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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

How To Help a Friend With an MMO Addiction? 811

Posted by Soulskill
from the napalm-solves-more-problems-than-you'd-expect dept.
sammydee writes "I have a friend who is addicted to an MMO (Pirates of the Burning Sea). On a typical day, he will wake up around 9am, browse the forums for a bit, then go online and stay online all day, playing until about 3am the following morning, taking only toilet breaks and stopping to eat ready-meals. While the rest of the house works hard revising for exams, this friend will be playing his MMO instead. Now, I am pretty confident that this comprises an unhealthy addiction; unfortunately, I have no idea what to do about it. Any attempt to physically prevent him from playing the game would most likely result in an outburst of anger and possibly physical violence. Attempts at telling him he has a problem have been met with derision and angry retorts. Slashdotters, what would you do to help out a friend in this situation? Perhaps you are a reformed addict yourself — if so, how did you break out of the habit? Or maybe I should just leave well enough alone and allow him to continue? Any thoughts are gratefully received."
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How To Help a Friend With an MMO Addiction?

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  • by alain94040 (785132) * on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:12PM (#28062081) Homepage

    Get him a girlfriend.

    That's pretty much the only solution.

    Save a geek: help me develop the Geek Saver [fairsoftware.net], the iPhone app that makes dating for geeks a breeze!

    • by sreid (650203) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:18PM (#28062161) Journal
      Unless this was posted by the girlfriend
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:19PM (#28062171)

      Girlfriend?!? Get him a hooker instead!

      A hooker will see the money and perform. A girlfriend will want to evaluate his character, tell her friends, make him want to go out on dates and shit like that... and if all is good, will "perform".

    • by GF678 (1453005) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:24PM (#28062221)

      Absolutely agree with this - sex is the remedy. Make the point that the guy isn't getting any and you are (hopefully), and it'll probably hurt enough to get him to start thinking about what he's missing out on by spending all his time playing Pirates.

      Sex is an integral part of almost all humans, and we need it. Use this to your advantage.

      • Re:It's Called S.E.X (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:42PM (#28062411)

        Sex is an integral part of almost all humans, and we need it. Use this to your advantage.

        If my male housemate ever try this, all they'd accomplish is me backed into a corner, one hand on an my revolver, half looking at them and half looking at my computer screen.

      • by Randle_Revar (229304) <kelly.clowers@gmail.com> on Saturday May 23, 2009 @01:36AM (#28063853) Homepage Journal

        Make the point that the guy isn't getting any and you are (hopefully), and it'll probably hurt enough to get him to start thinking about what he's missing out on by spending all his time playing Pirates.

        I can only speak for myself, but being harassed about how I am "not getting any" and everybody else is has never bothered me much at all. Certainly not enough for me to do something about it. And I am not even addicted to an MMO (you could maybe argue for a general internet addiction by stretching the definition a lot).

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:34PM (#28062323)

      Damn... the potentional for real life social interaction with ladies was all it took for me. Were my standards too low? You mean I could have gotten sex out of it? Damn...

      Seriously though, you need to start going out, and often, to meet up with ladies in order to fix this. Since he won't be going with you, you don't have to be successful at all at meeting up with the ladies, just make sure he knows your intended goal every time you go out, be sure to have adventures, and be sure to talk about them non-stop around him.

      At first, you should neglect to invite him, but be sure to have exchanges like "Should we invite Jim?" "Nah, he'll just say no and stay home to play his stupid game" within earshot of him. Then a few weeks later, actually ask him to go with you. By then he will probably have gotten jealous, and just might say yes. If so, and you can actually get him to have real-life physical relations with a lady - and I'm talking waaaay less than sex here - he'll probably lose interest in the game. Real life will be more exciting. ;)

      On another note, is POTBC any good? I haven't played a steady MMO since I quit SW Galaxies, but I always wanted to play that one...

    • by DriedClexler (814907) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:00PM (#28062591)

      And women will be receptive to a random MMO junkie because _______?

    • Re:It's Called S.E.X (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jhfry (829244) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:01PM (#28062601)

      Thats what did it for me. 80+ hrs per week on EQ, while in the USAF...

      Since getting clean, I can't get into any games anymore... I'd imagine it's like getting clean from crack, nothing will ever be good enough to replace it. You try to give it a chance but you can't really commit enough to get really into it.

