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Online Gamers Anonymous (Status: Not A Hoax)
I came across the On-line Gamers Anonymous (OLGA) site recently and can't make up my mind whether or not it's a hoax. It's a site "of, by, and for on-line gaming addicts." Some of the stories shared on its message board seem a bit farfetched. Take, for example, the tale of Tommy, a former EverQuest addict. Tommy complains that:

Before EverQuest I used to have nearly a perfect life, I was living the american dream if you will. I hade a wonderfull job, a great house, a beautiful and lovely wife and most importanly my 2 beautiful little girls wich I love dearly....now I've lost everything because of this game.

As he relates his tale of woe, Tommy shares one unforgettable detail with us. He says that in the depths of his addiction it became so hard for him to tear himself away from the computer that:

I decided to set up a little pot in my computer room so I wouldn't have to get up when I needed to go pee, as much as this may sound ubelivable I can assure you it's the truth.

One thing that made me suspect this was a hoax was that there have been other gaming addiction hoaxes, such as Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence. However, after reading this article in Wired about gaming addiction (by Daniel Terdiman), I'm inclined to think that OLGA may be real. Terdiman relates how hard-core gamers can begin to have problems separating the game from reality. One lady describes swerving her car around the road because she thinks she's still playing a game. Another lady, a Sims player, sits at her computer thinking 'What percent of my bladder is full?' instead of going to the bathroom.

So what is it about gamers and their reluctance to urinate? I'm now imagining thousands of solitary gamers sitting there with pots in their rooms.

Update (09/19/2005): The owner of OLGA has stated that it is "a REAL service provided for people who are addicted to computer/video games and have no where else to go."

Update (13/2/2007): OLGA has now moved to a different website.
Categories: Psychology, Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 12, 2005
Comments (38)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
this one probably isnt a hoax. i myself used to play everquest and i have to say it horribly addictive. there are true stories of people killing themselves after dieing in the game because it gets too intense.
Posted by DoN WoN  in  my house  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  12:57 AM
The last news event was posted on Monday, September 16th, 2002. It may be a dead site due to lack of interest.

Personally, I used a catheter when I was addicted to Myth II.
Posted by BugbearSloth  in  earth, 3rd planet, sol system  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  01:25 AM
This is a sad site. The administrator is "lizwool" and has been trying to get it going for years now, apparently. If you browse the message board, there are a lot of topics, but most haven't been touched in months (or years). lizwool has a daily saying, but no one replies. Some threads will have a post every few months or so.

The general gist of the whole thing is to bring the fabulous Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program to people who spend too much time playing computer games. It doesn't seem to be drawing much of a following. Well, I've got to go meet some friends of mine on Star Wars Galaxies for an all night gaming session. I hope we can kick some major booty before I have to be at work tomorrow morning at 9:00. BYE!
Posted by BugbearSloth  in  earth, 3rd planet, sol system  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  01:38 AM
To make the site more popular, lizwool should add games and stuff to it.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  02:35 AM
Hmmm... I know that after a very long (and rather stoned) GTA session one of my brother's friends jumped out in front of a car, stopped it, and actually opened the door before fully realizing he wasn't actually playing the game any more...
Posted by paul in prague  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  05:16 AM
OLGA vs AA

Are AA meetings held in bars? Should OLGAs be held online? :|
Posted by Sabrina P  in  Quebec, Canada  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  06:56 AM
I think I saw a person for this site on Fox News.
It must be real.
Posted by Nick  in  USA  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  07:30 AM
I'm old enough to remember some of my friends forsaking their college courses because of 'Doom'. Even after ten years or so I still desperately wish that I owned a hundred-shot pump-action shotgun, as it was the most useful weapon in the game (and presumably in real life).
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  in  England  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  07:35 AM
I have had friends who play online games. A group of them are currently playing world of warcraft. One of them goes home on lunch and plays. Then he stays up until 2 or 3 every night to play. Some of them were addicted to everquest but most have managed to kick that habit. It's a pity that the site isn't doing well.
Posted by Bill B.  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  12:28 PM
I wish Online Gaming Addiction was a hoax, but I can say for a fact that it isn't. I used to play Final Fantasy XI online, and it would consume my time to the point where my life would mould around the game. Thankfully, I was able to quit, but I can relate to some of the points on the website.
Posted by Joker  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  03:55 PM
It was my first week on EQ2. I waked up and connected. Number of people wandering Antonica was still very large. I asked - Whatta hell you all guys doing so early, it is like 5:30AM? - And received answer - We are from west coast you dummy. So? - I asked then. So? It is only 3:30AM here. Anyway you might be right and it is good time to go bed. - one guy answered.
Posted by Loxx  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  04:00 PM
I use GTA Vice City as a antidepressant medicine. I just go inside, hide myself in some building and start shooting cops and pedestrians. It is so ZEN like wink
Posted by Loxx  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  04:06 PM
"I think I saw a person for this site on Fox News.
It must be real."

