Two types of games on the market today have attracted many
customers. Console games, such as Playstation 2 and X-Box, have
found their way into the homes of many people and offer a large
variety of games. PC games have also become quite popular and
have become more addictive with the help of the Internet. One
such game, called EverQuest, has become quite controversial
since its release in March of 1999.
EverQuest, which was released by Sony Online Entertainment
(SOL), is a fantasy- style game in the tradition of Dungeons
and Dragons. It allows players to create a wide variety of characters
and places those characters, in a fantasy environment that allows
them to interact with real people from all over the world. Game
play allows people to group with other players, join player-made
alliances, and trade items, such as weapons, armor, staves,
and magic jewelry.
The addictiveness of EverQuest has caused a big stir in the
gaming community. Referred to by many of its players as “EverCrack,”
the game currently has around 400,000 subscribers populating
multiple game servers in the quest for fame and fortune within
the game’s environment.
So how can something that seems fun and harmless be dangerous?
People who have found themselves seriously addicted to EverQuest,
as well as similar games such as Dark Age of Camelot and Asheron’s
Call, have found themselves failing school, losing jobs, ending
relationships, and in some cases, losing their lives.
On Thanksgiving of 2001, Wisconsin resident, Shawn Wooley,
21, an avid EverQuest player, was found dead in his apartment
by his mother, Elizabeth Wooley. He had apparently shot himself
with a gun he had purchased earlier that week. He was sitting
at the computer at the time of his suicide. The room was littered
with notes related to the game, but there was nothing written
down that pointed to the cause of the suicide.
His family tried to gain information from SOL concerning her
Wooley’s account, but found them to be unhelpful due to the
privacy clause that protects the players and their accounts.
Prior to his death, Wooley played EverQuest at intervals of
12 hours a day. He had quit his job and was evicted from his
apartment. He moved in with his mother and eventually checked
into a group home that helped people with their addicitons.
Against his mother’s wishes, he left the establishment and again
got an apartment on his own. Shortly afterward, Wooley’s life
came to an end.
After her son’s death, Elizabeth Wooley filed a lawsuit against
SOL in an attempt to find out what role the game may have played
in her son’s suicide. One of her goals is to prevent a repeat
occurrence to other gamers. She wants to warn people of the
dangers of video game addiction and would like to see warning
labels on the covers of addictive games.
According to Jay Parker, a chemical dependency counselor and
co-founder of Internet/Computer Addiction Services in Washington,
D.C., certain mental health problems can result in addiction
to online games. People who are basically introverted, easily
bored, plagued with low self-esteem, and anorexic are prone
Many cases seem to validate Parker’s diagnosis. A young Florida
man tried to get social security for agoraphobia, a fear of
open and public places, but was in fact addicted to playing
EverQuest. Another man from Florida was so addicted to the game
that he fatally neglected his child.
Another strange case, documented by Parker, involves a college
senior who quit going to class after being introduced to EverQuest.
After playing the game for 36 straight hours, he had a psychotic
breakdown from sleep deprivation and was convinced he was being
chased and attacked by characters from the game.
Signs of addiction are both psychological and physical. The
psychological symptoms include a feeling of euphoria while at
the computer, neglect of family and friends, lying about activities,
problems with work or school, and an inability to pull away
from the games. Physical symptoms include carpal tunnel syndrome,
dry eyes, backache, headaches, change in eating patterns, failure
to maintain personal hygiene, and sleeping disturbances.
According to one former gamer, the best thing to do to help
break away from addiction is to create a daily schedule and
to stick to it. Responsibilities such as work, school, family,
and housework should receive top priority. People should schedule
themselves at least four hours of personal time each day. During
this free time, people should find something else to do other
than sit in front of the computer or the television. For college
students, activities such as attending sporting events or other
school functions can help limit the time spent playing video
For those who get seriously addicted, help is available. Therapists
and psychiatrists have successful programs to help people escape
the addiction and have put many people back on track with their
For more information on computer and video game addiction,
visit: www.computeraddiction.com . Sources: www.jsonline.com,
*Sidenote-screenshots are courtesy of http://everquest.station.sony.com/
and game cover is courtesy of www.amazon.com .