      My wife bought me Fallout 3 for Christmas and I haven't even taken the cellophane off yet... though I fully expect to love the game like I loved the other two, I know how it will play out. I will not see my family for a weekend, go back to work on Monday and never play it again because I realize that it's just a game and can't commit to it.

    • by kklein (900361) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:56PM (#28063087)

      You're joking, but I'm serious: This probably won't work.

      I was in exactly the same position as the poster when I was in college (EverQuest). My best friend from the time I was 5 just disappeared. He stopped going to classes, he stopped sleeping normal times (at least this guy seems to have a schedule--my friend was on a totally strange cycle that seemed to rotate). He only ate leftovers or other stuff that he could bring up to his room. Until this time, he and I always used to trade off cooking dinner and actually sit down for dinner each night. He was, in a very real sense, like a brother. Closer than my actual brother, really. I considered his parents basically another set in addition to my own, and the families were very close.

      Anyway, I'll never forget the morning that his girlfriend--another old friend of mine--showed up at our place one morning to try to drag him out. He wouldn't even come to his door. She just kept pleading at the door, becoming more frantic. They'd been together for years. Finally she said, "So, you want me to leave?" "Yes." "If I leave, I'm never coming back, is that okay with you?" "...Yes."

      She was devastated. I spend the rest of the day taking care of her. She left that evening after I made her dinner, and I think that's the last time I ever saw her.

      My friend just continued this "life" style, even as I called his parents and asked for their help. They couldn't get him to quit. He flunked out of his classes, and his parents stopped giving him money for rent and food (he had been paying his share all this time, which was nice--I'd leave a note for what he owed and there'd be a check there in the morning). Finally I had to evict him (my parents owned the place and we rented from them). It was heartbreaking; he wasn't showering and I had to air that room out for a week. He was pale and emaciated. Just totally a different person (he was a long-distance runner, always in way better shape than me--we were on the cross-country team in high school together--fun times).

      He moved into his parents basement, and they tried to kick him out a few times, but basically their conscience wouldn't let them. This went on for at least another year at their place. I got updates on his "condition" through my dad, who had lunch with his dad (and some of the other guys from around town) every Friday.

      Then one day, he comes upstairs and says to his dad "I canceled my account. I'm going for a run."

      Now he's addicted to long-distance running, and is finally finishing his degree. There was a period for a few years before he started school again where he worked at a shoe store part time (I'm pretty sure he ran out of his large savings--"frugal" has never been the word for his level of financial conservativeness--by paying all those months of EQ bills). Despite these positive steps, though, our friendship is completely broken. I've tried to hang out with him a few times since that time, but he's just different. I don't know him. He's gone.

      So what I'm saying is this: I don't think there's anything the poster can do. This addiction won't kill the guy, though, so that's good, but I think that what stops him will probably be running out of money or something along those lines. He's not going to get better, I don't think. He's just one of those people who gets addicted to things. Probably some form of OCD or something. Just give up and focus on your own studies. He's gone.

      • Meh.

        Addiction is addiction, whether to drugs, women, or games.

        The only thing you really need to know, is that there is almost nothing you can do if it's someone else. They have to come to a place within themselves where they don't want to be like that anymore. Once they're there, they can quit. If they never get there, they will never be able to quit. Ever.

        Just be honest. Tell them you think they're fucking up their life. Don't be afraid to tell them exactly how disgusting you think they are. It may sink in. It may not. Even if it doesn't, at least you'll be able to face yourself afterward.

      • by aleatory_story (862072) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @04:01AM (#28064617)

        I was addicted to EverQuest throughout all of high school. I pretty much missed that _entire_ time of social development. I wanted to avoid it, and EQ made it easy. EQ was the kind of game where you could sit there and do your homework while your group was meditating. I still kept my attendance up and had good grades. I just avoided social interaction.

        I had parents and friends tell me that it was a bad idea, but I just turned on my defense mechanisms. It was Them Versus Me. By taking that approach, they became the bad guys. They became someone who doesn't understand because they didn't understand.

        The only person who *might* be able to get through to your friend in a direct way is former MMO addict. But of course, as it's been reiterated on here plenty of times, the only one who can truly get through is the addict himself.

        In my situation, it was a mixture of things that got me over my addiction. Firstly, the game started to get old. I tried other games like Asheron's Call, Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, SWG, etc. These continued my addiction for a while longer. But eventually you find the same things in every game and they just keep getting more boring.

        Secondly, I started to really re-evaluate myself and what I was doing with my life. I knew I was a social misfit and that had to be fixed. When I started college, I quit my games and started on a clean slate. I developed for a while and it was going great. I was making some real progress. I even got a girlfriend that my friends gawked at.

