard drive and deleted it.

You're right in that it never ends. They have people hooked in many ways depending on a person's personality. Now when I ran across that recent picture, I didn't see it wistfully at all. I saw my avatar's face as separate from mine whereas when I first quit the game, I felt so tied to it. I felt emeshed in there and felt like I was actually that avatar more than myself. I lost myself along the way and really didn't know who I was any longer.

People like me who suffered from depression, physical problems, etc. are prime candidates to get wrapped up in those games and sucked down the rabbit hole. I'm glad you're climbing out. Life is so much better away from those games. It's not always easy but it's ALWAYS real.

Glad you're here. Keep coming back!

"Even when you think it's about you, it's not about you." Dr. Bill

Last seen: 8 years 8 months ago
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Joined: 01/13/2014 - 3:14pm
You are so right in that

You are so right in that videogaming gets engrained in our brain as "nostalgia and sentimentality of your older days", Falcon. I feel exactly the same way and am glad that I am not the only one.

I was really hooked on older SNES and PS games and would play them over and over again. I think I played 3-4 old SNES games (for pure nostalgia) at least twice every year, starting from age 11 to age 24 which meant that I must have played the same game at least 25 times, beating it over and over again. I had them constantly in my head like: "oh that was so much fun when I was a kid. I want that feeling again. I want to hear that game BGM again. I want to level up those characters again"

I first started playing videogames with my dad and my older sister when I was 6-7 years old. At the time, it was a great family bonding time for us. Playing this Nintendo game and that. And those ones I mentioned I got addicted to, they are precisely the ones my family used to play together.

So all that nostalgia and sentimentality of the "good old days" had me coming back to those old-ass games for years and years. "oh they couldnt' harm me. they gave me so much fun back in the day. they were my friends", that's what I thought. I had no idea they were poisons wrapped in candy paper. They robbed me of my real life.

Jennicarn's picture
Last seen: 10 years 3 months ago
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Joined: 02/01/2014 - 4:32am
I can relate with the

I can relate with the attachment to my avatar, screenshots, etc. I also did a lot of rp and short story writing associated with it, so I have three years of creative writing projects all tied up with it that I am considering flushing down the internet toilet.

I even have a figure print (little statue under glass) of my favorite character. Need to get rid of that as well. Looking at it can make me feel nostalgic and sad.

The hardest part about MMOs for me is the feeling that a day missed means the whole (fake pixel) world goes on without you. When I would go on vacation when I was playing, I would panic at the thought of being behind everyone for a week of girding, raiding, etc.

It is a well designed trap, definitely.

Last seen: 7 years 4 months ago
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Joined: 01/30/2014 - 3:21pm
I cant relate to my avatar

I cant relate to my avatar in that way intense way but iam pretty sure ill never forget theire names... Its more that i mostly remember every name (it was a small MOBA community) of the players. Thing is, some of the names are everyday terms so i get reminded of that bittersweet gaming time. 2 days ago i had a seizure (mine are "soft") and that one scared me because i just saw an ingame picture and became very uncomfortable.

Yes good ingame Music, sad i used much time to played another game over and over again, pretty similar to kyungas1214 story.

Jenni: Maybe writing short stories will help you. Maybe not now. I started playing guitar again and it really helps me. Yesterday evening i had a really hard time not to smoke and after a short time (10min, felt like ages) and continued jamming some melancholic tunes and writing it down.

Something like trying to protect yourself all the time, things like trying to outwit fate. Those things can be the worst thing you can do for yourself.
-- John Frusciante

Jennicarn's picture
Last seen: 10 years 3 months ago
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Joined: 02/01/2014 - 4:32am
I have been exploring some

I have been exploring some ideas for new hobbies, maybe going back to college for my master's degree.

Without all the grinding and new content, I have a lot of hours to fill with something better.

10Adrian01's picture
Last seen: 8 years 11 months ago
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Joined: 01/12/2014 - 5:02am
Hello Falcon The fact I

Hello Falcon

The fact I 'enjoyed' reading your post is evidence of the long lasting effect of nostalgia. I only had 1 game an MMORPG. My hardcore phase was insane , seriously , for 18 months i literally just ate, worked, gamed (and went to the toilet and bathed). Even in the bath I was reading gaming magazine or print outs on strategy. As I drove to work I was fantasizing about the class and rotations and best strategies. Its actually amazing that i held a job down as long as I did.

To come back to your point :- its when I knew i had to stop that years of relapses began . Fortunately the time between them did grow. One subtle thing I found myself doing that was ALL to do with nostalgia was listening to the old soundtracks of the game on you tube. Its increadible how a soundtrack can bring it all back , for me , maybe more than seeing screen shots.

Openly I can say that there is a part of me that would love to hide away and not face the world and escape into the bosom of fantasy online games. I don't pretend its gone , I suspect it may never go. I accept it but don't 'invite it for dinner' , i don't act on it's nostalgia . This takes some discipline and skill. I really really liked what Exavatar said about life after addiction :-

It's not always easy but it's ALWAYS real.

AMEN!!! sister.

The music may be whimsical, the memories all soft n cuddly , but the truth is that 80% of my time playing that game was imbued with anxiety and a gnawing hunger , like the mouse in the wheel.

I am a human, not a dog. I accept i have the 'animal' aspects of self which are probably evolutionary relics, and these are the source of the greed and desire to play play play and run from the challenges of an imperfect society. However I choose to be human, not a dog. So I hug my dog , I don't kick it , but i don't get pulled round the park by it either.

Actually I would like to be able to be a casual player. For me , if i could play and let go, then play and let go, without the game being anything special , that would be the ultimate 'recovery' for me. However I am not there yet , I probably never will get there, and right now, I actually don't want to play games.


Mother Nature, Buddha nature, God, Shiva, Energy.....many religions, beliefs and values.....

different doors into the same room

Andrew_Doan's picture
Last seen: 5 months 5 days ago
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Joined: 06/13/2011 - 9:37am
Thanks for sharing. MMOs are

Thanks for sharing. MMOs are the most addicting and this is why it is recommended kids should not be allowed to play online.

Andrew P. Doan, MPH, MD, PhD

My Gaming Addiction Videos on YouTube: YouTube.com/@DrAndrewDoan

*The views expressed are of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the U.S. Navy, DHA or Department of Defense.

Last seen: 9 years 1 month ago
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Joined: 02/14/2014 - 5:46pm
 The time that can be lost

The time that can be lost on MMO's is truly scary.... I'm still so scared about wasting more time that I'm starting to just avoid the internet most days of the week.

Played two years at an MMO, started as an hour here, or there, ended with me being there 10 hours a day. Became overly involved in a "game-relationship" that started carrying over into my RL and caused many, MANY, problems. Also stopped contact with "game-friends" because of their own game-addictions. Game-free since Sept. 2013.
Starting to feel much better and the withdrawal symptoms are lessening. I have limited myself to two days online a week, for only two hours, until I'm six months into my recovery. Then a third day. Thank you for this site.:)

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