Ever-Question on EverQuest
In early 1999,
Sony Online Entertainment released the game “Everquest”
for the PC. The game not only did incredibly well in sales, but
has a huge subscriber base for its on-line game service that connects
thousands of gamers together to play in a fantasy world full of
monsters, demons, wizards, witches, and warriors with magic powers.
The graphics are not very impressive, but the gameplay has been
said to be so habit forming that many have dubbed it “EverCrack”.
Now in 2003
EverQuest is back and bigger on the PlayStation 2, a videogame system
that sits in millions of households across the world. It was announced
late February that SOE has expanded its network to accommodate the
increasing demand for on-line play (at the cost of $9.99 per month).
It appears now that the realm of EverQuest has hooked PS2 users
or Without You: A Never Ending Game
wrong with this game that never ends? Late last year CBS News did
in depth reports on addiction and EverQuest, interviewing Liz Woolley,
a mother who said that her son Shawn became so obsessed with the
game that he committed suicide. The young man was found dead sitting
in front of his computer with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His
mother was emotional as she said that EverQuest was still running
on the screen when she found him. “That damn game. He shot
himself because of the game,” she told CBS. Ms. Woolley said
that Shawn was having problems in the game and that another player
he was interacting with hurt him: “And he was so upset. And
then I was trying to talk him about it, and I said, ‘Well, Shawn,
you know, those aren’t people. They’re not real people.’”
However, she says, “He couldn’t stay off it. That’s how strong
that game is. You can’t just get up and walk away.”
Comedian, and Presidential Speech Writer, Ben Stein has also been
very vocal against the game, going on national television and doing
interviews to talk about how EverQuest destroyed his son’s
life and his son’s ability to function rationally in the real
world. Not only had the game affected his son Tommy directly, but
Ben was experiencing guilt and depression over the deterioration
of his son’s character.
In the November-December
2001 edition of “The American Spectator“, Stein writes
about how EverQuest has pushed school out of his son’s life
and talks about how the game has taken up all of his son’s
energies, motivations, and desires:
is in his room sitting at his fancy computer (but, as he tells me
all the time, not fancy enough) playing his goddamned Everquest,
the worst thing that ever happened to him, a literal curse, a drug
that eats away at every drop of energy and initiative. It’s a sort
of online ‘Dungeons and Dragons,’ and he loves it beyond
description. He can stay on forever. Plus, he can spend money on
it like there is no tomorrow. He is simply a demon at it. And we
are the demon facilitators because we are so happy he’s not using
marijuana, we keep letting him play his evil Everquest.”
Calling it “D-Day”,
Stein continues by recalling the trip he and his wife made with
his son to the new boarding school the boy would attend. During
the trip, Stein goes over in his mind the memories of the gentle
child Tommy once was and talks about how he hopes that the disciplined
environment of the new school may bring his son back to him. As
father and son leave each other, Stein summarizes his feelings and
rationalizes the action he has taken: “He did not turn to
say good-bye to me as I told him I loved him. He may not know when
the Civil War was, and he may not know when the Revolution was,
but he sure knows how to hurt his father’s feelings.
car on the way back home, I thought I would just fall into a deep
pit of sorrow. Except for my parents’ deaths, I am not sure I have
ever felt so bad.
would any of us do without work, which is truly the Lord’s blessing
upon us. Life without work is desolation, self-loathing and death.
By the way, this is why I want Tommy at a structured place. I can
see that if he does no work, his self-esteem vanishes. Then he is
suited to do even less work, and he just plays in his imaginary
Everquest world, where he does have some self-esteem. Then the spiral
goes down and down and he gets ever more self-loathing and angry
at us out of his defensiveness.
his new school helps.”
Though the issue
of violence in videogames is being continually addressed by the
electronic gaming industry, addiction beyond video poker machines
is apparently new. Few organizations deal with video game or on-line
addiction, even though some studies are quite alarming.
In an interview
with the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" Jay Parker, a chemical
dependency counselor and co-founder of Internet/Computer Addiction
Services in Redmond, Washington, spoke about a 21-year-old college
student he had treated who had become obsessed with EverQuest. During
his senior year the young man became hooked on EverQuest and stopped
going to classes. Eventually, the student had a psychotic break
from reality brought on by sleep deprivation after playing the game
for 36 hours straight.
the characters had come out of the game and were chasing him,"
Parker said. "He was running through his neighborhood having
hallucinations. I can’t think of a drug he could have taken where
he would have disintegrated in 15 weeks."
went on to speak of a new phenomenon of virtual transsexualism that
he was witnessing with EverQuest. "People like to create new
personas," Parker said. "You see a lot of gender-bending."
Prevention & Parental Involvement
Ben Stein shows
us the importance of parents becoming more involved in their children’s
lives so that they can identify problems before they escalate. Stein’s
son eventually kicked his addiction after he came back from reform
school and the old Tommy is back, but how many other parents are
At last year’s
annual video game industry convention, E3, IDSA President Doug Lowenstein
raised an important point on the sale of violent video games and
children that can relate to any issue where bad games can negatively
affect kids. Mr. Lowenstein told an audience of reporters that studies
have shown that the majority of violent games that children play
are purchased by a parent of the child. Like films, video games
have ratings (For Example “M” for Mature, which is the
equivalent of the MPAA’s "R” rating), but unlike films,
many parents do not take the step to find out what content is contained
within a game. Though the several versions of EverQuest produced
have achieved the milder “T” or Teen rating, their ESRB
labels state they contain ‘Blood & Gore, Violence, and
not be able to stop games like EverQuest from being produced, but
they can prevent such games from entering the home. And for adults
hooked on EverQuest and other such games, help is out there just
like there is help for every addiction out there. And once in recovery,
one will find that there are tons of games out there that are a
lot better (and cheaper in the long run) for you and your family.
So try some sports next time around; you may find that you like
hockey or baseball, even though you’ve always loved football.
on EverQuest Addiction:
16307 NE 83rd St, Suite 208
Redmond, WA 98052
Suicide Over Everquest? (October 18, 2002)
Everquest Overload? (October 17, 2002)
Or Evercrack? (August 6, 2002)
Interview with Entertainment Tonight on EverQuest:
Digital Software Association (IDSA):
Software Rating Board (ESRB):
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