My Online Game Addiction
I am really enjoying playing in Syrnia. I have built a nice big house and trained many of the available skills and I have barely scratched the surface of all the things I can do there.
My daughter has also become addicted and she is running around doing errands for a game character and trying to get enough wood to build her own house.
I have created a clan and my daughter is in it so we have our own private chat channel. I have turned off the main chat channel and only get messages from the help and trading chat channels which cuts down the annoyance factor. I don’t have to put up with all the children who come in wanting to know why this game is not like all the others they play.
The game is time based so anyone who is short on patience will hate it and it does not have any of the fast action, detailed graphics, or music that other online games offer but I am utterly hooked.
Due to the time based nature of the game I can set my character to chop wood or do some other tedious chore then forget about it for ten minutes or so at a time. All I have to do is keep an eye out for the bot checks, type in the numbers, then leave my character to go on working. This means it is ideal for playing at work. I can spend a whole 8 hour shift in the game building my character without it interfering with my ability to do my job in any way.
What that means is that I have spent about 16 hours a day playing so far!
As a psychologist I know that should concern me. Spending 16 hours a day on a computer can’t be healthy and it’s even more worrying when I found out my daughter spent 8 hours straight in the game herself the other day.
As a Christian it concerns me too. One of the “skills” people can get is thieving and I find that offensive! It normalizes theft and creates a situation where people can take pride in how well they are able to steal from other players. That is not good on so many levels and I know it.
But I am more than just a psychologist and a Christian. I am also a person. I am a person who lost her real life house not once but TWICE! I am a person whose real life dreams and hopes and goals were taken and shattered by a group of young thieves. I am a person who no longer has the youth and optimism, or emotional strength, to set new goals and dream new dreams. Not right now anyway. I am a person who lives alone. There is nobody in my life who might feel I am neglecting them if I spend every waking moment on the computer.
As a psychologist I know how to determine if something a person is doing can be considered a problem. If something has a negative effect on any of the four “L’S” it is automatically a problem in the eyes of mental health professionals.
The four L’s are Liver (health), Lover (relationships), Livelihood (the work you have to do or the responsibilities you have such as caring for your family) and Law (illegal activities are automatically a problem because they put you at risk of ending up in jail!). For more information on the four L’s see “Is My Behaviour A Problem?”
When I look at my game playing against these criteria there is not much to worry about.
Liver: There is some concern here as 16 hours straight on a computer has not been good for my back! It also interferes with my willingness to take my scheduled breaks at work as I don’t want to be away from the computer when the game does a bot check.
Lover: I have no lover but this also refers to other relationships such as children and the game is not having a negative effect on any other relationship I have either. Quite the contrary – my daughter and I are having a ball playing together!
Livelihood: The nature of the game means that, provided I do not work on combat skills, I do not need to pay more than casual attention to it so it does not have a negative effect on my ability to do my job. Again, if anything, it has a positive effect. Overnight shifts can be hard but I look forward to doing them now because I know I can gain levels while I am at work without being bored by the time factor as I am when I do it at home.
Law: The game is not illegal and will not cause me to do anything illegal such as breaking copyright laws or view illegal porn etc.
Reading over what I have just written provided me with some satisfaction until my objective psychologist mind kicked in. Sigh. Here is how that part of me assesses the situation.
Liver: A lot of concern here. Not only is 16 hours on a computer bad for the back there is some concern about radiation from the screen on the eyes and the risk of RSI on the body from repetitive movements. Losing sleep to play is also bad for the health and there has been less interest in eating properly.
Lover: A lot of concern here too. The client has channeled her life into the computer and is substituting game goals for real life goals. The client wants to own a home but has not achieved that in real life and is unwilling to try again. She is allowing herself to settle for achieving that goal in a game.
The client is unwilling to socialize in real life and is getting her social contact through the game. The client believes her daughter joining her in the game is a good thing but this may prove false. The client and her daughter used to get together frequently to go out to dinner and do other things. If the client spends less time with her daughter in real life in favour of both being in the game together this will be a negative thing.
Livelihood: As mentioned above, the client has surrendered real life goals and activities in favour of in-game achievements and goals. Her addiction led to her spending so much time in the game she did not get enough sleep and was late for work once. The client has also been less interested in performing routine household chores than usual.
Law: Whilst the game does not affect the client’s relationship with the law it has the potential to normalize illegal activities (theft) thus reducing the clients distaste for, and real-life rejection of, the crime of theft. The client has already discarded some of her original distaste for the activity in order to achieve level 3 in this “skill”.
Sigh. I hate my objective psychologist mind sometimes!
My Christian mind is wanting to take an objective look at the situation too but I am not going to let it! I can ignore my psychologist mind but if God says I am not allowed to keep playing I can’t ignore that so I am closing my ears for a little while.
My objective psychologist mind is willing to let me keep playing for “harm-minimization” purposes. The harm this game is doing to me is less than the harm my other game addiction, gambling, was doing to me and this game appears to be reducing the time spent thinking about the other game.
I’m not so sure God would let me keep playing so I haven’t discussed this with Him yet. I don’t plan to discuss it with him for awhile either though he may well discuss it with me at some point.
For now I am just going to keep playing although I will make sure I am never late for work because of it again! I guess I need to create another blog category for my new addiction.