        Then EverQuest 2 came out. Yeah. I went back. It was a relapse, you could say. I went back to my habits of nothing but gaming. I still kept up with my school work but I avoided my girlfriend. Eventually, she gave me the ultimatum of her or the game. I tried to convince her that it was only temporary and that I'd be over it soon, but she wouldn't listen to that. So, I chose the game. I told myself 'I don't want a girlfriend who would give me an ultimatum like that. I want someone more patient.' In retrospect, I know it sounds pretty stupid. This is just how I reassured myself as I continued to play EQ2. It's just how the defense mechanisms work.

        I regretted that decision for a long while, though. Eventually, as I expected, I got bored of EQ2. And WoW. And all the other games that were popular around 2004. Eventually *none* of them sparked my interest. I graduated from college and started a job. By that time, I was totally done with MMOs and I haven't looked back.

        So, to sum up: it sometimes unfortunately takes big life transitions like going from college to a career to really wake someone up. Right now, in their life, they are at a point where they are content. They enjoy their games. You cannot argue this with them because it will only make it worse. You can only try to be subtle about it. Try to make them jealous. Bring over hot girls that they can't have. Go on trips with your buddies and come back and tell him how awesome it was. He won't be receptive at first--not at all. He will have some clever retort. But you will have planted the seed of corruption. Eventually, when he's tossing and turning trying to sleep, these things will eat at him.... not that I speak from experience in this department =x

        Eventually, he'll get over it. Fortunately, MMO addictions are a lot easier to recover from than drug addictions. They can ruin lives just as well, but fortunately once you get a taste of some good fun in real life, you quickly forget why the hell you were playing those games in the first place.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:14PM (#28062101) Journal

    Slashdotters, what would you do to help out a friend in this situation?

    I used to live in a bad part of the Franklin neighborhood in Minneapolis. As I pulled up next to my house, two squad cars were parked in a V in my front lawn with their cherries on. I had just worked until 2am at a parking garage on the U of MN campus. There was an adolescent in front of my house being stared down by a policeman. As I walked up the cop was staring him down and holding a bag of weed saying very loudly and very forcefully, "... yeah? And what skills you got? What has this shit been doing for you? How long have you been using? What are you going to do when you're a grown up providing for yourself?"

    While that's a lot more melodramatic than you need to be, you can put your friend in the same situation.

    A man's got priorities. Your friend's sound screwed up ... but maybe they aren't. I know how someone would approach me about this, they wouldn't try to stop me. Instead, they--being my friends--would appeal to things they know that matter to me. I'll try to list them in order that I think you can evoke a reaction from your friend:

    • Religion
    • Family
    • Role Models
    • Career
    • School
    • Ego
    • Love

    I've seen people give up several of these for an MMORPG (Star Wars Galaxies ruined lives). You need to sit down and talk to him and try to realign his priorities. You have to know him and know where he's going to bring that logic. If things don't matter to him anymore there's not a lot you can do once you've made all those appeals (and you may know more).

    Slashdotters, what would you do to help out a friend in this situation? Perhaps you are a reformed addict yourself -- if so, how did you break out of the habit?

    If I was spending too much time in a game it would take very little to cause me to get up and walk away: "Since you started playing that game, how much closer are you to being the person you want to be when you die?" Don't think that would work on your friend--especially if he has low self esteem.

    Most importantly if you convince him to stop, you need to be there for him to fill up that part of his life or to help see the value in realigning his goals.

    Last thing is that if he isn't screwing up or endangering any of these things, you're going to have a hell of a hard time convincing him out of the game ... although I cannot fathom how that would be.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:38PM (#28062361)
      I disagree; it's a serious addiction and you can't just talk him out of it. I fell into a similar trap last Spring; after years of video game addiction I threw away a semester of tuition by playing games 12 hours a day (nighttime), sleeping 12 hours (daytime), and eating a few times a week when I woke up early enough for dinner. I grew seriously disturbed and my depression swallowed me up.. it literally culminated in a suicide attempt that left me with a broken neck.

      I still play video games, but no TF2 or Insurgency [insmod.net], the games I burned my nights on. They're fun games but they just suck you dry.. whenever I try to play them that familiar thrill of a big exciting moment (lots in TF2) makes me sick remembering how hollow it leaves you.

