The Addicting Quality of MMOs

For a long while now, I’ve been faithfully playing an online fantasy role-playing game called Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Haven’t heard of it? Well, you should check this out and start playing it! Right now, I play a cute Hyur lass who wields a giant, ferocious axe.

It may be because I’m fond of the Final Fantasy series and what Square Enix produces (Final Fantasy VII and the Kingdom Hearts series are a big part of my childhood) but I find this game difficult to put aside. When I’m not playing it, I’m thinking about it; how to get better gear, how to make more money, what new achievements can I unlock, what new content has been released in this new update, what are the best techniques for this boss battle. The list goes on and on for a fan. And if I had the resources, you know I would have been at the Fan Fest they held in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago.

But the life I play online is just what the game’s title implies: a fantasy.

It’s an escape from my shortcomings in real life, where I can play the hero and do great things for this other enchanting community. No one in this game rejects my application into any guild; they give me a warm welcome and a firm pat on the back, along with some friendly words that go along the lines of “glad to have a helping hand!” In the real world, I can’t even get someone to reply back from an email.

It’s very satisfying to play a game and achieve something. There’s usually a reward of some kind, a blend of money, goods and gear more often than not, and a short, uplifting tune is played in recognition. The whole thing has a Pavlovian type of set-up to it to keep people playing for the next goal. And it feels so good to reach that next goal.

But I’m susceptible to being pulled in too deep by this digital world. Offline, A year has passed in my search for a career in the field that I obtained my degree in, I don’t work as many hours as I would like at my current job, the good that I do both at work and in society goes largely unnoticed and my requests are often sidelined in favor of another’s agenda. It’s a thankless world out there and I know my story is a lot more joyous than others. But it’s no surprise when I’m feeling down about myself that I find pleasure in this fantasy land called Eorzea and more and more of my time is spent there.

Which is why it’s so important to have control. Most days, I realize when the hours tick by and I have to set down the controller. “That’s enough,” I say. I made plenty of progress even if I don’t realize it. But other days, when I’m feeling negative and being too hard on myself, I will waste away a morning trying to grind out an upgrade for my weapon of choice. I think doing this once in a while is fine only if I’ve accomplished submitting a job application or doing a few chores around the house, but it’s very easy for one morning to turn into two mornings or three (especially if it’s a slow week at work). So it is important to have goals outside of the game to do: finishing a book, writing a blog post, sewing a petticoat, researching fashion history, something.

Thankfully, November is around the corner and I can spend time making plans to visit family. It gives a change of pace and scenery and it can be very refreshing. I find autumn and winter to be just a wonderful time of year (even if I have a hard time with the cold). C:

Does anything else have a habit of spending way too much time on something? Is it games like me? Do you pour hours and hours into a hobby? Any recommendations on what I should try?

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