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NEW VIDEO: I Quit MMOs and THIS Happened

Call me Ishmael


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Hey, it's as good an opening line as any.

I honestly don't know if I can do this.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with some pretty severed ADHD. One of the things I learned is that ADD people can, in some cases, hyperfocus on activities they enjoy. That revelation explained much of my life. When I was in my 20s, as a programmer, I remember very often getting so wrapped in my coding that I'd lose track of time; all of a sudden I'd look up and realize that, not only had all my co-workers gone home, but the cleaning crew had come and gone. It was 1 in the morning, and I hadn't so much as taken a bathroom break in seven hours. 

At least then, I was channeling the hyperfocus into something productive. Later, it became games. So, so many games. I'd get into that "zone" and lose track of time. Forget to eat, forget to piss. Forget to do my work. When I started working from home a couple of years ago, that was it. I'd be lucky to get in an hour of real work for my company a day, compared with seven or so in Last Day on Earth or something equally stupid. 

This time sink is so ingrained into my brain that I'm not sure it can be erased. To truly detox, I might actually have to commit myself to some place that will physically prevent from getting to my iPad or laptop. We'll see. But today is day one.

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Day one:

- I deleted seven games from my iPad.

- Gonna keep it (the iPad) because it's good for other stuff.

- Deleted my Reddit account, since all I ever discussed with that account was games

It hurts -- I have about $250 sunk into World of Warships blitz, and probably close to a grand on Last Day on Earth. But as we learned in module three, that money is already gone; brilliant of Cam to tee up the Sunk Cost Fallacy, something I learned about years ago WRT product marketing, but never thought to apply the principle to gaming. If I'd lost that money  in the stock market, given it to a friend, or doused it in gasoline and set fire to it, the results are the same: It's gone.

So is the time, the shocking amount of time, that I spent on those games. 

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  • 1 month later...

Well, that didn't last long.

The problem with modern, cloud-based games is that often the accounts are stored offsite. So by merely re-installing the game, all of my progress, purchases, etc, were still there.

I read the parts in the guide where it says "moderation doesn't work," but I guess I thought, well, there are some value to games. Let me explain: When I'm on the subway, or waiting for my GF to get ready to go out, or waiting at the doctor's office, or any of a million other times, it kinda, sorta makes sense to kill time with my iPad. Sometimes I read the news, but it's been so toxic lately that I hesitate to go that route. My goal, such as it was, was to find a non-addictive (ha) time killer game that I could just pick up, play for 3-10 minutes, then go about my business. Perhaps that's what healthy people do...

"World or Warships: Blitz" is insanely insidious. Talk about "tracking progress," and rewarding play. The player himself (me) gets graded and ranked, both overall and in shorter-term, usually one month, league play. Then, for each ship he has, say an American destroyer, there are experience points for the ship. Once you sink enough other ships, you can convert those points into another, nicer ship, and the process starts over. So let's do the math: There are 15 "lines" of ships, for example, American destroyers, cruisers, battleships and carriers. There are also Japanese cruisers, destroyers... well you get the idea. And there are ten "tiers" of ships, from I to X. Ramping up the first few tiers is easy; you can do it in a few battles. Once you get to tier IX, it literally takes hours of play for weeks to advance. AND there are experience points for the NPC commanders that we assign to the ships. And, every twelve hours, there are bonus times for each ship: You get extra xp and silver until you get your first win. The matches take about six minutes. There are 15 ship lines (I actually had 25 ships), and even by saying "Well I'll just play the bonus rounds and stop," do the math: 25 x 6 = 150 minutes, and that's assuming I won each time. I didn't, my win rate was about 62%. So that's about FOUR HOURS just to take advantage of the bonus rounds. And here's the kicker: The bonuses reset after 12 hours. So, you guessed it, I was starting my day with four hours or game time, doing a little work, then starting back up again at night when the bonus rounds reset.

Long story short, psychologists examining game addiction should investigate World of Warships: Blitz to see how brilliantly they entice you to play "just one more." And there's more than I've even posted here, there are social aspects, with fleets (clans) that offer yet another currency and competition level.

I started out just playing one ship that I was trying to master.  Then it went to to, then, by mid-January, I was back to 10-12 hours a day. After a particularly upsetting loss (and a few beers), I did my bottom-of-the barrel move again, bashing the iPad against my forehead.

This time, the screen didn't shatter. I was lucky. But I knew I had to put a permanent stop to this.

Since there's no real way to permanently delete the game, I took advantage of the in-game economy, and sold all my ships. You get about 50% of the value in doing this, it's a way to dump old ships to buy new ones, but with a hefty penalty. Then I bought some new ones with the silver I had, and sold those. Eventually, I was down to one crappy ship and almost nothing in the in-game economy. I knew that if there was a way to get back my accomplishments, I might get weak again some night and log back in. But I also knew I would never start from scratch, after being so advanced in the game.

It worked. That was a week ago, and I haven't logged back in. When I think about it, I remember, "oh yeah, I have no ships, not much point."

I won't say I haven't played any other games. I think I might have found a non-addictive one that my GF likes as well, a true time killer with none of the addictive aspects. So I haven't gone cold turkey... yet. But this was a huge move for me. It was a tough week, and yes, I've had dreams about the game. But I haven't played, and don't think I will. Baby steps.

Sorry for the long post. I needed to write this all down.

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