Gaming addictions: Warcraft or Warcrack? How on-line gaming destroys lives

Gaming addiction is a major issue

Warcraft and games like it can be addictive, addictive beyond the point of obsession and off into the scary realms and genuine risks of destroying your health, schooling, job, career, relationships, marriage….

I know how bad I am, but that’s me, I understand if it wasn’t this it would be another obsession. Ideally I am turning this around and using it develop my site again, something productive for a change. The psychiatrist that treated me recently had a number of methods but the one I liked I think of as tick-tock, goes the clock had me imagine the game draining my life away, like some Warlock ganking me with fear and life-drain.

It’s a real term by the way. ‘Task Interfering Cognitions’ and Task Orientated Cognitions’ are thoughts and feeling than distract you from or help you focus on the things in life than matter.

Below is a something I shared with one of my doctors (with updates)

I know I’m obsessed with this stupid game, but compared to the ‘hard core’ raiders I’m browsing a magazine on the shelf in comparison! A percentage of the players (a large number in real terms) relate to this more than the real world. If a rare item they REALLY want drops and someone else steals ‘ninjas’ it, or just wins the roll, they do go bonkers, swearing, smashing stuff up in the house, etc. There is, or was a clip on youtube, filmed and uploaded by his brother, where a teenager, having been banned from the game by his mother, goes hysterical, strips to his underwear and Tasers his own groin!!!

Many will be addicted because it’s in their nature, many more will be hiding from reality and life’s woes. And some of the more psychotic nutters will be driven to murder over games like this. Rare, but there really are documented cases of this. It is an insidious addiction that destroys lives, marriages, careers all around the globes, minute by minute.

Yes, I know, I’m going on, and on and, ummm, on…

Once a week, the servers go down for maintenance for a few hours. Some sites are set up to help players cope with the stress and withdrawal symptoms!
[ ]
Personally, I used to look forward to server downtime ‘cos I get so much work done!

Anyway, if I was you, as a psychologist (treating me), I’d look at this from this point of view:

For me, unless they break my rules (there is no amber light), I don’t care, it’s just a game, but for some players…

Every day, tens of thousands of players get their account hacked. Some will shrug it off, other will give up the game forever, many will rant and rave, probably for some time, and the rest will snap. The trauma of having their character violated by some faceless mugger five thousand miles away (or a ‘friend’ sharing the dorm) is too much.

(As I offered the psychology professor I know) I will help you look into it if you like, but next time you are in university, with classes etc, take a straw poll, see how many of the graduates play the game, how they feel about it.

I absolutely, 100% guarantee you that if someone somewhere hasn’t already submitted a PhD on the subject of addiction to and trauma caused by this/these games, they will in the coming months. If there was a bookie taking odds on this I’d put £1,000 to win on it.

That (above) was actually said a few years back and when I did a search today out of curiosity, it would have been easy money! A Google for "Ph.D dissertation online gaming addiction" gave over 2 million results. TWO MILLION… That’s a lot of research papers on the subject going on.

Just look at the latest change to Warcraft (5.4, Nov 2013), you don’t have to leave the game to go to their eCommerce store, you can hand over your money mid-game, spending hundreds of pounds and not connect to that reality because of the ‘game’ environnment. Naturally this applies many other on-line games, to apps for Android and iOS, Facebook and so forth, so I’m not just targeting Blizzard here.

A quick search for ‘warcraft shop in game’ gave nearly 28 million results already. I did look on the forums and blogs and feeling are rather strong. Not sure of the true ratios, but the commentators split into ‘I don’t see the problem, leave the game if it bothers you, noob’ and ‘OMG, this is too much, I’ve had it with this game’. A lot centers around the factor it’s a paid for subscription and they want to keep ‘micro-payments’ in your face. Personally I do have issues with things like this. To me, a ‘micro’ payment is a few pennies, a pound, it doesn’t scale up into hundreds, thousands of pounds.

