I’ve begun playing World of Warcraft again.

My return to the game has led me to wonder: do most people struggle with low-level addictions, or is there actually a type of addictive personality? I don’t just mean addictions to drugs or tobacco or alcohol, but addictions to little things: coffee, chocolate, ice cream, and computer games. How common are these small compulsions? Or are there simply People Like Me who are more susceptible to addictions than normal folk?

My life has been filled with addictions since boyhood. What are collections if not manifestations of addiction? My web-surfing? That’s a sort of a addiction. My collection of comics? That’s also an addiction. My library of books? That’s a rather large addiction!

Does it take a special personality to succumb to addiction, or does everyone suffer from these compulsions, if only to a small extent? I’m curious.

The taurens dance with joy at my return

You may recall that I became addicted to World of Warcraft earlier this year, spending fully ten percent of my life playing it between last November 23rd and April 15th. At the height of my addiction, I spent twenty percent of my life in game: four or five hours every day.

As may be expected, I’m wary about playing again. Addiction may rear its ugly head once more. The World of Warcraft experience is so fun, so immersive, that even six months after having quit the game cold turkey, I found myself dreaming of its virtual environments. I longed to roam the savannah and the jungle and the mountains defeating gnolls and the like. So I’m giving it a chance.

I have been back in-game for ten days now, and have been pleased with my restraint. I have placed limits on myself. I have a kitchen timer by my side, and it serves as a constant reminder not to become swept up in the game. I stop playing after designated periods of time. I spend days between each play session. I don’t do “just one more thing” before logging off for the night.

I am exercising moderation.

My goal is to limit play to between seven and ten hours a week. This may seem like a lot, but an ancillary goal is to take time from other wasteful activities rather than from those things that are important. So long as I trade web-surfing time or comic-book-reading time for World of Warcraft-time, things are fine.

It’s been great fun to start a new character on a role-playing server, adventuring with both Joel and Scott, as their time allows. I do not regret this decision.


Now that I’ve managed to stabilize my weblog, I’m gradually bringing others back on-line. My brother Jeff returned last week, and the Mirons made a new post over the weekend. Welcome back!

(And stay tuned for the debut of Amy Jo’s weblog…)

12 Replies to “Voluntary Addiction”

  1. Amy Jo says:

    A friend recently recommended a book entitled “The Gift of Our Compulsions” by Mary O’Malley, after we had a talk about some of the issues you bring up in this entry. I’m not much of a self-help book reader, in fact, I tend to avoid them. However, this one came highly recommended and I might see if I can track it down at the library. The description on Amazon reads:

    Everyone is compulsive to some degree. People may worry too much, work too hard, or overindulge in food or alcohol or drug use. Once a compulsion is admitted, the usual option is to try to control the behavior. But this effort typically ends with the problem returning, or a new one taking its place. In this book based on three decades of research and teaching, Mary O’Malley has crafted a new approach, with simple exercises and techniques and an inspiring tone. People are compulsive for a reason, she says, and by observing the things they are compulsive about and engaging those compulsions, readers can begin to understand them and change their actions around them. The book’s exercises help readers in the engagement process by teaching them to ask the right questions and shows why lasting healing comes from being curious rather than controlling, and self-acceptance comes through forgiveness, not shame.

  2. tammy says:

    I have a very addictive personality but then that may not count in your survey since the same blood runs through our veins!

  3. J.D. says:

    Yes, Tammy, but you’re addicted to things like cleaning. And God. These are mostly innocuous. Why do I have to be addicted to things like comic books and computer games? It could be worse, I suppose. I could be addicted to some form of mind-altering substance, one with that induces a physical addiction instead of just a psychological addiction.

  4. tammy says:

    I had to laugh at your evaluation of my addictions. Is that all you think my weblog and life is about, Mr? Actually I’m addicted to Diet Coke, chocolate, shopping, starbucks, food, and my biggest nemesis, the computer. It’s such a time waster and yet I spend about two hours a day on it! sigh

  5. Aimee & Joel says:

    Yes, Tammy, but you’re addicted to things like cleaning. And God. These are mostly innocuous.

    Ha! (Chuckling continues …)

  6. Amanda says:

    I am exercising moderation.

    I thought this said, “I am exercising in moderation.”

    What an idea!

  7. J.D. says:

    I thought this said, “I am exercising in moderation.”

    Ha! There is a lot of (virtual) running in World of Warcraft. Some wives have dubbed it “World of Runcraft”. They call it “the running game”. It would be fantastic if there were some sort of treadmill interface so that I could actually get exercise while playing the game. Or, perhaps, I could connect Kris’ NordicTrack to the computer…

  8. John says:

    Speaking of exercising, I may have to start doing something soon.

    From January to October, I’ve lost 35 pounds. Might be more, haven’t weighed myself in a while.

    I still exercise the same amount (i.e., NONE), still eat the same way I did (i.e., whatever I please), but I now drink diet rather than regular Mountain Dew… and I limit myself to just a couple of cans a day, drinking water whenever I’m thirsty. The transition from sugar-laden to diet Dew took about two weeks. Now I’m just as happy drinking diet soda (any brand) as un-diet.

    Don’t get me wrong – the diet still tastes like diet, but I’ve become acclimated to the taste and no longer find it disgusting. I figure, what the hell – I’ve put down shots that tasted worse than any diet drink!

    In January, I weighed between 215 and 220, which is quite a bit on my 5’7″ frame. I’m now down to 180, and would like to drop another 10 pounds. I seem to be stuck at a plea^H^H^H^H pleau^H^H^H^H^H pl^H^H flat spot 🙂 and exercise will probably be required to lose those last few inches…


  9. jenefer says:

    I am always amazed at how negatively you see these traits. The things you chose to do may fill up your time, but if you chose not to do them, you would just fill up your time with something else. In a positive light, a good, positive synonym is “devoted” or focused. I think it is great that you have such focus and persistence. What is wrong with enjoying your leisure time? Does Kris feel neglected? Have you stopped socializing? Do your clients at work feel abandoned? I suspect that the answer to these questions is NO. You are functioning, and probably pretty well. It is good to have balance, but I don’t think you need to be so negative. The only thing I think is non-normal is how you know how much time you spend on everything. That kind of record keeping is a little excessive, but record keeping in general is great. Maybe you could give up a little of the statistics and have more time for another pursuit you currently can’t fit in.

  10. A suggestion that would help in better describing WoW:

    “World of Warcraft is an online HELL set in the addictive-winning Warhell universe. Addicts assume the roles or Warhell junkies as they explore, adventure and quest for a bigger and better fix. World of Warhell is a “Massively Addictive Multiplayer Online Rave That Will Cause Your Loved Ones to Pull out Their Own Hair in Frustration” which will allow thousands of players to interactively become addicted within the same version of hell. Whether fighting together or against each other until their eyes are bloodshot and half blind, players will form gangs, forge support groups of addiction, and compete with enemies that are more batshit crazy from the game than they are all in the name of non-existant power and glory.”

  11. Dan says:

    Had some problems with various addictions myself. I’m a smoker, I’m not an alchoholic or a drug addict but I indulge in both a lot more than most. My addiction to WoW has certainly had more of an effect than any of the above. At the height of it I was playing atleast 10 hours every day, with the occasional 30 straight hour session. It had a significant on my life financially and socially and on my mental health. I quit cold turkey, and since got things back together for myself. Moved to a new country and started a new job, but yet only 5 days ago I started playing again and I can feel the same behaviour patterns emerging. Wish me luck…. Bruce’s post is very true. Somehow that isn’t stopping me.

  12. Twinfury says:

    u r a noob

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