June 3, 2002
7:24 AM   Subscribe

Is this a preview of things to come once the virtual reality of futuristic novels and cinema becomes commonplace? At what point should addiction be treated and is there even any sort of facility that can handle this type of addiction? On a side note, does this make anyone think any different of MetaFilter?
posted by the biscuit man (30 comments total)
I think this story, which I've read before elsewhere long ago, is ridiculous.

EverQuest, which I've admittedly never played, is not the source of this moronic lady's son killing himself.

He was depressed and needed an escape -- and EverQuest gave him one. He no longer had to deal with the problems in his own life. He had a fantasy one he could live.

This "addiction" is not a typical addiction. He should've been treated for depression and an inability to socialize - not an addiction to EverQuest.
posted by twiggy at 7:38 AM on June 3, 2002

Me thinks that had this guy not found EverQuest something else would taken it's place, he clearly had troubles of his own. Sad, but hardly the fault of a game that 430,000 people play quite happily.
posted by zeoslap at 7:39 AM on June 3, 2002

oooo, I found the daily double!

That's a sad story. I understand the mom's feelings, but I think it's pretty clear that the guy had many problems - whether the game is a cause or a symptom would be difficult to prove.

Living with seizures is no picnic. I don't have any figures at hand, but it would not surprise me if there is a higher than average suicide rate.
posted by groundhog at 7:44 AM on June 3, 2002

Was it Lanier who said re: VR - "Any technology that allows Joe Six-Pack to have sex with models without leaving his house is going to make crack look like Fresca - there will be some people no one ever sees again."

Joking aside, this is a sad tale, but I'm not sure it represents addiction per se. You can sort of see in the article the downward slump of this guy's real life and the corollary uptick in his submergence into EQ. This guy was a relative failure IRL, but at least a partial success in EQ; therefore (Fes puts on bonghit psychologist hat), he naturally devoted more time/energy/resources to EQ, where his personal and "professional" successes were occurring. Then, his real life a shambles and all but abandoned, he suffers a significant setback in the game...? He was already a marginalized person; to suffer failures in both arenas put him over the edge.

Realistically, what the man needed real life successes. People place a great deal of pressure on themselves, often far more than others place on us. What this guy needed, imo, was some sort of guidance in the real world (call it a mentor for lack of better word, just omit the business/Seinfeldian connotations), so that he could start accumulating some real world successes - not HUGE ones, obviously, but small ones - successfully holding a job, getting an apartment, losing a few pounds, finding a girlfriend, building a social circle.

Basically, he needed a peer or two to be nice to him and include him. Something to think about the next time that shy, badly dressed colleague shows up in the lunchroom. Maybe smile and offer him/her a seat.
posted by UncleFes at 7:47 AM on June 3, 2002

While I wouldn't want to make assumptions about this particular case, I think many of us can agree that online gaming can become truly addictive, to the point that it takes away from other activities. There were periods in high-school when I was playing/working on MUDs for at least 30 hrs/week. I was still fairly well-adjusted, with friends and other pursuits, but the allure of the game was very, very strong. I don't think this is simply a matter of a depressed young man who committed suicide - Shawn addiction will certainly have contributed to his downward spiral, though that's not to say EverQuest was 'to blame'.
posted by Marquis at 7:56 AM on June 3, 2002

Though, I could understand wanting to off yourself if your EQ holdings began to depreciate.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:59 AM on June 3, 2002

It's called Evercrack for a reason, and there are support groups for people that have lost a spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend to this game.

Is there perhaps something inherently addictive about the way this game is designed? Why is it impossible that a game might be addictive?
posted by insomnyuk at 8:00 AM on June 3, 2002

As I expected: ...among persons with epilepsy, suicide rates are five times higher than the average.

