Addiction

Most people think of drugs, alcohol, sex… Essentially things that seem pretty destructive when they think of addiction. Addiction, however, is a far more silent killer than you at first would think.

There’s of course gambling, it seems easy enough to stop, easy enough to diagnose the hows and whys but it still exists. Then there’s pornography, this divides a majority of people. The people affected by it will validate the claim that it’s an addiction, but a lot of people will argue that it’s just pixels on a screen, there’s no addiction involved. Yet it’s as real as addiction to sex; and far easier to fall into. Then there’s smoking, a huge debate mostly over the validity of addiction to nicotine and the health problems it causes. The problem is that different people are affected by different stimulus in different ways. Some of us just can’t comprehend another person’s addiction because it doesn’t affect us, and that’s not our fault, it’s just how we’re wired. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

And then there’s my addiction.

Videogames.

More specifically EVE: Online.

Most people wouldn’t have heard of this game, but it’s a videogame so vast you can play out your own personal fantasy and never come out. EVE: Online is a massive multiplayer online science fiction space pilot simulator. It’s a mouthful; and it’s in a league of its own.

You may think I’m over exaggerating this game but picture this:

The Bloodbath of B-R5RB is considered to be one of the largest, if not the largest PvP (player-versus-player) battle to have ever played out in a videogame. It also marks the largest battle to date in the EVEOnline universe, a space-themed MMORPGdeveloped by icelandic CCP. The battle, led between the two player coalitions N3/PL and CFC/RUS, pitted 7500 players against each other in a battle that saw the destruction of 75 Titan-class ships, the largest type of capital ship available in the game. In total, the Bloodbath of B-R5RB lasted for 21 hours, with an estimated value of $300 000 [real $USD] worth of materiel destroyed.

(EVE Online: The Bloodbath of B-R5RB, knowyourmeme.com, 2015)

(For more extensive info on EVE and The Bloodbath of B-R5RB as told by Good Game’s “Goose” and participants of the battle, click this link.)

If that doesn’t give you an idea of how massive this game is then nothing will. It of course is a fun game, not an evil machine of any kind. Still this game is so incredibly time consuming and stimulating that it can really cause problems for particular individuals, namely me.

This addiction started with of course the phrase “Free-to-play”. The game is free, until you want to experience more. The game is fun, but it’s what we call in gaming a “pay-to-win” game i.e. using real world money to buy equipment and privileges. Due to this game’s dynamic, there is a strong “might is right” culture; and due to game mechanics it’s far easier to make a career in an online gang than a business owner. This leads to most people’s reasons to start paying for the game, to adequately defend themselves. The problem there is that the bigger you get the more you’re noticed and made a target, and yet you fork out even more money to be better equipped and hire people to help defend you. It becomes an endless cycle. The game allows you to work in business, exploration, mining, freighting and all sorts of careers but mercenaries and pirates are king. Sometimes pirates get in league with mercenaries to share in the benefit of racketeering endeavours. Essentially, honest business is dangerous business. It’s very “wild west” and the only option is to pay up so you can defend your assets.

Now we’re talking using real world money, to protect assets that don’t actually exist. Therein lies the problem.

Not only was I desperately anxious about attacks and being prepared enough on a videogame, I had “friends” convincing me to spend more money on the game so we could be more successful. This was money that was supposed to be used to buy fuel, feed my kids, and pay my bills.

This caused a falling out between me and a real world friend.

I finally had enough and stopped playing. I realised in the aftermath of my anger, account deletions and cancelling subscriptions that I sunk hundreds of dollars into this game.

It makes me grieve for those 7,500 players that lost a collected $300,000USD in one battle. Sure, it’s $40USD each, but for what? A pretend victory in a pretend universe for a pretend navy? I could buy a whole different game and rack up 3,000hrs of free gameplay on it.

It’s all down to stimulus.

A lot of us want to live, to have the stimulation of living, but are so afraid of taking the real risk. That’s why games like this and games in general are addictive.

We want a smaller offset cost in order to receive big world benefits (not too unlike the current loan culture phenomena). We don’t want to pay the full cost to really live. Some of us just want the thrill of living without the danger. Others it’s purely because they can’t experience these things in real life. I mean, being offered to be anything you want to be for only a modest monthly fee sounds really attractive. The problem is we never count the real cost.

Our digital world is constantly advancing and promising us utopian style entertainment and enterprises. We pay a small fee and get exactly what we want, isn’t that nice? It is until you need to eat, pay for power, pay for rent, and pay for phone and internet bills.

We try to grab hold of entertainment to sate our unfulfilled appetite for “more to life” but this just causes a whole other world of problems.

If something you enjoy is having a negative effect on your life, you need to reconsider whether it’s necessary. If you can’t let go, then you need to maybe consider whether you’re addicted.

Addiction can go unnoticed and untreated for a long time. If you start to think you’re addicted to anything get out while you can and get help.

Luke

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