I humbly submit that this should be the motto of MuseumofHoaxes.com .
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  08:20 PM
It seems silly to be addicted to something like that, but if someone has an addictive tendency, they'll seize on whatever is to hand to get addicted to. Online gaming, collecting figurines, drinking, eating, religion, trainspotting....
Posted by cvirtue  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  10:01 PM
True dat Big Gray
Posted by PleaseDeleteAccount  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  10:15 PM
The extent to which video game addiction can reach is really much worse than "forsaking their college courses" to play. Hell, I'VE done that and still do occasionally. There's a difference between playing an addictive video game, and having a video game addiction. For example, especially in the case of RPGs, it's not uncommon to play for 5 or more hours in one sitting, as that is the nature of the game. It seems to me that people who don't play video games are quick to judge people that do, insisting they have an addiction. However, those with video game addictions are a lot worse than that, and they have problems distinguishing their game from reality. Unfortunately, this occurs most often with MMORPGs, like Everquest, FFXII, etc. There will always be extreme cases of addiction, ones where the person will literally not leave their house, go to the bathroom pay bills, etc, forfeiting their lives to play. Points brought up on the website, and by some people here, are valid. It is a shame this site isn't still running, but it makes since why: why would a person addicted to their MMO game get offline to browse this website?

I remember, maybe about a year ago, Playboy issued an article chronicling extreme cases of video game addiction. One of them involved a young girl (I think she was about 10 or so) in Japan who hung herself because she couldn't beat the last stage in one of the Bomberman games, no matter how hard she tried. Another involved another young kid who shot his mother because she grounded him for bad grades (supposedly due to too much game playing) and wouldn't let him play his Playstation. I wish I still had that article; it was very interesting.
Posted by Sarah  in  Dallas  on  Thu Jan 13, 2005  at  01:42 PM
Just before xmas I bought pottery wheel, kiln and lot of clay, glayzes etc. after three weeks I cannot stop throwing pots. This stuff is also very addictive. Should it be prohibited? I guess not It is just a good hobby. Some people cannot stop building, painting and palying with little and big cars, planes. Computer games basically are same thing.
Posted by Loxx  on  Thu Jan 13, 2005  at  05:44 PM
I once played EQ for about 84 hours pretty much straight, I slept for about 8 hours and ate at the computer. I moved my easy-boy lounger up to the computer when the computer chair got to uncomfortable.

One thing to notice though, is that the murder rate in this country has fallen precipitously, by about 5 fold, since computer and console games have become common place.

I still play WOW some, but I can't take more than several hours of online play per week now.
Posted by EverCrack  on  Fri Jan 14, 2005  at  01:55 AM
That Wired article is really something. I play Uru (a Myst game) a lot, but I have never once picked up a book and been surprised when I didn't disappear. Neither have I tried to figure out how to get behind a locked door in a supermarket, or gone up to some machine I was not familiar with and pulled on the lever.
Posted by PlantPerson  on  Fri Jan 14, 2005  at  11:41 AM
The urinating thing I believe. My little brother became so addicted to Quake3 over the course of last year that he decided to start urinating in a cup rather than walk 10 feet to the bathroom. We discovered the cup in his room and had a little talk with him.
Posted by CheeseMonster  on  Fri Jan 14, 2005  at  09:15 PM
I don't think it's so much an addiction as it is simply getting absorbed in the fantasy. Have you never had a book that you can't put down or seen a film where you can't tear yourself away from the screen?
The only difference between books and films and computer games is that the online computer games never have an end so if you do get absorbed in them you'll stay there.
Posted by Tyn  in  Sheffield, England  on  Sun Jan 23, 2005  at  10:38 PM
Unless it's singleplayer only. raspberry
Posted by PleaseDeleteAccount  on  Sun Jan 23, 2005  at  11:21 PM
A friend of mine pointed me to this post. He thought it would be a good idea to inform you, that this is not a hoax.