      It's really like a drug addiction.. not physically obviously but the game is so fun and the rewards so immediate and thrilling compared to a crap life.. I think anyone who's come off an all-day frag session really knows what I mean. It was great and fun and you had some epic moments, but you take away absolutely nothing from it. "Well, that was a waste of my weekend." Your weekend just vanishes into completely forgettable minutiae and come Monday you feel like you just left work for the weekend.

      Video game control legislation like China's is obviously absurd, but everyone knows someone whose life has been ruined by WoW.. it's shocking how many people get trapped in self destructive patterns by the rush of victory and pride of being superior (level, armor, whatever). It should at least come with a warning label or something.. whatever.

      Posted AC for obvious reasons
    • by dmomo (256005) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:46PM (#28062473) Homepage

      And maybe think about the role of this addiction in the persons life. If playing video games is the best part of their otherwise depressing shitty life, you should be prepared to help beyond this scapegoat addiction.

      • Breaking the Cycle (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AtomicSnarl (549626) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @01:00AM (#28063559) Homepage
        He's playing the game because it gives him something he can't find or get enough of in Real Life. Behind the keyboard he can be daring, bold, brave, clever, and receive a regular helping of the success, joy, and adulation that come with those things. There are puzzles to solve, people to help (damsels in distress?), buds to hang with, and he can get it all, now.

        How can Real Life compete with that? What are those things that make life worth living if the computer is more validating than your regular existence? That's the problem. Real Life becomes a maintenance issue serving to allow time with The Game. Now you are dependent on the game -- You're avoiding the Real Life stuff, The Game has become your buffer, your filter, your shield -- You are addicted. You don't merely need it, you require it. The Game is How you Live.

        What now? The Game is dominant, but it's skills don't translate much to Real Life. Trying to deal with Real Life is an embarrassment. It doesn't work the way The Game does -- no reset, second chances, saves, spells -- you can't get and keep the upper hand. The physics don't match, the interactions aren't predictable, and you can't hide behind the keyboard. People see you, not your avatar. How can you live up to that? Why don't they understand? In The Game, they do...

        See "Social Phobia" [wikipedia.org] to appreciate how grasping at the one good (they think) thing in one's life can screw up the rest of it.
  • Grief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Boronx (228853) <evonreis&mohr-engineering,com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:14PM (#28062109) Homepage Journal

    Get some buddies, make some accounts, grief him until he quits.

    • Re:Grief (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ergo98 (9391) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:19PM (#28062175) Homepage Journal

      Sure, but then they'll be hooked on griefing people. Really it is more addictive than the games themselves.

      Though why does this story smell like an ad? The single link is to some weirdo largely unknown game, under the context that it's so good that someone is hooked and needs to be broken free. My Spammy-Senses are tingling.

  • Delete (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:15PM (#28062113)

    Hack his account and delete it. Keep doing it. He will figure it out eventually, just don't get caught.

    When all of his "work" is destroyed, it will make it hard for him to want to continue slaving away. Keep doing it.

    If he is not deterred by that at all, well then I suggest seeking professional help and at least getting an intervention started with the rest of his friends.

    • Re:Delete (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:42PM (#28062403) Journal

      So you're advocating hacking his account. Classy. Where do you people get off? Christ, given some of the people I've known in MMO's when I used to play, if you were found hacking their account, you would be dead. Seriously, I know several people who if you did that to you would lose it and kill you where you stand.

      Nobody has any right to hack into someone elses accounts and delete it. Honestly, advocating that is sickening.

      Regardless of the fact it's only a game, imagine how YOU'D feel if some asshole deleted the product of a year or two of your hobby. Like say you're into Warhammer and I come along set fire to your models "for your own good".

      God you people are sick.

    • That is retarded (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:44PM (#28062435)

      For one, all the MMO companies I've ever encountered have plenty of records of what has happened with an account. That was if something goes wrong, they can restore it. If it gets hacked, they'll just roll it back to where it was before then. So the company will fix the problem and he'll just get to keep going. Now if you keep doing it, you WILL get caught. That's how criminals, and make no mistake that's what you'd be, get caught: They keep doing it. Each time there's more chance you slip up, each time there's more patterns to look for.

      In this case you'd get found out fairly quickly because those involved would realize the only way someone could keep getting his password is to have physical access to his computer.

      So this is an excellent way to not fix the problem, and to land your ass in jail. Hacking can be a very serious offense if they want it to be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:15PM (#28062115)

    I learned that with my regular old drug junkie friends.

