Posted tagged ‘addiction’

Double O podcast Episode 2 is up!

May 1, 2011

Check out the second episode of the Double O podcast!

I’m really, really excited about it. Ok, I know I’m always excited about our podcasts. But our topic, gaming addiction, is one that’s very close to the field I’m trying to specialize in in real life (substance abuse and dependence pharmacy) so I was particularly enthusiastic and I think it shows. I didn’t have to chop as many silences out of my speech as usual.

We also had a special guest, as close to an expert on the topic that exists right now, our blogosphere’s own Lady Erinia. She’s a wonderful, knowledgeable speaker and I hope you all enjoy her presence on the podcast as much as I did.

I know the intro music fades out a bit too fast. I’m using Audacity now, instead of that nasty Traverso that bailed on me last time. Audacity is fantastic in a lot of aspects (like not crashing after my every action), but effects are bit more annoying to work with. By the time I was finished snipping and ready to add the music, I was too fed up to figure out how to get the perfect sound. Next time will be better!

A Point on Addiction and Insight

On the podcast, I made a mistake that I want to clarify. If you’ve heard the podcast, you’ll be scratching your head because I cleverly chopped out that part along with any references to it. But I did originally say that to meet the criteria for addiction, you need to have tried to quit (or wanted to quit) and failed.

While this is part of the criteria, how the diagnosis of addiction works is that there are 7 criteria (including wanting/trying unsuccessfully to quit), but you only need to meet 3 out of the 7.

That said, I think that with gaming addiction, in order for it to be an addiction, there has to be some level of insight (meaning you’re aware) – addiction is a very extreme condition – but given the stigma associated with both gaming and addiction, it is very possible to know there’s problem, but not want to admit it.

Anyway, I hope we came across as non-judgmental and easy to understand on the show, and still managed to be somewhat entertaining despite the serious and sciency topic.

Want to be a guest on the show?

We’ve been getting a lot of requests from people wanting to be guests on the show. That’s awesome! We love having guests!

I haven’t run this through Oestrus yet and will do that before I make any official statements on the podcast webpage, but my answer for now to anyone who’d like to be a guest is to suggest an area of expertise you have and that you think would make a good theme for an episode. We like to have specific topics (and we especially like controversial) for each of our shows, so let us know what you want to talk about.

Note too that our podcast is bi-weekly so, while we’ll probably love to have you on the show, it might take a few months before we can accommodate everyone.

Finding that Balance

October 1, 2010

I don’t talk about my health much beyond the occasional bitching and whining about how tired I am. Which is the entire reason I don’t talk about it much: there’s not a whole lot to add to the QQ. I’ve been more emo than usual on twitter and a few comments I’ve left on other blogs have been delightfully cringe worthy. I must say, you’ve all very kind in humoring me and I really appreciate it. Say what you will about WoW players, those of you I’ve had the honour of interacting with have almost always been far too nice to me.

Anyway, since I’m sore and tired and feel like chatting about it (Light help us all), I’ll talk a bit. I’ve had crappy health since I was 16. Before that I was super athletic (but I hated team sports, so I didn’t know I was athletic) and ran around and climbed walls all the time and stuff. Then, in early January, I woke up on the floor one morning after a party and noticed that whenever I moved my head, it felt like my legs were getting electrocuted. I could even hear the buzzing. Yep, I party that hard.

Actually it was just coincidence. After spending the rest of the year getting shipped from hospital to hospital and spending thousends of dollars on MRIs (I could have gotten them done for free, but the first neurologist I ended up with was a crazy bitch- I’m not exaggerating, even other doctors roll their eyes when they hear her name- who wouldn’t let me go through the public system so I had to go private), I ended up with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Unusual for a kid my age, but then again, I’ve never been one to abide to statistical rules. I’ll be that lady getting pregnant at 70.

Before you all go “oooo poor you“, I want to point out that the extreme shyness that has plagued me my entire life has cost me more friendships, more scholarships and more opportunities, caused more arguments and has made me miss more social events and classes at school than my physical limitations ever have.

Everyone feels for the girl who has trouble walking for a few months here and there. The shy girl, however, has many memories of being forgotten at random locations during school trips as a child. If I have a desperate fear of being left out or being left behind somewhere, it’s because it happened way, like way, too often. I’m sure that many of you reading this have had similar experiences. Us shy and/or introverted people tend to slide under the radar of even the most attentive individuals.

And before you all go “oooo poor you” this time, I want to point out that I actually live a pretty good life. School is a struggle and I hate it (I like what I’m studying, it’s the concept of classrooms and stuff that doesn’t work for me) but somehow I survived and after 10 years of college, I’m finally graduating this May, on condition that this constant feeling of tiredness doesn’t make me miss too much class. I’ve had fantastic jobs. I travel all the time, going to wherever my whims take me. When my body cooperates, I’m still fairly active, I walk at least an hour a day and I’ve done dancing, cheerleading, surfing, kayaking, rock climbing, canoe camping and the list goes on. As for being a quiet person, it’s taught me to listen and to be observant, two skills that have saved my arse countless times.

