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Former World of Warcraft addict talks about the dangers of habitual gaming

Former World of Warcraft addict talks about the dangers of habitual gaming
Justin Olivetti
Justin Olivetti|August 28, 2011 3:00 PM
Unplugged by Ryan Van Cleave
When one thinks of a player who's addicted to video games, usually the image of a teen or college student with too much time on his hands comes to mind. Not so with Ryan Van Cleave, who's a college professor with a PhD, marriage and kids -- and who admits to a crippling former addiction to World of Warcraft.

Last year, Van Cleave published his experience with video game addiction in the book Unplugged: My Journey into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction, and in a recent interview with Yahoo! News, he expounds on the process that led him from a reasonably balanced life to something akin to a nightmare. While he admits that he was prone to gaming too much prior to WoW, it was logging in for the first time in 2004 that captivated him fully. His domestic life suffered for it, and he eventually lost his job because of it.

He has since quit the game -- and MMOs in general -- although his wife is concerned about a relapse. His wife also eyes her kids as possible future addicts: "I also have concerns that my children may have a pre-disposition to gaming addiction in the same way that the children of an alcoholic might."

Van Cleave cautions players about the seemingly subtle process of becoming addicted: "Everything that you do as a video game addict, is usually small incremental steps. I was like a Charlie Sheen of WoW. Unapologetic and like a rebel, like, screw you, I'm going to play this game...even though I'm not being the best role model for my kids, I'm not being the best husband, I'm not being good to myself."
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