  • by geekboy642 (799087) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:15PM (#28062127) Journal

    He's addicted to being a pirate. He's too far gone to be saved...all you can do is sandbag around his computer. But when the replica cannon arrives via UPS, I suggest you leave.

  • by jkinney3 (535278) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:16PM (#28062131)
    Sounds like this is taking place in a college setting. Don't worry about it. Darwin will always win. Your MMO addict will be getting a permanent chance to play all day forever back in Mom's basement after he flunks out. It's not your problem and don't try to make it be otherwise.
    • by dr_dank (472072) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:37PM (#28062345) Homepage Journal

      Sounds like this is taking place in a college setting. Don't worry about it. Darwin will always win. Your MMO addict will be getting a permanent chance to play all day forever back in Mom's basement after he flunks out. It's not your problem and don't try to make it be otherwise.

      Spot on. College is the sandbox where you can be a fuckup like this and not have it haunt you for life. There will always be a percentage of kids at university that will do things like this once they're out of Mom and Dad's house.

      That said, if this kid really does have a compulsion or other deep-seated issue thats driving him to play like this, I really don't think that any amount of reasoning will sway him.

    • by foeclan (47088) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:43PM (#28062433) Homepage

      Oddly, kinda worked the opposite for me. I spent all my time on MUSHes when I was in college, was academically dismissed, then turned the programming and computer skills I'd taught myself while MUSHing into a career. Not that I'd expect that to work for modern MMOs, since you don't program anything in them really unless you're into modding. I did eventually go back and finish my biology degree, however, and being kicked out was definitely the reality check I needed on getting my priorities straight (though it took a while to figure that out).

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:08PM (#28062665)

      Perhaps, for some strange reason, the guy actually cares about his friend and wants some help saving his friend from that life?

      You know, like a friend?

      Honestly, if that's how much you care about your friends, you can't have many. Or at least not many good ones, at any rate.

  • Hooker (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:16PM (#28062137)
    'nuff said.
  • by dmomo (256005) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:19PM (#28062173) Homepage

    Toilet Breaks? Tell him he's doing it wrong.

    The dude doesn't even have a pod [makezine.com].

  • by kestrelokes (946697) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:24PM (#28062217)

    I had a friend in college who was addicted to an MMO - not quite at the hours you describe, but not far off. Every semester when finals came around, we tried to tear him away from his computer and help him study, but he never listened. When convincing/arguing/pleading failed (and eventually, it always failed), we would hide or break his game CDs, but he would buy, pirate, borrow, or otherwise find a new copy. He failed out of school.

    Seek professional help. Talk to the counselors at your school.

    • by drolli (522659) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:59PM (#28062587) Journal

      Mod parent up.

      Let's face some things

      a) Addiction is a psychological symptom.

      b) Some people are more prone to developing addictions due to genetics or education that others

      c) When you are addicted, just stopping is not a choice you have (otherwise it would not be called addiction).

      d) There is nothing immoral about beeing addicted. Since the guy is not free to make this decision, you can not argue with him.

      e) There are side-factors or circumstances which help or cause to develop addictions.

      f) There is no way you handle the situation correctly without help

      So, yes, your friend will need professional help to solve this thing. How can you bring it to him? I guess asking the school counselor may be a good idea. Maybe it is necessary that he fails some exams. Maybe his parents can help (a friend of mine had a classmate who started university and got addicted to some game. At some points his parents stopped paying the bill, came with a car on the last day of the appartment rent, picked him up and took him to recovery.). This requires that his parents undertsand the situation. Sometimes their behaviour may be one of the circumstances causing the addiction.

      A few more side notes

      a) I personally am surprised that MMOs allow you to stay online for 18h/day. The Problem was known in MUDs a long time ago (e.g. 1994/1995). Some of these offered you a limitation of you online-time, which a lot of people gladly did.

      b) At that time maximum considered suitable something like 20h/week.

      c) I don't think a serious MMO addition is less problematic than an alcohol addiction. Sleep deprivation can do funny thing to you memory

      d) My personal opinion is that MMO providers should be held liable for the damages they do carelessly in peoples lifes. Due to the nature of the service, namely one person holding one account, it would be more than easy to program triggers who warn the person or even lock down his account by force (one could implement more subtle gradual measures like increasing hte lag with time etc.). Yes, the company may loose money. But the barkeeper who give somebody who has enough a few more drinks also has responsibility (at least in Germany). So if you make the responsible the companyu will loose less money if they restrict their users behaviour.