I've had seizures since I was 32, but they're controlled with medication. I can't imagine how bad it would have been if I had started having them as a child, teen or young adult. The loss of control and feeling of isolation would be much more devastating at a younger age.
posted by groundhog at 8:04 AM on June 3, 2002

I was assuming that his health wasn't a factor, but it most likely was - another real life "failure," another example of his self-perceived lack of control. Thanks for the insight, groundhog.
posted by UncleFes at 8:07 AM on June 3, 2002

I do visual effects for movies and work with guys like this. They are nutty, quirky geeks....They go to Star Trek conventions, work 12 hours a day on films and on their breaks, play Sony Playstation games. They can't get enough of the digital visual eye candy. I work with all men and one day I walked into the office where about 6 of them had desks and at least 4 of them were playing games. I said, "I could walk in here naked and you guys wouldn't notice"....they looked up only for a second before getting back to their game....and I'm not chicken liver either.....

These guys don't want to live in reality. Even though all this is ridiculous, I believe this a legitimate addiction plagued by many. I had a friend who's boyfriend spent hours everyday playing an online game and never did anything else.

You can blame this addiction on someone having mental problems but ALL addictions are caused from deeper issues. ALL addictions are an escape from reality....and because of this, there should be some kind of programs to help those who choose this as an addiction.

Obviously, getting to the source of why someone is addicted in the first place is the way to go and all to many times programs just say, "Stop drinking, stop taking drugs, stop playing games" and don't really dig deeper into the reason why they needed those things so bad in the first place.
posted by Sonserae at 8:09 AM on June 3, 2002

I said, "I could walk in here naked and you guys wouldn't notice"....they looked up only for a second before getting back to their game....

They're probably smarter than you about sex-harassment workplace issues....
posted by alumshubby at 8:19 AM on June 3, 2002

UncleFes -- the doctor is *in.* Nice one... :)

And I do happen to agree. If someone's numbing themselves out, simply saying "stop doing that" doesn't help. They'll only find something else to numb themselves with.

Finding out *why* they need to do this and then helping them turn themselves around is what's important. Even incremental changes could help...
posted by metrocake at 8:36 AM on June 3, 2002

"I had a friend who's boyfriend spent hours everyday playing an online game and never did anything else."- Sonserae

My boyfriend spends hours everyday playing an online game. He does do other things, though. I don't really see it as a problem. When I want him, I can get his attention. When I want a little time to read or surf the internet I have it. I'm a bookworm, he's a gaming addict, and our addictions work nicely together.
posted by stoneegg21 at 8:37 AM on June 3, 2002

Maybe this will be a wake-up call to people around the nation, that video games can be an addiction just like anything else. I'm sure there's a large number of people addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or anything else that have committed suicide.

I've been addicted to computer games, myself (ahem, Starcraft)... they're an adrenaline rush. They're a fast-paced high. They don't have an end, they stay interesting, so you stay interested. 12 hours of ANYTHING isn't healthy. If you're concerned about someone, take action. It's a very tragic story, but that isn't a healthy way to live. I don't care who you are, everyone needs SOME social interaction with others, face-to-face.
posted by gramcracker at 8:44 AM on June 3, 2002

there will be some people no one ever sees again

How Do You Say Hermit In Japanese?

can't get enough of the digital visual eye candy

reminds me of the scene in wim wenders' until the end of the world where, "they lived to see their dreams. and when they slept, they dreamed about their dreams."
posted by kliuless at 8:45 AM on June 3, 2002

....dirty clothes, fast-food wrappers, dozens of empty pizza boxes and chicken bones thrown haphazardly to the floor.

Shit. They just described MY house. Throw in the 8 sided dice and... well... *sob*
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:55 AM on June 3, 2002

yeah, i was thinking that, too! good incentive to clean up :)
posted by kliuless at 8:57 AM on June 3, 2002

Can't wait for the legislation that says game developers have to make stupid, boring, dull, pointless games that nobody likes, to prevent addiction.