Escapism: A Friend or…?

Oh yes, this is a WoW blog, so I have to plug in WoW somewhere.

It’s no secret that escapism, and MMOs in particular, is used by many to cope with the limitations life has thrown at them.

Sometimes it’s a good thing. I’ve even had one of the therapists at school send me home with a prescription of emergency WoW time. (I must have looked pretty messy that day!) I’m no expert on the manner so don’t quote me on this, but rumor has it that gaming causes some dopamine (a brain chemical) release which triggers the brain’s reward pathways. An activated reward pathway is what you feel when you do something you’re proud of, when you have an orgasm, when you eat really good food or when you do drugs. That’s the main feeling behind psychological dependence, or addiction- the terms are more or less interchangeable. No, not all of these stroke the reward pathway as intensely as others. Obviously, it’s lot easier to become addicted to meth than it is to get addicted to spaghetti.

Anyway, I know firsthand that gaming can work as a painkiller (that’s actually what I do for that time of the month cramps when my prescription meds don’t work. WoW works better for me AND doesn’t put me at risk for stomach bleeds and kidney failure!) . For anyone, it’s a distraction from the tedium of every day life. For those who, for whatever reason, can’t leave the house as often as they’d like, MMOs serve as a gentle portal to the rest of the world.

But like anything, there’s got to be some sort of balance. While all of us here will swear on the Light that we’re not addicted, somewhere, out there, certain individuals lost that balance.

DENIAL is an acronym for Don’t Even kNow I Am Lying

When this fatigue wave first hit me, my thoughts immediately went to WoW. Am I playing too much? Is that why I’m exhausted?

I still don’t know for sure. I limit my gaming as much as possible to weekend evenings and raid times. I raid late at night: 10:30 pm to 1:30 am, but it’s only 3 nights a week and I nap 2 to 4 hours on most raid days. Yet, I usually (but not always) do feel better on the days after offnights. To which my reaction is OMG I COULDNT RAID ALL SUMMER I DONT WANT TO HAVE TO GIVE IT ALL UP AGAIN.

And what about the social?

There was an article in our school newspaper where the author spoke a bit about her internet addiction. Except she was addicted to news sites which is clearly more educational and socially acceptable than playing video games too much. Her criteria for addiction was “you’re late or no-showing to parties because of your online activity“. (Note, that has nothing to do with the real criteria for addiction/dependence)

Oh no! I thought in a panic. I no-show to parties more often than not! Then I consoled myself with the fact that I always show to parties held by people I genuinely enjoy spending time with. And when I do go to rare social-chore parties, I spend most of the evening hiding in the bathroom which is an embarrassing and relatively unpleasant experience, much, much less fun than playing video games.

I was feeling really relieved about that until I had my latest lecture (as in school lecture, not someone lecturing me) on addiction. The speaker, a former user in recovery, was explaining how, at the peak of her addiction, she didn’t care for a social life because the drugs did that for her. I asked my classmate if she thought that maybe WoW made me not like parties. She gave me a classic “how do you even come up with these things” looks.

A Caution about Judging Others

I don’t show many offline people my blog. And I go to great lengths to hide it from my mother. Not because I’m ashamed of my gaming, but because I love to stretch and abuse gamer stereotypes when talking about myself. Other WoW players recognize the exaggeration and distinct lack of seriousness. My mother, however, upon reading my blog, would panic and not sleep for about a week, then drag me by my ear to the nearest detox center.

I wouldn’t blame her for it: how I talk about the game just isn’t something that can be understood without some background.

But same goes for each other. Whenever a larger gaming site features an article about gamers who play a lot as a way to cope with mental or physical limitations, there’s always a debate between readers. Some say it’s great that MMOs can fill in the gaps caused by the player’s conditions, others say that such a huge amount of gaming would slow down or even prevent that person’s recovery.

Who’s right?

Either could be right, but there’s no way of knowing which. None of us know this person, none of us are this person and none of us have any idea of what they person is really experiencing. So none of us have any right to play doctor and pass judgment.

Yes, sometimes it’s a little hard. I’ll admit I once had a guildie I nicknamed Clara (from The Guild) because she played 20 hours a day and kept typing things like “my kids r so funny lol they thikn i no wat theyre saying wen they us babytak lol“. But still, not knowing her or what was going on behind the computer screen, it wasn’t right for me to make assumptions.

The Current Energy Budget

I wish I could pull off the 3 posts a week schedule I had last year. I wish I could play on the PTR and come back with armfuls of news. I wish I could play more hours outside of raid time. I was sure I’d be able to once I started school again because I finally have a lot of time to myself. Unfortunately, almost all of that time is spent asleep.

I’ve also picked up this annoying habit of being extremely long winded, so a single blog posts takes at least 4 hours to write. I have lots and lots and lots of post ideas, but I’m running low on ideas for posts that can be done in 1000 words or less. Yes, QQ moar.

