MMORPG or MMO has rapidly become a popular past time for people of all ages. In some ways MMORPGs can be considered online therapy for those who have low self-esteem. In these make believe worlds they can become powerful and competent and are driven to overcome their day-to-day anxieties. Some people create an alter ago in which they can be as strong and as attractive as they want to be.
In a research paper posted at the University of California Berkeley, it’s suggested that players can be given meaning that may not exist in the “real” world. This is alarming if people can only find substantial meaning in their life, through a fantasy world.
History of MMORPGs
There are many articles about the exact origins of role playing games (rpg). Some say that Dungeons and Dragons in 1974 pioneered multiplayer games. According to Wikipedia and DigiBarn Computer Museum, MazeWar introduced the first graphic virtual world in 1973. MazeWar was the first networked game in which players at different computers could interact in visual space.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the quality of games improved but it wasn’t until computers with internet access became a household fixture that MMORPG’s began to flourish. By the 21st century, game companies quickly capitalized on the new market. The concept of massively multiplayer online games expanded into new video game genres. The most financially promising role playing games are those that have a strong ability to “consume” the player.
Increased aggressive behaviors have been found in individuals who participate in role playing games. It’s reported at the University of California Berkeley that gamers themselves state that MMORPGs can have detrimental effects. Many gamers become angry and irritable when they are unable to play (Yee 2005). Almost one fifth studied agreed that their abuse of time spent in these games caused them academic, financial, health or relationship setbacks.
MMORPGs can be addictive and many people avoid eating and sleeping for hours while lost in their fantasy world. Half of those studies by Yee in 2005 consider themselves game addicts and 30% said they still play even when they’re frustrated with the game environment.
Family Members can be Affected
With the obsession or game addiction to these games comes a negative impact on family members. In online chat rooms and forums, women have stated they are being abused when they try to intervene with their husband’s addiction. Parents are experiencing verbal abuse and serious conflict from their teenage children when they attempt to curtail their activities.
15 year old Brandon Crisp lived in Barrie, Ontario. In October 2008, Brandon’s parents were so frustrated with their son’s Call of Duty 4 addiction, they took away his game system. On November 5, 2008 his body was found. An autopsy report says he died of injuries to his chest after falling out of a tree.
Many spouses are becoming victims of emotional infidelity as their partners are creating role play affairs. In World of Warcraft, two people with active accounts can have a fantasy wedding, ring included. In one forum, a woman caught her common-law husband getting married. His real life relationship came to an abrupt end.
Parents and Partners Beware
Is game playing a hobby or a pathological behavior pattern? Computer Addiction Services at Harvard University provide the following warning signs:
inability to stop the activity within reason when asked to
neglect of family and friends
problems at school or work
neglect of personal hygiene
changes in sleep patterns
Parents must be proactive in monitoring their children’s online video game activities. As a parent it’s crucial to be fully aware of what children are playing and placing time restrictions in order to help combat possible addiction.
If your relationship is affected due to a partner with online addictions, talk to him. If the partner fails to listen then let him know there must be changes in his behavior in order for the relationship to work.