Everquest and Video Game Addiction

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Children and adults alike flock by the thousands to pick up and take home the latest video games. These days there are hundreds of video game titles to choose from on many different platforms so one is sure to find one that suits them. This trend has spawned an enormous economic force both in the United States and worldwide. According to 1up.com, video game sales were actually down in 2004 to $9.9 billion from $10 billion in 2003 in the United States alone (Lee). Perhaps more importantly is that this has produced a cultural trend as well. As more and more children define their lives through video games more and more children are becoming adults who also define their lives through video games. This is a growing problem in this country that entertainment is starting to take over the lives of more and more people. This is not necessarily to the fault of any single factor but a combination of many. The increasing complexity and realism of games has much to do with it. EverQuest is such a stimulating simulation in that many people prefer the ‘EverQuest World' to the real one. Also to blame are the parents who choose to allow this ‘electronic babysitter' into their homes more and more often. Perhaps the most to blame is the interactive environment some games create. That is, games of the MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing game) class. The most notorious and arguably the best game of this genre is EverQuest. It has single-handedly brought to national attention the effects of video game addiction (VGA). Cultural values deemed essential to a fulfilled life are cast aside in lieu of a virtual reality and steps need to be taken to recover those affected or prevent it altogether. Common, important, and exciting portions of life like having a job, a family, friends and a love life come second to video games. Once the condition of VGA is identified, the support of friends, family or support groups are crucial in reversing it.

There are a number of logical questions to ask at this point. Perhaps most pertinent is ‘who is at risk and why?' In other words, who are those that one should look for symptoms of VGA? According to Cyberdependence.com those that have existing self-esteem problems are especially at risk (Cyberdependence). These individuals already have difficulty in social settings and can therefore find more comfort in an online setting. The makers of EverQuest and games like it have removed the need to physically interact with people to carry on a conversation in a game environment. This effectively removes much of the anxiety of communicating. There are tens of thousands of players on at any given time which allows for ample ‘human' interaction. Cyberdependence.com also cites other contributing factors as depression, loneliness, or high stress. They seek a way to somehow disconnect with these problems in reality and video games provide that (Cyberdependence).

Even though there are those that are at more risk than others video games harbor ingredients to pull anyone into their grip. Cyberdependence.com notes that the most basic reinforcing factor is that one is able to experience fantasies not possible in reality. The player can assume a God-like position while being at the center of the universe and wield unnatural power. Also, most video games are designed around a basic problem-solving environment. This provides a certain satisfaction when one solves these problems. Probably most prevalent and relevant is the fact that there is often no ‘end' to MMORPG games. This is especially true for EverQuest. It is arguably one of its most attractive qualities. The player can play almost endlessly and still have a different experience every time. In fact, in EverQuest, whenever your character ‘dies' it is necessary for you to spend up to two hours to recover it's ‘corpse' in order to keep the character without losing all your progress on it. This virtually forces the player to spend...
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