We tried to make you go to rehab, you said, raid! raid! raid!

What do Facebook, RPGs and crack cocaine have in common? That’s right, they’re addictive. In honour of Blizzard’s next tour de force dropping in just a few days, here at Sumonix we address the perils of RPG addiction and give you some tips on how to survive the vicious loot-gathering cycle.

First of all, full disclosure. My name is Vince and it has now been 2 years, 7 months and 5 days since I last logged into World of Warcraft, the most addictive RPG in the gaming kingdom. My shaman had it all – a shiny matching armour set, a shield that was a gift from the gods, a glowing blade that powered my command of the four elements. On dungeon raids I was the damage dealer, hurling bolts of lightning at immense creatures, planting devastating totems and dancing over the corpses of those Alliance prudes who would try to take me and my posse on.

But I moved on from WOW after playing through the first expansion, The Burning Crusade, not because I got bored but because the time investment to stay competitive became too much. My guild soldiered on without me through the subsequent expansions of Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm but by that point I was happy to be free of the shackles of WOW.

Just One More Quest…

What is it that makes WOW so addictive in particular? The endless amount of loot is a big factor, there’s always a shinier stick or more badass armour set to boost your avatar’s power, presence and reputation. There is an almost scary sense of achievement when after your seventh run through a dungeon, the boss finally drops your desired piece of equipment or apparel. Yes! I now have the Pauldrons of the Fallen Hero! But there is no catharsis achieved from this virtual acquisition, within minutes you are searching the loot databases for the next rare item and planning the quest to obtain it.

There is an almost scary sense of achievement when after your seventh run through a dungeon, the boss finally drops your desired piece of equipment or apparel.

The Player versus Player (PVP) element is another attraction for the RPG addict. The gladiatorial Arenas in WOW reward players with some of the finest loot in the game. And with the finest loot these players have the upper hand in all PVP skirmishes. Leaving a trail of corpses behind you as you cast, stab and smite your way through the opposing faction is another incredibly addictive sensation.

In these vast MMORPG worlds, there is no end cinematic to close the game, the only way to finish is to quit. I hammered the nail into the proverbial coffin of my WOW career by selling my avatar to a friend. All my hard earned gold pieces, my badges of honour from epic battles, all the hundreds of hours I sunk into my beloved shaman – I was very much short changed in the transaction, but nevertheless I was finally free of the game.

World of Warcraft nerd

You don’t want to become this guy…

I used to think that if I stayed off multiplayer servers and remained in my closed off campaign that I could play without the danger of another fixation. Then Skyrim came along. All of a sudden the open world of a MMORPG was available in a single player game, with the all the loot, factions, skills and dragons – lots of dragons. Ironically, at the time of Skyrim‘s release I had a busy few months coming up in real life so I decided to abstain from starting a second life in the game. It wasn’t easy, and reading the reviews and gameplay videos posted by my colleagues here at Sumonix didn’t help much in resisting Skyrim‘s siren call, but I got through it.

But next week I’m diving in the deep end. Diablo III has eluded me for long enough and I will not stand idle while millions of fans level up and loot-gather around me. Real life will have to bend this time, at least for a while.

To assist you, dear reader, with your upcoming (or already established) RPG addiction, Sumonix has compiled a list of tips to keep your playing under control. Of course the first 24 hours after the servers go live can be taken as a grace period, but just remember to eat and sleep.

Take The Antidote

  1. Only play after dark – This rule can vary according to your geographical position (i.e. if you live in Iceland you won’t be seeing a lot of darkness during the summer) but the gist of it is don’t play during the day. Daytime hours are for working your job, getting regular exercise and on the weekends, getting out of the house if it’s not raining. This guideline also applies for the start of the day, meaning if you’ve been gaming all night and you notice the sun rising outside your window, shut it down and get some sleep.
  2. Have quitting goals and stick to them – RPGs are riddled with milestones; levelling up, defeating the dungeon boss, unlocking a new zone, cashing in your book of completed quests to name a few. At any point when you are rewarded for your efforts it’s a good time to check the time and use the opportunity to log off. The game isn’t going anywhere and you don’t have to defeat Diablo before everyone else.
  3. Don’t forget to socialise in the real world – most gamers realise that NPCs or even other real players (that chat) in the game are no substitute for friends in the flesh. If you get a text that your mates are getting together at the pub for a pint you should have a better reason for your absence than cleansing Sanctuary of the Legions of the Burning Hells. And for God’s sake man, don’t forget to call/text/spend time with your significant other! Diablo III has the potential to end more relationships than Championship Manager.
  4. Play other games – If you find yourself in a zombie-like state of mouse clicking and executing keyboard commands, don’t forget to switch gears every now and then and launch another game. If you aren’t having the time of your life decimating the legions of monsters then take a break for a few days. Remember, you’re not getting paid to power level your own character, so make sure you get your money’s worth out of the purchase and keep the experience fun from start to finish.
  5. And finally, remember that you are in fact: an adult – Your parents aren’t there to limit your game time or lock you out of the servers. Gone are the days of curfews or forced bedtimes. It is you who gets to decide how much is too much and you should take that responsibility seriously.

Heed these words of advice my friends because Diablo III drops in four days. You have been warned.

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