Hi. My name is Jen, and it’s been 1 year and 6 months since I’ve played a MMORPG (or any other game) on my desk/laptop.
Most people know me as a [generally] kind, potty-mouthed tweeting mom. A happy geek. An intense lover of board games. They also sort of know about my love of video games. They sort of know. Trust me when I say that they don’t really know.
As a not-anti-social-but-have-massive-social-anxiety person, video gaming was soothing. A reliable entry into a world of wonder and fantasy. I could fire up a console or desktop and click my way into a world of regeneration, magic, gunfire, stealth and power! It was my haven and often an easier world to live in: set rules, some games have RLS, exploration without ever tiring. My games of choice were MMO/RPG/FPS’s. It was the MMORPG that got me in the end. You’ll see.
It began with a text-based mystery game, on floppy. The hours I whiled away playing until I solved it. I SOLVED IT SO HARD. Next, the letter-drop game that taught me to type 90+ words a minute. The bouncing babies falling out of a burning house that gave me some serious reflex/task-management skills. Bouncing babies, people, what the fuck?
As I got older, gaming consoles started popping up. There weren’t many in my neighborhood, and what few there were jealously guarded by the boys that owned them. ‘Games aren’t for girls,’ they said. But I knew it was for me. Oh, was it ever for me.
Gaming started to accelerate with Doom, Descent, and Quake on the PC. In college, I was living off of Diablo I as the Rogue. My hours were spent trying to get the Empyrean Band to drop. I craved purple text like a thirsty alcoholic.
In college, the boyfriend had a Nintendo-64 with Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Oh, gods. It was beautiful. When he upgraded to the GameCube, I thought I’d died. The demo of Turok: Evolution was out, we were playing Paper Mario and I was having constant graphic orgasms.
When we broke up, the real loss was the GameCube. But I’d already started Diablo II. My Assassin and her Burst of Speed and Phoenix Strike. Dreamy. And set armor! The delicious tingle when an item dropped and it had green text. Goosebumps. After 100+ hours, I never finished the Natalya Unique Armor set. Still want it.
When I got an even faster computer and even faster internet, HOLEE GEE. I played DII online. Offline. All. The. Time. Then I found Unreal and Unreal Tournament. FRAG FRAG FRAG. I got so good I was entering online regional tournaments. Life? I had one! On my computer, bitches!
Graphics and game play were getting better at an exponential rate. Dear, sweet Xbox. With Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, and Splinter Cell: Pandora. I was so screwed. Character creation. Slinking in shadows. Oh, I was into drugs all right. Put a mouse or controller in my hands and I was spaced for hours.
It was around this time that I had a kid. A gorgeous baby girl. 2005. Between working at home, nursing the babe, and forgetting to sleep, I was playing games. It was also the time that I decided to try WoW. It was online! It was free for the first three months! It had pretty, nay, gorgeous graphics! So much land to explore, endless quests, in-game flight!
The one thing I learned, and learned fast, was that WoW was a gateway to more WoW.
Mid-2006 to late 2008 was spent in a haze of raids, auctions, questing (just finish this one, and this one, and this one). My lovely blue- skinned hunter and Elder Nightsaber Cat. I didn’t give two shits about maxing out my talent tree; I just wanted to live in Azeroth. And I did. Never made it to 80th level, but right around 45th, after two raids and constant “Mom, play wif me, pwease?” pleas from my daughter, I had a startling epiphany. I wasn’t in control anymore. I wasn’t playing with my child. I was battling the Horde! We weren’t going outside; I had a monitor to my own massive outdoors!
I tried to moderate my hours. I quit my group. I played solo. I had her play with me. Except, well, when you get me killed, I put you down. It didn’t matter that I was playing alone, either. The hours didn’t stop. I had quest addiction, and I had it bad. And I wanted my group back. So I joined another. It was one morning at 3am and my daughter had woken up at least three times and I was apologizing to my raid group that I realized that my epiphany was a joke. It wasn’t that I wasn’t in control anymore; it was that I was under the influence and my priorities were getting seriously screwed.
Tried to play weekends only. Failed. Tried to play once a day. Failed. Tried to play for only an hour each time. Failed. I couldn’t tell you what triggered the final shut down; I just remember thinking. “Gods, bedtime can’t come quick enough, I’ve got to finish the Hemet Nesingwary Jr. quest, why the hell won’t she just fall asleep!”
It took everything I had to walk downstairs, sit down, and delete every character. I uninstalled the game and closed my account. I was crying. I moped for weeks. It’s late 2012 and I still miss playing.
In 2009 I tried Guild Wars. Hated it. Had the same problems. It was deleted in five months.
January 2010, I tried Rift. Loved it. Had the same problems. It was uninstalled February 2011.
I’ve zero impulse control when it comes to having games, especially MMORPG’s on my PC. I know that. Now.
I’ve a lot better control with the 360. It’s not with me all the time. I don’t even have solitaire on my laptop.
All my rpg/boardgaming is now done with actual people, in person. Where I can still talk to my kid. Where, when time’s up, people simply go home. I’ll never have a game installed on my computer again. While that’s really difficult and kind of sad, I wouldn’t trade the people in my real life over it. Mostly.