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I'm going to tell you guys my story and you guys can make what you will of it. Most people are not going to bother to post due to the length of this thread but for those who do manage to read the entire thing I thank you for reading my story and appreciate any comments or replies.
Alright, My mmorpg gaming began when I was 14. I was a huge .hack//sign fan and still am. I always wished that I could play a game online with people just like the characters from the anime. to my surprise along came FFXI in 2003. My cousin was the first to get the game. When it first came out I didn't think much of it. I figured "Well If I get it for the ps2 its going to cost me over 100 dollars...and If I ask my parents for a new computer it wouldn't be very logical. Considering my mother was disabled and my dad was working pick up construction jobs. I decided to pass on the game in 2003. Along came 2004 and I was in the 10th grade in High school. A lot of my work started to require me to get a computer. So I decided to ask my parents for a school computer to make my life easier. (No one likes to stay after school to do homework at the computer lab). Surprisingly enough my father was saving up money to buy me a car when I turned 18. He used those 800 dollars and bought me a HP desktop. Specs were nothing fancy, some 120MB graphic card, 512 regular ram, and a 350GB HDD. Pentium 4 and had Windows xp, it was a basic multimedia computer for 2004. So at that time my mother decided to get the internet set up. We got a great deal with SBC for $20/mo basic high speed and still get that rate today.
It was sometime in the Fall/winter when I continued to see my cousin play FFXI and I decided to use some of my birthday money to buy the game. I got it and was so excited. I felt a lot like the characters from .hack//sign already as I was walking home from the store. While bumping my .hack//sign soundtrack I began to install the game. My mother let me use her debit card to pay for it, as long as I gave her the 15 dollars a month which I usually got from my 10 dollar a week allowance. I remember the olympics promos were on TV a lot. Since we didn't have cable, (still don't) seeing this was rare so I was excited to wach it. I wached the promos all night until around 11pm waiting for the game to install on a school night. I ended up passing out waiting for FFXI to finish updating. The total time it took to update was roughly 7 hours. I woke up at around 5am and was really happy to see the game had finished installing. So I started to create my character. I made a hume from Bastok and began playing. I had no idea what would come next.
So as I began playing I met many people enjoyed a lot of content and adventures with my cousin as well as have some really strange experiences. This is the first time I have ever told anyone outside of my close friends about this but I did get involved in a in game relationship with a 35 year old woman. At the time I believe I was 15. I don't know why I did it but I did. She called me at my home all the time, we talked a lot well in the end it didn't work out caused me a lot of heartache and depressed me for around 3 weeks. I was lucky to have met a lot of good freinds in FFXI who helped me understand just what had happened to me. I met an individual named Dave who was studying to be a psychologist. He became my closest friend in FFXI and one of my closest real life friends. To this day I often call him if I need advice or some words of encouragement. I began to notice my grades were starting to slip. I began going home never doing my homework and playing FFXI over 6 hours a day. I neglected a lot of my work around the house, and most of my social interactions began to happen in game. When a counselor told my mother that I was about to end up in the Learning center of my high school something inside me snapped. The mixture of pain from the online relationship with the woman, and the feeling that I was letting down my family really got to me. I was after all the first person in my family to go to school. Let alone High school. So I did what I never thought I would do in 2005. I deleated my level 75 Dragoon level 75 White Mage Character and said my goodbye to FFXI.
Almost that same week my grades began to pick up. In 4 months I had turned an entire progress report of all Ds and Fs to all Bs and Cs. I had a much better grasp over my studying but my addiction was not over. A freind from school recomended me to play World of warcraft. He said it was a very casual game that I could play at my leisure. So I decided to give it a try. Long story short, I did play World of warcraft for about 9 months. I did enjoy it and had a level 60 Hunter, and level 60 Paladin. As the BC was announced I said my goodbye to world of warcraft and focused again on school. My grades had kept strong at B average but I just was not having fun anymore with WoW. I ended up graduating high school without a problem, Being the first person in my family to do it.My family came from all over Mexico to congratulate me.
Fast forward 3 months and I started going to college. At first I decided to make my major culinary arts, and due to the low homework load I had a lot of free time. I decided to pick up my old drug of choice FFXI and re-make another character now with the knowledge of control. It turned out quite well actually. I would play 3 months, and quit 2 months. I got to level 60 and stopped. At the beginning of 2008 I began to notice culinary was not for me. I did not feel like I was challenging myself enough. I decided to change my major to psychology.
This was the best choice of my life. Not only did my friend Dave who I met thanks to FFXI influence me in this but the choice also helped me understand myself and others much better. Right now I am in my college's Psychology honors program. I am getting paid by the district to be a research assistant to professors at the university. I also have a 3.0 GPA and just got a $2000 scholarship in the summer. Needless to say I went from the depressed kid who had fallen in love with a virtual diva and was about to ruin his life forsaken to remain in poverty like my family has lived for 200 years to an honors student making his entire family proud and more so myself. I do not blame mmorpgs for my initial problems, I think they were a very useful learning tool and actually helped me grow up a bit faster than I would have otherwise.
Ever since I got into the psychology honors program I have been trying to figure out a way to play mmorpg games as a casual player. I no longer have time for FFXI as a lot of you know it takes up a ton of time. I started to consider playing Free 2 play mmorpg games. I figured, "At least I won't have to waist money" Well thats not true. As I started to progress in one or another free 2 play mmorpg game I noticed that you have 2 choices. Ether you spend a lot of your hard earned money on this game, or you spend a ton of time. Nether which I was willing to do. I am only able to play about 6-8 hours of total time a week. I have read many stories of college students playing mmorpg games. I would like to know of some. If you are one of the people who can balance MMORPG gaming and school, or have found an mmorpg game that is casual enough to let you do both without maxing out your credit card please let me know.
I made this post for 2 reasons.
#1 I just wanted to share my story with the mmorpg community. I'm sure some adult readers will get to the end of this wall of text. For this I thank you.
#2 I also wanted to inform that as a college student I have found no way to play mmorpg games and balance a high GPA, and research part time work (10 hours a week). Again if you happen to be one of those people who has found this casual blessed game for the college student please let me know. Otherwise any comments on my story or productive discussion is welcome.