  • Damned good topic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:24PM (#28062223) Homepage

    I know a guy who had a pretty comfortable life. Nice house, pretty wife, three kids, good job, the whole shootin' match... and on top of that, he was the classic "undeserving" guy... didn't really know that much but was able to convince people that knew far less than him that he was quite adept. (We've all seen this and hated them for it yes?) Well this guy got into Diablo and literally let his life fall apart. He lost his job and couldn't keep one. Lost his wife and kids. Lost his house. Not sure what he is up to these days but he has definitely not owned up to his weakness. He probably plays WOW or something else now but I can't imagine that he has figured out where his life had gone wrong yet.

    Some people have it in their heads, especially when they are in their mid 40s, that they are an adult and you can't tell them how to live their lives... it's his choice and he is happy where he us. (you know he's not though, not when you see everything he has lost in favor of his gaming addiction... one particular low point was when he landed a date with a hit young woman in her mid 20s. Who knows what she was thinking or what he said to spoil it, but she announced she thought of him as a "father figure" and that was pretty much the end of that... didn't handle rejection well and got himself drunk enough that he woke up on his front lawn having pissed himself completely and no idea how he even got home to begin with... the guy is a mess and his brain is hard wired to making stupid decisions.)

    While I would LOVE to find a magic answer to help THIS guy out, I don't think there is any such way.

  • by QJimbo (779370) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:29PM (#28062261)

    My suggestion would be, in one of the breif moments when he's off the game, get him to just come and talk to you, heck maybe even get some of your other friends to join, and keep him occupied in a social discussion for an hour or two to at least break the cycle once in a while. If that doesn't have a lasting effect, just talk to him by himself and say you're concerned about his wellbeing, ask him if he wants to spend all his life eating ready meals and sitting in front of a computer like a zombie.

    Usually any addiction is a sign of something missing from the persons life, if you can find out what that is, maybe you can help him get over the cause rather than the effect.

  • by Bieeanda (961632) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:38PM (#28062357)
    If you and the rest of your buddies are working at reviewing for finals, your addicted friend has already fucked the dog academically. Chances are, that's why he's playing the game for eighteen hours a day: it's a classic avoidance mechanism. He responds with hostility because he considers the game to be his only outlet for frustration and his only source of accomplishment. His guild, assuming he has one, is probably the only social interaction he engages in as well.

    Your friend needs help. Professional help. Your school probably has a psychological counseling office, but that's the sort of thing that he needs to seek himself. Confronting him, wrecking his account, getting him banned, or anything else is not going to help you or him at this point.

    I say this because I've been that person. Same academic issues, same fixation on a game for social reinforcement (a MUX, in my case), and I'd wager that he's feeling just as depressed and afraid as I did when I was in that situation.

    If you want to help him, get in touch with his family. Get in touch with his professors and the dean of his faculty. If he's religious, get in touch with his pastor. Chances are, none of them have any idea what's really going on. It's really easy to just grunt and shrug when someone asks how classes are going. They may have suspicions, but between their desire to treat him as an adult, and the shame and frustration he's feeling at being unable to cope, he doesn't feel like he can ask for help, and they don't feel like they can successfully confront him.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:39PM (#28062373) Journal
    .........his life outside the game probably sucks. Assuming he is in school, he's probably going to fail his classes, and doesn't want to think about it. Thinking about it just makes him feel worse. Leaving his game world just makes him miserable. Who knows, maybe his mom just died too, or something and so in the real world, he's got all this pain, but in the game world he's kind of ok.

    If he's going to leave, it's going to either be by force (ie, he can't pay for his apartment anymore, or you destroy his computer), or because he comes to believe that the outside world is something he can handle, that all the pain isn't really all that bad: it is something we all deal with and all can learn to face.

    Go with the second option: just be his friend, make him food sometime or something, whatever. He absolutely knows he's messed up, so you telling him that won't help much. Just accept him (maybe even ask him what he did on WOW today, sometimes stuff like that works), and be prepared for a lot of negativeness that he'll throw at you before he's willing to trust you.

    Also, if you want to understand the whole 'powerless to face the world' mindset, it can help to listen to Blue October, they've got some good songs.
  • router. (Score:5, Funny)

    by zippthorne (748122) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:45PM (#28062455) Journal

    Hopefully you've got a router. Using the built-in firewall, block the ports that the game requires. on and off for five minutes at a time. So he has to keep logging in and never makes any progress (well, even less than normal...), but doesn't realize you're fiddling with it.

