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Topic : 06/03 Virtual Chaos

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Created on : Thursday, October 16, 2008, 10:37:46 am
Author : DrPhilBoard1
(Original Air Date: 10/20/08) Sixty-five percent of American households report playing computer and video games, and surprisingly, the average player is 35 years old. Computer games are supposed to be fun, but when a hobby turns into an obsession, virtual fantasy worlds can ruin lives and wreck marriages. Juli says her 34-year-old husband, Fred, plays computer games all day and ignores his entire family. Fred admits to spending up 10 hours a day in a cyber world, but will he call it an addiction? Fred’s stepson, Brandon, thinks Fred is lazy and that his mom can do better. Then, Brad, 40, was so addicted to games that he spent up to 80 hours a week locked in the basement with his computer. Not only did he accumulate close to $24,000 of debt, his addiction nearly cost him his marriage and his life! Next, Liz found her 21-year-old son, Shawn, dead at his computer from a self-inflicted gun shot. She says that a role-playing game in the virtual world transformed her son from a vibrant young adult into a depressed introvert, which ultimately led to his suicide. Liz founded Online Gamers Anonymous to educate others about the potential dangers of obsessive gaming. Then, when Wendy married a video game designer, she literally took matters into her own hands and started playing herself.  Are you or is someone you love at risk for video game addiction? Log on to DrPhil.com for a checklist of signs!

Find out what happened on the show.

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October 20, 2008, 8:03 am CDT

gaming addictions can get better

My husband and I dated for over 7 years before we got married last month.  He always liked to play games, but it started to get worse his second year of college.  He is a very smart man, but was getting bored with all of his classes.  He stopped going to class.  He would go on 'test' days and do great on tests, but it wasn't enough to pass the classes.  He eventually stopped going to school all together after wasting a couple more years at college.  He was still paying for classes, but never finished because he wouldn't leave his computer.  The game that made it an absolute addiction was World of Warcraft.  He stopped seeing me, he stopped socializing, he wouldn't shower for a few days at a time, and nothing mattered in the world except moving to a higher level in WoW.  Things got so bad that we separated for a while because he was so moody and was so engaged in the gaming world.  Nothing else was real to him except the game.  He didn't finish college and I gave him the choice of starting a life with me or I was going to move on.  After a year of working on his addiction, he cut back on gaming, but it was still consuming his life.  He got a good job, but the evenings would be about gaming instead of paying attention to me or doing things that needed to be done.  Since this was not the man I initially met years ago, I still loved him and wanted to give him a chance.  He cut back on gaming again and saved enough money to buy me an engagement ring.  We then decided to buy a house and are now married.  He realized how much the game had hurt me and he quit subscribing to it about 9 months ago.  We're now married and have a great house, and he keeps busy with things to do around the house.  He will always love games, but he plays ones that aren't so addicting anymore and he has tons of time to spend with me now. 

 

I hope this might help someone.  I thought the addiction could never be broken, but if you can get through to a person you love, they will finally start to understand the hurt you have been going through with their addicion, just like any other addiction.  There is hope!  Just don't give up. 

 
October 20, 2008, 8:13 am CDT

Gamers

OK... To all the wives/girlfriends out there who complain about the gamer hubby....

I would like to remind you all that I am the wife of a gamer so I know a little of what I am talking about here.  I would also like to remind you that your hubbies didn't wake up one day and decide to spend 10 hours on a video game for the first time.  You knew getting into the relationship.  You knew moving in together.  You knew getting married that they were gamers.  If you didn't, then you didn't know your hubby.  This is not the kind of addiction that comes on quickly or out of the blue.  If you didn't like the fact that they were gamers you should have gotten out of the relationship.  No one should get into a relationship thinking that the other person will change when you get married/have kids/ask them to. 

My hubby is a WoW gamer and spends his $15/month like a champ.  He could be out drinking or doing drugs, but his addiction is the computer.  I am fully aware of this and have been since we moved in together.  If you didn't know or think this is a new addiction of your hubby's, then think real hard about all of the Everquest that they played or the NCAAF on XBox.  These are the signs you shouldn't have missed and will now cost you dearly.

