On Being Enslaved By MMOs

Age of Conan Topless NPC

Some people look at this screenshot and see the struggle that takes place between the enslaved gamer and the tyrannical MMO. Others just see boobies.

I’m used to always having an itch. An itch in the back of my mind to log in and play a MMO. It’s a strange sensation but also a welcome one, an old familiar friend that gives me something to think about when I’m on a bus or in the bath or having a boring conversation with a work colleague. In this sense it’s rather nice because, as someone with an incredibly active mind (too much caffeine maybe?), it stops me losing my sanity to boredom. On the negative side though it can also be frustrating because it’s a tough tyrannical master that holds me enslaved to its mercy by filling me with desire to play. Feeling compelled to do anything is never nice.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last logged into a MMORPG and that hasn’t been due to voluntary choice. Crazy work commitments and alcohol fueled drinking binges have left me with no spare time at all. It’s literally been a case of having to work all evening or coming home too late/drunk to be able to able to turn my PC on, a rather sorry state of affairs that has let my itch go, er, unitched for a while. And the longer the itch goes unsatisfied for, the less it starts to tickle.

Perhaps I’m describing the accute details of addiction and recovery here but I highly doubt we’re talking about anything as sinister as that. What is more likely is the description of the calling of a hobby and the welcome distraction that it brings to our lives. For me, being unable to satisfy my craving is like not being able to indulge a relaxing past time that some aspect of my personality desires. It’s probably about as sinister as taking a child’s security blanket away from them.

But as I enter into this new phase of my life, once comprising of liver damage and work exhaustion, I find myself feeling more liberated that ever. Waking up on a Saturday morning and be faced with the prospect of work (or a hangover) simplifies my life considerably. I no longer have to make choices between what game to play or what do within said game, it’s simply not even a factor. It’s as if everything has been stripped away apart from the necessities of life that I must absolutely deal with. I suppose freedom from choice is perhaps the greatest freedom there is.

This liberation is especially refreshing when dealing with MMOs, a genre of video game that’s entire sole purpose is to exploit our nature to achieve, collect and complete and keep us hooked for as long as possible. The God-creators know what makes us tick and they know how to make shiny two-dimensional polygons appeal to us in a way that no one else can.

So I guess I’m feeling rather spiritual now, at peace with myself and riding out the storm from within the eye of the hurricane. It won’t last forever but I’ll try to enjoy it while I can.

. . .

I think it’s time to play some RIFT.


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  1. Gilded says:

    I could certainly use an addiction, but the genre hasn’t been very compliant lately. The success of Rift has me worried that I’ll soon have to look elsewhere.

  2. vortal says:

    I have no idea what the last wall of text was exactly talking about, so I am just going to nod my head and say “interesting” read.

    By the way “as someone with an incredibly active mind it stops me losing my sanity to boredom”- Gordon. You sound like my friend who has ADHD, you should probably check that out.

    MMO’s are only as fun as you want them to be, ever heard of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” well so is fun. Recently the MMO world has been pretty quite, but doesn’t stop me from having my little piece of Cataclysm.

  3. Yetian says:

    I find having a mini me forces a bit less scratching. Past couple of weeks i have only scratched once every few days.

    Anyway enough of that. Get back into rift slacker! My healing hands are waiting to heal your meatshield …. Erm wait … That sounds wrong …. Ah sod it, i need to heal people its my addiction.

  4. Jackie says:

    I go through periods of “blah” with MMO’s. I see all the games I’m subscribed to.. and it’s like “Ew, I don’t wanna play any of them. They bore the piss out of me.” As soon as I’m away from a certain game for about a month or two.. that old familiar itch to come back always comes itching. For example, my addiction to EverQuest. No matter how many times I’ve told myself I would never, ever, EVER come back.. What do I do? I come back.

    Damn you MMO addiction! ~shakes fist like an old person~ =P

  5. The thing with your posts, Gordon, is sometimes I’m not sure if you’re being serious or joking :P Anyhow, you sound super stressed in your post, I hope things are okay or that they will be soon so you can relax a little.

    Regarding the topic, that’s the funny thing about MMOs, isn’t it? I think it’s like one of the few hobbies out there where its enthusiasts need to “take a break” from once in a while.

  6. Stubborn says:

    I’m feeling the same way. I have the undefined draw towards MMOs as the habit of choice for filling what little free time I have, but at the same time I feel tired of MMOs at the moment. WoW is eh, Rift was eh (this is from my personal standpoint, not as a review of either), and things like Civ 5 and Borderlands are looking better and better. I don’t know, I know I’ve gone through this cycle before, but it was usually to another MMO (DDO, LotRO, Fallen Earth). This is the first time the whole genre is just getting to me.

    Also: boobies.

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