    If you can't place a linux box as router without being suspicious, you might be able set up a cron job on cheapo laptop you connect to automatically keep changing the commodity router's settings.

  • by micromuncher (171881) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:05PM (#28062639) Homepage

    I started playing everquest in 2001. At first I refused to play, but friends pretty much bought the game and installed it on my PC. I refused to play because I figured I'd get addicted... and sure enough... 7 years later... I went cold turkey. There are a few things that I realized about my own addiction that helped me break it.

    First, MMOs are Skinner boxes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning_chamber [wikipedia.org] They let the player feel like they're accomplishing something. This is a huge motivator when in your real life, the rewards are missing from any effort. For me, I had just got divorced and had a company I help start shoot down the toilet. Suffices to say, I was at a motivational low.

    So, to figure out the trap (Skinner box), you need to figure out how to get the rewards in real life that are missing. A psychologist might suggest sitting with your friend and actually setting achievable, short term, real world goals. Even if it is as simple as going for a 30 minute walk. Then emphasize the "Hey, I did something today." You might even want to try something that gives other rewards, like adrenaline, through running, or some sport.

    Next, there was the social aspect. People in MMOs believe the social context missing from their lives is real - that you actually have friends in the game. This is pretty far from the truth. Sure, I got to know a few people well in my EQ experience, but not one of them has participated in a relationship outside the game. So, some brutal realities there...

    Anyway, I've been EQ free over six months. I refuse to play another MMO, ever. When you look at the total time played, and you see that you've been online 300+ days... ask the question, if you had a year of time back, what would you do with it? Sit in front of a computer screen like a zombie? Or actually try accomplish something. People often say they don't have time for stuff. Pretty sobering to look at some metrics. And real addicts underestimate how much time they play.

  • IRL (Score:5, Funny)

    by noz (253073) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:08PM (#28062669)

    I have this friend IRL right and he's so attached his education that his not living life. He sacrifices any bit of fun for it. He gets up around 9am, calls his mum in Denver, and then hits the books until about 3am only leaving his desk to put a piece of cheese on some bread and maybe take a shit. His desk is totally littered with empty energy drink bottles and sometimes he pisses in an empty instead of getting up to go to the bathroom. Once he accidentally drank a recycled one and just vomited in another.

    There's this pirate game [burningsea.com] right, it's awesome! Swashbuckling and harrr! Open seas! Booty! Awesomez!!! and I've tried to bring it up with him every now and again but my suggestions are always met with derision and anger. "You're sleeping your future away with that crap!" he'll yell. He can't see that he's missing out on all this fun with his addiction to success.

    I've tried using wake-on-LAN and changing his home page but it just won't work. What can I do to help him?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:15PM (#28062733)

    My wife would tell you that it took many interventions over a long period of time to finally get me to see the light about my gaming addiction. I had it mildly compared to what I've been reading. While it ultimately had to be my decision, I never would have made it without her intervening and showing me how my addiction affected her and our relationship in general. Crying helped a lot, but that might be awkward in your case...

    Some of the advice about leaving him alone because he's an adult is ridiculous. If you care it's worth intervening (obviously you do considering your post), and he'll thank you for it eventually even though he might hate you for it short term. But even if you lose his friendship, it would be worth it in the long run if he breaks his addiction. He's throwing away his life.

    I would try to convince him to take a vacation for a while...2 weeks maybe. Hopefully it will end up feeling like a vacation to him. If you can spare the time, keep him busy and social and possibly make it impossible to log on (go out of town with him). You'll probably need to pull him away many times before he sees the light. I would also put some material on addictive behavior in front of him. Being compared to a gambling addict or a drug addict helped open my eyes too.

    I don't recommend doing anything sneaky like others have recommended (like cutting out his internet access). That's just going to put barriers up and he'll close you off.

  • by Xaer0cool (700219) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:42PM (#28062971)
    Just as heroin was developed to get soldiers off morphine, you need to get your friend on something stronger than pirates. The only thing stronger than pirates? Ninjas.
  • Read BigRedKitty (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sean0michael (923458) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:54PM (#28063065)
    Have him read this:

    Big Red Kitty: Farewell and Thank You [bigredkitty.net]

    A few posts down is the end of a very famous and highly-regarded WoW blogger. He realized that he had completely neglected his wife and son for years. WoW was his "mistress" and he was an addict, like your friend. Tell him "Don't be like this guy." This guy would easily tell you that real people are a lot more important than the game. As soon as that game goes end-of-life, what will he have? Not even a friend.

