Why I Quit Black Desert
During the course of a conversation with a friend a few weeks back, I came to a stark realization – when I’m addicted to a video game the rest of my life seems dull.
When I say addicted, I mean the game causes problems in other parts of my life. The second I said this, it become obvious to both of us just how true this is. In this last gaming cycle I was sucked deep into a massive multiplayer online game called Black Desert Online. I played a sorceress. A mean one. I divided my time between your typical monster slaying and “sandbox” skill elements where I fished off a pier, mined stone, chopped wood, hunted animals, and gathered flowers. I sold gathered ingredients or used them to craft jerky, tools, boats, or potions. For me these skill elements added an incredibly addictive element to the game where I was often leaving my computer on overnight so I could work in-game and felt the need to re-check on my progress every few hours. Towards the final weeks I’d been playing for 15 or 20 minutes before work and found myself rushing home to log in. I was probably putting in 4-5 hours per day on average and another 6 on weekend days. I say addiction because playing a game like this has a severely negative impact on other aspects of my life.
Interestingly, I actually have a way to track this addiction. Using data gathered by RescueTime, an application that runs in the background on each of my computers, you and I can watch this addiction unfold for two months. My email records show that I bought the game on April 17, 2006. A friend, after warming me up in person once or twice, sent me an email with a free beta link and a video review titled “Join meeee”. I downloaded the beta that day and you can see my gaming usage jump. On April 22, I sent an email trying to recruit my brother in. On April 23, I finally bought a full version of the game – upgrading to the deluxe version for a mount and a pet!
In April I logged 37 hours and 10 minutes of Black Desert.
In May I logged 65 hours and 48 minutes of Black Desert. I was on vacation for 3 days from 5/19-5/22 where there’s no activity shown.
I quit on May 30th. I clicked the “reset password” button, set a new password, and then threw it away.
So, how did I quit? The weekend before, I’d been grouped up with a father/daughter pair. I thought it was neat that they played socially together, but when the father started talking about how he played for many hours every day I had some unpleasant flashbacks to the bad old days. I had also finally reached the “end game” and gotten a brief look into what my life would be like almost every play session if I continued to play. I got a good look at grinding the same mobs, gathering the same stones, and suffering the same old recruiting effort in finding companions to assist me in my quests. I realized during this pivotal conversation that the experience of being in-game for so many hours of my life, no matter how monotonous, dulled the rest of my life.
It’s like a cloudy pallor is cast over life. I can practice guitar for 30 minutes but how many experience points did I gain? I can work for a day and know how much money I made, but where are my gold coins? Where is the leaderboard? I can fish in game so easily without the pain of buying a rod, driving down to the lake, and sitting in the blistering sun. I can chop wood without fear of black widows or losing a toe. I can ride a horse without fear of falling off. I can fight a monster without fear of death. Fear is the resistance we push through in living our lives and in-game I feel no fear.
In June 2016, I logged 0 hours and 0 minutes of Black Desert.
I’ve been MMO clean for 34 days now. Check out my productivity scores for June.
Of the June “entertainment” time, I practiced guitar for 10 solid hours.
In May 2016 this was only 3 hours. Note that the 6 hours of youtube time was all spent watching Black Desert guides! On top of the youtube time, I also found time tracking evidence of many hours spent reading Black Desert forums and tutorial guides.
In April 2016 I also logged only 3 hours of guitar practice. Quitting this MMO seems to have have tripled my guitar practice efforts.
For reference, my personal tracking of my guitar practice goal – which would probably be much more accurate if I did a real comparison against my RescueTime logs to account for unrecorded practice session or fake “weasel” points.