{ Warcraft shopping cart now in game, buy more, buy faster, buy easier }

In fact if I ever decide to spend the time and money studying and researching for a doctorate, that’s exactly what my dissertation would be on! This itself is a salient point because if I added up the hours I played (over 20,000) and the money spent and earnings lost (you don’t want to know!), then in the hours rolling into years I was addicted to that game and others like it (Rift, Warhammer, Eve Online, Guild Wars, Farmville etc), I literally could have worked for a first class honours, my masters and have D.Phil after my name… Instead I have bunch of game ‘achievements’ of zero worth or value and health problems caused by sitting and playing so long.

I know how you may feel about online security, sensibly so in my opinion, and I am sure some of your patients will have come to you with online identity theft as either the main cause or at least a contributory factor in their case. Now imagine this for a player that will sit and play this game, their online persona for 16-20 hours a day, seven hours a week, 52 weeks a year. And to log on one day and find it naked, and/or the account banned for illicit activities committed while they slept. Up to a point Blizzard will restore characters, but generally not the lost items. (They restore now, or did last I played)

On the subject of these items, for some players, you are talking about something that you can only try to get one a week, that may only drop one week in a hundred or less, and that up to 40 other players also want. They will play this game to the exclusion of everything to get this item – then one day they log in and find someone for sold it to a vendor for 10g because, to them, 10g is 10 cents (5p) in their pockets and if you are stupid or gullible enough to allow them to do this well it serves you right, they are doing you a favour.

It’s never happened to me, probably never will, but I’ve seen how even lower level players react when they log into an empty account and it can be ugly.

If you are playing this game, any game, to the exclusion of all else, frankly you need help and time out in the real world – even if it’s just doing all the cleaning – or course work – you’ve neglected. If it’s related and helps, I do have other posts more specifically related to depression and equally, if you wants a word with someone that understands, I am here for that too…

Related links of interest


  • [WoW Detox, gone now ]
  • [ gone now ] “Wow addiction stories”
  • Digital addition
  • Breaking the WoW addiction
  • [gamepolitics, gone now] “World’s First PhD in Game Addiction?”
    He wasn’t, actually, as he recognises an earlier one.
    (I may not have done the study, but I was way ahead of the curve on this one!)

Here’s a quote from the above link, stating the bleeding obvious and missing the fact it’s not just ‘adolescents’ – most of the people I got to know well in the game had deep-seated issues.

The paper’s underlying claim is that “adolescent gamers with pre-existing psychosocial vulnerabilities, such as loneliness, low social competence, and low self-esteem, are more likely to become pathologically involved with games.”

I’ll copy this here because it sums it up perfectly and I suspect the link will one day disappear, so at least there will be a record here on Ackadia

Our Comment of the Week for this week isn’t funny (unless you’re a ****). It’s sad. And sobering. And a warning. It’s a first-person account of World of Warcraft addiction from user Addict, and if I were capable of feeling emotions I would have cried.

I’m a 50 year old woman. I started WoW via trial account two years ago. Prior to this I had very little exposure to computer or online games. I was awestruck! In short order I became, and still am, addicted to WoW. I lost a job over a year ago because of my addiction, and instead of working diligently on getting another job, I have spent the lion’s share of my time since then playing the game.

I neglect my personal hygeine and housekeeping in favor of playing. I am rarely in contact with “offline” friends and family anymore, and when I am not playing, I am often thinking about it and anxiously counting the hours down till I can play again. At night I wait for my husband to fall asleep so I can sneak back online and play till just before he wakes up. So I am suffering as well from sleep deprivation.

When I do sleep, my sleep is fitful, and my dreams are often filled with images and situations from WoW. I am likely going to lose my marriage. At first, I enjoyed meeting so many different people from all over the world, but over time I’ve largely withdrawn from any extraneous social aspects of the game if that interferes at all with achieving game goals, so I now spend hours alone, yakking very little, if at all, with anyone, unless I need to do that to achieve a particular goal.

Also, I’ve discovered that most dedicated gamers are just like me, severely depressed and struggling. I am not happy playing WoW anymore, yet I continue to play.

Gamefront : Comment of the Week: WoW Addiction Sucks

(This article was originally written a few years ago and I no longer play – yet I still hear it’s lure. ~ Paul)


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