Friday, 10 June 2011

WoW as a meditation tool?

I recently read with mounting horror an article about a 15 year old Vietnamese lad who murdered a 7 year old girl for her earrings, so he could sell them to buy more game time on a popular Vietnamese MMORPG. It wasn't World of Warcraft of course, but it hightlights the unspeakable lengths some gamers will go to to feed their MMORPG addiction. I've read some equally disturbing stories on . This site is great if you feel yourself yearning for WoW, and need a few short reminders why you gave up.

I couldn't have given up WoW so easily without the support of my boyfriend (soon to be husband on 6th August, hooray!) We both quit at the same time - I knew I wouldn't be drawn back in by him as he's got amazing willpower. He's one of those people that can smoke for years and then just drop it one day and never look back. However, he brought up an interesting point the other day when we were idly reminiscing about WoW (not something we do often I must add). You see, he's recently been signed off work with stress due to a boss setting ridiculous deadlines, ringing him up at all hours of the night and expecting him to work three weekends in a row without a word of thanks. My fiance admitted that the mindless, repetitive nature of playing WoW was almost like meditation for him, something that enabled him to switch off from work and de-stress. Could it be that giving up WoW actually exacerbated his stress condition by giving him no outlet to unwind?

It's an interesting thought and I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments. Personally I think there are much healthier outlets for stress. Even if you're hardcore gamers like we both are, there are other games that have a beginning, middle and end, giving you that sense of completion and achievement. I do often feel that something's missing without WoW in my life, maybe I still need to find that stress outlet myself?

Friday, 27 May 2011

A Bit of A Rift Appears...

Firstly, apologies for the appallingly long absence. I promise it won't happen again.

This game review thing is really taking off. I submitted a review of an old point-and-click game called Hugo's House of Horrors to a retro gaming website and they liked it so much that they've asked me to review some other games and I'm actually in the process of conducting an email interview with the game designer himself!

I'm so chuffed to have had positive comments on my work. I've always suffered from quite a bit of low self esteem -  another reason WoW appealed to me in the past was feeling a sense of self achievement in-game that I thought I couldn't get in real life - so to finally realise I have a skill is brilliant! And better still, that skill incorporates my love of gaming! There's a real delicious irony to that, especially since I'm in a real "stick two fingers up at Blizzard" frame of mind at the moment.

Speaking of which, I hear that Blizzard have got their knickers in a twist at the moment about the rival MMORPG Rift. A couple of WoW-buddies I'm still in touch with tell me that mentioning the word Rift in WoW-chat, in any context whatsoever, is getting players instantly banned. I find this ridiculous; Blizzard must be seriously worried if they are this threatened by a bit of healthy competition. Can you imagine the chaos throughout Azeroth at the moment? "Oh yeah, there's a bit of a rift in my guild at the mo.....huh - wtf? What do you mean my account's banned? ****nerd rage****" And yes, I am sniggering smugly to myself as I type this.

In other news, my Open University Psychology course is in full swing and it's a lot of fun. It feels so nice to be learning again. Most recently I've been reading about the "consumer society", and how we consume things to maintain a sense of identity. That's exactly what I was doing with WoW. It gave me a sense of identity. I had to surround myself with WoW-friends, read Elitist Jerks all day, buy merchandise - all just to feel secure about who I was. I've carved a new identity for myself now and I like this person much better!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Two-Month Itch

I find myself up against a rather unexpected rough patch in my WoW-detox. It’s been two months now and I haven’t looked back. My life is richer, fuller and for the most part happier, but just recently I’ve been experiencing waves of Warcraft nostalgia, wondering to myself “what if, just what if I made a brand new character from scratch on a realm where nobody knows me?” Even typing those words just got me worryingly excited.

