Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
13 August 2006
Disguising over-indulgence as addiction -- for cash
I'd hoped to have more time to write up a detailed reply to this story, but for now, a quick FImp of sorts.

Doctor claims 40 percent of World of Warcraft players are addicted:
Now, Dr. Maressa Hecht Orzack, a clinical psychologist at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, has come forward to claim that up to 40 percent of World of Warcraft players are addicted to the game.

For some reason, over the last three decades, we as a nation seem to have redefined addiction. That some reason is called money.

In addition, she feels that computer-related addiction (not just gaming, but also excessive chat and Internet use) should be considered to be legitimate mental disorders, and thus be eligible for health insurance. Currently, there is no entry for gaming or Internet addiction in the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

I imagine there are people who are legitimately addicted, but it's far fewer than 40%. I've played like mad for months, even though my character's only level 56. I thought about WoW much too often. I couldn't scale back with an active account. Several nights a week, late into the night, I'd play for hours. Kinda like I did with Civilization in college.

(Not coincidentally, the second of Firaxis' podcasts talks -- albeit with a humor that seems to be their corporate culture's way of diffusing things that can't be hashed out quickly (more on that in another post, I hope) -- about addicted players too. Here, two employees have a laugh at someone who blamed part of his failed marriage on Civ. I'm not so sure it's a matter for laughter.)

Regardless, neither that fellow or my WoW addiction likely is clinical. When I quit, cold turkey, um, twice now, I quit. After a week or two spending too much time at thottbot.com reviewing armor sets for druids, it's gone. No shaking, no lost sleep... not much. It's gone.

I don't, and I doubt 98% of WoW players do either, need dollars going towards "expert" medical treatment for them to exercise enough responsibility to simply stop playing. Look, many people are able to do that with cigarette smoking, which is truly physically addictive.

I guess what I'm trying to learn to say is that WoW players must find some old-school responsibility before they let their over-indulgence in WoW become some else's commodity. Don't become exploited by a system that makes you think your gaming is a serious problem. People like to hear someone say, a la Good WIll Hunting, but unearned in this case, "It's not your fault." In a way, going to a clinic to stop doing something that you could've stopped on your own is paying someone to give you a fish when you already knew how to fish yourself. (That was inelegantly said.) They would rather keep selling you fish. By selling you, "You couldn't help it," they really do make your lack of willpower into a sellable commodity. It's FUD for cash.

If you truly need help, get it. I have spoken to Matt before about games being a drug equivalent, and for many, I believe it is a form of self-medication, which will, I hope, be another post before too horribly long. But if you think you can quit, I bet you can. Try it. Cancel the account. Your character will still be there when you have a week or two to play later. Quit now, give yourself a set number of months off, spend the dough on something not game related, and watch the psychological "addiction" quickly reveal itself as a simple over-indulgence.[/soapbox]
--ruffin at 18:55
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