"Shut up and pay me your $10 a month, little man. My Porsche needs some performance upgrades."
-Milo D. Cooper, Verant employee
Quitting Everquest is hard. Extremely hard. After being consumed by the game for an extended period of time, quitting is a frightening prospect. Many people say that DDR is addictive, M:TG is addictive, NetHack is addictive, etc. But none of these compare to EQ.
I once sat down and calculated the percent of my life I spent on EQ, based on my /played time. It was almost exactly 20%, or roughly one-third of my waking life. I had over 110 days played. That's not 110 days, a few hours a day - 110 days is the sum of all the time logged on, or 2,640 hours. (I used to joke that I was my character's twink during the summer.) All this time was spent leveling my character, raiding with my guild, chatting with others on my server, and working on my epic quest. Leaving the game was virtually unthinkable during my addiction. It took two breakups of guilds I had been in and the quitting of all my real-life friends to drive me to quit.
Everquest relapses are common. Many people swear, "I hate Verant and all its BS. I'm going to quit forever. I'm cancelling my account now." Invariably, these people reactivate their accounts and are playing within a couple of weeks. It nearly caught me as well--I've been through two near-relapses already. It's disgusting what the game does to you after such a time investment.
I still have my screenshots and logs zipped away in a forgotten folder on the unholy mess of my hard disk. I'm not sure why I keep them around still. It's just that the game became a part of my life - as Wedge.net put it in "How to deal with Everquest addiction," it was just the thing I did. That, coupled with the time investment, made quitting painful. Constantly, the question was, "What am I going to do with all this free time?"
Now that I've quit, I hate the game with a passion. While a person is addicted, the game is "fun" for them (sometimes). But all the "fun" of the game is pointless. The excitement of obtaining the epic weapon, the repetitive killing of "those damn frogs" to achieve 59th level, the interminable camps that earned me armor from the Temple of Veeshan, and the raid experience to kill ubermob after ubermob mean nothing to me now. I don't even remember all the gear my character was wearing, and I don't particularly care either.
The only thing I've gained from EQ is advice--do not play it. (I'm not sure why anyone would want to start Everquest three years after the game went gold, but I digress.) EQ addiction is insidious, and it only worsens as time goes on. If you feel you must play an MMORPG, play Dark Age of Camelot--it's newer, much better designed, and not as addictive as EQ. (Yes, this is a good thing!) Of course, this statement is made from personal experience; likely, I'm simply burned out on MMORPGs, which is not such a bad thing.
Ironically, I envy the people whom I used to scoff at in the game--those who were content with level 30 characters and mediocre gear. Now, after both of us have quit, who is better off?
Addendum following the recent events: Ironically, I submitted this writeup just a week or two before the Shawn Woolley incident. I have no doubt in my mind that EQ played a role in his death.
The game is that addictive.