Get over the fact that they are gamers or don't get into the relationship to begin with.
 
October 20, 2008, 9:00 am CDT

Give me a break...

It isn't the GAMES fault.  My goodness people.  Okay YES the games are fun, and mildly addicting, so what?  When did that give people a right to avoid responsibilty and blame their lives woes on a game.

Yes it is the fact that they are playing said game too much that is ruining their lives.  But no one is forcing them to play.  Okay so they are addicted, I guess I can buy that.  So pony up, take responsibility, and get help. 

I've played WOW *world of warcraft* for a few years now, and yes at times I probably played more than I've should.  Then again the last two years or so I've played hardly at all.  Why?  Oh I don't know I had a baby, I'm participating in my daughter's school, and class stuff.  Bascially I'm prioritzing!!.   I'm deciding whats important and whats not.  This is comming from someone who used to raid into the wee hours of the morning at times, with a daughter who was bound and determined to wake up at seven or eight am.  Did she not get fed because I stayed up to late?  Did she sit in a wet diaper till noon so that I could catch up on lost sleep NO NO NO.  I got my tired butt out of bed, and faced my responsibilities, and the consequences of staying up to late.

Whats wrong with society is that people don't want to take the consequences of their actions.  By saying that this game is the source of their problems you are giving them an out.  They can now say, "See it isn't MY fault, its the game."

Do I feel for the mother who lost her son.  Yes of course I do.  Is it horrible for his life to be cut so short, of course it is.  But come on it wasn't the GAME itself.  She says he was happy and well adjusted before, obviously not as well and adjusted as she thought or he wouldn't have killed himself over Everquest.  If you look at how many people play and claim they "are addicted" whether seriously or in jest if it was the GAME killing people you'd hear about it more often.   I'm I saying it is the boys fault?  That his suicide was right, or his "punishment" NO.  He had problems, he needed help, and he didn't get it.  Its horribly sad, but it happens.  If it wasn't Everquest or some other online game that took over his world it would have been something else.

And as for the wife whose husband needs to get off his butt, stop playing and get a job, she should stop paying for his account.  As a world of warcraft player I know you have to pay a montly fee that either gets deducted from your account every month, every three months, six months etc, however you decide to pay for it or you buy a gaming card.  If he has no job/money then she should stop giving him the money to play.  Cut him off at the source. 

It's time for people to stop misplacing blame, and fess up to life and responsibilities.  Everything in moderation right? 

 
October 20, 2008, 9:07 am CDT

10/20 Virtual Chaos

Quote From: stingrae277

OK... To all the wives/girlfriends out there who complain about the gamer hubby....

I would like to remind you all that I am the wife of a gamer so I know a little of what I am talking about here.  I would also like to remind you that your hubbies didn't wake up one day and decide to spend 10 hours on a video game for the first time.  You knew getting into the relationship.  You knew moving in together.  You knew getting married that they were gamers.  If you didn't, then you didn't know your hubby.  This is not the kind of addiction that comes on quickly or out of the blue.  If you didn't like the fact that they were gamers you should have gotten out of the relationship.  No one should get into a relationship thinking that the other person will change when you get married/have kids/ask them to. 

My hubby is a WoW gamer and spends his $15/month like a champ.  He could be out drinking or doing drugs, but his addiction is the computer.  I am fully aware of this and have been since we moved in together.  If you didn't know or think this is a new addiction of your hubby's, then think real hard about all of the Everquest that they played or the NCAAF on XBox.  These are the signs you shouldn't have missed and will now cost you dearly.

Get over the fact that they are gamers or don't get into the relationship to begin with.

