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February 4, 2008
Bob Hoose
In Other Words...

In Other Words...

"It's an Online Game Thing!" is a 5-part online series that explores the nooks and crannies of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and the rest of the Internet gaming world. This is Part 5.

Over the past four weeks we've taken a grand tour of online gaming, exploring the cyber-amusement's attractions and its darker side as well. But we're not the only ones thinking and talking about this topic. And from what we've read about others' experiences, we've decided there's great value in capping this five-part series by walking a mile or two in the digital shoes of those who've walked many more than that.

Opinions on the topic of gaming are diverse. Forum fanatics. Bloggers. Vloggers. Pundits. Parents. Everybody's chiming in. And some aren't standing idly by while critics poke holes in their favorite fun-times:

"If I am going to be addicted to something, I would choose online gaming over drugs, bowling, gambling, television, or being a baseball fanatic easily. I don't have to wear ugly shoes, lose my hard-earned money or do the wave next to someone I don't know, and that just about makes it a no-brainer for me. It is, after all, no more than another amusement park, right?" —Jewels (

"My father, rest his soul, always used to love telling me of how he would spend hours on end playing tiddlywinks and conkers when he was a kid, pre-war. Neither did him any long-term harm, apart from the odd callous on the thumb, and thankfully there were no experts around at the time to press for them to be banned." —happygeek (

"The people who tend to hark on about the problems of 'hard-core gaming' seem to be those who have rarely allowed themselves to become immersed in a game. I would expect their perspective to change if they were to do that." —Alan Donald (

"My husband is a huge PC games fan. After a little while trying to compete with the games I gave in, and joined in. We now have an affordable hobby that we can do together, and meet new people. And we have met a lot of very nice people, a number of which came to our wedding. Gaming isn't all bad!" —Sarah (

Of course, even members of this devoted crowd have to admit to certain truths:

"Despite being a hardcore gamer, I always have time for my girlfriend. OK, so when Half-Life 2 came out I spent 19 hours over two days just playing without much contact with my girlfriend but we agreed we would have a nice weekend after Half-Life 2 was completed." —John Wilson (

"I love computer games and am a self-confessed games addict but would never let it come in the way of a relationship. Unless, of course, my partner was very boring. ... Yes, I am single." —Sarge (

"I do believe I'm addicted to gaming. But my girlfriend and a lot of my RL [real life] friends are too." —Craig S (

Interestingly, the question of addiction is often where most discussions lead:

"I wish 30-40 hours a week was unusual, but I think it probably isn't. An 11-hour stretch isn't that surprising—I've known people to play 15+ hours at a stretch." —Nigel Smith (

"Living in Korea at the moment, they have lots of PC Bangs (Internet Cafes). Nearly most of South Koreans are addicted to online games, and one Korean died because of the lack of food and water he had through playing online games." —David Busan (

"My husband suffers a terrible addiction to EverQuest. He even has withdrawal symptoms when we're on holiday, slackened only by finding an Internet connection to check on the status of his fellow players. He plays at least eight hours a day, not coming to bed until 3 a.m. most mornings." —Patricia (

"My son was at my friend's house with me the other day and stood in front of his TV with controller in hand, playing a video game. That is exactly why I will not allow a video game system in my house." —Shanna Coon (

Further, gaming addictions carry a price. But lots of webizens seem to already know that:

"Worst thing I've ever done was to introduce my wife to the world of computers and games. I never see her anymore." —Paul (

"My husband is addicted. We are both on our 3rd marriage and actually met on the computer. I am so lonely. He is suffering from headaches and complains constantly. I too am complaining. I wish I had my husband back." —Kris (

"My question is this: Was I unreasonable to expect him to spend more than an hour or so with me a week?" —stepho (

"It wasn't until the introduction of online gaming that my husband constantly kept his back turned to me and our young son for up to 10 hours a day, seven days a week." —Andrea (

"My mom doesn't allow me to play anymore since she got addicted to the game herself. I had to give up my computer. She says I have to play outside with my friends, while she levels my old [characters]." —Anonymous (

They also know that the price can include online infidelity:

"This is without a doubt cheating. Having an online relationship is almost worse than a physical one. The feelings being taken away from the real-life person and projected onto a fake one is worse to me than feelings for another real person. All sorts of cheating hurts, but when it involves feelings it hurts more." —Megan (

"The Bible says, if I am not mistaken, that even fantasizing about being with someone else is adultery. You are cheating in your mind." —Tina (

"A few years ago I had a mild heart attack, and yet [my guy] played Warcraft while I climbed up the ladder and painted the eves on our house. He knew what I was doing, but never got off the game to help or rescue me. I was threatening to leave him towards the end, but he beat me to the punch by leaving with one of the players on Warcraft." —Realone (

Infidelity—sexual or otherwise—leads to hard choices and even harder realities:

"I did say 'the games or me,' and it's been very sad but liberating to know that it isn't my fault he's a game addict. I'm getting on with life while my husband continues to live his life around the games. He used to be so much better than that." —QueenB--ch (

"I gave him a simple option: 'Buy a new console, get yourself a new girlfriend.' I think he got the point." —Sophie (

"I was with a gamer for years and in the end there was only one solution: He got dumped." —Katie (

"I have been an online gamer for several years now; a virtual soldier in America's Army. It cost me a relationship that I wish I hadn't lost and it made me realize that I had accomplished very little during that time." —David (

"Unfortunately, it may be too late to save my marriage. The damage done has been massive. Me regularly staying up late pretty much dissolved our sex life and I know now that my wife cried herself to sleep a lot." —ToxieDogg (

"I want to divorce my husband too, for his video game addiction. The funny thing is he doesn't realize he has one, so it must really be an addiction. But let me tell you, it's made him lose his motivation to do anything. He can't even sleep with me! We can't even have a normal conversation." —Anonymous (

These quotes represent only the smallest tip of a very large iceberg of thoughts, feelings and experiences about what's happening with and to avid online gamers. And they clearly illustrate that as entertaining and involving as online gaming can be, it can also be problematic. Problematic enough to merit very careful consideration before surfing into these online worlds—and some honest self-examination if you're already basking on their dot-com shores.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Opining on Online Gaming