It’s funny the small things that keep cropping up to remind me of WoW. I’m reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island at the moment, having become an avid bookworm since The Big Quit. You would think all the pirate talk would have me absorbed in Jim Hawkins’ world, but all I can think about are The Bloodsail Buccaneers, Booty Bay and Scalawag Island (remember that fantastic chain of pirate quests just off the coast of Howling Fjord? That was always one of my favourite parts of the game).

The trouble is, I’m still in that gaming mentality. I’m still gaming a lot, adventure games, point and clicks, text-based stuff mostly. I thought other games would help me wean myself away from WoW, but it’s like sitting myself in the same comfy chair, same laptop on my knee, making those same mouse clicks. My brain is saying “Hey, I was expecting some WoW-related release of serotonin from this situation, where is it? Why aren’t I getting it?” At least I can justify the other games a little bit though; I’ve been in touch with a game review website and I’m currently working on writing a couple of reviews for them. That will make a nice addition to my writing portfolio.

The annoying thing is there are so many other activities I could be doing. I have a beautiful half-finished Georgian dolls house to decorate, before I abandoned it to WoW. I had all these plans to read more, to learn Japanese, to get back into writing my novel. I’m actually starting an Open University course in Psychology next month so I will really need to knuckle down and stop gaming so much then. So, although I am teetering on the edge of the Game Addiction pit, I am still a long way from falling to the bottom where the WoW-monster lurks.

When I quit WoW some guys from my guild said “We’ll give you three months”. I am so determined to prove them wrong and you know what? I had a scary moment or two there, but I really think I will.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Epic Fail

I've been falling into a worrying frame of mind recently. You may remember I decided to make it physically impossible to give into playing WoW again - destroying the disks, destroying the authenticator etc. Well, I thought I had found a game to occupy my restless gaming fingers, until I noticed similar behavioural patterns cropping up again. I thought I should warn former addicts about this game, and when I explain, you'll see why it could become dangerous.

The game in question is The Sims Medieval. For those who don't know, it introduces the RPG element into The Sims, so you have quests, professions and fantastical storylines. Sound familiar? In short, The Sims Medieval is what WoW would be if you took out the button-mashing element, the obnoxious other players and the monthly subscription fee. You can even do things like herbalism, and mining - it's a very strange feeling rushing for a node and then realising that no one else is going to steal it.

So you can see why any ex-Wow player would love this. Unfortunately I found myself rushing to play as soon as I finished work and finding the whole evening would fly by in a blur. At 11pm I'd go to bed with dishes still stacked high in the kitchen, my mind still buzzing with the pixels that had electronically stimulated my pleasure centres.

I had to nip it in the bud fast. I'm not criticising EA Games in the slightest - The Sims is a great franchise still going strong after eleven years, and The Sims Medieval was a much needed development in its evolution. But be warned former WoW players, it might leave you hankering after a little more than you bargained for.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Point and Click

Before I got into WoW I was a point and click junkie. My nerves can't really handle games that move in "real-time", where you daren't take a breather for fear of some bloodthirsty zombie leaping around the corner at you. I like puzzle solving, exploring and getting really immersed in another world.

I've started playing a game that's a couple of years old now, called "Dark Fall: Lost Souls". It's the third in a series, but you don't need to have played the first two as the story stands up perfectly well on its own. You play a police inspector investigating the disappearance of a little girl called Amy, who vanished five years ago, and the inspector's never been able to forgive himself for failing to solve the case the first time around. The story is set in the ficticious town of Dowerton, a decrepit, deserted ghost town filled with eerie symbollism; rusty scissors, satanic markings on the walls and mannequins taking the place of the town's former citizens.

I've loved the game so far. It's played on my mind a lot even away from the screen, which is how you identify a really good point and click mystery in my opinion. There are some disturbingly scary moments, notably one scene where you have a timed puzzle to solve, and a creature called a "Forgotten One" lurches towards you in a frightening stop-frame animation type sequence brought about by a malfunctioning light bulb.