Despite it all, though, I still want to blog and I still want to raid. I’m also determined to graduate this May no matter what. So I’m walking on that tightrope and I really hope that I keep my balance.

Just Because They’re Video Game Characters Doesn’t Mean They’re Not YOURS

July 30, 2010

I know this video is old news, but earlier this week, a discussion with Deyndor on Twitter about domestic violence reminded me of it. Ignore the really, um, silly, article containing the video. For those who didn’t watch the video (I’ll confess I didn’t have the heart to watch it either), it’s a girl deleting her boyfriend’s WoW characters. Anyone who enjoys dramatic threads in the customer service forum knows this kind of thing happens all the time and isn’t overly shocking.

What weirds me out is how the perception people have of this.

Oh, she must not have known how much characters can mean to a person.

It’s true, World of Warcraft can be very addicting.

It’s not a big deal, characters can be restored.

Maybe the story needs to be told in a different way:

This girl went uninvited into her boyfriend’s personal space and broke his stuff in an effort to control him.

Sure, it’s not as spectacular or as sickening as pushing a pregnant woman down the stairs, but it’s still a form of violence. It’s disrespecting your partner’s personal space, it’s trying to control someone and it’s putting yourself in a position of power over them. A romantic relationship isn’t a parent-child relationship. Neither person has authority to “confiscate” anything from the other.

Maybe the abuse in that video’s relationship will stay at the deleting WoW characters level, maybe it’ll escalate, who knows? I sure as heck wouldn’t stick around to find out.

Would I be upset if a boyfriend deleted my WoW characters?

I’d be devastated. Not over of the missing pixels on my screen (after all, those can be restored easily), but over losing the trust I had in that person. Over realizing that this person has no regard for me or my personal space. Over discovering that someone I cared about would want me to be distressed.

I’ve dumped boys over less. I’d rather curl up with the vibrator every night for the rest of my life than have to put up with that kind of bullshit. (Vibrators are much lower maintenance anyway.)

On Having a Partner that Plays Too Much

I’m not disregarding the frustration that comes from disagreeing on “how much is too much” when it comes to gaming. Even though I’m a gamer too, I’ve seen been in the “ITS NOT FAIR THAT I HAVE TO WORK MY ARSE OFF AND ALL YOU DO IS SIT AROUND AND PLAY VIDEO GAMES” camp many, many times. (I’m sure I’ve been in the opposite camp as well, but guys don’t complain about that stuff much.)

The thing is, when we’re not talking about video game addiction (I’ll get into that later), it’s up to both partners to find an acceptable solution. Trying to control the other person doesn’t work, or, at least, it doesn’t work in a very satisfying way.

There are plenty of ways to go about it. I had a guildie who was fine with raiding only one night a week. Another reserved Friday and Saturday evenings for elaborate date nights. Another had a wife who actually encouraged his gaming so she could get dibs on to the TV remote control. And Honorshammer once wrote a beautiful post about being a gamer in a healthy, happy relationship. (Even if the religious context doesn’t strike a chord with you, what he says is still applicable to non-Christians.)

Just like any other aspect of a relationship, communication is key. And if you can’t come to an agreement, you’re either not compatible, or one of you isn’t in the right state of mind for a serious relationship. You probably notice it other aspects of your relationship too (whether you admit it or not) and character deletion isn’t going to change that.

When Addiction Comes to Play

There are entire books written on gaming addiction, and I’m no addiction specialist, so this is going to be short and superficial.

Any type of addiction is a sad occurrence. It’s devastating for the addicted person and it’s devastating the friends and families losing the person they love. Unfortunately, though, it’s up to the addicted person to realize they’re out of control and to take the measures needed to rebuilt their lives. Sometimes it takes losing everything. Oh, from the outside we can let our friend know where they can find us when they’re better and be supportive and encouraging when they’ve decided to get a grip back on their lives. But ultimately, it’s their lives and they’re the ones who have what it takes stop the downward spiral. We can’t try to drag them back up, or cling to them as they pull us down with them.

Again, character deletion isn’t going to fix anything. Unless you’re in a position of authority (hint: in a relationship, you’re not), taking the object of addiction away from an addicted person accomplishes nothing but turning them against you. (And when you are in a position of authority, you still turn them against you.)

It’s Not About the Game

The bottom line is, invading a partner’s space, betraying their trust and trying to control them without their consent is wrong and not conducive to a happy relationship. True, video game characters don’t cost anything, aren’t essential to your day to day life and are easily restored. So what? They’re still your belongings and if having your stuff destroyed is your idea of a happy relationship, well… I got nothing.

On the flipside of the coin, as a gamer, if you’re not interested in investing yourself in a relationship and putting your partner’s needs first, then don’t. Society tries to drive into our heads that two-manning life ALL THE TIME is the only acceptable way to live, but that’s a load of crap. There’s nothing wrong with being single if you feel like being single. And there’s everything wrong with making commitments you’re not interested in keeping.


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