I think your message is a little harsh.  My husband was actually not a gamer when we I met him 7 1/2 years ago.  A couple friends he had a college got him into it.  And by then we were already in love and I'd do anything to help him.  So it's not as easy as you say to just leave him.  I could have threatened to leave him, but that doesn't help the issue.  Your husbands addiction obviously doesn't bother you or isn't as bad as others.  I know my husband will always like games now, but I've learned to deal with it and he quit playing WoW for me. 

 
October 20, 2008, 9:30 am CDT

10/20 Virtual Chaos

Quote From: topsail

Dear Dr. Phil,

 

Thank you for the way you help people through your show.  I am especially grateful that you are doing a show about online gaming addictions.  I have a 38 yr. old son who has been addicted for over four years now.  His life is completely shattered because of his addiction.  His marriage of nine years disolved, he hasn't worked for four years, and he has no life behond his computer game, World of Warcraft.  He is in complete denial that he has any problems other than depression, which I believe was brought on by his excessive gaming habit.  My son has a masters degree and was a successful manager of a huge corporation before he got hooked to online gaming.  He is not the person he used to be!  I am so grateful for the help, advise and support I have received  form the group, Olganon.  People, including the medical community, don't understand how destructive this addiction is to the people caught up in it and how it affects their family.  I trust your program will give the much needed knowlege and attention about this devastating affliction.

God bless you Dr. Phil!

THANK YOU for doing this show Dr Phil. I can't wait to view it this evening.

 

   I too was diagnosed with Computer addiciton back in 1996 BEFORE it was recognized as a REAL emotional problem.

 

   Before the computer I was a happily married woman with 2 grown sons and  grandchildren. I refused to see or accept that I HAD a problem at the time.

   I suffered a nervous breakdown, was diagnosed OCD, BiPolar, lost from 118 lbs down to 89, was on line 18 hrs a day getting 3-4 hrs of sleep, stopped eating , watching TV, reading, see  off line friends and ignored my husband.

   My marriage nearly ended one year later, we were seperated and I was staying with an online friend 1,500 miles from home. After 3 mos of intense help from my friend and a mental clinic there I started getting my head together and returned home. I was on several helpful medications and slowly became able to walk away from this machine.

   Luckily I was never in to gaming for real money but did play free poker a lot. Now I am able to limit myself to 2 hrs a day in poker and a max of 6 hrs a day on line .

   COMPUTER ADDICITION is REAL. It can destroy and KILL.

   Again THANK YOU for addressing this critical issue.

  

 

 
October 20, 2008, 10:12 am CDT

10/20 Virtual Chaos

Quote From: caradia

Just like anything, gaming can be addictive. So can shopping, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc... If a person has an addictive personality, he/she can be addicted to anything.  I game between 8-14 hours a day, sometimes less.  What I had to learn was balance.  Now, when I had nothing in my life it was sleep, wake up, game, go to work, come home, game, sleep, and repeat.  I could not imagine losing a job for it; however, I can see where it gets in the way of relationships.  What is ironic is that I met my current live-in boyfriend in an online game over a year ago.  Now, he is here and has no interest in gaming because he has me (which confuses me), while gaming is still my favorite hobby just like it was when I met him.  I guess he had other reasons for gaming.  So, I still game.  I did have problems spending time with him, but now I make sure that other areas of my life are met before I cross to the void of gaming.  Gaming is my way of relieving stress.  Work, him, and life in general incur stress.  So, you know, you do what you gotta do.  I feel some people think it is an addiction if people actually pay to play online and/or spend over an hour a day on the game.  Wrong.  Just because it is not understood does not make it addiction.  Think of it this way, if you watch sitcoms on TV for over an hour, then would you say you are addicted to sitcoms on TV?
I agree with this statement here.I play WOW and  other people do other things in their life that you could argue could be excessive 
 
October 20, 2008, 10:13 am CDT

Everquest 2 partner

Addiction is addiction, no matter what form.  Some people are addicted to drugs, alcohol, the usual suspects.  Others are addicted in less known forms such as shoes (my specialty), or prehaps butting into other peoples business.  We all seek avenues of blame, whether it's the drugs, alcohol, internet, our parents, our husbands/wives, etc., rather than deal with the real issues that are present in the relationships. (Husband/wife, parent/child, etc.).  I don't buy the couple on the show that claimed that when the husband wasn't on the game he was the perfect hudband/dad.  It may be what they want to believe, but I don't think that's the case.  More than likely, if it wasn't the game it would be something else.  What about the husbands that spend every weekend at the golf course, or spend all their money on NASCAR stuff, or stop by the bar every evening for a few before heading home?