    If he doesn't respond, you and your housemates ought to save his life -- not an exaggeration. Find a way to cut off his connection to the Internet at the house. Hide his mouse. Remove his power cable, or cut the fuses to that part of the house. Let him borrow your computer for whatever he needs to do for homework.

    He may hate you, but you are doing the right thing. He may not see it, but his vision is clearly messed up. Best of luck to you.
  • by AsmordeanX (615669) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @01:15AM (#28063687)

    I played WoW a lot. To the point of being unhealthy a few times. How did I get away from it? I cheated.

    MMOs are hard to cheat at but a friend an I found a world emulator that was about 95% accurate. We spent the next week going everywhere, doing everything, getting everything. We made custom weapons/armour that made us walking gods. We set Illidan in a duel with Ragnaros. We swapped models so that we looked like Magmadar or C'Thun.

    After a while we got bored and tried the normal game. It sucked. We couldn't one-shot things. Gold took hours/days to accumulate. Everything just seemed so tedious.

    I went for three months without playing. I picked up WotLK and played for a week and got bored. I uninstalled it and haven't thought about it since.

  • by petrus4 (213815) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @02:11AM (#28064067) Homepage Journal

    "It's simple."

    Find out what he's doing in the game, that he thinks he can't do offline, and then find a way to let him do whatever it is offline, in a way that won't interfere with his exams.

    I got addicted to World of Warcraft for a while because playing a Survival Hunter allowed me to vicariously deal with my sense of inadequacy over the fact that I am unavoidably a civilian. (I've since also come to realise that having said sense of inadequacy was really dumb to begin with, but it was a childhood thing)

    I was able to play a leadership role in a number of battlegrounds and instances though, and have some really positive experiences while doing so, (I was also GM of a levelling guild for a bit, which was good) which allowed me to process that neurosis, and also take from it a few elements which to some extent may have improved my personality as well.

    That, however, is primarily what people get from MMORPGs, and it's the main reason why they play them. Most people are fairly disempowered and helpless offline. They might have two or three jobs, (that they usually hate) a wife and the proverbial 2.4 kids, station wagon, and labrador dog, and said existence can feel like a jail sentence, especially if you have to work long hours. They're also doing said jobs, most of the time, purely to keep their head above water. There's no creativity there, no enjoyment, and no recognition from the boss. They're not allowed to feel special, to feel like they're somebody important, or to really feel fulfilled.

    But in Azeroth, (or Norrath, or $WORLD) it's different.

    Offline, I'm an autistic, overweight, single, balding, largely socially isolated UNIX Beard with shortsightedness, a single kidney, and a leg length difference of three inches. I've had a single girlfriend, three years ago, which ended badly due to a combination of her and my baggage, and my father being a narcissistic, amoral, interfering $%^& as well. I largely haven't come across a single woman since who hasn't made fun of me when she's found out I'm interested in her, and whenever I've tried to interact socially with anyone else as well, or develop independence, I've usually gone fairly close to being killed as a result.

    I couldn't participate in grading matches in terms of martial arts as a teenager due to said single kidney, and when someone tried to teach me one on one, because of the leg length difference I nearly dislocated my knee the first time I tried to do a kick.

    In WoW, none of that matters. I have a far more attractive body, which is athletic and functions with perfect agility. I can travel anywhere I want, within a fairly large environment. Most of all, I can actually do the things that Army recruitment ads talk about, in terms of being part of a group, and eventually developing sufficient knowledge of the game to successfully and positively lead said group. I'm playing a class (the Hunter) which I love and find fulfilling, and I'm also meeting my social interaction and group belonging needs in terms of the instances and battlegrounds I do as well.

    Let me ask you; out of those two scenarios, which do you think you're going to want to spend more of your time in?

    The answer to that question, is also likely very similar to the reason why the guy in your example is addicted to the game that he is, as well. For some of us, real life isn't exactly a barrel of laughs.

  • LSD therapy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pbaer (833011) on Saturday May 23, 2009 @02:04PM (#28068185)
    This will be controversial but hear me through. Assuming he doesn't have any medical conditions that make it dangerous for him to take LSD, get him some. The basic idea behind this is the psychedilic helps him hit rock bottom, so he wants to change his life. It worked pretty well for treating alcoholism before LSD was banned.

    Handbook for the Therapeutic Use of LSD-25 [maps.org]

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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