My only criticism of Dark Fall (and it is a biggie, if I'm honest) is an awful bug where if you move your cursor too close to the edge of the screen the cursor disappears, meaning the game is unplayable and the only option is to Ctrl+Alt+Delete. My advice is SAVE OFTEN, although I really should practice what I preach as I lost a whole evening of game play last night thanks to this bug. You'd think they'd have released a patch since it's been out since 2009.

Overall I'd thoroughly recommend Dark Fall if you're looking for an immersive, atmospheric game you can dip in and out of without developing a WoW-style addiction.

Oh, and I've started another blog based around my rediscovered love of reading. There's not much there yet but if you'd like to follow my book reviews and literary meanderings then check out:

Until next time strong, stay logged off ;-)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Onwards and Upwards

Spring is finally here! It's the first slightly warm day we've had this year and I'm feeling chirpy. I never cared about weather during the WoW days. In fact, warm weather to me just meant dealing with a hot and sticky laptop. Or worse - shock horror - someone's laptop over heating during a raid! Usually the tank, so we'd waste the evening doing /dance in Icecrown Citadel while the tank stuck his laptop in the fridge for a while, perhaps never to return.

I'm still reading loads, and I've recently been mulling over an idea for a novel I'd like to write. I used to do a lot of creative writing, but as I'm sure a lot of aspiring writers will understand, if you don't have a lot of confidence in what you write it can fill you with a kind of self loathing, and that used to really put me off. I figure this time I'm going to just go with it. If it comes out as utter tripe, well, at least I will have created something that someone might one day enjoy. That's the thing about WoW, yes you create something, but it's a selfish creation, one that no one else will ever benefit from.

I looked up poor old retired Mojozi on the WoW Armory yesterday as I was feeling a bit nostalgic. It was sad to see the message "character profile no longer available as the character has been inactive for X amount of time". I guess I need to accept that that part of my life is really over.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Highs and Lows of the Guild Master

I haven't been updating this blog as often as I meant to. Probably because I'm out enjoying THE REAL WORLD! and not spending as much time on my laptop.

My most recent discovery? David Lynch's film debut Eraserhead, wow what a surreal and haunting film. I never used to cope too well with films during my WoW addiction. My boyfriend would nag me to watch something and I'd spend the next two hours feeling twitchy and anxious, worried about what I was missing in-game or what was going on in my guild.

A big part of the problem for me was that for a good year of my WoW-playing history I was a guild master. Any ex-GMs reading this will I'm sure back me up, it's a hell of a lot of responsiblity. Don't get me wrong, there were some great times in my guild, times that made me glow with pride, times that made it all worthwhile. I led two different raid teams in downing the Lich King for the first time, and the personal messages of gratitude I received after that were so touching.

But I'm beginning to sound overly nostalgic now aren't I? "No, don't waver Jen, don't go back there!" I hear you cry. Don't worry, I won't. For every good moment there were a million bad ones. A lot of hardcore WoW players get kind of sucked into a microcosm, it becomes their whole world, and petty, petty little matters get blown into full scale dramas, which, as GM, it often fell to me to sort out. Sometimes it would make me dread logging in. My loading screen would barely be out the way before I'd be bombarded by 3 or 4 whispers, often not even remotely connected to the running of the guild. I began to feel like a counsellor to a bunch of slightly depressed, reclusive addicts.

You're probably wondering how something causing this much hassle could be so addictive. It's a good question, one I don't have the answer to. A big milestone came when I realised I couldn't deal with that aspect of the game anymore and I left them for a bit of peace and quiet as a casual member of a different guild.

But anyway, back to my new and improved life. I've just had the most refreshing week off work. We took trips out every single day, just simple, geeky stuff like joining the library and having afternoon tea in quaint little cafes (it's one of my other really nerdy habits). It sounds like a cliche but fresh air really does lift your mood, not just psychologically but in an actual, solid, chemical-releasing way.

I threw my WoW authenticator in the bin last week. I really don't think there will ever be any going back now. I'm not sure what Blizzard's deal is on lost authenticators but I imagine it's a right pain to sort out.