Of course, if you ask me that's exactly what EQ is...
posted by Foosnark at 9:10 AM on June 3, 2002


I've been addicted to computer games, myself (ahem, Starcraft)... they're an adrenaline rush. They're a fast-paced high. They don't have an end, they stay interesting, so you stay interested.

i just want to say to any readers that not all games are like this. lately i've been playing a game called wizardry 8, which is a role playing game (which isn't fast-paced and does have an end). personally, i haven't the patience for games like starcraft, thusly have my ass kicked which makes the games less fun for me. shootemups like quake are fun for a while.

i have been playing computer and video games since i was 2 and i am not an addict. so swears the man who blew $45 on might and magic 9, the series which is now 3 games into irrelevancy.
posted by moz at 9:18 AM on June 3, 2002

thusly having, i should say.
posted by moz at 9:19 AM on June 3, 2002

How Do You Say Hermit In Japanese?

posted by straight at 9:20 AM on June 3, 2002

Where can I study for a career as a bonghit psychologist?

Do I get credit for extracurricular expertise?

I used to know a guy who had this irritating compulsive need to fiddle with his hair. It was a specific cowlick right on the crown of his head. He'd run his fingers through it, all the while massaging a pink circle of scalp. He was oblivious about this behavior, and if confronted about it would deny having done it, sometimes WHILE doing it. It is my opinion that he was trying to drill through his skull so he could directly stimulate the pleasure center of his own brain. Talk about never leaving the house.

My cat's breath smells like chipmunk.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:30 AM on June 3, 2002

That's Otaku to you.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:31 AM on June 3, 2002

Infiltration almost made me join the military. Then my job changed & I couldn't work from home anymore. I think that we haven't really seen the effects of computer addiction yet. Think of all the hours wasted, at work and at home.

My G4 broke this weekend, and I'm on a shite PC laptop. It feels really constrictive. It shows me how much of an addiction (to computers in general) that I actually have. This makes coffee & cigarettes look like soda pop & bubble gum.
posted by password at 10:10 AM on June 3, 2002

There are other reasons than addiction that having a broken computer might make you feel restricted. When I broke my leg I felt restricted in mobility, but that does not mean I was addicted to walking. When a tool that gives us a level of ability in a certain area is taken away, we feel less able, which is logical and right, not a sign of a problem.
posted by Nothing at 11:42 AM on June 3, 2002

I also am an avid online gamer (Asheron's Call in particular), and I am addicted. But, I find it more interesting than curling up in front of the TV. In fact I have not consistently watched one show (Six Feet Under not withstanding) in about three years. Its easy for people that have never played to instantly project stereotypes, but the fact is, many people play to relax...just like renting a movie or reading.
posted by Benway at 1:30 PM on June 3, 2002

All I can say is that I bought the PC version of Grand Theft Auto 3 yesterday, and by the end of one three hour session, I felt like I just smoked a rock or two. *Not that I would know, or anything...* First computer game I have played in years. (I am not very good at predicting deleted threads, btw. It's high time I admit that).

The giveusatank cheat was so much fun...
posted by adampsyche at 1:40 PM on June 3, 2002

I think games like EQ can be fairly addictive. My hubby and I are both gamers, a lot of our friends are gamers...and I realized it had gone a little overboard when I got presents for their characters in game for xmas one year.

We still play periodically, but it's an understood that if it reaches the full-time status again, I'll disconnect the router. :)

But I do have friends who've let their whole lives go down the tubes because their online "lives" are so much better. In reality, they have shitty jobs, shitty places to live and almost unbearable situations surrounding them, but in game, they're the best, the scenery is eye candy, they don't have weight issues, people look up to them and respect them...and that's a powerful drug to some people who may never experience that in real life.

Which begs the question, without the games, would they strive harder to improve their situation or would they just find another visceral escape?

It's sad that this guy died, but I think blaming the symptom is not the solution.
posted by dejah420 at 4:26 PM on June 3, 2002

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