My husband began online gaming (Everquest 2) and would spend hours on the game.  You know what?  I joined him.  Granted, we don't have little children.  Our son at the time had graduated high school and was attending our local community college.  To begin with we had to share one gaming computer.   We bought a second relatively quickly so that we could play together.  We both enjoy it and if we spend lots of time on the weekends playing the game, so what.  We have never been a couple that went out alot, often refering to ourselves as modern day hermits.  Introverts to the core, we prefer a quite home life.

I do see the problems in those families profiled on the show, but the games are not the cause.  They are only a manifestation of a deeper problem.  If you don't want to spend time with your wife, an online game is a great way to avoid her.  So is the local pool room, the local pub, the bowling alley, a friend's house, etc.  The fact that the one wife allows it to go on to such an extent (husband stays home with kids while she's at work) shows that she is an enabler, or prehaps she has too many issues herself to deal with that confronting the problem headon is too much to handle.  Personally I would crack the computer open and rearrange some of the internal pieces! 

Gist of this reply, quite trying to lay blame on inannimate objects.  To blame a game, you must include the computer/game station it's played on.  To blame the computer/game station, you must include the electricity powering the system.  So, ultimately, it's the fault of Benjamin Franklin, who, because he discovered electricity, caused these people to become addicted.  Quit making excuses for the poor state of your life.  Get over "if"- get on with "life".

 
October 20, 2008, 10:49 am CDT

10/20 Virtual Chaos

Quote From: exgamerdotnet

Thanks to everyone for your interest in this issue. As a guest on this episode, I look forward to helping people by my experience. One of the visitors to this forum has referred to "addictive personalities" being addicted to anything. While I'm sure that's true in some cases, I've found that Internet addictions such as online gaming have been particularly powerful. Neither alcohol nor street drugs have ever appealed to me as much as online role playing games.

My blog has a large compilation of my own thoughts on video game addiction and recovery and a new podcast. I hope you'll take time to visit:

http://www.exgamer.net

Thanks,
Brad
Thank you for offering yiour help.  I will visit those websites as I have a 26 year old son who is currently in FL, not working and gaming continually.  Of course, he is in complete denial and I don't know how to reach him.  He suffers from depression and I worry that someday suicide will be his way out also, as we have already lost one daughter to suicide 3 years ago.  I need all the help I can get.  Thank you Brad, the show was great.
 
October 20, 2008, 11:01 am CDT

Not your everyday video game

I am the mother of a recovering WoW addict.  I take no issue with those who enjoy gaming and whose lives are unaffected.  I take no issue with the games and understand that they are here to stay.  I did, however, learn through experience and research, that MMOs are unlike your average video game.

 

My son started playing his first MMORPG (Massive, Multiplayer On-Line Role Playing Game) just a month after it was released and just after his 15th birthday.  Within 5 months I identified a dramatic change in his behavior and its immediate impact on family relationships, friendships, health and academics.  Unfortunately, it was so new that I was unable to get any professional insight or support to substantiate my belief that he had become hopelessly consumed.

 

Almost 18 months later, we had exhausted any possibility of ceasing his gaming in-home.  Since he was a minor, we were able to force him into a technology-free, therapeutic environment.  After 10 months, he returned home as the person he had been prior to his MMORPG experience.  It has been over a year since his return and he continues to improve in every aspect of his life...his real life.

