MMOs Teach Important Life Lessons: EverQuest and my Gambling Addiction

I feel that it is time someone posted something irrefutably good about MMOs besides more talk about their “potential.”

As damaging as video games can be to ones social life (if single/adolescent) or family life (if married) or both (if adolescent/married) they can also be extraordinarily useful in teaching people important life lessons. I’m a big supporter of the “Internet socialization isn’t real socialization” camp but there ARE a few social situations that an MMO can replicate effectively enough to teach you a good lesson.

MMOs as a medium are vastly inferior social experiences as compared to what people do with the rest of their day. Unless you are a hermit you must go to the store, go to work, interact with your family, etc. and in each of those situations you are around people and interacting with them frequently. In an MMO the world isn’t real- and nothing short of government required play-time and behavior laws will make it feel any more real. Any reality in the game is brought in by people playing with their friends- if you’re the only person you know playing the game then you can stop playing at any time without any real life consequences. I’m getting distracted though, and any behavior has real psychological consequences but that’s not the purpose of the post! 😛

Back on topic now! In an MMO there are situations that you can relate to real life- making purchases, bartering, a kind of theft, bullying, and (the focus of my post) gambling! Back when I played EverQuest and the “bazaar” opened up we finally had a place that we could go and post items for sale and make purchases without having to speak to the seller (This is another tangent, but I believe this is a step in the wrong direction (Auction Houses be damned! 😡 ). This also meant that there was a single place that people with money, or with a means to obtain money could be found.

It is not surprising that people wanting to take advantage of others and get their hands on easy money are attracted to these market environments, and it is in this environment and with one of these people that I learned a lesson that could have realistically cost me thousands of dollars.

Someone would spam a message every couple minutes that looked like this, “Gardok yells “Welcome to Gardok’s Casino! /roll 65-98 and double your money! Roll 99-100 and triple your money! Standing at the entrance to Shadowhaven!” Logic clearly says that in the long run you will lose a lot more than you gain, but there’s always the chance that you could be lucky!

I had recently sold a very expensive item of mine and so I had somewhere in the realm of 2000 platinum (the largest denomination of coin, 2000 was a lot- not nearly wealthy -but a lot more money than I’d ever seen before). I had a lucky streak and made it up to about 10,000 platinum before I started to lose. They always say quit while you’re ahead, but that’s a LOT easier said than done when you’re caught up in the grips of all that excitement.

Before I knew it I had no money and I was offering up pieces of armor to gain some money back. Before I knew it I had literally gambled away my shirt- this guy had my armor, my weapons, and even my containers and the items held within. I. Had. Nothing.

Nothing.

I was immediately lost in the throes of self-loathing and self-pity. I couldn’t play the game anymore! Getting the kind of gear I had acquired had taken a lot of time and while money could buy it all back, it’d take a LOT more than i’d ever seen to be able to buy it all back- trying to kill anything would be impossible. It was basically game over. In real life I would be naked and homeless. The guy was kind enough to let me continue playing the game by giving me all of my gear and bags back for free- what a kind soul! I do realize that a casino owner in real life would not be so generous.

Although the experience was essentially just an unfortunate transfer of my 1’s and 0’s into his 1’s and 0’s the feelings and actions were all too real. Just as ridicule teaches reasonable people not to take things intended for others in real/virtual life, so too does gambling in an MMO teach an identical lesson to that of gambling in real life! I am fortunate to have learned that I am susceptible to compulsively gambling when it didn’t actually mean anything. To have learned this lesson in real life would have been considerably more painful!

So regardless of what may be bad about MMOs no one can say that they don’t occasionally teach at least one important life lesson.

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4 Responses to “MMOs Teach Important Life Lessons: EverQuest and my Gambling Addiction”

  1. AFK - April 12 « Bio Break Says:

    […] talks about gambling in a MMORPG environment — that’s like layers upon layers of irony […]

  2. Chris F Says:

    What a great story! I live in a Casino town, and a couple of years ago a man brought his life savings – $30,000 – to a casino, lost it all, and then promptly killed himself at the table with a pistol.

    We go to the Casino once a month to have fun. I take $200.00 with me. When it is gone, I am gone, and that amount is something I don’t mind losing for the entertainment value I get at the Casino. The lights, the crowd, the atmosphere…

    Sometimes, I double up my $200! In that case I put $200 in my pocket and keep the remaining on the table to play with. When the second $200 is gone, I quit. If I mange to double it up again, another $200 goes into my pocket.

    My best night I walked out with around $8000 using that method (best night in a 15 year period, mind you). On my worst night I was done in under 20 minutes.

    Just like anything how you control your habits (MMO, gambling, or otherwise) levels the “impact” it has on your life. You can make it a positive or negative experience on your own level of self control.

    And Oh, you should have quit at $10,000 plat. =)

  3. jedioftheshire Says:

    Indeed I should have stopped at 10,000 plat! I will next time of course, although I’ve decided that the wiser path is to ensure that there is no next time :p.

    That’s a good, responsible, way to gamble though. I have yet to obtain the excess of cash required to visit a casino in reality, and the lack of proximity doesn’t help much at all either, but I know a couple that has a similar system.

    What happened with that man is seriously upsetting though, I hope he didn’t leave much family behind :(. That is exactly the reason to gamble in an MMO before real life though! There is a dynamic to MMOs that sets it distinctly apart from real life, but addiction of all types are related.

  4. Chris F Says:

    It definitely is a life lesson – although obviously there is more to it than just the gambling – a person so down in his life he risked it all – and lost – literally.

    Cue morality thoughts about other sort of life lessons that can be wrapped into gaming (more positive) including problem solving, scheduling, dealing with different personalities, charity, caring, accomplishment, teamwork, sense of meaning – all of played a part in my gaming history and I believe a lot more of “good” can come out of gaming – although you could easily list selfishness, over indulgence, greed, rudeness, etc on the other spectrum.

    Just like real life, it is all about who you choose to spend your time with.

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