This enormous value was the result of having played FFXI an average of four hours every day over the course of three years.
In that time, I believed that I had collected an impressive arsenal of weapons, armor, and fictional money called “Gil” for my in-game persona. The reality, as I eventually realized, was that I willingly spent over $600 so that I could waste 180 days of my life sitting on my ass.
In this article, I’ll be discussing the addictive nature of MMORPGs, the humorous way how I made certain that I was quitting FFXI forever, and most importantly, the reasons why I chose to quit playing.
If you’ve never played a game of the MMO variety, then you’re probably thinking “You’ve got to be kidding — Game Addiction?” Believe me, the concept of such an affliction was just as alien to me when I bought the game.
Little did I know that within three years of purchasing the game, I would transform into a self-proclaimed “FFXI Junkie.”
Having examined the product subtleties more closely after-the-fact, I’m convinced that Square-Enix (the game producers) purposely designed FFXI to be addictive in nature. From a business perspective it makes sense to do so, since playing FFXI requires a subscription to their PlayOnline service.
Of course, you’re not obligated to pay for the
drugs subscription right away. With exception of the one-time cost of the Game Discs, you won’t be charged anything for the first 30 days. Funny how you must enter a valid credit card number to initiate your PlayOnline membership, though.
Then, right before you enter FFXI‘s fictitious world for the first time, you’re prompted with the following message:
A Word to Our Players
Exploring Vana’diel is a thrilling experience.
During your time here, you will be able to talk, join, and adventure with many other individuals in an experience that is unique to online games.
That being said, we have no desire to see your real life suffer as a consequence.
Don’t forget your family, your friends, your school, or your work.
In fact, this message displays every time you enter Vana’diel, clearly indicating how Square-Enix acknowledges the addictive nature of MMOs.
FFXI possesses addictive qualities serious enough that a mandatory warning displays every time you login to play it. It reminds me of the SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING posted on every pack of cigarettes. Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy. FFXI Causes Muscle Fatigue, Repetitive Stress Disorder, Social Inadequacy, and May Lead to Obesity or Malnutrition.
It’s easy to laugh at, because upon first seeing the warning, it seems very foolish. You can tell yourself “It won’t happen to me,” or “I’m not addicted” each time you click past the warning, but understand that the warning was put there for a reason. It does happen.
Thankfully, although I was addicted, I was still sensible enough to go to work. Three years of playing, however, did cause me to severely alienate myself from my family members and real life friends. It also negatively affected my relationship with my now former girlfriend.
So what aspects of the game make it addictive? Plain and simple: the game has no ending. There’s a seemingly infinite and always increasing number of things for your game character to do. Even after 180 days spent playing FFXI, I still experienced only a fraction of what’s available — but going into detail about what the game offers would go beyond the scope and intended purpose of this article.
The point is that I became addicted enough that I willingly clicked past the warning for three years. Consequently, the subscription costs and prices of expansion packs added up over 36 months, eventually reaching over $600.
Once I calculated that value, I recognized that I was investing hard-earned money into my own demise. Nothing tangible was resulting from the considerable time I was choosing to invest in playing FFXI. After having played so long, it didn’t even seem like I was playing to have fun anymore — I was simply playing because my real life problems didn’t exist in Vana’diel.
With this newfound understanding, I became determined to regain control of my life and quit playing FFXI forever. The problem was, I often heard about the struggles other MMO Addicts had when trying to quit. They’d leave and come back, leave again and come back again — sometimes repeating their attempt to quit five or more times.
Knowing my own addictive personality, it would be all too easy for me to fall into a relapse if I didn’t make some preventative measures to keep myself from returning.
In other words, just telling myself that I wouldn’t play anymore wouldn’t be sufficient. I’d most likely “quit” only temporarily — and return to the game the first time I became even moderately bored.
Similarly, unsubscribing wouldn’t be sufficient either. Character data remains intact when you cancel your subscription, and it’s very easy to reactivate the account.
Since I was seriously planning on quitting permanently, I did everything in my power to make it difficult for me to login ever again. In order to stop myself from returning to FFXI, I:
- Gave all of my virtual assets to in-game friends.
- Canceled my PlayOnline subscription.
- Uninstalled the FFXI Game Software.
- Locked the FFXI Game Installation Discs inside a Time Capsule.
- Stored the Time Capsule in a neighbor’s attic.
- Left the Key to the Time Capsule with my family in New Jersey.
- Moved from New Jersey to Michigan.
You may believe my methods for quitting are rather extreme, but I knew that’s what it would take. Even now, five months after taking these steps, I still get an occasional desire to play. Thankfully, it’s damn hard to justify reversing all of those steps to satisfy my Gaming Addition.
Now to answer the more important question: Why?
Three years is a long time. Looking back on the years I lost playing FFXI is reminiscent of a time warp. I advanced my game character for three years while my real life was put on pause. It got me nowhere. I failed to invest in myself because of my addiction to the fantasy. Consequently, after three years I didn’t have more money, more school, or more skills, let alone more happiness.
Dedicating more time to this fantasy world didn’t make sense — my real life was suffering because of my inability to exercise restraint, so I took drastic measures in order to begin creating positive change in my life. The hardest part was making the choice to quit permanently, knowing that I’d have to continue making that choice every day to truly conquer my addiction.
My hope is that maybe this article can enlighten other MMO Addicts that it’s within their power to choose to quit playing. If your life is suffering because of an unhealthy addiction to a MMORPG, then I encourage you to assess whether you’re playing for fun, or because you’re simply unable to stop.
Quitting FFXI has been bittersweet for me. Having abstained from playing for five months now, I admit that there are many aspects of the game that I miss — but truthfully, What I miss pales in comparison to Who I miss.
The people I developed in-game friendships with during my FFXI career are naturally what I miss most. They helped transform the game into an unforgettable experience, and the feeling of comradeship I would constantly experience playing alongside them is something I am sad to have let go of.
I’m not disappointed I made the decision to stop playing, but I can’t deny having enjoyed every moment of my playtime.
Still Unconvinced Game Addiction Exists? See These External Links:
- Man dies after 50-hour gaming marathon
- Couple’s online gaming causes infant’s death
- Expert: 40 Percent of World of Warcraft Players Addicted
- China opens game-addiction clinic
- China govt steps up limits on online gaming
- Ex-Blizzard Employee Divorces Husband Over WoW
- Game Addiction: The Real Story
- The Human Cost of MMORPGs
- I Kept Playing — The Costs Of My Gaming Addiction
|If you've found this website helpful, please click the PayPal button. You will be helping me pursue my dream career as a writer. Thanks for your support!|