By Wong Li Za
M.J. LIM used to make 400 euros (RM1,900) a month in the comfort of his home as a professional online gamer. He was still studying back in 2004, and the side income was welcome.
Lim, 23, played pro for about a year, practising for an hour a day. He would log on at 3am to coincide with European times for clan matches, which lasted anything between five minutes and over an hour.
His professional gaming days began after he qualified for the quarter-finals of the Asian Gaming Championship in Taiwan in 2004. His replays were circulated over the Internet and caught the attention of a team manager in Sweden, who invited him to join his group to play pro.
In 2005, Lim took part in the World Cyber Games (WCG) Malaysia Championship but did not do well.
"I was overconfident and deserved to lose. I was also getting older and couldn't keep up with new players.
"There were also more tournaments, which meant more late nights and I couldn't commit the time and energy," said Lim.
By then, Lim had started working part-time and sleep deprivation was a problem.
However, the release of World of Warcraft changed all that.
"World of Warcraft is also known as Wow Crack. It's very interesting because of various interactive elements – social (communication with other players), economics (selling wares for in-game currency) and politics (guild management)," he said.
The longest time Lim has spent on WoW was 37 hours at a stretch. During his semester break, he would play up to 14 hours a day.
"I stopped going to the gym and did not make the effort to meet up with friends. It came to the point where the first thing I wanted to do when I woke up was play WoW. That's when I decided to stop," he said.
After Lim felt he could control his playing, he went back to the game but indulged in it only a few hours a day.
Now, he does not play at all simply due to lack of time.
"I need time for church, gym, friends and hobbies. I cannot give all that up," he said.
However, Lim has witnessed relationships being forged between players in such games.
"Some of them even got married but I believe for every marriage or relationship, there are four to five break-ups and divorces.
"I've seen how destructive the game can be, in terms of players having affairs or cyber-sex."
Lim added that, unfortunately, people also played during working hours. He knew of an American woman who went on unemployment benefits just to play the game full-time.
"My friend in Australia lost his part-time job and his girlfriend, and his grades suffered because of his addiction.
"He played nine to 10 hours a day, missed work and studies, and did not spend time with his girlfriend."
Overall, Lim believes more people suffer from over-indulgence addiction to the game than benefiting from it.
"We must try to balance it all and set our priorities right. It's about self-control and responsibilities. There is a price to pay for over-indulging in MMORPGs," he added.Source: The Star