Acutally the site is alive and well, and has been since it started.

The introduction topics (which are at the beginning of the message board) do not contain posts that are "responded" to.

This is a valid issue today. Gamers know it. The people who have not experienced it themselves or have not seen it happen to others are our worst critcs. That does not mean it does not exist.

lizwool
http://www.olganon.org
http://p198.ezboard.com/bolga
Posted by lizwool  in  Pennsylvania  on  Mon Sep 19, 2005  at  12:20 PM
I am addicted to online games. I play everynight from 9pm-3am. Mostly MMORPGs like WoW. Sometimes you are so involved in something you really cannot leave to go to the bathroom or you will come back and find your character dead or your party gone. This is why I pee in cups or towels or sometimes just scoot to the front of my chair and let it go on the floor and worry about cleaning later. red face
Posted by CrazyPeeLady  in  California  on  Mon Oct 17, 2005  at  03:35 PM
Hello crazypeelady,

What you say sounds crazy, but I believe you.

I have heard and seen how this addiction to gaming can ruin people's lives and relationships.

If you would like to leave the games, feel free to visit our website http://www.olganon.org and message board - http://p198.ezboard.com/bolga

What I need to express to you, is that this can truely be an addiction, not just some passing phase or absorbing hobby as stated above.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Liz
Posted by lizwool  in  Pennsylvania  on  Tue Oct 18, 2005  at  06:17 AM
Gaming addiction is indeed a very serious problem and is now being recognised in communities throughout the world. I am the Webmaster for http://www.gameaddict.org.uk a website based in the United Kingdom, our goal is to promote healthy gaming along with giving good sound advice to gaming addicts. Our main support network is conducted via e-mail but we do have forums open to the general public to discuss any matter related to gaming addiction. http://www.gameaddict.org.uk/forums

One such area which we have been following closely is the developments in the east concerning both the Chinese and Korean Governments who are placing restrictions on Online Gaming.

If you would like to discuss gaming addiction or contribute to our research, please feel free to pop on over to us and share your thoughts on the subjects we highlight.

Steven Larcombe
Gameaddict.org.uk
Posted by Steven Larcombe  in  United Kingdom  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  05:49 AM
Hi Steve,

Thank you for your post.

I will visit your site. I am also watching other countries as they are putting restrictions on gaming.

You are also welcome to visit out site and message board - http://www.olganon.org

It is my understanding, that a while back the U.K. has put a tariff on gaming companies and they use that money to treat people who have problems with gaming.

Liz
Posted by lizwool  in  Pennsylvania  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  12:19 PM
I'm not sure that replacing an addiction with an acceptance of God is that good a trade-off. I'll take WoW over WWJD any day. At least WoW doesn't have a history of teaching hate and intolerance.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  12:26 PM
Hi Liz,

At gameaddict we are following very closely the current policies that are being implemented by the Chinese and Korean Governments on Online gaming restrictions and also on the developments surrounding the treatment of online addiction.

With regards to the United Kingdom, although we do have some health warnings and general moderation of game sales to adolescents there is a lack of information surrounding the development of gaming addiction and other game related health issues.

At this moment in time I cannot confirm as to whether games developers are taxed so to speak to cover treatments, as I have found no information available in the UK as of yet for the treatment of Online addiction. Myself and my team will look into this.

We do work closely with reputable games developers and we hope to at some point, lobby for better health warnings surrounding online games, this is by no means intended to discourage gamers, that is not our aim, we just hope to ensure better awareness of the implications of game related health.

Whilst gameaddict is still in its infancy as a support network, the progress we have made to date is quite pleasing.

Steven Larcombe
http://www.gameaddict.org.uk
Posted by Steven Larcombe  in  United Kingdom  on  Tue Oct 25, 2005  at  12:59 PM
Gaming addiction is a real phenomenon. My grandparents wrestled with alcoholism for 40 years, and while I have never done drugs or alcohol, I have had an unhealthy relationship with video games for 20 years. While I've never peed in a cup, my definition of "unhealthy" is when other aspirations and relationships in life suffer as a result of prioritizing games over other activities. I think that a propensity for addiction is part genetic, part emotional, and can manifest itself in many different forms.
Posted by iterate  on  Mon Nov 28, 2005  at  01:25 AM
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