MUD Addiction: A True Story

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Dr. David Greenfield, psychologist and President of the Center for Internet Studies, received the following e-mail from a self-identified MUD addict. This case clearly illustrates the potentially detrimental social effects of excessive MUD use:

I am a 36 year old attorney from Los Angeles and here is my story. . . Approximately a year and a half ago, I started to play an online game called Darkness Falls. I didn't know how to play the game all that well so a few people started to give me directions and it was very satisfying to obtain their help. One of the male characters began to chat flirt with me. I appreciated his help so much and wanted to continue getting his help so I innocently began flirting back. The flirtations grew and soon enough we were having cybersex while we were in character. I grew less and less attracted to my husband and the Male character became my fantasy on-line husband in game. I began to spend more and more time online playing the game. I felt as though I had fallen in love with this character. My Online Husband and I began corresponding through e-mail and expressed that love for each other and began talking on the phone. I started spending less and less time with my husband and more time being online. Pretty soon I was missing court appearances cause I couldn't get off the game.

Luckily for me, my online husband after a year and a half dumped me. My god it was the worst feeling in the world. I felt like I had lost everything in the world that mattered to me. I left the game because I hurt so much.

Then I started reading some stuff on the internet about internet addiction and One guy talked about Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. I began to see how the Internet and this game in particular was an efficient means of meeting a number of those needs. First of all you have socialization. In this game it is common for people to play together for three years and know each other just from the game. But you become like family to the game and you begin to care about these people characters as if they were real. Secondly it feeds into a need for accomplishment. Each day you play your character you get more and more experience and your levels go up slowly but surely and as you attain a new level you get more skills and abilities. So you feel like the more you are there the more you accomplish. Third, freedom from fear. . . No one sees who you are, you can be anyone you want to be and if you don't like how you turned out, you create a new character and start again.

I'm telling you if you talked to more of the players of this game, and I'm sure Everquest and games like it, you would see that these internet games are far more insidious than any chat room. There is so much this game or any like it taps into.