 

Not all people who play MMORPGs become consumed in a virtual world.  Individuals who take a first drink have no way of knowing how they will respond to its effects yet are well aware, when they take that first drink, that there is potential for addiction.  I feel strongly that individuals, parents, etc. need to be educated of the potential, harmful effects of some video games, and particularly virtual reality games, in the same way.

 

My desire is to help spare even one gamer/parent/significant other/child/friend from an experience like ours.

 
October 20, 2008, 11:15 am CDT

Agreed

Quote From: emantsal

Addiction is addiction, no matter what form.  Some people are addicted to drugs, alcohol, the usual suspects.  Others are addicted in less known forms such as shoes (my specialty), or prehaps butting into other peoples business.  We all seek avenues of blame, whether it's the drugs, alcohol, internet, our parents, our husbands/wives, etc., rather than deal with the real issues that are present in the relationships. (Husband/wife, parent/child, etc.).  I don't buy the couple on the show that claimed that when the husband wasn't on the game he was the perfect hudband/dad.  It may be what they want to believe, but I don't think that's the case.  More than likely, if it wasn't the game it would be something else.  What about the husbands that spend every weekend at the golf course, or spend all their money on NASCAR stuff, or stop by the bar every evening for a few before heading home?

My husband began online gaming (Everquest 2) and would spend hours on the game.  You know what?  I joined him.  Granted, we don't have little children.  Our son at the time had graduated high school and was attending our local community college.  To begin with we had to share one gaming computer.   We bought a second relatively quickly so that we could play together.  We both enjoy it and if we spend lots of time on the weekends playing the game, so what.  We have never been a couple that went out alot, often refering to ourselves as modern day hermits.  Introverts to the core, we prefer a quite home life.

I do see the problems in those families profiled on the show, but the games are not the cause.  They are only a manifestation of a deeper problem.  If you don't want to spend time with your wife, an online game is a great way to avoid her.  So is the local pool room, the local pub, the bowling alley, a friend's house, etc.  The fact that the one wife allows it to go on to such an extent (husband stays home with kids while she's at work) shows that she is an enabler, or prehaps she has too many issues herself to deal with that confronting the problem headon is too much to handle.  Personally I would crack the computer open and rearrange some of the internal pieces! 

Gist of this reply, quite trying to lay blame on inannimate objects.  To blame a game, you must include the computer/game station it's played on.  To blame the computer/game station, you must include the electricity powering the system.  So, ultimately, it's the fault of Benjamin Franklin, who, because he discovered electricity, caused these people to become addicted.  Quit making excuses for the poor state of your life.  Get over "if"- get on with "life".

I definitely agree. I've been in a relationship with someone who worked full-time, went to school full-time, and played WoW 3-4 nights a week for 6 hours at a time. I also played during the day since I didn't have to work and would play at night mostly because he was. We both definitely neglected our responsibilities: doing dishes, making dinner, paying bills, etc.

However, the game WASN'T the problem! I was suffering (and had been before I played the game) from anxiety and depression. It was easier for me to sit inside all day and escape from reality than try to venture outside to get a job. It was a way to socialize without the pressure of entertaining friends when they come over or trying to think of a topic for conversation. For him, it was a stress reliever and the only form of alone time he got. Unlike college, which takes years of work to get a reward, he would get items every week from a raid. We are both straight edge, so we don't drink, smoke, etc; It was our form of release.

We have since broken up and although he quit for a year, he is playing again. He is in a difficult relationship with a girl he is living with so he spends much of his time after work playing WoW in order to avoid her. She also plays, but is involved in different raids than he is so they don't spend time together while playing. Though there was a point where I was playing 14 hours a day during the summer a couple years ago, I have since learned how to control it and attempt to replace the addictive behavior with going out with real life friends or doing something constructive. However, I know I can fall back into that pattern at any time because it is so comfortable and familiar, especially to someone who is very introverted.

I did not see the show, but my mom brought it to my attention because she knows how addicted I was. My biggest piece of advice to anyone dealing with gaming addiction is to look beyond the game and at the real issues behind why you or your SO is playing so much that it is interfering with real life.
 
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