Thanks for the lovely comments on here by the way, and I hope this blog might help give a few more full-on addicts the strength to quit.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Fool's Gold

It's been roughly one week since I quit WoW, that RPG-shaped albatross around my neck. True to my word, I went home that very same evening and cancelled my subscription. Unfortunately I was paid up until April so drastic action was called for. I uninstalled the entire game from my hard drive. As any WoW player will know, you're looking at several hours if not a whole day to re-install that wee beast.

Just before I uninstalled, I was faced with a small dilemma. I had accumulated an awful lot of in-game gold across my 7 toons. Who should I give it to? I had recently changed guilds and I felt kind of embarrassed about donating it to my new guild. It's hard to explain why - I guess I over-analyse things too much - but I hadn't been in the guild long enough to complete my probation, they were a really good, well-established guild and I was honored they'd let me in, so I felt a bit guilty about upping and leaving them so soon.

I also have a good friend in-game who is possibly as addicted as I used to be. She's only 16 and I kind of feel an older sister-style responsiblity towards her, so it seemed wrong to fuel her addiction by giving her all my gold. In the end I decided it really wouldn't do that much harm - she could blow it all on a rare mount, donate it to other needy players, whatever. I really need to stop being so over-analytical, don't I?

So with my gold disposed of and a very low key couple of goodbyes said, I logged out for the last time and hit uninstall, feeling strangely numb inside.

It's been a week and I haven't regretted it once. I've dreamed about WoW a few times - jumbled, confused dreams where I wake up thinking "Argh I need to gem my new trousers" and then realise that it really doesn't matter anymore. But other than that I feel great. More energy, lower stress levels...and evenings and weekends are going by so much slower you wouldn't believe!

I've started reading again. I'm reading a fantastic book called The Secret History by Donna Tartt. It's always on one of those "100 Books You Should Read Before You Die"-type lists so I figured I should give it a go. I never would have had the motivation if I hadn't quit WoW. The book has enriched me and made me think in ways that a computer game could never come within a million light years of.

I wouldn't swap this feeling for all the gold on Azeroth, Outland and Northrend put together.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Story So Far...

My name is Mojozi and I am a World of Warcraft addict. I am a seven foot tall troll with a red mullet hairdo. Back in the day I was bedecked head-to-toe in tier 10 epics, dripping with jewels and enchants. My heals per second were to die for and I never ran out of mana. Now I'm just a washed up old shaman whose daily highlight is completing the Orgrimmar cooking daily.

If the above makes any sense at all to you then this humble blog may be of some interest. You see, after nearly two years of intense WoW addiction, I had a startling revelation yesterday. I realised that I'm putting a thousand times more energy into improving this imaginary troll than I am into improving my own self. During WotLK this was in some way slightly gratifying because I was at the top of my game and it made me feel good about myself. Cataclysm has mostly made me cross, disillusioned and stressed out, for various reasons which I may blog about at a later stage. But either way getting this sense of self-achievement from a computer game constitutes massive misplaced priorities.

I knew for a long time that playing WoW to the extent I did wasn't healthy. I first got into it when I was unemployed, and it gave me a sense of self worth, aswell as being an easy alternative to looking for work. And now that I work 12 hours days at a soulless job I detest, WoW is, again, the easy option to come home to when I'm tired and demotivated. After a while I forgot who I was. I said to myself "I can't give up WoW, WoW is what defines me, it's who I am". The first step was remembering what used to define me in my previous life. And you know what? There was actually some cool stuff there I'd forgotten about.

It's time to get my life back. Tonight when I get home from work I'm going to email Blizzard and cancel my subscription. I want to remember all the things I used to do before the game consumed me. I want to become more well-read. I want to learn some new skills. Hell, I even want to leave the house once in a while.

This blog is about how I cope over the next few weeks, months, or however long it takes to go WoW Cold Turkey.